Life gives us many journeys. I don’t think that life is confined to just one adventure or journey or road or trail. It’s made up of a combination of paths and hikes and jogs and strolls, depending on what is going on at a particular time in your life. The beginning of May three years ago was the beginning of one of my life hikes. The climb was steep. Overwhelming, in fact. Rocks were tumbling down around me and at times I just curled up and tried to survive the onslaught called gallstone pancreatitis (click here if you want the story from the beginning).
Weeks in ICU, a pseudo-cyst in my abdomen that made me swell larger than when I was pregnant, pain so intense that I couldn’t move or breath for fear of triggering a greater ache. My only nutrition for about seven months was from a bag I carried around to a picc line in my arm. My pancreas was removed except for 30%, my gallbladder is gone and my organs are rearranged in a way that affects my digestion and creates a constant pain.
But I did survive. Two and a half years later, after working my way through a laundry list of problems and ailments – some temporary (the need for iron infusions each week) and some permanent (diabetes) – my doctor said, “You need to gain more weight.”
I was a ghost. I had gained 60 pounds in one week because of the pseudo-cyst and water retention at the beginning of my illness. I then lost much more than that while on my picc line. I had survived but I wasn’t very healthy.
My ability to eat real food was a challenge for many months so when my body finally kicked in and started hanging on to the food I was eating, craziness happened. I’m not kidding. The diabetes wasn’t familiar to me and we were playing with my insulin a lot. I wasn’t experienced in how to read my new body and the sugar lows so when I finally felt cravings for food I acted on them….even when it happened three times a night. I was ravenous. Suddenly starving after 2 years. Since I was told to eat, I ate.
Six months later, I was 20 pounds overweight and my doctor was saying, “OK, now you need to lose weight.” Talk about frustrating! I couldn’t believe I had done that! But I tried not to beat myself up too badly because again, this was one journey I was on in my life. One experience. One adversity. One challenge. And I was working my way through it.
This was so much more than losing weight, though. My pain level was still controlling me on a daily basis and I was on many different medications and supplements. A pill for this, a tablet for that. I looked at my handful of pills one night and thought, “What am I doing? There has to be another solution.”
Thus started my attack on my own poor health. I have a 4-year-old son and I wanted to live a long and healthy life with him and for him. It was time to tackle this thing.
What have I been doing since? Knocking out my health issues and taking control of my own body in more natural ways. I believe in doctors. I believe in medication and prescriptions. But I was ready to try some holistic options for certain things. Here’s what I’m doing and how it’s affecting me:
1. FOOT ZONING
My first step was to try foot zoning because my neighbor, Kathleen, has been certified in it and she is a down-to-earth person who was looking for ways to help her family with different medical issues. She is not mystical or too extreme and that is why I finally tried it. It is similar to reflexology where the entire body is mapped out on the feet but as they work and massage the feet in a specific pattern and method, the entire body is affected.
My expectations were low and there are many claims of things that it can do to help our bodies. I didn’t really see the kind of results that others might experience with this method of treatment but after the initial series of 8 sessions, there was one major change in how I felt.
My energy level was remarkably improved.
For the first time in 2 1/2 years I could keep up with my son. I still felt pain every day but I no longer needed a nap every afternoon. Naps were over for me and I could move easier and was more free than I had felt since I got sick. That was worth every penny. I still do foot zoning about every two weeks to keep things going. My health issues are long term and we are working toward a maintenance schedule of once per month. Foot zoning is one piece of the puzzle in my attack to gain a healthy body.
I had heard that Chinese acupuncture helped with pain and since I was taking 6-8 low-grade pain pills in every 24-hour period, pain was ruling my life. I went to a local acupuncturist with hope but again, not very high expectations. I started on a 8-session series where I visited her twice a week and she targeted my abdominal area, digestion and pseudo-cyst area. She also worked on helping me sleep better and controlling my food cravings.
Acupuncture has changed my life.
After 6 weeks I was able to drop to just one pain pill every 12 hours and I’m working on getting off of those right now. I have left behind many of my other meds because my digestive issues are more controlled and healed. My body temperature has been extreme – I am always hot and can’t really function in anything but cool areas since my illness. My body temperature is now more normal. My food cravings are very controlled. My sleep is better than it has been in a long time. I have to roll Jason over every night, usually twice a night, so being able to maximize my sleep and get back to sleep easily is really important to my overall health.
I am now down to one session per week and feeling the effects like nothing I have ever experienced. I am a believer. After feeling this kind of pain for almost 3 years and to be virtually free of it after 6 weeks is remarkable to me. I feel balanced in so many ways and I am grateful for this method of treatment that has literally changed my life.
3. HEALTHY LIVING CHALLENGE
Finally, my friend LynDee spearheaded a challenge that has been floating around the internet for awhile, tweaked it to fit the needs of our neighborhood and invited some truly committed women to be a part of it. It involves having partners to keep you accountable, exercise almost every day and keeping track of good and bad foods you eat. Everything has a point value and the goal is to get as many points as you can by the end of each week, report your points and see where you land on the leaderboard. Oh, and you get points for losing weight but weight is not the focus here. It’s all about eating right and moving more. (click here to see post explaining the challenge & free downloads)
I’ll share the program in more detail in this future blogpost but I want you to think about joining in with us for our next 6-week session. We’re finished with our second session this week and we will be starting up again on April 12. Start thinking about it. Do you want to change your health? Nutrition is key and this challenge helps you focus on healthy eating and healthy habits. I’ve lost 14 pounds in 8 weeks but more than that, I look great. I look healthy.
This is my journey. And my tools to navigate this particular path. It may not be the same path that you need to take but I wanted to share my experience with you since it has impacted my overall health so dramatically in just a few short months. I started Foot Zoning last fall but acupuncture began 10 weeks ago and the Healthy Living Challenge began just six weeks ago. All of these things are working together for the same goal. The same good. The same results. One step at a time. I am not an expert on any of these things. I’m just sharing my experiences. I add what I can, when I feel like I can tackle it. We should all do what we can, when we can without feeling pressure to do something we are not ready to do.
I am reminded of this post from 2011 (click here for free download). The idea of balance applies at every stage, including this one. But I can’t help thinking of it in new a new light – balanced energy, a balanced diet, a balanced spirit, a balanced body. This is what matters most right now in my life in order to make the most of the rest of my life.
But I would love to join you on my journey this next round of our Healthy Living Challenge! Watch for more info about the program – coming soon!
Here’s to a journey full of health, energy and joy.
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