Experimenting With My Own Health


These last couple of years I have been experimenting with my own health. I have been sickly most of my life – a real weakling, but never so seriously ill that it warranted massive medical attention. Frequent ear infections as a child (and thus frequent antibiotics), atopic-dermatitis, hay-fever etc. My mom took me to the Doctor and also to numerous different alternative practitioners, but none of it helped (well the Doctor prescribed antibiotics and antihistamines, but that does not solve the problem). So I grew up sceptical of alternative medicine – paying €100/h (that is the cost in Denmark) and leaving with massive herbal tinctures and homeopathic this that or the other – all sold by the lady prescribing the treatment and thus making her more money… and none of which helped… I did seem like snake oil was being sold to us. The final straw was when a kinesiologist told me that I weren’t harmed by smoking… (I had just started smoking back then). So I grew up believing in medical science and shunning all things alternative.

Fast forward a few years and I have a M.Sc. and I work in the medical industry – 3 things happen.

One – I get tendinitis in my hands and I am referred to a physiotherapist by my Doctor – I go every week for a year, but nothing she does helps more than a few days. At some point I can’t hold a knit to cut my food. My friend refers me to “her guy”, whom I thought was a chiropractor, but turns out he uses a kind of body-SDS (the name escapes me right now), which is very alternative and he fixes me in 4 session. He does the same with Marcus’ headaches – which he had also been seeing a physiotherapist for – it takes a little longer – but just like me he had been seeing the physiotherapist for around a year with no results. I would have never seen him had I known he was “alternative”.

Two – my son gets sick, with allergies and dermatitis, but much worse that what I have ever had, and we seek medical advise. We see a horde of Doctors in the coming years – none of which agree on anything… and they also disagree with the general advise given by the health authorities in Denmark. One says that my son definitely has allergies, the other that allergies are “hocus pocus”. Health authorities says that rare cases of allergies may react to traces of what the mother is eating in her milk, others say that that is “hogwash”. I end up reading and reading and reading (working for a medical company I had access to all the medical journals I could want), and knowing more than most Doctors on the subject. The “your google search does not compare to my medical degree” phrase has been spewed at me, until the realised I was quoting medical journals that they didn’t have time to read anymore. After 2 years of fighting, my avid reading sent me to THE allergy specialist in Denmark and finally my sons allergies were properly diagnosed and the fact that I told them that he was allergic to the hormone cream was taken seriously, and he got another hormone cream that we used for one week and not again for years.

Three – I had a massive stress reaction to all of this – and had sick leave from my work for prolonged periods of time. My employer payed for a psychologist to see me – and he suggested at my first visit that I get anti-depressants, I refused. His reaction to this was that it was funny how none of the employees from “that company” would take their own medicine (we produced anti-depressants). That made me think really hard about what I was doing, if I didn’t believe in the medicine I was developing…

As I have said before on this blog, I have depression symptoms on and off, mood-swings, PMS, brain-fog and extreeme fatigue. I am ower-weight even though I eat healthier than most people, and probably also move more – and two years ago I also started having severe pain in my feet – actually my entire leg and lower back was giving me issues. I thought maybe it was hard work here on the finca that had off-set the last thing, but actually the more sedentary I was the worse it was. I have also had far worse allergies that ever before, and my eczema flares in a pattern we had a hard time determining what was.

I kept reading and reading and reading,  – that is my thing, and everywhere I kept running into “gluten” as a possible culprit… so I decided to give gluten free a trial. At the same time my lower back completely locked and I saw a very good physiotherapist I know down here and she gave be a good massage and gave me a small ball to use to massage my feet every day. I used it for a couple of days and then my daughter played with it and I got lost. I was annoyed for a few days but then forgot about it – until a few months later when I found it behind the couch. I realised that the reason I had forgotten about it was that I wasn’t in pain anymore! Neither my legs nor my back nor my feed was hurting! Also my brain-fog was lifting, and my mood-swings and my PMS. My hardest problem was staying on the gluten-free diet. This is one of the things I work with my psychologist about – actually believing that I am important enough for me to do this work to feel good in my body!

Since then I have tried different things – it turns out that dairy really makes my seasonal allergies a lot worse, so I was paleo for a long while last year, and also on the ketogenic diet. But keto made me feel really really awful, and the vast amount of nuts and eggs made my eczema flare up worse than ever – the skin was literally falling off my hands – not to reveal more dry skin underneath but with oozing skinless patches. So I dropped it – all of it, and went back to a regular Real Food diet. Except even if I eat only organic, home-made sourdough bread – I still have mood swings, and my feet start aching. Not as bad as when I eat the RoundUp infested crap from the supermarket – but certainly bad enough. So now we are back on a diet – all of us – and this time more radical than ever: The Autoimmune Protocol Paleo diet – which is the paleo diet, plus no eggs, no seeds (incl. coffee and chocolate) and no nightshades. After a week I am feeling a lot better – still on and off, but improving every day. I am really curious to see what this will bring me, us as a family. I have a little eczema on my hands and none on my legs, my seasonal allergies are receding, the pain that came back in my feet is also declining. It is an extremely hard diet to keep, because there is no snack food, nothing that I can just grab and go – and since one of my problems have been fatigue, preparing a whole slew of foods that we can just grab on the go has not really been an option. So right now we are on veggies (sans legumes and nightshades) and meat and nothing else, and I prepare a warm meal three times a day, plus make bone-broth – but snack foods are veggies and fruit only, nothing that mommy has been preparing in advance.

My entire family is on this too – Lucas has his allergies, and his teeth are also problematic (we are seeing a wonderful dentist to help him with this), Miriam has started having tommy-aches when we eat store bought bread, and also has started reacting to peanuts and wall-nuts. Marcus has seborrheic dermatitis and his sinuses clog up all the time giving him headaches (different from the headaches he had before). It is quite an endeavour – but I do hope that it will help us in the long run. I do wish that I could find a Doctor to help me – but it seems that people are either in the applied kinesiologist camp (complete hogwash IMO) or in the “just use steroids on that and come back in a week”. Finding something that is scientifically sound and outside the realm of steroids is really hard… I wish I could find a really good functional medicine practitioner nearby who could take me by the hand and show me the way. But I can’t so I continuing the experiment of N=1 (actually N=4, but who is counting?).

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10 thoughts on “Experimenting With My Own Health

  1. Hi Dawn, just saw your post in my inbox. I appreciate you writing this one. I am a bit like you, been on-off gluten for years. The way that gluten impacts my body is crazy, but I have not had the will power to stay off it completely. I am now off again, and I know that if I want to feel well I need to stay off it, and probably off dairy too.
    Could you send me a link to a description of the diet you mention? I need to read more, which is my challenge. I can not read long and complicated texts when I’m mostly impacted. Like you I get brain fog, I feel depressed, I gain so much wait in a short period of time, my whole body aches and I have no energy at all…..
    I hope your new diet will help!!
    xx Tine

  2. Hi!
    I´m reading all kinds of stuff about permaculture lately, with a speciall interest in south spain. And as i am reading i find this blog post (very nice blog by the way :)). It just so happens that i study nutrition and cant hold back to comment on this one. i´m verry sorry to hear about your struggles. also since i dont know you at all i dont dare to have a clue on your issues. while listening to ones body and tryinf things out makes sense usually, i would like to note that maybe a paleo/ketogenic diet isnt the best way to go about this. there is consensus in the field of nutrition, at least in the proper trained ones, that this kind of diet probably increases the risks for inflammation, weightgain, certain cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure etc, depending on how much meat, eggs etc is consumed. if it consists of mostly vegetables etc these risks are lower. i would suggest to try to eat mostly plants, that are not or minimally prosseced. of corse excluding things that you have identified are not serving you makes sense, like the gluten, dairy etc. and of course it doesnt mean one has to eat vegan. its just the tendency towards more whole plant foods. maybe this website can help you: nutritionfacts.org,
    i dont mean to be rude, and im sure you have received all kinds of advice, but from my perspective i fell lik i have to comment when i read believes that are not rooted in science, like the nightshades and ketogenic diets etc.
    i wish you the best,
    hugs

    1. Hello
      Thank you very much for your kindness. I do how-ever not have very much trust in mainstream consensus when it comes to nutrition. It has never helped med in any way – where as the AIP diet has actually helped me get rid of both my eczema and my seasonal allergies in the past month. Additionally I have lost 5 kg. It is a common misconception that keto or paleo is low in greens – it is not, actually most people I know on either diets eat more greens than the 6 servings a day recommended by the health authorities.

      Sincerely,
      Dawn

  3. sounds good ! i hope this success continues 🙂
    But maybe this success is because of all the greens, and not from leaving starchy Foods, grains and legumes out. just curious if this would even help more and make the diet more sustainable over time, since eating low carbs may be hard over the long run. But as long as it helps its all fine 🙂

    1. Actually every time I eat starches (of which quite a few are are permitted on broth paleo and AIP) my eczema and my allergies flares up. Maybe someday – when my gut is healed etc. I can have a little once in a while. I have been eating more greens than most people in the west for quite a few years – yet it was certainly not enough to help me with my allergies. I do not think that you will be able to convince me that neither legumes nor grains are good for me… And I certainly don’t see a point in swapping some of the many greens that I eat for less nutrient dense grains and legumes – which I know positively upset my stomach

  4. Have you ever looked into Andy Cutler Chelation?
    With your varied and many symptoms, it’s possible you have mercury poisoning.
    I was searching for answers for years and had tried many things (some made me worse) when I stumbled on the idea of mercury. Chelation has been key to my recent health improvements. We have a very large Andy Cutler Chelation support group on Facebook if you do decide to look into it.

    I hope you find success in your health efforts.

    1. I only recently heard of chelation, and don’t know very much about it honestly. But it did seem like it was pretty tough to go through? Usually it would only be recommended for severe mercury poisoning? I’ve had a mercury filling removed and have taken chlorella supplements since then (recommended by my dentist). I have also lowered my carb intake a lot, and increased my fat intake so that I am now possibly in ketosis (except I was on holiday for 10 days and cheated a bit). I am eating something that looks a lot like Wahls Paleo Plus, with 6-9 cups of veggies and berries a day, 200 g of meat, and plenty of coconut, olive and avocado oil. This combined with intermittent fasting (comes natural when in ketosis) made the last patches of eczema go away, and cleared my brain almost as much as when I went gluten-free. So as long as I stick to the diet I am doing a lot better. I will write about it – maybe later today.

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