COVID-19: My 12 Month Trip of a Life Time Was Canceled, I Quit My Job, Sold My Car & Rented Out My Condo !

In the words of sexy hotness, Matthew McConaughey, “alright alright alright”.

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted … so I just want to bring you all up to date on the current lay of the land -> the status of my year long adventure to South East Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic and the world of social distancing.

What a crazy time we are living in at the moment! COVID-19 has turned our world into 4 walls and a ceiling.  Hundreds of thousands are infected, thousands have died and the whole world is living in a circle of physical distancing and a certain degree of fear. We’ve started hoarding hand sanitizer and toilet paper!  Some of us are following the rules established by government and others continue to act like this is not the global pandemic that it is.

I live in Canada, the province of Ontario – I live in a community in South Western Ontario called the Region of Waterloo – which is comprised of the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge and the townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.  Region of Waterloo Public Health has reported another 26 cases of COVID-19 in the region, bringing the total to 58.

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 10.31.03 PM

Canada is making unprecedented use of the federal Quarantine Act in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting tonight at midnight, all travellers returning to Canada are now legally required to go into self-isolation for 14 days rather than simply urged to do so.

IMG_5723
Emergency alert from the government sent to our phones

I’m currently held up at my youngest daughter’s house while I wait for coronavirus to become a thing of the past.  I was supposed to leave on my year long epic adventure all over South East Asia last Wednesday.  Not gonna lie, I was crushed.  I spent the better part of 12 months prepping, planning, plotting and organizing.  I had plans to travel to 12-14 different countries in 12 months — Vietnam – Phu Quoc and climbing Mount Bà Đen, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia – climbing Mount Bromo volcano (in Java) and relaxing with both of my kids in Bali.  I was going to spend the month of July in Japan and had plans to attend the Summer Olympics with my friends Linda and Mark (and their kids) – I was going to climb Mount Fuji. Northern Thailand was on my list prior to heading over the New Delhi and meeting up with my friend who is supposed to be flying over from Canada – we’re supposed to spend 4 days in New Delhi and then fly up to Nepal to climb Mount Everest Base Camp – from there I had more plans to spend time in India, head down to Sri Lanka and then I wasn’t quite sure.  I am hoping that I’m still able to do the last part of my adventure.  

I sold my car, rented out my condo, resigned from my job and put all of my worldly possessions in storage, ready to take off and live a year of a lifetime – only to have that all change 5 days before my departure date!  I was CRUSHED!   I went with it, I allowed myself to feel whatever it was I was feeling – upset, anger, fear, disappointment. I lived with it for a bit, didn’t make myself wrong about it and then I was ok.  It took 6 days.  I am able to stay with my youngest in her townhouse until the end of the month. I was able to rescind my resignation from my job and I was able to postpone my flight for a $69.00 fee and get reimbursed for my travel insurance.  

After I got complete with that,  I decided that if this was happening and it is out of my control, I’m going to come out the other side ready to set my world on fire.  I don’t have to sit here and mope.  I can do all of the things that I’ve been wanting to do – here, now.   My new favourite saying is a Buddhist saying, “Relax, everything is out of control”   

Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 11.41.22 AM

SO ….. 

I enrolled into two courses 1) The Science of Well Being through Yale and 2) Leadership in 21st Century Organizations via the Copenhagen Business School.  If you’re looking to take some continuing education courses to further your career, your life, your well being – consider taking some courses, here’s the link to a bunch of Ivy League Schools Edx courses which are FREE!

I also decided to face one of my biggest phobias head on … finances, stocks and investments. Ask my financial planner how much the word “taxes” sends me into a downward spiral.  I never file my taxes on time, ever.  I’m decent with money, and that’s thanks to the trust and faith I put into my planner.  So, just like I’ve been tackling all of my fears head on this past year (remember when I jumped out of a plane in September? Or when I did the Polar Dip in January?).  Last November I took Phil Town’s Rule One Investing Course.  What’s Rule #1?  DON’T LOSE MONEY. The best investors in the world use this rule to invest with certainty. I learned how to not just invest in stocks, and rather invest in a wonderful business at an attractive price to generate consistent returns.

What did I do after I was so gung-ho post-course?  Nothing, I did nothing with it!  I did what I always did when something is out of my wheelhouse and frightens me, I ignored it.  Enter the novel coronavirus and event-driven investing, now is the time, markets are low, so I decided to tackle it once and for all (I mean I have nothing else to do than catch up on 5 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy – which is getting really awesome btw – I’m at Season 11 ep. 10).  I set up my brokerage account and talked to a couple of friends who invest and trade and off I went.  I’m trying to remember 2 things — 1) I don’t need to be an expert to invest like one and 2) Don’t lose money.  

black and white business chart computer
Photo by Lorenzo on Pexels.com

I’ve popped into some free concerts that musicians are hosting.  I’ve joined a Being In Communication: Time With a Landmark Forum leader call with Forum Leaders who are keeping the community connected.  I’ve had daily Facebook Messenger calls with my oldest, who lives in Vietnam, she wakes me every morning with a new song she’s learned on the ukulele, I love this!  I take extra long walks with the dog and binge watch my fave shows that I’ve long ignored.

IMG_5665

While we’ve been sequestered, the world continues to spin, people are living and sadly dying (this breaks my heart) and no matter, the sun comes up and the sun goes down. The earth is starting to heal itself – the canals in Venice are again running clear and there are minnows, dolphins have returned. Forrests and plants are regenerating. COVID-19 has decreased air pollution. The ozone layer is starting to repair itself. There’s an unlikely beneficiary of coronavirus: The planet.  Is this the earth’s way of dealing with what we’ve chosen to ignore?  

Many are binging pandemic like movies: Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s strikingly realistic portrayal of the modern world scrambling to contain the fictional virus MEV-1. Outbreak, inspired in part by the AIDS epidemic.  Stephen King’s “The Stand,” Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain and Max Brooks’s World War Z, have proliferated on social media as of late. In a time of real crisis, many of us are spending our time watching fake crises.  Why?  We’re living in ONE RIGHT NOW.  I’m a documentary nerd. I prefer fact over fiction any day.  I’ve been watching documentaries on past pandemics, the plague, the Spanish Flu (which contrary to popular belief did not originate in Spain). The 1956-1958 Influenza Pandemic, the 1968 Flu Pandemic, SARS and H1N1.  What really lands for me is that as I’m researching these past pandemics, what we are living through right now, at this very moment, will form part of the future generations history.  Just as I’m watching and reading about pandemics in the last 100 years, future generations are going to be watching, reading and learning about the 2019-2020 novel coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic.  

pexels-photo-3952231.jpeg
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I tell you bizarre times …

Where in the world are you and practicing social distancing?  How are you occupying your time? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 3

I’ve been nursing a flu/cold since last Thursday. And, while I feel much better than I did at the onset, I leave on my 12 month adventure in 2.5 months and my health is one of the only things that matter to me at the moment.  I need to be in top health before I start this adventure of a lifetime.  This weekend my goals are fairly simple:  

1) complete this blog

2) rest and

3) binge watch Season 7 of Blacklist.

I met with Dr. Binning (functional medicine) earlier this week to go over my urine (Organic Acids Test) results. I was excited to go over these results, as this is the final piece required to determine move forward steps on my treatment – on my way to better health – mainly increased energy, not feeling so fatigued and the sense of having to nap 2x per day – like I don’t have one foot half in the grave.

IMG_4592
Western Medicine

In this blog, we’ll go over my results – as best as I can recall them from my appointment with Dr. Binning.  I find the way the body works – ridiculously fascinating – it’s a marvel! I’m always eager to get to my appointments so I can really get to the root cause of what’s going on with my body and better understand what I need to do to feel like the old Tina again!

Let’s begin shall we?   This gets very technical and medically – just a heads up.

This first page of my results talks about energy production – that is – how do I get energy from carbohydrates, fats and the actual energy producing cycle (citric acid cycle or krebs cycle)?

IMG_4671

The pattern that I have is that of someone who is losing sensitivity to insulin, so I’m not making energy from my carbohydrates anymore – the reason is that lactate has right shifted.  Whereas,  Pyruvate, which should be higher than Lactate, isn’t even showing up! How close am I to becoming diabetic?

“Medicine’s a funny business. After all, dispensing chemicals is considered mainstream and diet and nutrition is considered alternative.”
Charles F. Glassman, Brain Drain The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life

Pyruvate feeds into your citric acid cycle which makes a lot of energy.  Lactate doesn’t feed into this cycle, it goes into something called your Cori cycle and your Cori cycle is a stress induced cycle.  It makes energy (not that much). It makes it very quickly and the net yield is actually lower than the output is, so we’re not meant to use it for a long period of time.  I’m (clearly) using it for a long period of time – I mean have you seen my life – it’s not a wonder LOL.

Screen Shot 2020-01-11 at 2.24.48 PM

B-Hydroxybutyrate  – when this molecule is present it is signalling for my cells to burn fat as fuel.  Good thing – this signal is being sent.  We have to improve this to assist my body in creating more energy.

IMG_4672

Now (above) we’re looking at how well my cells make energy – and what we can see is that my results are all right shifted and Fumerate doesn’t even show up!  The best way I can describe this (and how I understood it) is that if we think about this as an 8 cylinder engine in a car (because there are 8 markers)  4 of them may be misfiring (or on the verge of having problems) and 1 isn’t firing at all – it’s not even getting fuel in that cylinder.  All in all, it seems I’m lacking in amino acids, coenzyme Q10 and some minerals like magnesium and manganese.  So, we have to address these deficiencies to help improve the output of energy in my cells.

IMG_4674

Now, when we look here at B vitamin deficiency, the a-keto 8 — this deficit is for B1, B2, B3 and B5 – which is close enough to being low for me.  It means I need some.  The rest of them seem like they’re in decent ranges.

With methylation – this is the process by which my body can activate things – B12 is bordering on low.

IMG_4675Now we look at the brain here – neurotransmitters – not a lot of brain inflammation, and, the one marker shows a lack of amino acids.  My dopamine is right on the limit of being low.  Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that gives you more drive, makes you feel great, your get up and go, your motivation chemical.  I’m not burning through ANY – so that means I’m likely not making any – wow!  It may be that I lack tyrosine OR that I’m lacking iron, B6 – any of the co-factors that lead to the production of dopamine.  What the results show is that I’m not using any of it – and if I’m not using any of it – I probably don’t have any.  

IMG_4676Detox — upper results are pretty good which shows low exposures to chemicals and that I’m able to clear them because they’re not building up. Pyroglutamate is ok. Sulfate is pretty low which shows a low ability to make Glutathione – because I am lacking the resources (the demand is high).  It is your body’s most powerful antioxidant and it’s used to neutralize the damage created by toxins and stress.  What is creating the demand?

IMG_4678

Yeast/Fungal – when we look here we see 3 different things that indicate there’s an overgrowth.  What I found interesting that that everyone pushes probiotics this – probiotics that — when in fact you only NEED them when your body is deficient – any mine is NOT.  Taking probiotics would in fact create an imbalance in my body.  It’s not going to help me to take more of something I have a lot of.

The results show SIBO – (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), a (serious) condition affecting the small intestine. It occurs when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine.

AND ….

here’s an answer I have been searching for …. for YEARS … since I was diagnosed with anemia — my small intestine IS NOT not be able to absorb nutrients, causing my anemia!!!  My GP did not investigate this far – he queried as to what the root cause of my anemia was — but did not dig.  They went up the heavy menses route – which I believe was the correct route to investigate and when it yielded no results – it fell off the radar and I was left with uncontrolled, chronic anemia.  Take iron tabs – anemia improves  — stop iron tabs — anemia eventually returns.  Not to mention how hard iron tabs are on your system/intestinal tract and taking that much iron throw the rest of your levels off.  Here it is — what I have been asking for YEARS, what is causing my anemia?  SIBO – malabsorption.

On this result we also see that there is a positive – I have no invasive yeast – and there was not invasive yeast in my stool results either.  So, we need to prioritize the SIBO stat.

I’ll be meeting with Dr. Binning to go over prioritizing what I need implement.  The first thing we are introducing is Grass Fed Beef Organs (Liver, Heart, Kidney, Pancreas, Spleen) supplements – which is a more naturally sourced iron (traditional peoples, Native Americans and early ancestral healers believed that eating the organs from a healthy animal would strengthen and support the health of the corresponding organ of the individual).

I am so happy that I finally have some answers. I don’t look at these results as what’s wrong with me.  I look at them as an opportunity, an opportunity for improvement, to get my health back – to get back to me … you have NO idea how happy this makes me!

As you struggling with a chronic condition?  Are you not getting the answers your looking for?  Have you considered functional medicine?

If you’re interested in reading the first 2 blogs on my functional 
health journey, you can find them here:

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/14/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-2/

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/01/on-health-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-1/

 

My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 2

Today we venture into part deux of my journey to restoring good health. Since I last updated you, I’ve received the results of two things:

  1. the blood work that my medical doctor requested to investigate my level of fatigue i.e. I have had significant anemia in the past and he queried my thyroid function.  
  2. the results of my fecal test – my urinalysis results should be back next week.

I met with Dr. Binning earlier this week and I’ll update you on that in a moment.  

First, what I want to acknowledge first and foremost is that I genuinely believe that medical doctors all enter the profession with good intentions (to help people) and end up battling a system that doesn’t set them up for success. It’s not their fault that the system only allows for 11 minute appointments or that they only get paid for one concern so they only want to treat one concern per visit – which prevents a wholistic medicine approach.  1 issue per appointment isn’t conducive to treating someones HEALTH (in my humble, non medical opinion).  

I’m not against conventional forms of medicine – at all – I feel that there are things we absolutely need medical doctors – like acute/trauma care – that naturopathic or functional medicine cannot begin to address.  In this instance I’m addressing my non-acute, non trauma CHRONIC conditions.  

Ok, so now that I’ve addressed that, let’s delve into the results of my stool test shall we?   It feels rather personal sharing these results with you – and in doing so what I accomplishing is sharing not only the results – but also the information – because what I learned from these results essentially presents us with an opportunity – when we have information that we didn’t have previously we can create change – everything that I learn here is actually a positive (even if the results aren’t great) because that’s an opportunity for better health.

Results Of GI-MAP DNA Stool Analysis

Pathogens = none (yay!)

8 virulence factors for H Pylori = none (yay!)

Bacterial Flora:

IMG_4046

Most are low, one is high – indicating dysbiosis = so, there’s an imbalance in my gut.  So we want to look at can be driving that imbalance – which could be as simple as poor dietary diversity (vegetable fibre – which is odd because until last week I was vegetarian) or not enough or something can be suppressing the growth of healthy bacteria – these bugs all all live off these fibres and if they’re not getting them they can’t grow.  

Overview: insufficient levels of good bacteria and poor mucosal health – these bacteria are all there to protect us, they all serve a purpose, so important that these levels are improved — all of this leads to a healthy gut and healthy immune system.  My AKK MUCI (abbr) is just above the acceptable range.  Phyla Microbiota essentially again saying “Hello! Not bacterial enough growth!”  Is something suppressing that growth?  Is another bug coming in and screwing everything up and taking all the resources or are there really no resources to begin with?

Opportunistic Bacteria: 

IMG_4047

Streptococcus – remember that HUGE rash on my face that my MD diagnosed as peri-oral dermatitis and gave me an antibacterial cream and antibiotics for?  If you missed it – you can check out part 1 of this series here.  This makes a lot of sense!  This is something generally on skin and mouth – if there’s an overgrowth we need to start balancing this out.  

** I’ve left out some of the other results – which are within the normal range **

Intestinal Health:

These levels are look normal – and nothing can be further from the truth.  That’s where the benefit of knowing your patient inside and out, and basing it solely on them and not a “range” comes into play.  This I find interesting.

By way of background until last week, I ate a 95% vegetarian diet. So my steatocrit is at a 7 – the limit <15% – if someone is eating a lower fat diet – that number is high then – why would this be so elevated?  If they’re on a high fat diet that number might be ok – ideally we don’t want to see a number here – we want it as close to 0 as possible.  So what this is saying is that fat is leaking out of my digestive system, I’m not absorbing it and it’s showing up in my stool.  

Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 11.15.27 AM

Elastase-1 – is at 261 – results show “normal” however it should be in the 400-500 range – even higher.  What this is telling us is that my pancreas isn’t making the things it should and releasing them well (insulin and digestive enzymes).  

B-gluconatodase level is at a 2042 – which indicates normal here – and this can’t be further from the truth.  When your body is exposed to toxins, even the waste of the bacteria that live within you or event the waste of the byproducts of my own metabolism (of every cell) creates waste – my body has to detoxify these things through the liver – not going to lie here – I need to revisit that Dr. Binning sent me on this — something about binding, neutralizing and that that enzyme cutting those two things from each other and frees that toxin to go back into circulation and cause more havoc.  We’ll talk more about this at my follow up appt once I get the results back from my urine test. 

Secretory IgA – 90% of your immune system exists in your gut — this # should ideally be at around 1000 – not high enough – the decrease in this number can be caused by chronic infections or chronic stress – they will just deplete this.  The anti-gliadine is at 55 showing some insensitivity to gluten.  
 
Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 12.03.04 PM
 
Zonulin – marker for leaky gut — so I’m pretty close at 99.1 – definitely don’t want this number going up and higher that’s for sure!  
 
So, that’s a really great first step with Dr. Binning – I’m super happy about getting these results – because now I know where we can move forward in the betterment of my health.  We have an appt scheduled for December 27, 2019 to go over my urine results and then we can overlap all of the results to come up with a treatment plan that’ll be aimed at getting me back to good health and function.
 

Results Of Anemia and Thyroid Testing

My interim GP had requested blood work at my request last month as I had asked him to refer me because I was dragging my butt.  I have those results and my Hemoglobin and Hematocrit levels are low and my ferritin is at a 5 (which his the low end of normal reference range (5-272 — how is that even a realistic range??). My Thyroxine Free is at a 10 – and the “normal” reference range is from 9-19 – which again is at the low end of norm.  
 
 
Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 11.29.27 AM
 

I have an follow up appointment scheduled with my interim GP to go over the results – he’ll likely recommend that I recommence iron tabs.  As an aside, have you ever taken iron pills?  When I was severely anemic a couple of years ago, I had to take 4 at a time and it wreaks havoc on your GI tract, if you know what I mean 😉  

As an aside, I had a brief conversation with a medical doctor I know, last week about these results, and his response was “you’re barely anemic!”.  This is what frustrates me about the medical profession at times.  That statement hit me in the gut.  I’m barely anemic?  That may well be based on these results – however, why am I dragging my arse?  Why can I hardly function?  Why can I hardly make it though a day without napping?  I know my body, I know what normal for me, I know how I’m feeling and I know where I’m struggling – I wish MDs would put more emphasis on their patients words (I know this is not true of all MDs, I’m just pointing out that this is a common theme I hear regularly throughout the course of my job as a disability claims specialist).  

 

Conclusion

I won’t be commencing anything until I get my final results back from Dr. Binning and together we come up with an appropriate plan.  My body is clearly deficient of other nutrients so I want to balance out my who body and gut biome.
 
All of these tests are starting to come together to give me a clearer picture of what’s going on in my body and why I’m feeling how I am.  
 
I can already start noticing little changes in how I feel just by eliminating gluten and dairy and reintroducing meat to my diet (organic).  Some days I don’t have the need to nap (although it is a bit of a struggle still). 
If you’re interested in reading my first blog in this series you 
can find it here:

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/01/on-health-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-1/

For the last post in the series, you can click here  —>

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2020/01/11/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-3/

My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 1

Ugh, I’ve been dragging my butt so hard lately *again* and if I’m being honest, it’s been a lot of months, like 6-7 or so!  I just thought I was exhausted and burning the candles at both ends and that it would pass (I need to learn to listen to myself better).

If you’re reading this – then there’s likely something in what I posted that resonates with you.

I feel that what we consider “traditional medicine” absolutely has a place, my opinion is that in the 15 minutes or so they are allotted to us they focus on acute care  — i.e. “how can I fix your symptom?”.  What they fail to consider (in my opinion) is the root cause — What is causing your symptom(s)?

So, recently, I go to my interim GP (General Practitioner) who says to me – “Let’s give you something to get rid of that rash!”.  And I wholeheartedly agreed, let’s get rid if this massive rash which has taken over my face (and it hurts and stings).  Now to be honest, until I got the rash on my face, I had been bypassing every single sign that my body was telling me to GET HELP!  It wasn’t until I got this rash on my face that I was like “oh, wow, I really need to do something about the state of my health!” How vain am I, right?  Not really, that’s most of us to be honest, we ignore our bodies until we can no longer sweep it under the rug.  My poor body has been telling me for months that something was not ok and that I needed to care for it.  And, it wasn’t until it totally revolted and put a rash the size of Texas on my face that I stopped and took heed!  So, I say to the doctor “ok great, I’ll take something to get rid of the rash in the interim, but what is it? And, why did i get it?”  He says to me “It’s peri-oral dermatitis and we don’t really know what causes it and I can’t be sure why you got it!” Ok cool! (ok not not cool! Sounds like a general medicine catch all to me).  Now, I should state for the record that we went over that I haven’t changed my diet or facial products in the last long time and he checked if I had any other rashes on my body.

So, I left the clinic with NO answers and a facial cream for my rash (which didn’t work btw and I had to go back 14 days later to get ANOTHER facial cream and antibiotics).

…. and, we still didn’t address my lethargy, my need to nap 2x per day and then why I’m in bed at 10:00 PM regardless of napping twice during the day.  It was non-existent to him – he was only concerned about my rash, not by the plethora of other symptoms I had been experiencing which were 100% NOT NORMAL for me nor any of the times I had been to see him had anything to do with what’s going on now – with that my 15 minutes were up and he asked me to book another appointment for the following week!

Feeling completed dejected, and knowing that this wasn’t just about a rash on my face, I knew I had to go to functional medicine for the answers at the urging of a friend of mine.

That being said, you may still be slightly in the dark as to what this cutting-edge medicine is really all about, and how it may be of benefit to you.  I’m writing this because it may save your life … this may sound like a dramatic overstatement … and bear with me — I’m going to explain to you how and what my findings are as I go through.

This blog is not intended to shun traditional western medicine (which is essential and highly effective in an acute care setting), rather, it is to recognize that we are living in the middle of a chronic disease crisis and it’s not being properly addressed.  I see this EVERY DAY as a Disability Claims Specialist.

I started seeing my functional medicine doctor, Satdip Binning about 6 weeks ago to help me find answers.  I’m not looking for a new prescription, nor for a catch all – even a diagnosis.  I’m looking to understand why my body is doing what’s it’s doing and why I’m experiencing a whole host of symptoms that I cannot simply understand or be explained – why are all of my tests coming back negative (except for my anemic testing) and they tell me I’m “normal”.  No, I’m not! I want to feel well again!

The symptoms I’m currently exhibiting are

  • feeling mentally and physically exhausted even after a solid 8 or even 9 hours of sleep
  • profound fatigue during the day (need to nap twice per day usually)
  • brain fog
  • decreased concentration
  • decreased memory
  • flare up in Raymaud’s of hands and feet
  • a huge peri-oral dermatitis rash on the lower half of my face
  • irritable bowel
  • thinning hair (+hair loss)
  • lethargy
  • body aches/myalgias

Not only am I tired – I’m tired of this being my life for the last half a dozen months.  I take naps at work – yes, some days, I literally leave my desk and go down to sick bay and snooze for 30 minutes – longer when I work from home.  I have had to withdraw from my participation in certain courses and programs because of my lack of energy.  I have to be planful of the days I have things to do after work (because I have to squeeze in a nap).  I forget how to get to places I’ve driven to my whole life.  My condo looks like a bomb went off and I’m too tired to even cook – so I grab Skip the Dishes or don’t eat.  This is not me!  This isn’t who I am!

For this On Health – The World of Functional Medicine series – I’m partnering with Dr. Binning as I document my journey and quest to get some answers via functional medicine.

To bring you up to date, just so you know what I’ve been working on so far:

  • we’ve gone through diet (gluten, organic eating, reading labels, understanding fats and GMOs).
  • talked about digestion and detoxification
  • discussed hormones and the importance of exercise
  • went over sleep, circadian rhythm
  • and ways of eliminating unnecessary stressors on the body while it tries to heal and repair itself.

I have eliminated dairy from my diet (that wasn’t too hard, I already only are cheese on occasion and sometimes had cream in my coffee).  I’ve reduced the amount of gluten I intake.  I’ve stopped drinking regular coffee and have switched to one that contains rare organic Ganoderma lucidum spores powder, used for thousands of years for its immune benefits (Organo™ Premium Gourmet Organic King of Coffee).  And I am trying to eat mainly organic foods.

I have just recently competed my fecal and urine collections.  So, once these results are received, Satdip will be going over the results and what next steps are …

Why am I doing this?  

I’m doing this because I believe functional and integrative medicines are the future of medicine. Physicians need to begin to take a more holistic approach to treating patients, no longer just concentrating on treating the symptom, the diagnosis or the disease!

I work with 3 different physicians in the course of my 9-5 and I deal with family doctors and specialists all day long and the large majority of them believe that Western medicine is the ONLY way to go.

I also feel that that most physicians do not even leave the door open for any kind of alternatives.  In fact, I see it quite often when I am speaking with my claimants – I will often inquire if they are considering any other treatment modalities such as chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine or functional medicine and the large majority of the time the claimant tells me their doctor has advised against it!  Shouldn’t the most important thing to any doctor be the well being of their patient? And, if that means integrated treatment – then so be it.

person holding green leafed plant
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum on Pexels.com

Stay tuned for next week’s update — the tests should be back – let’s see what they reveal about my over all health and what we’re going to do about getting me back to feeling “normal” again – I’m leaving in 3 months for my year long adventure all around South East Asia and I need to feel fit as a fiddle – I have friends and fam who will not let me leave the county until I feel well again LOL

If you’re interested in reading the other 2 blogs on my functional 
health journey, you can find them here:

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/14/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-2/

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2020/01/11/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-3/

What are your thoughts on naturopathy?  Functional medicine?  Alternative medicines?  

On Health: Update – Whole Food Plant Based Diet

A bit ago I posted a blog called On Health: My 30 Day Trial of the Whole Food Plant Based Diet, I’ve long since completed my 30 day trial of a whole food, plant based (WFPB) diet. I promised you all an update ….

So, here are a few of my take aways from that trial …

(1) Because I eliminated processed foods which are usually loaded with sodium, and oils I found food a lot more bland.  The pro is that I’m learning to cook with a lot more spices and use fresh herbs (I love BASIL and CILANTRO).

(2) It’s hard to be social and be out with friends – food is a HUGE part of our society, culture and the way we bond.  Although there’s definitely a growing population of vegans and people who follow WFPB lifestyles – the food industry is a bit slow in catching up – although it is growing.  However, for the time being – it’s hard to go out dinner and stick to your basic salads – it gets boring after a while – and let’s be honest – when you’re vegan / WFPB most of your friends aren’t willing to compromise and go to that type of restaurant to eat – I literally had a friend say “if I’m gonna spend money to go out and eat, I’m gonna eat meat!”  – well ok then!

There were some options at most restaurants that I could eat – the one restaurant had baked brussel sprouts as an app, Les Enfants Terribles in Montréal had a grilled cauliflower but it came with squid ink (so instead of sending it back I ate the parts that weren’t covered in ink – which as an aside, I’m not particularly fond of).  I usually gravitated toward a salad or quinoa dish – less the cheese – which was hard for me because I LOVE cheese!

IMG_3686
Cucumber, cherry tomato, bocconcini and basil salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  I eat cheese from time to time now.

The restaurants I went to that focussed on this way of eating were my favourites — Rawlicious and Pure Juice Bar + Kitchen.  For quick eats I usually grabbed a naked burrito from Fat Bastard, rice paper rolls from my fave Viet / Thai place or some kind of bowl from Freshii.  And, yes I did eat at home as well – but being an empty nester now – I tell you it’s NOT enjoyable cooking for ONE ☹️.  Even A&W is hopping on the band wagon —  they landed the popular vegan Beyond Burger at nearly 1,000 A&W Canadian locations on July 9th – I haven’t tried it yet – if anyone one has – can you comment below how you liked it?

(3) The other thing I found was that I literally needed to eat meat.  At the time I was participating in the WFPB trial I was severely anemic and was taking iron supplements, but I didn’t seem to be getting enough through plants, legumes and beans.  So, my Naturopath asked me to reintroduce beef into my diet for the iron (I went on to eat 2 Sweedish meatballs per day).

(4) To be successful, you need to be planful – you need to make time to meal prep your lunches and dinners.  Most of my breakfasted consists of either an Ezekiel 4:9 bread with homemade almond butter, banana, crushed mixed nuts and hemp and a bit of agave nectar OR a homemade carrot cake oatmeal bowl.  Also, instead of allowing myself to get overwhelmed by all of the reductions to my menu, I kept it simple by just continuing to make the things I liked which are already WFPB or modified them in ways that they can be made into WFPB.

(5)  I drank a lot more water than I ever did – I inched my way up to the 72 oz per day – I still drink this about of water per day.

My Fave Cook Books …

I had a few staple cook books that I turned to time and time again — they are: Forks Over Knives (Spring Edition), Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck (this is actually quite entertaining) and Rawlicious.  

Conclusion …

I haven’t stuck to the WFPB diet 100% – but I do eat wayyyyy less meat than I used to.  Which is a step in the right direction …

I have cut other things out of my diet all together and have started making a lot of my foods now – fresh – with my Vitamix (blessing – yes, it’s worth the price of a small car!).  I make my own homemade almond butter, fresh strawberry jam, and my own hummus – to name a few.   I gave up dairy milk and switched to coconut or almond milk and I don’t buy wheat bread – I eat sprouted grain bread.

So, despite not being 100% WFPB yet – because of my participation in this trial, I have made much better changes to my diet – and it helped kickstart my eating habits back to the way they once were.  So, I would consider that a SUCCESS!

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 3.46.11 PM.png
Homemade vegan pho 🤩

Do any of you have any favourite WFPB or vegan dishes I could try?


Some people think plant-based diet, whole foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.

~ Caldwell Esselstyn

On Health: Why I’m Choosing Complimentary Care

It’s been a while since my last blog entry, I’ve been feeling so many different things lately, and as I started to type I thought I was actually going to talk about empty nest syndrome, or my plans to move to South East Asia in a few years … but as I started – I realized … “I’m really f@cking tired, but can’t sleep, so why don’t you write about your struggles from a health perspective”?

IMG_1682 2

The biggest thing I’ve been struggling with is profound fatigue – as in fatigue that isn’t relieved by rest – and being in a state of constant reduced energy, motivation and concentration.

I’ve been working on replenishing my iron counts (for nearly 2 years now with no success) and my adrenal levels (most recently) which to be honest for the most part, until that happens, leaves me spent by the end of the work day – who am I kidding – I’m spent the minute I open my eyes in the morning.

As a point of reference, I had lab work done 2 months ago, my iron/ferritin count was at 13 —- 13, when the max range is 250 – I was a 13 – and this was taking 2 ferrous gluconate tabs per day – imagine if I didn’t take any at all?  I’d need a blood transfusion!  No wonder I was dragging my butt around!

I went back to see my new GP, whom I was excited to see – we knew the issue, my iron counts were low (again) – he’d make some wonderful new recommendations and after 2 years of struggling with this – I’d be on the road to recovery  …. ahhh not so fast ….. as if it would be that easy … during my 15 minute slotted appointment with him, he seemed to not hear me and how I was telling him I was feeling (I know my body, its been mine for 43 years – and he’s known me 5 whole minutes).  His  response was that my counts are low  (thanks Captain Obvious) and to take iron supplements – I remind him that I am – 2 per day – already – and my counts are still this low – and I’m still struggling – his solution is to tell me to remain on the 2 iron tabs and he referred me to a Gynaecologist and for an ultrasound because I may have additional bleeding causing my iron levels to drop …. that’s it – no immediate recommendations, no take more of this or add this to your diet or take this supplement — as swiftly as he came into the room, he was gone 😦

So, off I went, had the ultrasound … as an aside he has not called me yet to review the results (I need to call their office) and I’m still waiting for this specialist appt – dollars to donuts – his office has forgotten to follow up, they’re not the most organized of offices – sigh. This was all over a month ago, and I have continued to drag my butt around with no relief in sight. In fact, I felt it was getting worse because my sleep was poorer than usual – the feeling of being utterly exhausted and then not being able to sleep is one of the crappiest things I’ve ever experienced – I actually started to feel intoxicated and couldn’t complete sentences.  I caught myself making mistakes at work and would come home after work most nights and crawl into bed.  It literally felt as if I was wasting my days away because I couldn’t function normally.  I don’t know why I am speaking in the past tense here, this is still the case, despite my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts telling you contrarily.

Today for instance – I started actually writing this last night (and by last night I mean Wednesday lol) – I couldn’t finish because I was exhausted and had a headache. Came home from work at 5:10’ish and have been in bed completely spent since.

It wasn’t until about 2 weeks ago that I was at work assessing a claim – so for background purposes I work as a Disability Claims Adjudicator for an insurance company – the claim was for an individual who was experiencing similar signs and symptoms as I was i.e. chronic fatigue, loss of energy, headache, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, leg cramps, insomnia, low blood pressure, intolerance to heat or cold, weight gain (abdominal) and a few more I may be forgetting.  I was quite literally at my desk saying to myself “omg, this is me” — I scrolled down to the diagnosis section – she had Addison’s Disease – I wondered – could I have Addison’s?

Since I was getting no immediate help from my family physician (and listen, I get it, they’re crunched for time, don’t have the time to spend with each patient that they really need to in order to best understand their history and active symptomology – I work in disability claims – I see this on the daily), but in this case – it’s ME.  I decided to advocate for myself and for my health and decided while my GP was barking up one tree, I was gonna bark up another.  I decided to visit a Naturopath last Wednesday – so 1 week ago today (assuming I finish this blog today lol)  Update: no I didn’t, it’s now Saturday lol.

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 2.57.11 PMShe spent an hour with me going over my personal history, my life, what I had/have been going through in my life the last few weeks and months, prior health issues, family history etc … she performed a Postural Blood Pressure test (when we stand up, those of you who are in good health experience an almost immediate rise in blood pressure. In contrast, adrenal fatigue sufferers will see no change in their blood pressure, or even a slight fall. In very general terms, a larger drop in blood pressure signifies a more severe case of adrenal fatigue) – my systolic fell from 110 to 90 in that split second!  The thing is when your body isn’t producing enough cortisol, it does’t respond properly.

The first thing I was glad to hear is that she could help me (yes!) and that she felt in addition to severe anemia I was suffering from adrenal fatigue.  This was new to me and news to me.  Why had my MD (medical doctor) not suggested this as a differential diagnosis?  Well … it seems that the vast majority of MDs don’t believe the condition is real.  Yet, if you see a naturopath or a complementary (non-mainstream) medicine doctor, they might suggest that you have adrenal fatigue.

So What's The Theory Behind It?

Your body’s immune system responds by slowing down when you’re under stress. Your adrenal glands (which are small organs above your kidney, respond to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol). They regulate your blood pressure and how your heart works.

According to the theory – as per James Wilson, PhD, a naturopath and expert in alternative medicine who coined the syndrome in ’98 –  if you have long-term stress your adrenal glands can’t continuously produce the extra cortisol you need to feel good. So adrenal fatigue sets in.  There’s no approved test for adrenal fatigue. Blood tests can’t detect a small drop in adrenal production.

More and more, I have been seeking out traditional, natural alternatives to healing my body (massage, acupuncture, cupping, chiropractic and reiki).  For thousands of years, we’ve been doing this – the use of herbs, for example, vastly pre-dates modern pharma therapy. The use of body therapies like massage and acupuncture goes back for thousands of years – plus, I want to fix the issues not simply mask the symptoms.  So, I was agreeable to taking Adreset® which is designed to support resilience and stamina in individuals who are feeling mild weakness and fatigue due to stress and a tincture called St Francis Femance Excess Flow (Capsella Combo) which is a formula for individuals who experience excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) or irregularity in their menstrual cycle – so my MD was in the right area thinking this – cause clearly the ND (naturopathic doctor) thought the same thing.

I started taking them the following morning (2 Adreset capsules and 30 drops of Capsella tincture three times per day).  We are now at 9 days post-commencement and I can honestly say that I am starting to regain some of my energy, the operative word here being some – but, the way I see it, it’s better than none.  She told me to would take about two weeks to start feeling a significant effect.  I feel more refreshed upon waking, I don’t feel like I’m in a constant haze/brain fog – I have more clarity, I have enough energy to come home from work and rest but not actually have to take a nap and to get suff done on weekends as supposed to resting for two days straight – today I actually cleaned my whole condo from top to bottom 🙂

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~ Thomas Edison

So, so far so good … I am liking the complimentary medicine approach.  In my experience, many don’t understand the positive aspects of choosing natural treatments and alternative medicine over conventional treatment – it’s a shame that Western society has taken this approach.  As part of my work, I often see/hear physicians instructing their patients not to use complimentary services. People in Western countries like the United States and Canada mainly consider these treatments outside the mainstream, or “alternative.”  Which is truly a shame, they should want the best for their patients regardless of treatment modality – we’re just a part of big business, I suppose.

Do many of you seek alternative treatments?  What are your thoughts?  Do you suggest any that I haven’t yet tried?

Welcome to My Life

It’s been awhile since my last blog.  I’ve started and stopped so many different blogs but for some reason or another never brought myself to finish them.

images

Today, I invite you on a little journey … Like so many of us, I started strong this past January with the New Years resolutions and the “2017, get ready to be owned!” mantras, but like so many others, mine fell apart shortly after declaring my owning 2017.  It’s no surprise that ONLY 9.2% of us who make resolutions in some way, shape or form feel they are successful in achieving their resolution (weight loss topped the list of 10 at #1 btw).

A year and a half ago I did not struggle with body image issues or self esteem issues. I liked going out and dressing up.   I was 5’6″, 122 lbs and I had boundless amounts of energy.  I loved life and was always up for taking on new challenges.  I ate pretty clean (but definitely wasn’t too hard core), I worked out occasionally (I’ve never been a huge gym person) but I was definitely always active.

We moved West around that time and likely as a result of adjusting to new surroundings,  dealing with life circumstances and making poor food choices I began to gain weight.  At first it was like 1 lb here, 2 lbs there – my attitude was like “well, when in Rome”.  At first I didn’t really notice the weight gain, I mean I work from home and I live in leggings and Lulu Lemons.  I knew my clothes were getting tighter, but that just depressed me even more, so I just said “hey wanna grab some wings and pints?” – see WRONG choice lol .

“Your attitude determines your altitude!” ~Denis Waitley

None of my clothes fit and the few that did were pretty darned snug (thank you leggings!).  I had no energy, like it was zapped and this was after my severe anemia had resolved itself with 9 months of iron supplements.  I started getting depressed about the amount of weight I had gained. I didn’t know how much cause I wouldn’t dare hop on the scale.

I finally decided to give my head a shake and get my self together, start treating myself better and taking responsibility for my life …. MAKE ADJUSTMENTS NOT EXCUSES!

Unknown

So, I ordered what I refer to as my “superfoods” and joined a 16 week body transformation challenge to hold myself accountable. The day I took my measurements and weighed myself for the first time in a year and half, I almost started to cry,  literally –  ok, to be totally truthful, I cried and not only did I cry – I sobbed – uncontrollably – it was worse than I thought. I had gained 35 lbs!  Count them …. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35!

Ok, so I gained 35 lbs, it’s not the end of the world – I gotta make changes, and work hard.  But, this is DOABLE – anything worth having is worth working for.  If it were easy, we’d all fine specimens.

I made changes in things like my coffee. I switched from a large Tim Horton’s double double (280 cals) to a product that is healthy and frankly tastes waaayyy better and is less bitter – and contains green tea extract, trace minerals, and coconut oil – I can even drink this one black so buh-bye sugar and cream.

I’ve also switched from taking a caffeine pill or pop/soda (synthetic) to an energy shot (drink) that is full of adaptogens (ideal for combating stress, providing clarity, and promoting physical performance, energy) and it contains a naturally sourced caffeine derived from green tea and yerba mate.  I did a lot of research before choosing – when shopping for caffeinated beverages, here’s a useful tip: If you see the word “caffeine” on the ingredient list, that means it’s synthetic. If natural plants containing caffeine are added, you will see the actual name of the botanical, such as guarana, yerba mate or green tea.

In the 1.5 weeks that I’ve chosen this superfoods regime and made small, but important choices, I’ve lost 5 lbs.  This is not water weight either, because I drink 1/2 my body weight in water daily (so three of my 24 oz water bottles).

How many of you out there are experiencing this right now and wanna do something about it?  How many of you feel like you’re not living your best life and wanna do something about it?

I’ll keep you updated as I progress in my journey …and hope you follow along.  Whatever excuses you may be using to avoid losing weight and getting healthy, get rid of them! There’s always something you can do and something is always better than nothing. Make some simple adjustments and get back in the game.

Namaste

T xo

Chalkboard-Weight-Loss-Quotes