I haven’t written since last June. I suck. Sorry. Now, let’s get to my mysterious chronic health issues…
Quick summary to today:
- Can’t remember much of last summer other than it involved a lot of cycling the Seawall to relieve da ton of stress I was under — will elaborate momentarily.
- Autumn to winter: back to the island to help with yet another terminally ill family member — will not elaborate momentarily.
And just before we get to my chronic health issues, I want you to know why I post stuff that “should” only be shared with besties and select family members (which by the way, have read and approved this post)…
- It’s cathartic and I’m shameless.
- Not everyone has family or friends they can share their stuff with so maybe by reading about my personal stuff they’ll feel connected and less alone in the world somehow. Or at least entertained.
Chronic Health Issues Update
I went to a new doctor recently. He’s a traditional medical doctor (MD) and a naturopathic doctor (ND).
I tell him my chronic health issues:
- chronic intermittent fatigue (whether or not I get a solid night’s sleep, which only happens with an arsenal of supplements; either I feel “normal” or I’m in bed all day)
- chronic gastrointestinal issues, especially constipation (no matter what I eat, how much water I drink or how much fibre I do or do not consume)
- SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
- low stomach acid
- leaky gut syndrome
- poor nutrient absorption (due to SIBO, low HCL, & leaky gut)
- anxiety (much alleviated in the last year thanks to SIBO protocols)
- dysthymia aka low grade depression (due to life, see below! but also most of the above, too!)
- hair loss (which has stopped, thank you, Baby Jesus!, but was likely caused by hormone imbalance and nutrient deficiencies etc)
- heavy metal toxicity (likely caused by improper removal of dental amalgams and possibly “the girls” — more on the latter later.)
- hypothyroid (potentially caused by stress and / or heavy metal toxicity)
- estrogen dominance (caused by aging and/or heavy metal toxicity and/or Breast Implant Illness aka BII)
- insomnia (caused by jaw issues, see more below)
- low libido (caused by all of the above)
- chronic neck pain (caused by car accident and jaw surgery)
- TMJ (caused by bumping my jaw after jaw surgery and healing in the wrong place)
- Tinnitus (caused by TMJ)
- craziness (caused by being a redhead)
“That’s about it. “ I say.
MD/ND asks what I’ve done to try to resolve these chronic health issues.
A better question is: What haven’t I done — yet?
It would take up too much internet space to detail everything I’ve done over the past 10 years to try to fix my health problems, plus I’ve written several blogs posts detailing some of the traditional and alternative health protocols I’ve tried¹.
MD/ND asks me if I’ve had any big stresses in my life.
I laugh, “Yes. A little.”
He asks, “When did it start?”
“How far back do you want me to go?”
“When was the last time you felt safe in the world for any length of time?
“Four months ago? Four years ago?”
“No. When I was four. Four years old.”
He looks contemplative and I take it to mean he thinks I’m exaggerating.
I take a deep breath, “My world was safe until I turned five, then I was sent to live with relatives and one of them molested me for maybe a year, maybe less, then I was shipped off to live with another family who beat me because I was a bed wetter, probably because of the molester, then that family drove off a cliff and died.
So, I went back to my parents who were out of camp by then. Then my dad died when I was 12, my mom tried to kill herself when I was 15, I spent 20 years in a stressful real estate career working 80-100 hours a week during which time I got married and divorced — oh, and tried to commit suicide, sort of, at age 25 — then I left real estate and floundered around for a few years trying to be a writer.
I moved around a lot, had some bad relationships, a miscarriage, an emergency DNC and started running out of money which brings me to the last four years when my brother-in-law got cancer and died, my mom got cancer and died, my sister-in-law got cancer and died — this past October. We (my siblings and I) took care of them at home to the end. Well, I was there more as support for my siblings and in-laws but was on the front lines 24/7 for my mom. She was my person in the world.
Oh yeah, and after failing at writing I started a new business and invested several years and several thousand dollars but didn’t make any profit until just this past November.
And! I had a rental property with a dear tenant who was behind in rent over $15,000 which also cost me several thousand dollars in legal fees to get sorted out, which it was sorted out as of December .
So, as of January 1, 2020, I don’t have any more big stress, other than my health, as long as no one else gets sick or dies, which I don’t anticipate. At least, no one is currently diagnosed with anything terminal, so… fingers and eyes crossed and knock on wood.”
MD/ND has stopped taking notes and his eyebrows have creeped halfway up his forehead.
I exhale. “That’s most of it.”
I chuckle, then add, “If we don’t laugh, we’ll go stark raving mad.”
He agrees, “True.”
Then he tells me that my chronic health issues are likely because my body has been in fight or flight mode most of my life and that it’ll take some time to reset my system.
He sends me in to the lab with a sheet full of new tests to be done.
I’m ecstatic. Finally, an MD is actually looking for new ways to figure out WTF can be done to restore my health.
My other naturopathic doctor — the one I’ve been working with for over a year on the SIBO protocols — has run out of medical suggestions but also says my body is in constant fight or flight mode.
She says I’ve had a lot of “emotional trauma” and may not be “letting things go” — hence the “not going” — which was to the point where — TMI Warning — taking several ex-lax and Senacot (stool softener) for days would have no effect.
I finally resorted to getting “colon hydrotherapy” every five days, whereby the practitioner puts a hose in my butt and flushes me out.
(You were warned.)
Cut to: “Are those a chia seeds floating through the tank?”
Cut back to: regular naturopath.
My regular ND asks me if I’d be open to even more unconventional health alternatives.
I exclaim, “Anything, yes!”
She refers me to an osteopath. Actually, she refers me to two osteopaths, which I’m supposed to choose from but being a keener with chronic health issues, people, on a fix-my-health mission, I book an appointment with both.
What’s an osteopath?
Glad you asked.
I’m not really sure, but based on my experience I’d say an osteopath is a cross between an energy healer, a physiotherapist, a chiropractor and a counsellor.
My First Osteopath Visit
I lay face up on a heated massage table fully clothed under a cozy blanket.
My Osteopath sits in a chair beside me and puts one of her hands on my lower belly (my bowel area) and the other one underneath my lower back.
She asks me questions in a Sneaky Monkey Counsellor conversational way.
Haha, I know this tactic; been here done this many many a time — did you read that stuff I’ve been through?
Anyway, I tell her “my story” and she somehow gets me talking about something I don’t think I’ve ever delved into with any counsellor, energy worker, doctor et al. namely that —
“— I feel inferior to my sister because she’s a selfless, emotionally generous giver. And I’m not.”
She mhmm’s encouragement for me to continue.
“Humph, how about that?” I say. “I had no idea that was a big deal. But I guess it makes sense that it would come up now. I was right there witnessing it for the last four years when everyone was dying. She did way more than me. Well, except for with mom, which we were all [meaning: her and I and my brother] there for. But my sister had just lost her husband, so she was grieving while caregiving Mom. Humph, how about that.”
My osteopath says, “So you left your home and your city and your life to go live with your family for several months each time and you don’t feel like you’re generous enough?”
“Not compared to my sister. Though, when you put it that way…”
She suggests in a half question half statement, “Maybe you don’t have to compare yourself to your sister.”
“Oh.” This is an interesting idea to me.
She continues, “What are some good things about you?”
It’s about the only thing I can come up with when I’m comparing myself to my sister, though she’s also funny and we laugh a lot together and she’s never once tried to make me feel bad for being the selfish one in the family or if she has I haven’t noticed because — um, selfish.
I love her dearly.
My osteopath continues, “What else?”
“Well, I guess I’m generous in my own way.”
“Yes, you are. What else?”
“I’m smart. But that’s not a virtue.”
She says, “Maybe it’s ok for you to have your own positive qualities…”
It goes on like this for awhile and somewhere in the back of my mind I’m thinking that these are the same principles I use in my Wingmam teachings and how ironic it is that it’s so difficult for people — me included — to see ourselves clearly.
Anyway, she suggests that I need to have more fun, and then she leads me to suggest for myself — another shrink trick! — that I be more “me” and that I start writing for fun again. (Hi!)
I leave her office and go get a bag of CheeziesⓇ, my favourite childhood snack, a box of ShreddiesⓇ, another childhood fave, and a jug of whole milk. I eat the whole family sized package of CheeziesⓇ on my way home and have good, good whole wheat cereal for dinner.
The next morning, I have an Olympic gold medal poop! I feel like a champion! Heck, I am a champion!
I look outside and Vancouver has been hit with a massive (relatively speaking) snowstorm, a rarity for our mild West Coast winters.
Giddy as a four year old kid, I bundle up and go for a walk — 8.5 km in total — laughing and giggling and smiling at everyone like an idiot.
I make my way to my other osteopath appointment.
Osteopath #2 asks me about “my story” then does a bit of non-bone-cracking chiropractic maneuvering and “energy work.”
This time, I’m laying on the massage table face up with her hands cupping my head and neck area and after a short time I doze off.
Afterwards, she tells me that as I was falling asleep, she could feel the tension in my neck increase.
She says, “It seems like when your conscious mind turns off — when you sleep — your body goes into alert fight or flight mode to compensate.”
But at least I feel safe enough with her, consciously, to fall asleep during the session. I really need sleep.
I don’t know if it was the osteopaths, the Sneaky Monkey counselling, the CheeziesⓇ, the ShreddiesⓇ or the snow, but I’ve been — knock on wood — regular ever since.
Oh, yes, okay, so I spent the night in a sleep assessment clinic with 22 electrode wires connected to my head, face, neck and legs to measure brain activity, REM, and muscle contraction.
Along with that was something stuck up my nose to measure air intake / output, plus a band around my chest and one around my belly to measure depth of breathing.
I get the results soon, though I think they’ll be inconclusive since I know I didn’t sleep much all night.
My theory on the sleep thing…
Aside from everything else formerly mentioned, I also had jaw surgery many moons ago to correct an overbite. #vanity
The only thing is that the surgeon took out a couple of lower teeth and then shortly after the surgery I bumped my jaw out of place and that’s where it healed.
So when I sleep on my back, my jaw slides back and cuts off part of my air supply — my oxygen, not the rock band — so even if I manage to sleep all night, I still wake up feeling exhausted.
Cut to: AJ at the TMJ specialist!
TMJ specialist confirms my theory about my slack jaw limiting my oxygen intake while I sleep.
He recommends “jaw physio” and a mouth guard.
After I’ve gone through said jaw physio, he’ll build me a mouth guard to wear at night that will keep my jaw in place so it can relax while I’m sleeping, hopefully helping to alleviate my neck pain, and allow me to get enough oxygen.
Insert: Sleep Clinic Update!
I got my results from the sleep clinic and my and the TMJ’s theory is correct: I don’t get enough oxygen!
I take short shallow breaths and partially woke up 22.4 times per hour, or approximately every three minutes, and never get into Delta (deep) sleep. Certainly, part of these poor sleep results are all those wires attached to me, but still.
The specialist also recommends I take up singing (bad idea) to exercise my breathing apparatus and / or learn how to play a wind instrument such as the Didgeridoo. I see.
He also suggests a custom mouth guard to be worn at night and if that doesn’t work then possibly a sleep apnoea machine. I’ll be the belle of the ball, alright.
I find out about all my blood tests soon to see if my kidneys, liver etc can handle the test required to find out where my heavy metals’ levels — mercury and lead etc, not moshing in da pit — are at.
If all goes well, my organs will be ok and we’ll then do an updated test for heavy metals and if they’re still high (likely) then I’ll get back on an IV chelation plan. (Tell you more about that if/when…)
Insert: Blood Work Update!
Blood levels are good other than I’m low on magnesium despite taking a magnesium supplement and I have high blood glucose levels, which can lead to diabetes and since my dad was a diabetic, let’s not go there!
- Get a better supplement. Check.
- Cut back on carbs. Good-bye CheeziesⓇ, good-bye ShreddiesⓇ. 😩
And if all of the above health measures — and whatever else I discover along the way — doesn’t cure me of my chronic health issues by the end of the year, I’m getting “the girls” taken out.
Wait, what the F did you just say, Anna J?
Breast Implants Can Cause Chronic Health Issues
Breast Implant Illness. It’s a real thing.
Yep, you heard it here first, folks.
Okay, maybe not first. There are articles on the ‘net dating back years. Apparently, breast implants have heavy metals in them! (There really should be a warning label.)
In fact, it’s possible that the girls have caused most of my chronic health issues!
Anyway, if I don’t feel substantially better by the end of this year, Anna J will rejoin the itty bitty titty club.
Which. is. so. ironic!
I spent a fortune on vanity related procedures — boob job, jaw surgery, and then some (see memoir) — to fix my low self esteem only to spend a small fortune fixing the side effects of said procedures only to spend another fortune reversing some of said vanity related procedures.
Only to have discovered along the way that self esteem comes from the darn inside, folks, the. darn. inside.
When it comes to vanity, God² does have a funny sense of humour.
(When it comes to taking our loved ones, His humour is sorely lacking.)
What’s comical is that I am actually laughing at myself!
If I must get the girls out, I’m prepared to look forward to a new me. I’m already planning to lose weight and get a new haircut and style that will include red lipstick and red nail polish.
If I’m to be flat-chested again, then I will be a flat-chested waif and look like a chic nymphette!
And you’d better believe my new itty bitties will be perky AF. Think: nipples as earrings. 😉
Maybe this is the start of a new chapter — a new book! — figuratively… and maybe even, literally.
God is funny (sometimes) but He’s also (now) given me the (tenuous) means to pay for this humour-infused vanity reversal plan, which is good because our stellar Canadian medical plan covers only some of these protocols; a policy I fully agree with. After all, a tax payer shouldn’t have to pay for my vanity reversal plan.
What a Guy. What a God.
God bless all and what He gave yah!
What have I relearned?
- We’re always learning.
- If we don’t let things go, we don’t “go.”
- We can’t change the past, but we can rewrite the meaning of our stories about the past.
- We can change our stories about the future.
- Everyone has a story we know nothing about.
- Have more fun.
- Be more unapologetically me.
- Write for fun. (Hello again!)
- Individual, sample-sized CheeziesⓇ!
- Keep going. 😉
P.S. If you want to give me #JustaTip because you forgot to back when I was Almost Poor Anna J or because you simply like my writing, thank you! #DonateHere
¹I do believe that the year of SIBO protocols I went through helped ease anxiety and dysthymia even though it didn’t cure all of my chronic health issues. The reason I believe that at least one of the SIBO protocols worked is because it was the only thing I did differently during a time when stress was at an all time high — running out of money, dealing with my tenant and legal costs, and my SIL dying. My brother- and sister- in-laws were family for more than 45 years and 27 years respectively. They were and are much loved and are dearly missed.
²If God makes you feel uncomfortable, feel free to pull an Electric Company Letterman move and swap out God for Life. Same deal.