A Holistic Change For The Better Post Diagnosis

There’s nothing like being diagnosed with a rare disease that will get you to start thinking about a probable lifestyle change. In the beginning of my diagnosis, I gained weight and didn’t want to do much of anything. It caused me temporary, aching blindness one eye at a time over a period of several months. I was always in pain and found myself on the couch – a lot.

Eating cookie dough only helped so much, so I decided to drive to Waco to see my twin sister and brother in law for a weekend. One morning, while chatting over coffee with my sister, she spoke truth. I was so sick and tired of being sick all the time and I was the only one who could do something about it. There’s nothing like deep sister talks – she literally makes me feel like superwoman.

So I prayed that day and felt God leading me to a completely holistic, clean, and organic lifestyle. I want the world to know that though we can’t control what happens to us, we can control what we give our bodies.

It’s not a passion for organic foods, natural products, or essential oils – it’s a passion for my body and what I put in and on it now ever since I was diagnosed with a rare disease.

I was basically forced to change for the better after I was diagnosed with NMO, a nerve disease that affects my central nervous system. My choice of lifestyle is a result of being scared to death that I would become permanently blind or disabled, and I just can’t fathom that right now. Not now, not at 28, and not if I can help it. Clean foods and natural products all the way from deodorant, natural skincare products, tampons, cleaning products, and even protection are all things I’ve changed in my life. And the more I fed my body clean things, the less my body felt pain. I go to sleep every night feeling like my body thanks me and that I am healing day by day. Below are some things I feed (and don’t feed) my body.

I stopped eating red meat.

No, I’m not a vegan, as I still eat fish and mostly chicken. But red meat is not the only way to get your healthy dose of protein and vital nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and zinc. I cut it out mainly to promote less inflammation in my body as I deal with autoimmune diseases like lupus and NMO. Try reading this article about ditching red meat.

I drink raw cacao every morning for breakfast.

I can’t even begin to tell you the wonders of this powder (←buy it), so I’m just going to give you a good read here so you can see for yourself. I usually blend it with almond milk and bananas and even substitute it for coffee in my mornings. I drink this with my vitamins and apple cider vinegar supplements. It’s typically my breakfast. I usually make a pitcher of it so there’s enough for both my husband and I, as well as enough for those nightly cravings (he he).

I drink super food smoothies for lunch and started juicing daily.

I’m in love with Your Super products because they’re completely non GMO, gluten, soy, dairy, AND sugar free and 100% plant based! The founder was diagnosed with cancer at age 24 and their story goes from there. I typically mix my super green powder with a banana, kale, and almond milk and this will be my lunch. I was gifted a juicer over the holidays and I love it! My favorite recipe right now is carrots, apples, pairs and kale. I’m sure that’ll change once I’ve tried all 101 concoctions in my recipe book .

I stopped eating processed foods, added sugars, and dairy.

This is pretty self explanatory, but I pretty much stick to lean meat like chicken or salmon for dinner and will snack on nuts and fruits minimally throughout the day. I also can’t pass up fresh guacamole. I stick to almond milk, rice milk, and almond creamers as my “milk.” Like I said, if you get a craving for something sweet, try another cacao shake.

I walk or jog 5 days a week for 30 minutes.

I have a gym membership, but if the day is beautiful outside, you better believe I’m soaking up that sun and smelling the fresh air. You can read about the amazing benefits here. I feel more energy, maintain my weight, and get an overall mood booster. I typically rest on Saturdays and Sundays as those are my calm yoga, stretch days. I don’t have a specific same time of the day that I do this, I just do it – as Nike would say.

So here’s my why.

Put simply, a major life altering diagnosis made me make major lifestyle changes – and it’s changed my life for the better. I’m losing weight, have more energy, rarely get a headache, have less body ache, and have noticed vibrant other benefits. My vision is about 60% back instead of being fully blind in my left eye due to my condition. As everyday passes, it becomes my normal way of living – it’s become a lifestyle I love. It has made my rare diagnosis bearable. Despite that I have infusion treatments every two weeks to prevent another relapse, I’m stronger everyday and truly believe I am slowly healing my body day by day.

A holistic health approach meets the total well being of physical health, emotional nurture, mental health, and spiritual nourishment. I make sure each of those areas are exercised daily in my own personal way and beliefs and this brings my life a wonderful, organic happiness and joy that only comes from the Lord.

I may not be able to change a rare diagnosis, but I can change what I eat, how I feel, and the impact it has on the rest of my life. I choose joy, health, and wellness – maybe sometimes we’re just forced to change for the better.

Cheers to long life, healthier foods – and believing in yourself!

Chronic-Pain: I’m Done Apologizing For Not Showing Up

I have a rare, chronic neurological disease that affects my central nervous system. It’s caused me to become temporarily half-blind and feel throbbing pain everywhere.

I was diagnosed with Devic’s disease (the sister of MS) last month after my MRI scans showed optic neuritis and brain lesions — and it’s completely shattered me.

Seven years ago, I experienced the same heartbreak in a cold office when the doctor told me I had systemic lupus. No matter how long you’ve lived with chronic pain, you’re never quite prepared for the next invasion of torment. The pain from Devic’s disease fused with the suffering of lupus are unbearable at times. I feel ambushed. Walking is a joke as my knees have turned to brick. The pain is unreal. All I want to do is curl up in a blanket, take pain medicine, and sleep all the time (if I could sleep). At least when I’m sleeping, I’m not crying from the unbearable waves of pain or feeling the sting of missing the things I could once do normally.

Living with chronic disease wrecks you emotionally and it devastates all parts of your life. I’m a teacher, and I’ve missed sixteen days of work and it’s barely November. I have to apply for disability in my twenties and stay on a life-long treatment of IV infusions every two weeks.

I live in a world of uncharted, scary possibilities; the only known thing being the familiar pain I know I’ll face the moment my eyes awake in the morning.

And I’m done . . . I’m done apologizing for not showing up when I’m in the pit of hell swelling with tears every hour. I’m done pushing through physical suffering. I’m done pretending I’m OK; being able to walk without showing my pain is a skill I shouldn’t have mastered. I’m done pretending that I’m not absolutely wrecked by this physical, mental, and emotional assault on my body.

I’ve no reason to miss work. I love what I do and I’ve worked damned hard to be a teacher. Forget sick days, I’m just losing income now. But I can’t worry about things like that. I have to have an unrelenting faith that things are going to work out. That the things that I desire to do now may not happen today, but they will. That I will be back on my feet, warm mug in hand, ready to face anything in my day — pain-free.

I saw this on Twitter once:

Chronic illness: no one gets it, until they get it.

Pretty accurate I’d say. I can’t worry myself with what people think of me. They’ve no idea the pain is still there even when I’m smiling. That the pain is still within, even when I’m not talking about it.

I don’t want my struggle to make me a victim. I want my battle to give others the courage to keep going even if that means — not going. Not showing up. Not saying yes to every — single — thing. Staying in. Crying if you need to. Putting comfy clothes on and eating more chocolate than usual. Putting you first.

People need to understand that saying no takes just as much courage as saying yes. It hurts us to say no — to not show up because we’re struck with an incurable illness that we can’t control. It hurts us to not show up to the birthday party you had planned or the coffee date to catch up on life. We wish we could have control over when our pain strikes us, but we never will. It knocks, comes in uninvited, and changes everything we thought we’d be doing. Sometimes it’s manageable, most times it’s not. In a flare, it’s usually a high pain day, week, or month — and we’re probably staying in our PJ’s.

The thing with a chronic illness is that it’s not going anywhere. It’s made it’s incurable home and we have to arrange our furniture — some things are thrown out, some things collect dust, some things get broken.

Chronic pain isn’t a cry for attention. It’s not something we ask for or choose. Chronic illness is something that happens. It’s a disability. It’s real. The unknown is scary and most days, we don’t know how we’re going to manage the pain, we’ve just learned to. But we can’t always be strong.

And for pete’s sake, we don’t always have to be grateful it’s not worse.

So, I’m done apologizing for not showing up when I simply cannot. I’m done being ungentle to myself and forcing my body to push through the pain when every second it’s begging me to just stop. I need to heal the way that is right for me. It’s the only way I’ll get better — and I’m done apologizing for it.

Also published on: The Mighty