I thought it was about time I gave you an update on how I am doing with my own health ‘journey’ as I know you like those. So, prepare for soul-bearing once more….
At the time of publishing the Healing Plan, I was doing really well. I had managed to start getting a lot of foods back in, most symptoms had gone or calmed somewhat and the main aims I was left with were:
- Continue to expand my diet
- Get rid of the migraines
- Get my mouth to heal fully
In the months after I finished the Healing Plan, I sort of had a healing hiatus; I needed a break and was at a stage where I was feeling pretty normal most of the time. I didn’t really expand my diet much as I felt I had loads of foods compared to what I used to have and, frankly, didn’t need to. I thought I was eating like a King! I was eating fish, seafood, beef, eggs, nuts, herbs, some spices, loads of veg, fruit and potatoes. I became a teensy bit addicted to egg and tiny little baked potatoes with a bit of Vietnamese dark chocolate for pudding. Delicious. I was so enjoying it, I didn’t really do much else like seeds, other spices, other meat etc.
As the nutrients started to go back in from a more expanded diet, I felt loads more energy, my restless legs went completely – and I didn’t have a full-on migraine for over 4 months!!! Bliss. I can’t tell you the relief of that one. I had absolutely NO hayfever this year for the first time since my teens and I am no longer reactive to smells or things in the air – evidenced by shopping near candles and sitting in a popcorny cinema – so that suggests my overall reactivity level is much lower 🙂
I finally felt able to plan things again and so started doing some training in colour analysis to offer self-esteem work eventually and get some fun group work going. I also re-learned my signature facial and got myself set up for that. I was re-entering the world at last – and doing it in a fun, positive way. Life felt gooood 🙂
Then Minnie, my cat, ate a rubber bung and BHAM! Stress hit.
Stress, Painkillers and a Leaky Gut
We had an incredibly stressful three weeks where the vets saved her life three times as the bung had literally bunged her up, no-one knew it was there of course and she was being poisoned from within. I wished she could speak and tell us what was wrong. Anyway, we finally opened her up to look as nothing showed on Xrays and there it was – the foot off a coffee machine or something. Heaven only knows where she got that from and why she ate it. She survived the op, which was unexpected as she was so weak by then, that was quickly followed by pneumonia and we had to watch her struggling for breath which was awful. She came through that but still wouldn’t eat.
She almost died again because she hadn’t eaten for 11 days and we discovered the bung must have hurt her oesophagus and to eat was hurting her so we were just about to feed her with a line through her nose and she suddenly started eating! I had been pushing nutrient jelly through her teeth to swallow and I am hoping that helped to heal her internal wounds or something. Whatever, we were so relieved.
Blimey O’Riley. Only someone who has cats in lieu of the kids they can’t have can understand the level of attachment you have to them, although P was almost as upset as I was. It was incredibly stressful, time-consuming and costly! However, little fighter that she is, she came through and started getting better. Butter wouldn’t melt in her little mouth now, I can tell you. She even sent me a card on Mother’s Day apologising that she had ‘eaten all the wedding money’!! (Well, Daddy P sent it for her obviously…). Yes, we are that mad.
As she got better, I got worse. Go figure. I suddenly started getting TMJ pain. Incredible pain in the right hand jaw joint. I supposed it was all that teeth clenching. It necessitated between 10-16 ibuprofen a day for over two months, plus steroids. I had to take the ibuprofen as it was the only safe painkiller I had and I HAD to take something. I couldn’t take the usual DGL (licorice) etc to offset the damage it would do to my gut and, of course, I am now suffering for that!
In essence, I am living proof of what stress does to your gut. I eventually worked out that the jaw pain had been started by foods I was being OK with before – the stress had made my gut leaky again. When I cut out the most recent and frequent foods in desperation (eggs, tap water to do my teeth, chocolate), the jaw pain went within 2 days. It is actually testament to the power of the brain retraining I had done that it took me 2 months to actually even consider it was food! I made myself suffer more by not thinking about it. How ironic is that?!!
So, I knew my gut had become more leaky through the stress and now even more leaky because of the damage from the ibuprofen, which is well acknowledged even in mainstream medicine.
You can read a good article here from Chris Kresser on the gut-brain axis and the effect stress has on the gut:
I am wondering actually whether the mouth issues are also part of this same thing, involving the gut-skin axis. If stress has the power to exacerbate barrier breakdown and inflame the gut, it also has the power do do it on other barriers and mucus membranes as I discuss in the Gluten Plan. I discovered that the TMJ issue has been caused at least in part by a ligament connecting my top and bottom jaw which spasms and feels bumpy and rashy almost, much like I get on my legs during a reaction. It’s all skin whether it’s internal or external, isn’t it? We do know that we have a very similar HPA cortisol action to stress in skin as well as the gut so this is quite likely.
In fact, I have been investigating so-called Psychodermatology. Ooh, great word! Essentially, it appears that stress can increase Substance P (anyone who has read the Healing Plan knows what I am on about there – the hypersensitivity process) and therefore makes the skin react to emotional and physical stressors more. This is often seen in eg. atopic dermatitis, eczema and, in me I reckon, and many of you, affecting the barrier skin in the various places in the body. Oh no, another area for me to get researching 😉
You can read a bit about it here if you like:
There is a much more technical paper here for you which is fascinating too:
And here is some info for you on the effect of ibuprofen on leaky gut. I thought this was quite a neat little summary:
And here is my Pain Factsheet where you will find some suggested alternatives and more on the Substance P stuff. Sadly, I was unable to tolerate much else but I’m working on it. I had to take the consequences this time.
The situation I am in now is that I have now been back on my core diet (fish, veg, fruit) plus some new stuff – I have kept the nuts in and added fresh turmeric to smoothies twice a day to keep my calories, fats and nutrients up better and lower inflammation. I am getting zinc carnosine in about three times a week and some magnesium spray. Glutamine set the jaw pain back off again so that’s out!
Essentially, I am rehealing my gut. At least I know there is a real mostly physical cause this time – the ibuprofen – and that time will heal it. I am also doing daily meditation, of course, to lower the emotional stress levels. I am looking forward to getting my foods back in again – and it had better be before my wedding in October, although I am trying not to put that pressure on myself!!
Restless legs and migraines have started increasing in severity and frequency again and I know this is down to the drop in nutrients again due to the restrictive diet. The aim is to get my foods back in asap and get those nutrients back up and I fully expect those to symptoms to reduce once more.
The mouth has never started healing yet – it is my bete noir. I tried a little bit of chocolate and three small sips of coffee last week and my jaw jammed shut for a week. I kid you not: at one point I was squashing banana through my teeth in the middle of the night as I was so hungry! Really. Not. Pleasant. It was almost saying: ‘hang on, stop putting stuff in here; we’re not ready yet!’ Ok, I’ve got the message and will wait a while longer. I think it is now 6-7 weeks on core diet and it normally takes about 10-12 weeks in most people who are able to take glutamine etc, so I can’t expect speedy miracles!
That said, I have invented a visualisation to try. I am doing daily imagining of the whole digestive tract being cooled and soothed by a chilled blue drink to lower inflammation, a little minion in the control centre in my head switching the leaky gut switch to ‘lock’ again, watching the tight junctions in my gut close tight and seeing the villi growing fully again so I can absorb better! Let’s hope that speeds things up. I really need to get Julie to do a couple of sessions with me as that is normally stronger.
Feeling great – cranio-sacral therapy
Underneath all that, though, I actually feel the best in myself I have felt for a very long time. I had cleared an awful lot of emotional junk with Julie and retrained my brain to think about food and life nicely again.
Recently, I started having cranio-sacral therapy . I have talked about it with some of you on the Facebook groups. It’s fascinating. I am not totally sure how it works (which is a new feeling for me in natural medicine and a little unnerving!), but I think of it as a kind of touch meditation which allows the body to reset or realign itself somehow. It is not an energetic medicine like reiki, nor a physical one like Bowen, but I believe it works partly on the fascia of the body – that is like a web that goes from the top of your head over every muscle and connective tissue to the soles of your feet. I felt mine had been pulled up in a knot from the top of my head and made the whole of me tight so I chose cranio-sacral therapy to help me release it.
It also works on the flow and fluids of the body like blood, lymph, hormones, nerves, messaging systems etc. Here is a brief explanation:
Through the simplicity of gentle listening touch, Craniosacral Therapy offers a distinctive stillness that allows your mind and body to rest deeply and begin to restore a natural balance. Craniosacral Therapy recognises and assists the connections between body, mind and emotions. In the peaceful space created during a session these strands can become more fully integrated.
In fact, the first session, I felt like a light had been switched back on in my head and I suddenly became clearer, able to think, plan etc – that’s when I started the new training stuff. That has maintained, which is fabulous. In more graphic terms, after the second session, the right side of my face blew up – I looked like I had elephantitis for a couple of hours, much to P’s amusement. Then it just went down. Since then, I have bitten my lips and cheeks a lot – something seems to have moved and my mouth didn’t feel like it belonged to me for a few days!
More recently, I have been spitting out yukky lymph from my mouth so I am assuming something is moving there. In the most recent ‘first-aid’ session for my jammed jaw, I spontaneously burst into tears, suddenly feeling very sad. I am convinced we hold past trauma or stuck emotions in the physical body and, even though Julie has cleared it so I no longer react emotionally to it, I reckon some of it the memory is still stuck in the tissues, hence the cranio-sacral therapy trial to see if it can release it. That last session convinced me that it can.
It is slow work; you really have no idea what is going on or IF anything is going on, but I feel lighter, more clear-headed, much more energy despite the issues above and more ‘me’ than I have in a very long time so I am sticking with it even though I can’t explain what’s happening. I’ve had 9 sessions so far and will report back to you, of course, in case it is something you could use to speed your own healing up.
So, that’s where I am.
The moral of the story is: as hypersensitives with the amygdala dial turned up genetically-speaking, we are very vulnerable to stress. We must do all we can to keep stress low in every way – physically, emotionally, mentally – or it will impact on healing progress. I’m in one of those dips, but I know that I have done it once and it is only a question of time and application to get the foods back in again, the migraines back down and this time I will concentrate more on getting my zinc up to start the healing of my mouth and using my Healing Plan techniques on the mouth specifically. I will get there and, happily, am not thrown too much by the recent dip. Not nice, but when you know what can be achieved and you keep those two models from the start of the Healing Plan in mind, it gives you more confidence the next time!
Wish me luck!