IMAGE: The long road ahead © Louise A. Shilton
Many people are familiar with the adage “You are what you eat”, and there is a great deal of truth to this saying. However, what we eat is not the whole story, as I discovered ‘the hard way’.
Putting the emotional causes of physical conditions aside for a moment (I wrote about the emotional basis of physical conditions in “In Sickness and in Health”)—a more accurate version of this saying would be “You are what you digest”. And if you want to be really precise, “You are what you assimilate”!
The story of my chronic physical health issues and road to recovery is a long one, and I will share more details about my personal story at other times. What I hope to do here is to raise awareness of some physical symptoms and conditions that are becoming increasingly common among people in these times—especially those of us who are intrinsically highly sensitive to chemicals and energies. (The two invariably go hand-in-hand. If you are a Sensitive—you are sensitive. Period. I recently wrote about some of the symptoms of awakening and soul ascension in my blog “Opening Up”)
I believe that one of the reasons I have had many challenges in my life is to overcome them, and then share with others how I overcame them. I wish to empower people to take matters of their own health into their own hands. It is my firm belief now that each of us holds within ourselves the keys to healing ourselves. (Incidentally, this is the basis of Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy, which I recently trained as a practitioner in with Dolores Cannon, the technique’s founder.)
It is my sincere hope that others will be able to take a shortcut to their own health recovery—the long road isn’t necessary if you nip things in the bud and take charge of your health like your life depends on it! (In my case—it did…)
But first, a confession and a disclaimer:
My confession: I am not a fan of conventional medicine—and by this I mean western medicine. I personally believe that the western medical system needs a radical overhaul, as it is not serving in the best interests of either the patients or the practitioners. And it is my personal belief that the root of this issue is the liberal use of drugs to dull and mask symptoms rather than determining and treating the causes. People are increasingly being drugged and numbed—but not healed—in many circumstances where full healing is possible. Many people are being kept sick by the very system that should be facilitating their healing.
My disclaimer: I am not suggesting that anyone with the sorts of symptoms I exhibited will have the same causes or healing path as myself. But I would encourage them to consider the possibilities—and to listen to their own body.
I have always generally looked healthy. When I was younger I had such rosy cheeks I would often get comments about looking “the picture of health”. Thing is, I still received comments along these lines when I was actually seriously anaemic! (Anaemia is the condition of having low blood iron—something I have been prone to for many years, and a major factor in why I resumed eating meat at 26 after 12 years of being a vegetarian. But that is a whole other story!)
A pattern was set from an early age—even when I have been very sick, I have apparently—for the most part at least—looked healthy. I remember my mum only once looking really concerned about me in my teens—because my cheeks went pale! (As it happens, I had glandular fever, but it went undiagnosed at the time…)
But back to the opening statement—“You are what you eat”—and why I want to highlight the importance of recognising that actually: “You are what you digest and assimilate”.
I learned only within the last 18 months—and through a complete physical collapse and fairly dramatic muscle loss—that my digestive system wasn’t working. And more to the point, I learned that my gut hadn’t been digesting food effectively for many years! (There had been signs along the way during this insidious decline in gut health, but for various reasons at those times I didn’t take it seriously enough.)
Other than being a strict vegetarian for several years in my youth, I have never dieted or followed a fad diet. I have always eaten quite healthily and been a physically active person. I have never been seriously overweight or dangerously underweight. I have never smoked a cigarette, and I have never used any recreational drugs. I have never been a heavy drinker or binge drinker. By all intents and purposes I have lived a fairly healthy lifestyle and haven’t overtly abused my body. However, I have been seriously unwell for many years, and my physical health had been rapidly deteriorating and my symptoms escalating in the years and months leading up to August 2012, when I collapsed after exposure to excessive mineral turpentine (turps) fumes during oil painting classes.
So, what was going on with my body before the turps poisoning?
Let’s backtrack a month. In July 2012, concerned about a sudden loss of muscle a couple of months prior, and prompted by a particularly severe “irritable bowel” and skin itchiness break-out, I went to see a medical doctor. He scratched my back—literally!—and determined from the lingering redness that my body was pumped up with histamines (i.e. having an allergic response). He asked if I took anti-histamines, so I said “I take one if it’s really bad”. He told me I needed to take them daily for two weeks whenever I had symptoms—which I pointed out would mean I would be taking them every single day…
I told him about a pattern that seemed relevant to me, but other medics had looked nonplussed at. In short, medical tests had never positively diagnosed the cause when I was really sick with fevers and the like. Nevertheless, subsequent blood tests revealed that I had been exposed to a number of viruses that I had previously tested negatively for, including glandular and dengue fevers. Furthermore, I told him that I have had many rabies vaccinations due to work involving the handling of bats—which are high risk for rabies and other lyssaviruses—but curiously, whenever my blood titre (antibody level) was tested, it was determined to be insufficient for protection, and so I had to have booster rabies innoculations. (Like many vaccinations, the rabies innoculation uses a live virus and the vaccine is laced with traces of the heavy metal mercury*.)
The doctor started making sense of my quirky immune system response—and despite this doctor’s shortcomings, I remain very grateful for the fact that he actually made medical sense regarding my immune system—diagnosing that I am a “low converter”. This means that standard medical tests for infections, such as viruses, test negative for me while I am sick as they are based on the detectable antibody levels in the blood. (Hence why glandular fever was not confirmed in my teens, and dengue fever was not confirmed when my body was almost broken in 2005—but my blood later showed that I have had both viruses. Incidentally, my blood also now shows a high level of rabies antibodies!!!)
Informed about my many years working on tropical wildlife—and therefore aware that I may have been exposed to many bugs and viruses the average westerner has not—this doctor wanted a swathe of blood tests to be taken. I returned a week or so later for the results and the doctor declared—with an audible level of fascination—“You have had everything! It’s amazing you’re still here!”
I kid you not—these were his exact words.
Given that I had already been battling with a recurring cycle of extremely poor health for so many years—there was something vindicating about hearing this. And I left his room thinking “Yes, it is amazing that I’m still here!”
A conversation with a friend that night prompted me to return to the doctor to find out more about what else I had tested positive for as I’d left his room without even a copy of the blood test results…
On returning to the same doctor the following day, I shared that his diagnosis about my slow/low antibody production (low conversion) had been quite emotional for me because I had never really rested properly when I was sick—in part because employers like clear diagnoses on medical certificates. I had typically soldiered on to hold down full-time jobs when I was really unwell—and I realised that my natural inclination to push myself hard coupled with not having specific diagnoses that would have enforced proper rest had taken its toll on my body. To cut a long story short, he then suggested—wait for it—anti-depressants!!!
I had presented to this doctor with clear allergic responses, skin rashes and irritations, sudden loss of muscle, irritable bowel, chronic bone and joint pains, and an increasingly “cotton wool” or “scrambled eggs” brain, memory and thought processing impairments, loss of coordination, sudden and dramatic blood sugar lows, and dry and itchy eyes, amongst other things. My body and blood tests showed him that my immune system was in overdrive and I was acutely iron deficient. He had himself determined that my immune system response was quirky, and he acknowledged that I have had many viruses that caused severe bone and joint pains as well as muscle aches, and he determined that my body held a cellular memory of this (i.e. he believed that my physical symptoms were real). But instead of considering what was actually causing the crazy array of reactions in my body – he suggested anti-depressants.
BAM! My fleetingly restored faith in western medical doctors flew right out of the window again! DRUGS! They always want to give you drugs! (And I knew deep down, that medically prescribed drugs were responsible for much of my health woes.)
His suggestion of anti-depressants hit like an incomprehensible blow to my already addled brain! The day before he was congratulating me for being the resilient survivor I knew myself to be. But now, after asking if I ever feel low and struggle to get going in the mornings, he hits me with that thing I really dislike about western medicine—Band-Aid treatment by drugs! (My response to him had been something like, “Er, yes I do, because every single bone and joint in my body is aching, my coordination is shot—I often fall over or bang into things when I first wake up—and my brain feels like “scrambled eggs”. It takes a few hours for me to get going in the mornings, whereas I used to spring out of bed all “zing, ping” and be such an active and driven person… I can’t do a lot of the things that I love to do as my legs are heavy, and my body exhausted. So yes, it does get me down a bit! I just want to get well and be able to be more physically active again.”)
I WANTED TO UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE(S) OF MY AILMENTS GODDAMMIT! I thought I may have found a doctor who was as curious and determined as I was to find out what the hell was going on with my body, and he committed the ultimate medical sin in my book—he suggested numbing (“Do you feel a little better on them?”) rather than even consider further what might actually be causing my debilitating symptoms. I FELT DUPED!
His suggestion was a low blow, and I remember feeling really flat and crying as I almost resigned myself to a continuing decline in my physical health. It also challenged my faith—my faith in myself and my faith in my spirit guidance. But then, my steely resolve kicked in, and I saw that his actions had actually been a blessing in disguise! I even thanked him in daily expressions of gratitude. I was now more determined than ever to get to the bottom of what was going on with my body. And not only this—I resolved to recover my health fully by natural means—absolutely DRUG FREE.
But there was one more thing I really needed to do. I needed to STOP and really focus on my physical healing. And, I guess I wasn’t really slowing down because within a month the Universe hit me with the turps poisoning! My body went to jelly. Turps is a solvent and cell membranes contain lipids (fats), so it’s not a good combination for cell structure! I lost all physical strength and coordination. I basically collapsed. I then lost even more muscle. I couldn’t really stand up for a few weeks, and then when I did, I needed to sit down quickly or prop myself against things. (Even 16 months later, I still cannot stand up steady like I used to… Moving my limbs is easier than standing still. I am still rebuilding.)
But as scary as this all was—and believe me, it was scary!—I recognised that this was a turning point. At the point of collapse I had a clear vision of myself in a wheelchair—and it was in the very near future. I decided then and there that I was not going to let that happen! It was time to not only work out what the hell was going on with my body, but to take action! It was now an emergency—my life depended on it.
Once I was paying full attention—the Universe started to show me what I needed to do to repair my body and heal myself. And, through following my guidance and experiencing the benefits of certain natural remedies, I managed to deduce what was actually wrong with my body—it all hinged on my GUT!
Through a combination of antibiotics, other prescribed medications, general anaesthetics, vaccinations, viruses, stresses and life traumas, my gut had become completely out of balance—overrun with bad gut bacteria—and I was feeding the bad guys! I had basically had chronic fatigue for 15 years (since an intensive blitz of 10 different antibiotics for an infection I sustained in my final months of PhD fieldwork in Indonesia in 1997)—and at some point since that time I had become coeliac (i.e. severely gluten-intolerant). (When gluten intolerance gets really bad, you are not extracting minerals or other nutrients from your food—you may as well be eating cardboard really! Chronic iron deficiency is one of the common symptoms.)
So, this is what had happened to me—my digestive system was seriously out of balance. Good gut bacteria had been wiped out by antibiotics and the like, and despite my love of live culture yogurts and eating healthily, it didn’t get back into balance. Instead, the bad bacteria took over my gut, and over time they became so demanding they held my whole body to ransom! They demanded more and more food! They demanded fattier foods. They demanded saltier foods. And I, listening to my body, started eating more meat, more fats, more salty food and while doing so I would temporarily feel a bit better, but then my joints would start aching again, and my head would get foggy again, and start pounding and swirling and scrambling.
Within 24 hours of the turps poisoning I learned of a powerful probiotic and a natural digestive aid (containing ginger). The miraculous circumstances were such that I recognised the information as a sign from the Universe—an answer to my prayer asking what I should do. (I repeatedly asked if I should go to hospital, and repeatedly I was told "no", and to rest.)
My condition got worse before it started to get better. My liver and kidneys were badly hit. The lube went out of my joints—and they became stiff and unyielding. In the last few months I’ve been increasingly aware of how badly my lungs and my aerobic fitness have been affected. I was in emergency response for the first few months after the turps —and undertook a major system cleanse and detox. At times I felt so bad all I could do was surrender and trust that spirit would guide me if I needed hospital care. (I rebuffed a lot of enquiries asking whether I went to hospital for tests—I have no idea what hospital staff would have done for my condition. But of one thing I was absolutely certain—I didn’t want any drugs—no pain killers, no anti-inflammatories, no anti-histamines, nothing like that.)
After a few months I was guided to live blood analysis (LBA) assessments that some naturopaths do. The first one was pretty scary and showed that my liver was in “fight or flight” response even after months of detoxing my body. (But the more recent LBA shows much improvement in my blood quality, and I plan to have a third LBA early in the New Year.) I completely cut out gluten from my diet. My groceries are about 90 percent organic. I continue to culture my own priobiotic yogurt. I took supplements for my liver and for my kidneys. I took supplements for my stem cells. I eliminated heavy metals from my system. I rehydrated my body with salts. I supported my adrenal function. I sunbathed. I slept. Financially it’s been an extremely challenging time—but I am getting my health back! And, I am now well on my way to being fitter and stronger and healthier than ever. (And I haven’t taken anti-histamines or pain killers or any over-the-counter or prescription drugs since the turps collapse.)
Just few months ago I was able to reflect on how serious a condition I was in (and my spirit guides have confirmed I was critical for a while there—but at the time they helped me to surrender to resting, and nudged me in the direction of the next steps to repairing myself).
Many remarkable things have happened on this long road to my health recovery. And one of these I need to share in closing. The morning after consuming my first litre batch of home-incubated probiotic yogurt, I awoke with a clear head, and was completely free of bone and joint pains—for the first time in what felt like an eternity! NO BONE AND JOINT PAINS!!!!! A CLEAR HEAD!!!!! I felt like I had struck gold.
I have intentionally not named any of the natural products I have used—I am not writing this to promote specific products, and I wouldn’t want to give the impression that they are miraculous cure alls! But, I am happy to share with individuals what products I have used during my own health recovery. I must emphasise that my overall recovery has been a long road—and 16 months since the turps poisoning I am still actively working on healing my lungs and rebuilding my muscles, amongst other things. But I believe my liver and kidneys are good now, and my blood cells are also improving. Most importantly, my gut is now extracting more minerals and other nutrients from my food— my digestive health is being restored.
All other factors aside, I do believe that the powerful probiotic that I started eating was a major factor in eliminating my bone and joint pains and me kissing goodbye to the “cotton wool” or “scrambled eggs” brain that had become a daily impairment, and was affecting my physical and mental capacity, and along with them, my self-confidence. Cutting out gluten was also a major factor for me. Probiotics were not completely new to me—I had often bought the brands available at the chemists—but what I learned is while these are fine for supporting the digestive system of someone whose gut is basically in balance, they are nowhere near powerful enough to rectify a digestive system that is seriously out of whack. When the bad gut bacteria take over, it’s a shit fight to win back control of your gut! But it’s a shit fight worth having—because what could be more important than regaining your quality of life?
Postscript: *I have read that mercury has been removed from many vaccinations in Australia since 2000; my reference to mercury and vaccines in my blog is because it is relevant to me and my chronic health issues, and is not intended to discourage people from taking vaccines per se.
Do you have reason to believe that you are highly sensitive to chemicals? Do you think you might be gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant? Do you suffer from low iron, other mineral deficiencies, or any of the other symptoms I mentioned?
If my story resonates with you or anyone you know, feel free to get in touch. I am happy to share with you what worked for me. (I can also offer intuitive guidance to support you on your own health recovery. )
I would love to hear about your own health and recovery stories!