My Health Story Part 2: Treatment Plan

Very funny.  I said I would skip the back story, so that I could write a concise post.  Instead the intro became so long it was a post in itself. If you want to read a little more about the symptoms and diagnosis, read this earlier post.

Here’s the skinny on what’s helping now.  The main deficiency we found is iron deficiency anemia.  It seemed so simple especially after looking in the direction of heart health!

Iron-deficiency anemia occurs because of a lack of the mineral iron in the body. Bone marrow in the center of the bone needs iron to make hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that transports oxygen to the body’s organs. Without adequate iron, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells. The result is iron-deficiency anemia.

The treatment plan for over all health considering all my symptoms not only those related to anemia.

1. Meal changes:

Three meals a day with limited snacking. 

Any previous diet or low-blood sugar diet advice had always suggested three main meals with a small snack between each meal to keep the blood sugar level.  I had eaten smaller meals at breakfast and noon with the main meal in the evening when our family ate together.  Sometimes I would eat a few bites of fruit or cheese in the morning.  If I crashed in the afternoon I was likely to go for a sweet treat or something salty with a glass of tea.  I live in the South.  I don’t need to specify sweet tea, do I? Dr. L said the digestive system is the engine of the body.  Eating throughout the day gives it no break, and eventually wears on its functionality.

Eat largest meal in the morning, or eat at least 20 grams of protein at breakfast. Eat a smaller meal at noon, and the lightest meal in the evening.

My typical day started out with a bowl of bran flakes, fruit, and milk.  I liked it because it was quick, cold, and good.  I do not really like eggs too much in the morning (particularly if I cook them as soon as I get up), so I groaned when I heard that one.  However, I soon learned Greek yogurt has  20 grams of protein per cup.  Even a little less yogurt will fill the protein quota with the addition of nuts and fruit.

My new breakfast has become fruit, Greek yogurt, pecans, and a sprinkle of homemade granola. Previously I heard people raving about Greek yogurt, but I needed some time to acquire a taste for it.  To help myself get there, I splurged on some special fruit–raspberries or blackberries or blueberries along with strawberries, bananas or oranges.  I know the berries are a great, healthy choice anyway.  It took me a few weeks to grow from quickly swallowing, to liking, to craving Greek yogurt. Someday I may add a post about these fruit and yogurt parfait.  I’ve found a few favorite combinations, and have learned to LOVE this new breakfast.  It is cold, delicious,   healthy, AND it keeps me full and level until noon!  No more shaking, blurry vision, irritability, and extreme weakness in the forenoon!

The two challenges have been the extra time it takes to make healthier, satiating foods instead of grabbing leftovers or chips and salsa for lunch as well as needing to eat my smallest meal at the meal I cook for our family to eat together.  Sometimes a salad that’s a side for the rest plus just a few bites of the rest of the food works great.  Occasionally I make a smoothie or quinoa for myself.   Other times I eat what they do, but limit my portions.

Other food recommendations: Add in more healthy fat, eliminate pork and seafood, reduce processed sugars, eat at least 50 grams of protein daily, more vegetables, raw unsalted nuts–add two handfuls to breakfast, fruits, avocado–2 per week (love this one!), continue water intake

Heart/thyroid/adrenal tea: hawthorn, cayenne powder, ashwaganda, siberian ginseng, ginkgo biloba leaves.  Replace sweet tea with this.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.  Stop drinking sweet tea and start glugging yucky tasting tea.  I’ll try.  But, replace?  No, these are two different categories here–pleasure and torment.

For the anemia: Take 1 Tablespoon of Swedish bitters three times a day.  Vitamin C. Both of these help the body to absorb iron.  I have noticed a huge difference since taking the Swedish bitters!  They’re pretty gross, too, but because I get light headed SO much less and have more energy it makes it easier to get it swallowed.  By now it’s becoming routine enough they don’t taste so terrible.

Other home options: (and some of these sounded so weird to me!  I didn’t do them at first, but once I did I saw improvements in specific areas.  Humbly I bow.)

Moving daily 30 minutes: to increase circulation and to increase waste elimination/detox

30 minutes of fresh air and sunshine daily

Earlier bedtime: helps restore adrenal function as well as the other health benefits we hear all the time.

Daily hydrotherapy

Daily castor oil packs

Daily skin brushing

Deep breaths daily: 30 inhale and exhale on count of 5: to detox

Positive affirmation: follow negative thought about health and symptoms with this phrase, “I am creating powerful health.”  This was helpful to me, especially in the beginning when I was putting forth a lot of effort, but not yet seeing changes.

Add fun: do your photography once a week (the reason I have been blogging a little more often)

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I’m not doing most of these daily, and some not even regularly.  The food changes and supplements I have done well with probably because their health benefits are more obvious.  All of this just takes so much time, and it takes awhile to make it a part of a daily routine.

Each month I need to rate my health with 1 being: I can’t get out of bed and 10 being strong and healthy.  So far I have moved from having pretty many days where I wouldn’t get out of bed if I didn’t absolutely have to (2-3) to about 5-6.

We all have days now and then when we don’t feel like getting out of bed and facing the day.  This not getting out of bed is the kind of effort, though, where you have to mentally command every physically action–even sitting up.  To HAVE ENERGY AT ALL some mornings has been a great improvement!  I’ve had days when I’m tired from being sleep deprived, but underneath that tiredness was some energy instead of utter fatigue.  That is incredible!!!!

Some days now I wake up feeling well. One day someone asked me how I was feeling and I said, “Great.”  Then I smiled for a long time because I haven’t been able to say I was feeling great for a very long time.

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I have days now when I clean, and work, and fell well enough in the evening to interact with my family.  That is nearly a miracle.  A few months ago I was so utterly exhausted in the evenings I couldn’t make it through the evening meal without retreating to my bedroom.  Often the boys came in to tell me goodnight, and that is all I saw of them in the evening.  (That is only one example of how tough things were at times) I didn’t talk about some of this because I felt a lot of shame for not being able to care for my family.

Vague symptoms that can be misread for what is part of normal life make it difficult to be heard and properly diagnosed.  If you don’t have a medical problem, then you should be able to put forth more effort, and make life happen–or so I thought.  You know all the time I would be hard on myself for not trying hard enough, deep inside, I really knew there was something that was being overlooked.

{{{To anyone who is experiencing health problems, but not finding answers: please keep looking until you receive the help you need.}}}

Today: I am so relieved that almost all my symptoms have lessened in severity, and some have disappeared completely!  This past week I drove the three boys to Virginia, spent the day with my family, drove to Pennsylvania and photographed a wedding, drove back to Virginia to spend another day with my family, drove home the nine hours.  While I was gone I tried to stay within my treatment plan where it was feasible, but I didn’t keep up my diet perfectly.

I did pay for it a little.  I skipped Swedish bitters often and lost the bottle for a day. By Sunday I was really, really shaky and light headed again.  I found the bitters and took a dose before the noon meal, and was feeling better by that evening.  I was just amazed at how much better I felt Tuesday–the day after the trip home–than I expected!

I wasn’t ripping around the house unpacking and washing laundry as I would’ve been in my strong, healthy days.  I did have a crash day where I sat around most of the day and washed only two loads of laundry and taught Zachary’s classes.  However I wasn’t flat on my back for several days as I would have been at one time.  I literally planned crash day on my planner, so it was a happy surprise to be able to do a little housework!

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I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness in showing me His goodness even in the blackest time of my life, for my husband’s immeasurable support and patience, for prayers and encouragement from so many friends, to see health returning, and for hope.


21 thoughts on “My Health Story Part 2: Treatment Plan”

  1. And I also wanted to comment on how I love your pictures and the last picture of you and Steve is just beautiful. You are amazing lady!!

  2. “hope” what an anchor for the soul.
    Christy, reading your two posts on your health, makes me really sad for the darkness and aloneness you went through…there in Atlanta so far from your family, and community of sister’s who can assist at a time like that! Tears. I can not imagine how it must’ve been to be so low, and no answers!! Which makes me doubly happy that you are on the mend and finding answers, and “hope”!!

  3. i am so very happy (writing this with tears) for you; the new answers, that you are already feeling better, and the HOPE that you have… for continued healing and tomorrow.

  4. This makes me so very happy! You are such a brave, strong lady! Just reading this is inspiring to me to do better at taking care of my body. I would love to hear more about Greek yogurt and the combinations of fruit/nuts/yogurt that helped you acquire a taste for it.

  5. Christy, thanks so much for sharing this. I’m like Clarita, I’m not as low as you but still feel like something isn’t right. And a number of the symptoms you talked about are things I deal with. I think you may have given me the push I need to get some testing done.

    So glad that you are feeling better! Can’t imagine how you functioned for so long.

  6. So wonderful Christy…. your determination is so encouraging. I loved all your pictures to.

  7. Christy, wow, bless your heart for sharing your story… Reading this brings back too many memories when I was so sick about three and half years ago :( so so glad you are feeling better and I pray God will continue to heal you and give you the strength and love you need for your family. Love all the pictures and sometime it would be fun to catch up again, are you going to the Smucker reunion in pa? Blessings….

  8. Oh Christy, I’m so happy for you! That has to be the best feeling, knowing someone finally understood and could help you. I’ll pray that you continue to feel better! I love all your pictures, you look great! (and happy :) )

  9. Christy, I am so glad you found some answers. I about cried reading through this. My sil diagnosed me with beginning stages of adrenal fatigue. (However accurate that is! :) ) And I have struggled with anemia. However I was/am nowhere near where you were. Praising the Lord you found help. I am glad you shared what you are doing. Your breakfast sounds so yummy. I might have to try it.

  10. So happy for you…..not fun to feel so exhausted and unable to care for your little people and your Man. Nothing drains you or makes it hard to stay positive like feeling horrible! Just started craving ice…and it’s always a sign to me that I need more iron….so off to my guru and he said take a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses a day, it seems to be working. I love knowing things to do besides just normal meds….although not altogether anti when that’s what you need! Blessings to you dear, love all your pics…………..

  11. aw Christy, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing all this. I’m SO glad you are on the path to feeling better! And I’m glad your trip up here was so sucessful, and you were able to accomplish everything. I can’t wait to hear more about your sucess and good health in the future. You are such a beautiful person, I love all the pictures of you and the boys!

    1. Thank you, thank you. I need your positivity around me more often. And just so you know, Atlanta is GORGEOUS right now. This month or next would be perfect for a visit. =)

  12. This nearly makes me cry too. I am SO thankful that healing is coming to you, that you are finding answers!! I read all this, and will be back to read again… I’m not as low physically as you described, but I also know that the exhaustion I feel a lot of days is more than normal too. I am so intrigued with this…


    1. Clarita, I really hope you find healing, too! It is really hard to enjoy being a mother when you don’t have enough energy. Thanks for bumping along on this ride with me. =)

  13. This nearly made me cry; because I feel so bad for you and because I know how overwhelming it can be. I have had a small taste of this, though not to this extent. I was diagnosed with Adrenal Syndrome when I was in 8th grade, and then with Hypothroidism 9 months after we were married (my levels were also on the low side of normal but because of my symptoms and no other answers, I was diagnosed as such). I also took adrenal health supplements for years, but in the last 3 years I was so focused on keeping everyone else in the family healthy and watching like a hawk for Lyme symptoms and Leukemia relapse. I took my vitamins and supplements very sporadically and paid for it dearly in Sept of 2012 when I simply crashed. Today I am doing much better again. (I take Adrenerize by Enzymatic Therapy and the OlaLoa Vitamins.)

    I’ve learned that I will never be able to function at the energy levels of others and I’m okay with that most of the time.

    If I had known this, I would have made a greater effort to chat at the wedding on Sat. =)

    I am so glad you’re finding help AND health again! And your treatment plan was good for me to read as well. Hang in there! I pray you can rest in God’s plan for your health and recovery.

    1. Wow, I knew you had a heavy load with your family’s illnesses, but I had no idea you were not well yourself while caring for them! Yes, it would have been good to chat more at the wedding! Looking at you I would not have known you deal with any of this because you had a nice glow. :) These illnesses can be so hidden because it’s not like they are there all the time. I read somewhere that your adrenaline kicks in when you need to go out then of course you crash again once you’re home. That really helped me understand how I could do so well at times.

      I’d be interested in hearing more about your adrenal and thyroid treatment. I would love to do something other than the tea I’m [supposed to be] drinking. Thanks for the encouragement. I wish you health, too!

  14. I am so happy for you and your new foudnd health answers. I have recently-ish been in similar shoes all the way around.I found the book called Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Through that i found help!. HELP I tell you!
    If you are strugging with hypothyroidism, be sure to do your homework on adrenal exhaustion. Cortef is fabulous stuff in my world!

    1. I’m so glad you have gotten help, too!!! I’m glad you mentioned The Mood Cure. I also read it, and found it helpful. It was surprising to read SO many symptoms that described me to a T. Some I didn’t have any idea were a health issue (eyebrows that thin before reaching edge of your eye, for example). So many of the lists showed me as needing major help, so by the end I was so overwhelmed and had no idea where to start. I would love to visit her clinic! Thanks for the cortef recommendation. I’ll look into it. I would like to chat more. Maybe a message would be good?

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