It was January 2000. I was 30 years old and about to turn 31. It was Y2K, I had quit smoking, lost a bunch of weight, and was just married. My new husband had received a proposal from a job he had applied for out of state. He took the offer and a month later off we went to Arizona for a new adventure.
It was winter in Northern Arizona. Cold and snowy. We moved into a small apartment, he started his job, and I began to look for work. We had a six-month lease on the apartment and had to find a house relatively fast. Within a week, I got strep throat which was not a big surprise with the weather and environment change. I found an urgent care, the doctor put me on antibiotics, and soon I was better. I found a job and started creating a new and exciting life.
Since we moved from another state, I had to get established with new doctors. I made an appointment with an ob/gyn and she sent me for routine blood work. The next appointment revealed that I was hypothyroid and put me on a synthetic thyroid medication. This was the start of a downward spiral chain of events that literally rocked my world.
In six months, we had moved into a house. In another six months I was offered a different job for a nonprofit. I also was captain of our volunteer fire department – I had been a wildland firefighter after high school. About a year and a half later I started getting migraines. I never had migraines before. The doctor had ordered an MRI and CT scan and what was revealed was a cholesterol granuloma which is a rare, benign (noncancerous) cyst that was attached to a part of the skull that is next to the middle ear. I saw an ENT who referred me to a neurologist in Phoenix. After several tests, he told me that he wanted to remove the cyst and put a permanent stent in, but I would lose my hearing in that ear. That news sent me into instant fear. I asked if we could give it six months and he agreed.
I was on a lot of pain meds, lost work time and kept myself in a dark room much of the time. I missed an entire Holiday season. I was scared and stressed. My girlfriend talked me into seeing her Chinese Medicine Doctor. I made an appointment and started treatments. Six months later, I had another CT scan, and the cyst was gone! The neurologist told me to have a nice life.
I continued to work with the Chinese Medicine Doctor and a lot of my symptoms got better, but had gut issues ever since taking the antibiotics when we moved to Arizona. I also worked with several holistic healers that guided me with supplementation and diet recommendations. I did what I could, but gluten free food back then was less than desirable. I had tried tofu and some different recipes that were not very appealing to me at that time. I still had cravings for the food that I was used to eating – sugar and carbs. I adjusted where I could and eliminated some dairy. I thought I was doing good and continued with what I believed were better choices.
After my good news, I was offered a job in a salon as a nail tech – I had received my manicurist license right out of high school. Self-employment was a scary thought but ended up being a great decision. Working with clients was so rewarding. Not only did I love seeing the joy that my work brought to them, but I loved the conversations about anything and everything.
Shortly after that, my marriage started to fall apart. During the next several years we remained under the same roof as housemates. I ended up owning my own salon and was a successful nail stylist with a waiting list. My health was starting to decline again. I had painful TMJ and saw a specialist in Phoenix for an ugly custom retainer. I had periods of severe vertigo where I could not get out of bed. I had horrible pain in my back and joints and still had occasional headaches. I was diagnosed with arthritis, depression, and anxiety which required medication. I stopped sleeping which was awful. My periods were out of control and I was in constant pain. All the while still having tummy aches, bloating and digestive issues. I saw multiple doctors, nutritionists, holistic healers, energy workers, you name it. I spent THOUSANDS of dollars on traditional and nontraditional medicine as well as all kinds of supplements. I started bioidentical hormone replacement therapy at age 40. I was miserable but being positive was the only option. I always did my best to put on a smile and be an inspiration. In the background, I was constantly struggling and searching for an answer to a way to feel better.
We finally decided to divorce. When he left there was a feeling of calmness. My peace returned and I had some hope. However, at the same time, it was the most incredibly stressful event of my entire life. My home and business were taken, and I relocated to a property that we had purchased in western Arizona along the Colorado River. I had trouble fitting into a new salon environment and money was running out. Starting over was not something that I was prepared for, and I was tired, overwhelmed, and full of uncertainty. Luckily moving out at 15 and living alone until marriage had prepared me for transitioning to being single again. I thought I had to find a more secure job and worked as a corrections officer at a men’s medium security prison for a short time. I was working graveyard and that about did me in. So, I decided to commute three hours back to northern Arizona to work in a salon serving my clients who were very appreciative that I was back even if it was on a limited basis.
My stomach problems got worse; it seemed the only thing that would work was an antibiotic which I had a standing prescription for. Every time I had a flare-up, I would take antibiotics. Little did I know I was destroying my gut microbiome with every pill I put in my mouth. My hypothyroid dosage was increasing yearly. My female problems persisted which eventually resulted in a partial hysterectomy. The overall body inflammation and joint pain felt out of control. Regardless of the pain, I kept moving, exercising, participating in life, and wondering what would be next. My hands were hurting so bad and then they started shaking badly making it difficult to do my job. I saw a hand specialist and he told me that the basal joints in both hands needed to be taken out and reconstructed. I chose not to go forth with that surgery and instead retire from being a nail stylist. That was another exceedingly difficult decision.
I got a job at the fire department in my town which was a blessing. I had also met a wonderful, supportive man who today is still the love of my life. I was creating a new reality; however, my stomach issues were out of control and causing intense pain totally affecting my quality of life. My primary doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, cerebral tremors, hashimotos and IBS and told me nothing could be done which made me feel like it was all in my head. I felt like I was in a mental fog all the time which was frustrating. My blood work always came back relatively good causing even more confusion and bewilderment. No matter what I did my pulse was always at 120 bpm. A colonoscopy revealed nothing. I resorted to consuming protein shakes because eating food was causing too much pain and bloating.
I decided it was time to start doing some serious research. I researched every ingredient on the label of the protein shake that I purchased at a reputable vitamin store. The third ingredient was carrageenan. After researching carrageenan, I found that some scientists have presented evidence that carrageenan is highly inflammatory and toxic to the digestive tract, and that it may be responsible for colitis, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and even colon cancer! Seriously! I looked at all the product labels at home and found that many of the foods I was consuming had this ingredient in it! I threw away everything and purchased products that were carrageenan free and guess what?! The hard pain in my stomach started to go away in a few weeks! This elimination did not fix all the problems, but there was evidence of improvement and hope. I was on a mission to fix myself. I tried vitamin infusions, different supplements, chiropractors, naturopaths and healers. Some of the modalities were beneficial, some were not. I was making better food choices but was still having digestive problems. I had come to grips with the autoimmune diseases believing that there was no hope and that they would be a part of me for the rest of my life.
Next came the hives. After researching some causes, the next thing to go was gluten. The gluten-free choices are much better today and there are no feelings of deprivation. I also cut back on sugar, dairy and stopped drinking sodas. No more hives unless food got cross-contaminated which at one time it did which resulted in full-face swelling and hives all over my abdomen. I was starting to feel better however, the digestive distension and inflammation persisted.
I was seeing a health coach/spiritual mentor. She encouraged me to investigate becoming a health coach and expressed how much I would learn. I decided to enroll, which would be a life-changing event. I already felt like I was knowledgeable about nutrition but going to school was even more enlightening. I was empowered to take control of my health by learning about nutrition and nutrition science, wellness concepts, mindset, weight loss, and stress management to resolve chronic conditions through diet. Gut health was a huge eye-opener. I had no idea what leaky gut was and quickly learned that leaky gut or “intestinal permeability” is a condition in which the lining of the small intestines becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the bloodstream causing inflammation, food sensitivities, fatigue, digestive issues, skin problems etc. Learning about diet and supplementation was a game-changer. By eliminating certain foods and incorporating supplements allowed my body to start a healing process.
I fully jumped in with hopes of healing my gut. Within a few weeks, I noticed that I had a sense of calm. My depression and anxiety were virtually gone which was a miracle. I was no longer waking up in a panic. My pulse was back to a normal resting state. The heart palpitations were gone. Shortly after that the vertigo had stopped. I started to notice that the TMJ had subsided. After a few more months the joint pain, inflammation, and digestion were so much better! And my hands stopped shaking! Seasonal allergies, sugar cravings, nausea, migraines, sleep all improved over time. The rosacea cleared up and my hair was softer and there was more of it! My taste got better, and food was enjoyable! I even went off my bio-identical replacement therapy! I have more energy and mental clarity like I did in my twenties! It just gets better and better. All done by eating whole foods, eliminating certain foods, and supplementation. I was glad I made a list of my symptoms because over time I was feeling healthier, happier, more energetic, and younger, and I virtually forgot what it was like to feel sick all the time. My mindset and life were changing. I think to myself now and wonder was I ever that sick!? I do not have the cravings that I used to have. It has been 20 plus years. I have my joy back and live my life with so much enthusiasm and clarity. What if this could be you? Can you imagine life without suffering?
It is my honor and desire to assist women who are tired of being sick and tired. I work with my clients to achieve great gut health and relief from autoimmune diseases by guiding them through diet adjustments, proper supplementation, and lifestyle modifications. I am passionate about health and wellness and am committed to my clients so they can feel amazing and live their best healthy life.