The last nine months for me have been a huge struggle as the condition of my health has tested me. Here’s my story:
I woke on the morning of 2nd December 2016 feeling excited and ready for the day ahead. It was the day that my sister, my cousin and I would be going to our Nana’s house to put up the Christmas tree, a tradition that had begun in my early childhood. The day would unfold in the same manner every year: we would arrive at Nan’s house and sit down for a chat, we would then piece together the branches of the artificial tree whilst dancing to cheesy x-mas tunes (I’m talking about you Mariah Carey), we’d spend an hour untangling last year’s fairy lights only to plug them in and find that they didn’t work (cue the impromptu trip to Supervalu for new lights and a sneaky bar of Galaxy chocolate), we would decorate the tree and finally we would then sit down to a big ol’ bowl of Nana’s homemade stew (the taste of my childhood).
After following our usual routine we all sat back and admired our handy work when something that hadn’t been expected occurred. I felt an unusual pain in my stomach (around my naval area) which, in the space of an hour, went from a mild cramp to a severe throbbing pain which I could no longer ignore. I decided to take a trip to the doctor’s office. After my examination he stated that although the pain wasn’t in my lower abdomen, he would like for me to go to A&E to rule out appendicitis.
I spent hours sitting in the uncomfortable chairs of the A&E department with my father whilst multiple nurses ran various tests. The pain slowly worsened and traveled along my abdomen as we watched The Late Late Toy Show on the small tv of the waiting area. I was not allowed to eat as it was still undecided whether I would have to have surgery that night. Six hours passed and it was eventually decided that I would stay overnight and I would undergo surgery in the morning to have my appendix removed.
I had the surgery, was sent home to recover and was told that I would be back to normal within a week…. Or so I thought.
After spending a week lying on the couch, watching tv and having my parents cater to my every need I was still unable to sit up by myself or stomach anything other than toast, mashed potatoes and fig rolls. My stomach was extremely bloated to the point that it looked as though I were ready to give birth to a fully-grown baby. This resulted in another trip to A&E where after running a bunch of tests and an overnight stay, they simply flushed my body out with fluids and said it would do the trick. Another three weeks passed by, and by Christmas Day I was feeling much better.
One strange thing that happened in those three weeks was the fact that I had suddenly dropped 2 dress sizes and 13 pounds in weight (despite the fact that I hadn’t moved from the couch and spent my days snacking on bread and biscuits). I was also no longer able to eat meat, dairy and poultry without feeling incredibly nauseous and my stomach blowing out like a balloon. Over the course of the next two months I went back to my life at university where I continued to lose close to a pound in weight every week as well as developing intolerances to more foods such as eggs, fish and grains. It was decided that this was caused by my body experiencing toxic shock due to the surgery.
Eventually my health had reached a new low as I had lost all of the muscle mass in my body, was underweight, experienced very low moods and anxiety, lost my period, lost a huge amount of hair, was always hungry and had terrible joint pains.
I dropped 3 dress sizes in the space of 6 weeks
I was no longer able to exercise as I couldn’t afford to lose anymore weight and I simply didn’t have the energy to do so. This was one of the hardest things for me to accept as prior to my surgery I was the fittest that I had ever been. I had found a love for fitness after moving to university as it managed my stress and anxiety and allowed me to clear my head.
I was fortunate enough to meet with a nutritionist who suggested that I follow a vegan diet until I could process animal products and although this helped, I still felt unwell and was not successful in gaining any weight back. I spent countless hours on the internet searching for ways to regain my health.
I continued to tweak my diet and after a few more months decided it was time to see a homeopath. My homeopath was very helpful in explaining what was happening to my body and provided me with a plan to improve many of the symptoms that I was experiencing. I finally began to gain some weight and muscle mass back, the condition of my hair improved and I finally had some energy.
The past month has been the biggest revelation for me as, after countless more tests being run, I finally have an official diagnosis for my condition.
I suffer from two conditions known as PCOS and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and (unknowingly) have done so my whole life. Unfortunately for me, having my appendix removed weakened my immune system for a short while and allowed for these conditions to flare up dramatically and take control over my health.
For those of you who don’t know, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a hormonal condition whereby a woman’s hormones are unbalanced and cysts form on the ovaries. Symptoms include acne, weight gain/loss, irregular menstrual cycle, depression and infertility.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease whereby the immune system attacks the thyroid gland which can have a huge effect on hormones. Symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, joint pain and increased sensitivity to certain foods. Although medication can be used to control many of the symptoms of these conditions, there are no known cures. I have chosen to withhold from taking any medications as these can cause severe harm to the liver as well as causing many negative side effects.
After spending countless hours doing research on both conditions I have found that they can be treated by diet and lifestyle choices alone. My health has improved dramatically whilst following what is known as a ‘Paleo based diet’. I also use superfoods to supplement my diet as well as herbs, spices and homeopathic medicines. I will speak about my diet in greater detail in a future post.
And so, this brings us to the present day. While many of my symptoms have improved, I am still not back to my full health but I am most definitely on the road there. The events that have taken place over the course of the last nine months have sparked a huge love for health and wellness within me. I choose to spend my time doing research into how my health can be improved with nutrition and exercise suited to my body.
I hope that you will choose to stick around as I continue to heal and hopefully we will learn something from each other!
Until next time,