Truth be told, I showed up this time around on this planet with a bunch of problems. My mother told me she never had an issue with insomnia, except during the time she was pregnant with me. She said, it was as if I never slept in the womb. As such, when I was born, I was exhausted, and slept so much, the nurses told her that if she didn’t force me to wake to feed, that I would die of malnutrition. She obliged their insistence, and thus continued my long journey with insomnia and low quality sleep patterns, for which I still use my toolbox for natural remedy and recovery nearly every day.
I was also that kid in class to whom everyone was instructed to write get well letters. Before the age of 7 I was in and out of the hospital numerous times with immune complications, pneumonia, bronchitis, and allergic reactions to prescription drugs. The nurses knew me so well, I got the extra serving of green jello every evening at 7pm and I got to stay up late to watch tv a half hour later than all the other kids. I was one of their favorites.
For over a decade I was on the list for flu vaccine for risk of complications “due to compromised immunity” and chronic asthma. I routinely suffered from streptococcal pharyngitis and sinus infection four times every year, until it was finally clear that the strep and infections were adverse reactions to the vaccines. I was diagnosed each year during my yearly checkups as anemic, hypoglycemic, and asthmatic until I was 27.
So, because of my compromised health at such a young age, and my mother’s worry, vigilance and pioneering spirit, in the 70s I was already a supplement-health food-smoothies-juicing junkie, living on a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet until my early 20s.
With that diet, incredible discipline and diligence, and a passion for volleyball, I trained everyday as a teenager for the sport. I routinely pushed through my deficient supplies of oxygen and blood led my varsity team through district finals my senior year in high school.
When I arrived at university, something began to nag at my mind, when I met other kids, who also packed inhalers. An important thought seed was planted in my mind, “Why do we have to pay to breathe? How is that fair? How can this make sense?”
In 1997 I observed myself observing myself in a traffic accident. No, that’s not a typo. You read that correctly. It was a double out-of-body experience, an important one because this was when I really began paying attention. After my beloved Nissan 280Z, my graduation present and the coolest car I would ever own, was crumpled into an accordion, I spent the following 12 months getting tested by various specialists in fancy doctor’s offices for my unexplainable symptoms. Needless to say, after months of being shuffled around and reading the same reports, “Healthy 22 year old female complaining of…” I began to suspect that either my doctors thought I was lying about my pain or they figured that at my age and my appearance were indicators that I shouldn’t be complaining about it.
And so my dreams of becoming a professional beach volleyball player officially ended, along with the belief that western medicine could be beneficial to me for anything other than emergency care. The seeds that had been planted earlier in life began to sprout, as I began to search for other ways to heal through diet and nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine and other alternative methods for healing.
In Milano my local doctor supported me as I eliminated all use of over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, steroid inhalers, antibiotics, pain killers, and annual vaccines. I will not lie. In the year 2000 this was a long and lonely journey. It was a time when alternative healing and eating methods were still taboo, and when ideas of vegetarian, raw food, juicing and fasting were for the kooky people. Add to this, I was living in a traditional country, where pride in provincial attitudes prevailed, and where wines, meats and cheeses to this day offer exquisite and unmatched culinary delight.
It was then, and admittedly sometimes with great sadness, that I began eliminating cow dairy from my diet, and began to see improvements in my health. I also began adopting many Traditional Chinese therapies. Eventually I cut sheep dairy from my diet (Pecorino Romano, Pecorino di Piacenza and Ricotta di Pecorino… Cannoli!). This was a great sadness. And because I’m a glutton for punishment, in the summer of 2008 I eliminate fruits from my diet for a month. Actually my doctor of internal medicine recommended this diet, as I’d been consuming too much sugar and fruits were my lifelong go-to fix. But that wasn’t the last of my torture, I moved to France and finally eliminated goat dairy (Bûcheron, Crottin, Valençay) from my diet.
During this period I also met an NSA chiropractic doctor and an alternative doctor of internal medicine, who both helped clarify my path to …. (to be continued)
Though it was a torture to give up so many delicious gourmet foods, while I was living in the countries where they were sourced, I was motivated by an onslaught of gastrointestinal pains, menstruation disorders and chronic illness. So I was willing to try anything to take charge of my health and to finally have a body in tip top functionality. As the years passed, I learned more about my unique biome and what works best for me for my diet and lifestyle.
In time my friends and family also began to exhibit signs of aging and ill-health, and feeling disillusioned by the response of their medical doctors. So they started asking me questions about my choices … (to be continued)