What to Ask to Gather your Healthcare Dream Team

What to Ask to Gather your Healthcare Dream Team
Let me start this by backing up a little bit. To know what questions you want to ask a potential member of your Healthcare Dream Team, you have to know what qualities you want.

So before you read this, take a few moments and list out what you want. Don't hold back here. Instead, fully express what you want (and need). Doing so will help direct you to the questions that you need to ask. 

That's it - blog post done, right? No, not at all! This is just our starting point. Once you have your list, now we can start figuring out what questions to ask.

If you're not sure what to ask, here are 3 of mine to get you started. 

1. What role do you think lifestyle changes play in lowering inflammation and pain?
2. How often do you research treatments for RA, both natural and pharmaceutical?
3. Are you willing to order tests that insurance doesn't cover?

Your healthcare team is going to look different from mine and so will your list of questions. The only other piece of advice I have is don't shy away from what you really want. Be willing to travel or spend a little more for your team if possible. 

The biggest thing I want you to remember is they work for you. Not the insurance companies, their practice, or themselves - YOU. Keeping that in mind, with some grace mixed in of course, will help you find your Dream Team.

The Biggest Mistake I See My Clients Make

The Biggest Mistake I See My Clients Make
The one thing I see my clients do over and over again is looking for the quick fix that will also magically heal them. Friends, I cannot tell you how much this breaks my heart. The worst part? There are people (and companies) out there that are more than happy to profit from their desperation. And THAT makes me angry.

So how do you stop falling victim to this? Easy, start doing your research. Look for those who take a balanced approach to treatment, who's been where you are, and who understand that outside of a miracle or Jesus, there's no cure for autoimmune disease. That last bit may be hard to hear, but it's so important. I didn't really see much progress until I sat with that and processed through it.

Does that mean that you're doomed to be in pain, have fatigue and brain fog, and feel like the StayPuf marshmallow man the rest of your life? Of course not! What it does mean is that once you've been diagnosed, you now fall into a life of symptoms management. You may very well even go into remission -which is wonderful! 

But none of that happens overnight. Are there things that make us feel better quickly? YES! My Celebrex helps me reduce inflammation and joint pain when I wake up so that I can do what I need to do. It doesn't heal my RA or the cause of my inflammation though. 

How do you begin the work of going from a quick fix way of thinking to one of endurance and patience? The first step is to recognize or bring awareness to the fact that there is no quick fix. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, right?

Once you do that, you can start to research ways of getting to the root cause of your symptoms. Healing is not linear, which you find out more and more as you travel this journey. I literally started my search on Google (but maybe Duck Duck Go is better nowadays) and I started looking for people who'd managed their symptoms naturally. 

Many of them worked with a chiropractor, naturopath, or a health coach to begin to unpeel the onion layers of root cause work. If you are tired of feeling tired, if you want to improve brain function and your memory recall, if you want to start seeing less inflammation and pain, and you are willing to do what it takes to begin to heal, set up a free discovery session with me. Let's get you some relief and create a plan to help you thrive with chronic pain. 

How My Life Changed Since I Began Healing Naturally

How My Life Changed Since I Began Healing Naturally
Almost a decade. I've been on this path for nearly 10 years. That blows me away. It's a blessing and a burden.

How do you encapsulate a journey that spans this much time without writing a tome? Truthfully, not being able to tell my story in a succinct way kept from sharing it for a long time. But with autoimmune conditions on the rise, and the health of most Americans, especially women, on the decline, I figured it was time to try.

I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I'd spent the previous night sleepless, tossing and turning trying to get comfortable. I'd eaten my husband's homemade potato soup and it was so good. But within a few minutes, I had heartburn so bad that I thought I'd never find relief. I popped Tums like candy and went to bed.

After what seemed like seconds, I was up and in the bathroom. If it wasn't coming up, it was coming out. Both felt like lava escaping my body. No one else was sick so I knew it wasn't food poisoning. Then came the joint pain, subtle at first, but then it felt like flames throughout my body and pain that felt like stepping on Legos. OUCH!

I moved to the couch, again trying to find a comfortable position, but nothing worked. My body finally resigned to sleep around 2:30 or 3:00 am and my alarm went off at 5. I was so tired and bone weary, I don't remember fixing the coffee or what I read in my bible.  I'd had a few other moments like this over the last few weeks and I was DONE. I knew I needed to see my doctor. So I called into work and made an appointment.

I put water on my body in the shower and struggled against the fire and legos in my joints to get ready. Then I got in the car and drove to the appointment. Again, I don't remember how I got there. Not good, right? I used the automatic doors and the elevator to get to the doctor's office on the second floor. The walk from the car felt a mile long. 

I sat in the waiting room and waited for my name to be called. After the nurse put me in the room, I asked her to turn off the lights (they were blinding me at this point). I laid down on the table and went to sleep. Then the doctor came in. She was really worried about me. I remember stumbling over my words and just wanting relief.

 I told what had been happening and she told me I probably had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), acid reflux, and chronic fatigue. She told me that this was totally normal for a "woman of my age".Being just 38, I couldn't imagine that what I'd been through was normal but I didn't question her. She gave me a referral to a gastroenterologist, a prescription for Celebrex, and encouraged me to "work on my stress". 

I was raising 5 teenagers at the time and my marriage was in trouble. I was in a faith crisis and hated the work I did. Exactly how was working on my stress going to help? But I didn't question her. She was the doctor and I was not. She knew best, right?

After the gastroenterologist wanted to put me on even more medications, I asked what role diet could play in my health. He looked me dead in the eye and said it had no bearing on my condition unless I had celiac disease. So I asked for time to think about it and he agreed. I went home and took the rest of the next several days to research my conditions. 

Do you know what I found? HOPE. Hope that I could heal without medication. Hope that I could reverse all my symptoms on my own. So that's what I started doing nearly a decade ago. 

If you're wondering where my RA diagnosis came in, while I had the symptoms that day at the office, it took 6 years to get a diagnosis from a rheumatologist. All my doctors and specialists kept telling me my symptoms were normal "for my age". 

Y'all, I was 38 years old at my first appointment. What I was experiencing was not normal for someone in their late 30s, but they had no other answers. So I went looking for those who did.

I found a health care team that believes that less is more when it comes to medication, that diet and lifestyle absolutely play a role in healing and that remission is possible. It's a team effort, but I know I'm going to beat this.

What am I doing? Here is a high level summary of what I do each and every day.

-Eating an AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) diet
-Drinking filtered water that removes fluoride without removing minerals
-Get at least 15 minutes in the sun each day and supplementing with Vitamin D3 on the days I can't.
-Do gentle stretches and light strength training at least 5 times a week
-Use essential oils, deep breathing, prayer, and bible study, and walks by the lake to reduce stress. 
-Removed all toxic personal care and cleaners from my home. Found nontoxic cleaners instead.
-Made a commitment to reach out to friends and family on a regular basis to keep from feeling isolated.
-Taking clean supplements that fill in the gaps created by digestive issues.
-Use natural, nontoxic pain relievers, heating pads, and frozen veggie packs for icing down my joints
-Take my medications as prescribed and keep my appointment
-Continue to research the latest in natural healing for autoimmune conditions

If you're still reading this, God bless you. I pray that you find what works for you. It can be such a confusing and lonely journey. If you would like a guide to help you on your journey, reach out to me. I love helping others find their path! 

*NOTE: I am reader supported. When you buy links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commission. I appreciate your support.

Why I Decided to Go Back on Medication

Why I Decided to Go Back on Medication

Let me start this off by saying that I struggled with this decision. Everything in me wanted to give in another 6 months to see what would happen. Thoughts and questions flooded my head constantly.

"Am I giving up too soon?"

"Should I wait to see if x (workout, food elimination, etc) helps?"

"What will people think? Will they want to continue to follow a health coach with RA whose on medication?"

It was that last thought that cemented it for me. I was more concerned with what people thought of my treatment plan than I was concerned for my own health. That's when I knew I needed to do some research, and I knew just where to look.

I'd come across this podcast from Eileen Laird of phoenixhelix.com years ago and remember thinking how brave she was for coming out with that information. After listening for a bit, I realized that she'd made the right choice. 

Today my husband and I and my rheumatologist talked it over and decided that it was the best course of action - for now. The goal is to minimize the amount of medication I'm on through eating AIP, moving daily, making sure I'm hydrated, manage my stress, and keep doing what I've started on working through past trauma. 

I've started seeing a resurgence of symptoms over the past few weeks, and we were all concerned that if I allowed my RA to continue to progress, I'd lose function of my hands and feet. Nobody wanted that, so methotrexate it is until I see my numbers drop, and my pain and inflammation decrease.

One of the things I was thinking about on the way home is that even though it's not exactly what I wanted, it is still the ultimate act of self care. Moving from 100% natural to a more integrated approach has the best chance of giving me the life I want. And that's really the point of any treatment, right?!?                    

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Why Am I So Tired All The Time?

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Why Am I So Tired All The Time?
Most of us have seasons in our lives when we are tired. Chronic fatigue from autoimmune symptoms is a whole other animal. I convinced myself for a LONG time that my fatigue was because I was in the middle of raising 5 teenagers, working a full time job, being active in church and managing our household and the finances. While that IS a lot, it wasn't the real reason I was so exhausted. 

My first diagnosis was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome back in 2012. When I asked my doctor what that was he said, "it's what we give you when your body is exhausted but we don't know why". He told me to get more sleep and manage my stress. Okay then. During this time, my sleep was ALL messed up, I was wide awake when I should be sleeping and falling asleep at work. This is not a joke, that's exactly what I was doing. Until our vending machine started carrying those yummy Starbucks drinks.

I needed those drinks to function, or so I thought. Those wonky sleep patterns were my body's cry for help, but I didn't know I was supposed to be listening.

I thought it was perfectly normal to slug down caffeine at all hours of the day because that's what everyone around me was doing. It wasn't until I started going to a chiropractor who did a functional assessment of my sleep patterns that I realized I was in trouble. She told me Chronic Fatigue was the body's first warning sign that my body wasn't working right and needed some support.  She ordered some food intolerances tests, did some bloodwork, and asked me to journal all my symptoms over the next week. Secretly, I knew I was in trouble but I told all my friends that I was just fine. But I wasn't, I was miserable.

When I returned to my chiropractor for my test results, I was AMAZED at what she told me - multiple food sensitivities, off the charts cortisol levels (the hormone responsible for allowing you to manage stress well), and something called SIBO. SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth and it was why I wasn't sleeping, my stress levels were so high and the source of my food intolerances. She gave me hundreds of dollars in supplements and something called an Anti-Candida diet to follow for the next 21 days. While she meant well, I was more stressed and tired than ever. It was a LOT to manage and I just wasn't sure I'd be able to handle adding anything to my already packed schedule.

I complied because I didn't want to upset her (Umm, WHAT?!?) and it was the worst 21 days ever. I felt MORE tired and slept even less. Not to mention with the new diet and added stress, I was a grumpy monster, to say the least. I went back and had tests redone and wasn't surprised to learn that all my symptoms were worse. Good grief! 

I went home and did some research on my own. At this point, I wasn't sleeping well, I was bloated all the time, I was only going poo once or twice a week and my moods were all over the place. Something had to change and had to change quickly. My research brought me to a bunch of blogs who ate this ancestral diet called Paleo. Eat like a caveman? Why?

They showed person after person who had healed from what I was dealing with and much worse just by adopting this lifestyle. I thought, Great!, this is the answer! So I bought all the books and listened to all the podcasts, liked all the Facebook pages, pinned all the pins on Pinterest, and dove headfirst into this new lifestyle. And it worked great! I lost 40 pounds, my husband and I both got off all our medications and I felt mostly normal again. I still had my digestion issues but was told I needed more gut support. I mentioned this to my chiropractor who ordered some HCL for me as well as telling me to drink aloe juice and eat LOTS of fat. And it mostly worked for awhile.

Flash forward a few years and all my symptoms started returning. I couldn't understand it because I was now on what's called the Paleo AIP diet. It's a highly restrictive diet that eliminates nearly all foods people are sensitive to and some that specifically cause joint pain. I didn't have my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis yet, but I was dealing with joint pain as well as still dealing with digestive issues. I went to California on vacation in December 2017 and had periods of extreme exhaustion and incredible pain in my feet. I powered through and then called my doctor when I returned.

On the day of the appointment, my middle finger on my right hand was so swollen, I thought it might be broken. When I showed her, she ordered an Xray and some bloodwork. She sent me home with a prescription for Celebrex and told me to rest and reduce my stress. Sound familiar?  She called me a couple of days later and told me I tested positive for rheumatoid arthritis and set me up with an appointment with a rheumatologist in a couple of months. At this point, my joint pain was so bad it was keeping me up at night and made it nearly impossible to do my job (I worked at a computer typing all day long).

I met with my rheumatologist who confirmed my diagnosis and added Anemia of Chronic Disease. No wonder I'd been tired, my iron levels were in the toilet and I officially had an autoimmune diagnosis. He put me on prescription after prescription, but my body either rejected them with an allergic reaction or they flat out didn't work. I was SUPER frustrated.

At this point, I'd spent the last 7 years eliminating toxins, trying to eat well and exercise, took all manner of supplements, but nothing seemed to work. A friend referred me to a naturopathic doctor she'd been working with and I set up an appointment. We went over my medical history and what I was doing to support my body. She agreed that I was doing everything right and wanted to order some tests for Epstein Barr Virus or EBV. She called me the next day and asked how in the world I was even managing to function.  She told me I had what's known as Chronic Epstein Barr Virus or CEBV and was currently in the middle of an active EBV episode. She gave me some herbal antivirals and suggested I do some reading on EBV diets and lifestyle changes. I had already done most of the lifestyle switches. 

My research on EBV protocols led me to a man named Anthony Williams or the Medical Medium. I had a source for the supplements he suggested but I have to say his food protocols were unlike any I'd ever seen! Many people finding success with his plan come over from the Paleo, AIP, and Keto diets. Just like me. I started drinking 16 oz. of celery juice, followed my fresh lemon juice each morning. I ate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and reduced my fats until lunchtime. Dinner was a small amount of animal protein and TONS of veggies and fruit. I started noticing that my energy was returning and my joint pain was diminishing too. Just the other day I got a full, uninterrupted 8 hour of deep sleep. I was so HAPPY!

If you've read this far, THANK YOU! If you talk to most people with chronic sleep issues, they'll tell you it didn't happen overnight and it doesn't always happen just to people who aren't taking care of themselves. If you'd like to learn more, click here and I'll send you my FREE guide to feeling more energetic! Thank you and be blessed. 

This is part 1 in my series, "Living with RA". I wrote about pain and stress. Check them out and let me know what you think!