How I Halted CKD and Ditched my MS Wheel Chair: How to Feel Empowered, Energized, and love
Part 1 of 3 8 YEARS OF SEARCHING
Shortly after the birth of my third daughter a level of fatigue and weakness set in that I had never experienced before. Severe joint pain, mysterious rashes, IBS, sleeplessness, and even after becoming a veteran in coping with inextricable pain, many trips to the ER with unbearable migraines.
It didn’t make sense after a life of eating “healthy,” playing sports, and juggling all of life’s wonders with ease. In the beginning of my journey, test after test came back negative. From the doctor’s perspective, I was perfectly “fine”. For years I dealt with debilitating fatigue, vertigo, loss of balance and joint pain.
I pleaded for help over and over, often in tears. If you have ever struggled with your health and not felt heard, you know what I mean. Next came blaming my physical symptoms on my mental health. “You need to get more sleep.” “You are probably depressed.” “You are too anxious.”
Ironically, I was in the prime of my life feeling on top the world. I had a great career, a wonderful husband, and three beautiful little girls. I couldn’t (and didn’t) ask for anything else. Somehow, they still insisted I was too stressed. Did you ever have one of those dreams when you are screaming but no sound is coming out? That is how my doctor’s made me feel. The thing is, after you go unheard for so long, your soul starts to die a little and you do get depressed. You do develop anxiety. And you do start to lose more sleep.
Eventually, each symptom intensified. More meds were given, but still no improvement, just further disease. Over the course of 8 years, I ping-ponged from specialist to specialist. I went through diagnosis after diagnosis. Raynaud’s Syndrome to Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis to Neurological Lyme, hypoactive thyroid, and of course all of the mystery symptoms that didn’t fit into a label. Eventually a spinal tap and MRI unveiled multiple sclerosis, which eventually put me in a wheelchair.
After countless steroids and immunosuppressants, I gained 40 pounds of fluid and even lost vision in one eye. This was when my kidney disease really ramped up. My immune system plummeted to the point where I developed an aggressive tumor subsequently leading to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
The absolute worst gut-wrenching part of the whole thing was not even my diagnoses.
The worst part was missing milestones in my children’s lives at such an early age. I couldn’t care for them. I couldn’t give them what I saw other children being given. I watched them grow from my couch in agonizing pain.
Over time my friends disappeared. Who wants to hang around a sick person all the time? That human connection that drives our well-being and provides a sense of self-worth and purpose was dissipating before my eyes.
To top it off, I was too sick to go back to the classroom and teach my students with disabilities. I became the disabled one.
Through the years, I was the perfect patient. I followed all of my doctor’s orders, went to every appointment, and took every medication and supplement. I tried every fad from high fat to fasting but still my symptoms became more crippling.
I was exhausted trying to find relief. We down-sized our forever home. The chronic fatigue I was trying to alleviate was compounded by the fatigue of trying to find answers. The symptoms forced me to redesign my life around feeling unwell.
TAKING MY POWER BACK
I wish I could say that I took my power back and regained control of my health before the night my children had to watch an ambulance rush me to the hospital. It wasn’t until almost losing my life twice in that 2 week stay, having pleurisy in my lungs, a dangerous blood clot in my leg, poor liver functioning, and learning that I had kidney disease so severe that my nephrologist expected the need for a transplant in 6 months, that I finally said enough is enough.
I needed to HEAL!
I needed to change my very rigid way of thinking. I needed to put ME first. Mind, body, AND soul! I needed to rethink my priorities. I needed to allow my body to do what it was designed to do…instinctively restore and repair.
After this crucial realization I knew it was up to me — I had to do this for ME, for the life I wanted and for the life I wanted for my 3 little girls, and my husband to have.
With this shift in perspective there was a glimmer of hope when a fellow kidney patient shared with me about whole food plant-based diets. I started to research and question. I learned the ins and outs and I learned about the power of my own thoughts, their impact on my body, and how they lend themselves to my success or failure.
I had what you would call a miraculous recovery. Doctors cal