This blog is the product of a radical change in my diet, and as a result, my life. Though my journey is long, and I have a background in health, there is a difference in knowing the path and following the path. In some instances, what I thought was good for my body, was just not. Everyone’s body is different, and your path may be different from mine, but I’m here to share some of the changes that have made a huge difference in how I feel and in how I am choosing to live my middle years, hopefully free of the pain that has plagued me for over half my lifetime.
As a child, I suffered from extreme pain in my legs. I would awaken crying in the night and my parents would massage my legs and bathe them in rubbing alcohol. Doctors ruled out juvenile arthritis and diagnosed me with your average growing pains. But I am not entirely convinced this was not a precursor to the problems I faced in later life. Perhaps something in my makeup predisposed me to certain conditions.
Out of college, I joined the Peace Corps and went to work in west Africa in a maternal and child health program, teaching nutrition, sanitation, and disease prevention, particularly AIDS, which was rampant at the time. I personally suffered malaria twice, despite the anti-malarial drugs I was taking, the same drugs which became the focus of many a lawsuit because of the neurological damage they could cause when taken for extended periods of time, as I had. I also brought home a plethora of parasites with me. Thus began, in my early 20’s, years of battling extreme headaches and fatigue.
At 29, I began having babies, and there were complications there, too. I suffered from toxemia with both pregnancies and was forced to deliver early. One of my children developed learning disabilities, and later was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I was told not to have any more children, so had surgery to cauterize my fallopian tubes. Shortly after, my pain levels skyrocketed and doctors eventually came to the conclusion that I had fibromyalgia, though not a lot was known about it at the time. I took pharmaceuticals for ten years to manage it, which they did, but they also caused me to put on a great deal of weight and my libido was shot all to hell. During that period, I also was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. So, in an effort to avoid subscribing to every autoimmune disease in the manual, I began to search out alternative therapies. I found a great deal of help by using essential oils and put great stock in them. I was able to wean myself off of the painkillers.
My father died of colon cancer. My mother has diverticulitis. My niece has irritable bowel, and possibly other issues with her colon. Clearly something in our family tree has it out for us in the digestive department. I tried cleaning up my diet. Or at least I thought I was cleaning it up. No more sodas, very little sugar, all organic. Those were my guidelines. It wasn’t enough.
I tried yoga and other exercise, but would be left in pain for days following. Forget playing tennis, the one sport I actually love. After a month, my body rebelled with a hurt shoulder and dodgy ankle.
One of the disks in my neck began pushing on my spinal cord, resulting in a surgery. Physical therapy was both good and bad. Then a few years later, another disk. So here I am, trying to avoid more surgery, grasping for anything. Most drugs don’t work for me. I got my medical marijuana card. Some help there, but not enough. Botox injections in the head and neck. Maybe that helped a little, maybe not. Round and round with doctors, until finally, after waiting three months for an appointment, I found a doctor of internal medicine who was also a naturopath and did acupuncture. She took my detailed history and flat out told me that she wouldn’t do acupuncture or any other therapy until I started her anti-inflammatory diet.
Now, I’ve never had willpower in my life, and this diet restricted just about everything that made my life livable. Or so I thought. But I was wrong. In a month’s time, my pain has dramatically decreased. It has been the single most effective therapy I have ever experienced. It is difficult. I have to eat regularly to maintain energy. And I cook almost every night. So it requires time and effort. I have saved money on eating out, for sure. One of the best side effects? I have lost fifteen pounds and am at my pre-pregnancy weight, a number that took 20 years to achieve and one that I honestly didn’t think I’d see again in this lifetime. I guess the money I saved on eating out can go towards a new wardrobe. And more energy. I already, after one month, feel like adding more exercise into my daily routine.
One of the challenges of my new way of eating is finding exciting recipes. I am a good cook and I like most foods, which certainly helps, but I get bored easily. So this blog is partly about sharing recipes I’ve found or created, introducing you to this anti-inflammatory lifestyle, and bringing you along for the ride on this journey to a pain-free existence. Let’s go!