Big Pharma Strikes Again

May 26, 2017

(Originally published on WellnessCouncilSC.org)

2016 was a really tough year for celebrity deaths. We lost some amazing talent and some of my all time favorites. Death is a natural part of life. It happens to everyone, eventually. But when things come to light about the cause of the death, when it seems completely senseless, it makes it really difficult to deal with.

 

Prince was one of my all time favorite musicians. He was in pain all of the time. He had hip replacement surgery, yet the pain continued and perhaps got even worse. He took Percocet to deal with the pain. Narcotic pain killers are addictive. It doesn’t matter who you are or how strong you are. If you are on these prescription medications long enough, you will become dependent on them. It can start a downward spiral.

 

This year, we lost another, Chris Cornell. He was “The Voice”. He suffered with depression for years. He had a wonderful career spanning decades, a beautiful loving family and the respect of all of his peers. He did have some drug and alcohol issues in the past, which he was able to get past. Then he turned to prescription medications to deal with his depression and anxiety. His wife said of her last conversation with him, that he was “different” and slurring his words. He told her he may have taken an extra dose or two of his prescription. What he was taking was Ativan. One of the many side effects listed for this drug: thoughts or attempts at killing oneself. To see the other side effects, go to https://www.drugs.com/sfx/ativan-side-effects.html.

 

 

Now, when you see something like this, you have to ask yourself, why would someone prescribe a drug that has this side effect to someone dealing with depression. Isn’t that the extreme opposite desired effect? One of the problems is that most doctors do not know much about the drugs they give, only what the pharmaceutical reps tell them. Most doctors are so overwhelmed by the number of patients they see, that they simply don’t have the time to review inserts. If you were a pharmaceutical rep, would you tell the doctors you are trying to sell to, that your drug may cause suicide? Probably not.

 

To say I was devastated with both deaths would be an understatement. I do blame Big Pharma for this. Partly because they push drugs through without enough trials or tests. People keep saying the FDA takes too long to approve a drug, but countless times, they have approved one too quickly and then had to remove it because it was causing too many deaths or horrible side effects.  The human body was just not made to handle the multitude of chemicals that they throw at us.

 

If only people would look for other alternatives, something safer. Prince could have avoided most of his pain had he tried other methods such as chiropractic or acupuncture. Chris could have tried more natural supplements to help with depression such as SAMe. Even just getting out in the sunshine can improve mood.  I am not saying that these would have absolutely saved him, but they have been shown to reduce depression in most.  There are always safer alternatives, you just have to look.

 

When I was going through my kidney problems a few years ago, I learned just how little some doctors know. I had high calcium levels in my blood which led to a quarry of kidney stones. My doctor tried to prescribe me prednisone to lower my levels. I refused. I told him that I am diabetic and that it would cause my blood sugar to sky rocket, prevent me from sleeping or eating or have any quality of life. He responded by saying, “well you are going to die from something.” Needless to say, I never went back to him, and I did lower my calcium levels by changing my diet and working with a naturopath works in Chinese Medicine. The only side effects I get are increased energy, better sleep, better digestion and a much stronger immune system.

 

My greatest hope is that people will start really asking questions. Ask why the doctor chose that particular medication. Why should you be on more than one medicine for the same issue? Is there anything else you can try? Can I get a second opinion?  Remember, the doctor works FOR you, not the other way around. You are the boss of your health, so take control of it now!

 

Now I think I will go listen to some music.  Thanks for reading.

NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR SARCOIDOSIS OF THE LUNGS

May 9, 2017
(Originally posted on WellnessCouncilSC.org)

I am a sarcoid survivor. If you have never heard of sarcoidosis, it’s not surprising. It is one of those auto-immune diseases that is rarely talked about and not much is know about it or the cause.

Since it can affect so many different areas of the body, symptoms can be different for every person.  According to the Mayo Clinic, general symptoms for most include fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes and weight loss. For me, the sarcoidosis resides in my lungs. I first noticed it in 2009 when my husband and I were just starting the P90x video program trying to get in better shape. While he exceled, I kept having to stop and catch my breath. Over time, this progressed. I honestly didn’t think much about it, I just thought I was severely out of shape, so I kept going. Then I was tired. I decided to go get checked out by my general practitioner who did some bloodwork and of course prescribed antibiotics. I went to another doctor who did more integrative medicine. She started me on Vitamin C IV therapy and breathing treatments. She then gave me an injection of Vitamin D. She did all of this without having a diagnosis. After my bloodwork revealed that my calcium levels were elevated she sent me for an MRI stating an initial diagnosis of Lung Cancer. Once the images were done, they were reviewed and the radiologist told me that it was either cancer or sarcoidosis. If it was sarcoidosis, there is no cure and that Vitamin D injection could make it worse.

Sarcoidosis actually causes granulomas to form in whatever organ is affected. My lungs were getting loaded with granulomas which made it difficult to breathe. Vitamin D actually increase the rate of granuloma formation. I started looking for more information online. I noticed that another symptom was red bumps on the skin. I saw that I also had these so I returned to my general practitioner and asked for a punch biopsy of those bumps. It turns out that I in fact did have sarcoidosis. Finally, a definite diagnosis. The problem was that the general form of treatment for this was prednisone.  As someone who also has Type 1 diabetes, prednisone is not really an option for me. It sends my blood sugar sky high and makes life unbearable. So I had to look for better options for myself. With my husband being an incredible chiropractor and believer in natural medicine, I was lucky to have his support and help in the search.

He actually found something before I did. A company that he already had an account with, carried products for lung health and listed sarcoidosis as one of the conditions it treated. The company is Wei Laboratories, based in California. The products were called Soup A, Soup B and LC Balancer. The Soups worked on getting rid of the granulomas and restoring natural tissue, while the LC Balancer helped strengthen the kidneys so that they could rid the body of the toxins more easily. They are not cheap by any means, but after using them for 2 weeks I started noticing improvement. I used them religiously for about 6-8 months. I was feeling really good and could walk a few miles a day, whereas before, I was having to stop after 20 feet. I was happy and feeling good, so I decided to stop treatment.

I was doing well for awhile, then I went to Las Vegas with my husband for a chiropractic conference. To get to the conference or even to the gym in the hotel, you had to go through the casino, which is filled with cigarette smoke. I tried holding my breath but it was a good distance. After 4 days of this, I started having a really hard time breathing. It got progressively worse once we got home. The cigarette smoke really took its toll on me. I was getting even worse than I was in the beginning.  Later that year, we had to go on another trip to Seattle for yet another chiropractic conference. I had to get assistance in the airports to get from gate to gate because walking was just too much. At the hotel, I had a really hard time. Luckily, the conference had a vendor area for the doctors and a Naturopath who practiced in Seattle happened to be set up. My husband met her and spoke with her at length about my condition. I met her and we all talked. She sent me home with a few products including some anti-inflammatory cream (homeopathic) and a detox kit. I used the cream that night before going out to explore the city. It actually helped a little. The real change came when we got home. I started using the detox that Monday and by the next day, I felt tremendous improvement. It was detoxing my liver, my kidneys and my lymphatic system. I was so happy. I have been working with this Naturopath for a few years now, doing phone and FaceTime consultations along with bloodwork and testing. She has helped me tremendously. At one point through all of this, my Pulmonologist told me that I needed to be on Oxygen 24/7 and I should get on the lung transplant list. I walked out of his office that day and never went back. A  few days after that, we flew to Costa Rica for vacation and we hiked half a mile up a mountain to see a volcano. I had to stop on occasion to catch my breath, but I did it. I could never had made it if I had to tote around an oxygen tank.

Now I am doing great, working on my garden, running my nonprofit organization where I teach diabetes management, planning big events and more. I still have some bad days, but I push through it because I know that I have the tools, the information and the support to get past it.

You can get better, no matter what the issue, just keep searching for answers and never just follow blindly. Question everything and you will gain so much.

What’s the Deal with Bone Broth?

February 20, 2017

Bone broth has become the new trend in health these days. Everyone is talking about it, drinking it, there are books on it and you can even buy it premade in packages.

 

So what is it and what is it good for? Bone broth is a highly nutritious stock made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue.

Using acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, breaks down the collagen and connective tissue.

This leaves you with a tasty, nutritious liquid commonly used in soups and sauces.

 

According to Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation,

“Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.”

 

The Healing Benefits of Bone Broth

There are many reasons for incorporating good-old-fashioned bone broth into your diet. The following health benefits attest to its status as “good medicine.”

Helps heal and seal your gut, and promotes healthy digestion: The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses, etc.: A study4 published over a decade ago found that chicken soup indeed has medicinal qualities, significantly mitigating infection
Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis5 (whole-body inflammation).

Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better

Promotes strong, healthy bones: As mentioned above, bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the gelatin in the broth

From Mercola.com

 

Bone broth is said to be one of the most healing foods. The first thing you want when you get a cold is a nice big bowl of hot chicken soup. The reason is because of the healing properties of the broth itself. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily. Processed, canned soups will not work as well as the homemade version made from slow-cooked bone broth”.

 

So how do you make it? Every Thanksgiving I tell my entire family to SAVE THE BONES! I take those bones, put them in a giant freezer safe container and store them until I am ready. Then I put the bones in a pot with water, some onions, garlic, carrots (if I have them) and let the mixture simmer for hours. Sometimes I let it simmer overnight. I do the same thing when I cook a whole chicken. I love the smell of the broth simmering. At times, I will add some chilis to the broth because that added spice brings even more healing to the broth.

 

Here is a simple recipe I found.

 

Ingredients

Directions

  • Put bones and vegetables in a big, stainless steel pot.
  • Pour water into the pot so it covers the contents. Add the vinegar, and then raise the temperature to bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, add salt and pepper, and then let simmer for 4–24 hours (the longer it simmers, the tastier and more nutrient-dense it will be).
  • Allow the broth to cool, and then strain the solids out. Now it’s ready.

You can also add other meat, veggies or spices to your broth. Popular additions include parsley, bay leaves, carrots, celery, ginger, lemon rinds and liver.

After it is done, you can store the broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Instead of a pot, you may also want to use a pressure cooker, slow cooker or Crock-Pot. I personally use a Crock-Pot to make my bone broth, and it cooks while I sleep. (courtesy of AuthorityNutrition.com)

First published on WellnessCouncilSC.org 2/17/17

Keep Going

January 4, 2017

Type 1 diabetes is a daily struggle. Every day. Because every day is different and whatever is happening in your life can have an impact on your glucose levels and your health. It can truly be exhausting.

I always say that as a Type 1 diabetic, I feel lucky to have the ability to correct a high or low blood sugar quickly. That is true and I make corrections as needed. But I am envious of those with Type 2. Most of the time, not always, Type 2 can be reversed with dietary and lifestyle changes. While the medications used for Type 2 don’t work the same as insulin and they can’t correct a high reading quickly, they can get off of their medication for good if they are determined and focused on better health. I am jealous of that.

Every day is different for me. Even if I eat the same thing 2 or 3 days in a row at exactly the same time, I will get different readings each day. The last day has been rough for me. I ate my dinner as usual and watched a little television with a snack, like I almost always do. I noticed before bed that I was a bit low even though I had eaten a fair amount of carbohydrates and didn’t take any more insulin than normal. A few hours later, I had a really bad low and my husband was feeding me juice in the middle of the night. Why did this happen? I can honestly say that I don’t know. This morning again, I had a low and was exhausted for most of the day, getting very little work done. I ate breakfast and lunch but for some reason my body was metabolizing everything differently.

I don’t always know the reasons behind different readings but I continue with my testing every day, knowing with absolute certainty that the only way to know what’s going on with your body is to stay on top of your numbers. My days don’t always go as planned, but the only way to live is to keep going and keep moving forward.

What Does 2017 Look Like For You?

December 28, 2016

Every year, I make a promise to myself that I WILL follow through with my resolutions. I make my list, type it up on a nice sheet of paper, sometimes with a beautiful border and maybe a few pictures, and I hang it up in a place where I see it daily. I do ok with it for awhile, then eventually, I falter. It happens.

The list is basically the same every year. Exercise more, read more, be more grateful, clean the house more…..the usual. So why can’t I continue with the list all year? I think perhaps I put too much pressure on myself, or I put too many things on the list.

So what about this year? My goals for 2017 are mostly related to my nonprofit organization, our programs and how we can continue to grow. I began working with a business coach a few months ago, and because of that, I now have greater focus. In just a few months, we completely changed our mission, our focus, our website, our logo, basically everything. For the first time in over ten years, we now have a source of income beyond donations and events. That is where my energy will be going in 2017, to help ensure the success and growth of our programs. Of course, personal growth and relationships play a huge role in everything I do, and I am so very thankful to have a husband, partner and best friend who helps me and supports me.

What about you? What resolutions will you be making for 2017? Will you  make any?

My greatest hope is for love, peace, and happiness for all. Have a beautiful New Year!

Post-Christmas Check In

December 27, 2016

So we all survived the Christmas holiday. We got past it, we enjoyed our time with family and friends, exchanged gifts and of course ate way too much. But how did you DO with it all? Did you eat too much or maybe eat something that you know you shouldn’t have? Did you let stress get the best of you?

Christmas can be a rough time of year for diabetics, for just the stress alone. The fact that you are surrounded by carbs at the dinner table doesn’t help.

Well, I had some struggles. Christmas Eve went pretty well, since I cooked dinner for myself, my husband and his parents. It is our annual tradition to spend Christmas Eve together and exchange our gifts. I cooked and really had only one starch on the table, plus a tiny sliver of dessert. I controlled my portions and did quite well with my blood sugar.

The next day, Christmas Day was spent at my mother’s house with my entire, crazy family.  To say that there was an abundance of food would be a dramatic understatement. We arrived with a sackful of gifts and our additional side dishes. As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted with platters full of appetizers. I tried a little of everything, and a lot of some. Gluten free crackers were available so I did have several of those with some homemade crab dip. It was delicious. Next came the small glass of Mudslide which my husband was sharing with everyone. It was good but sweet. I drank all that I was given. Finally, it was time to “eat”. There was rice, dressing, mashed potatoes, asparagus casserole, collard greens (yes, I am a southern girl), turkey and more. I put a little of almost everything on my plate and almost licked the plate clean.

I am not proud of all that I ate, but I probably would do it again. It’s a day of sharing and enjoying the food prepared with love by my family. And it was all so good. Later, after the gifts were all exchanged and the kids were running around the house with their new toys, I stepped away to check my blood sugar. I know that I should have done it sooner, but there was just too much chaos. Well, all of the carbohydrates I ate and drank throughout the day really got the best of me and my blood sugar was really really high. I took an additional injection of insulin and brushed it off. Nothing more that I could do. I could have beat myself up over my error in judgement, but that wouldn’t have done any good. So, I packed up everything and we made our way home. By the time we got home, about 2 1/2 hours later, my blood sugar had come back to normal and everything was good. I made sure to drink a lot of water to flush everything out of my system.

So, what is the moral of this story? Just keep moving forward. I guess that is my life’s motto. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes, because we are all human and we all make them. Just do what you need to do to correct the mistake and move on. Life is too short.

Happy New Year everyone!

Surviving the Holiday Season with Diabetes

December 16, 2016

holidays-and-diabetes

This is the time of year when stress can hit an all-time high for most people. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, wrapping. It doesn’t seem to end. Then there is traveling and getting together with the family. All of this can be hard on anyone, but someone with diabetes can have an especially hard time.

Holidays might as well be called Dessert Days. That is when everyone is baking, having cookie exchanges, cakes, pies, the list just goes on and on. It can be very hard to navigate the temptations and sometimes you just give in. Who could blame you?

As you know, stress can really do a number on your blood sugar. Depending on what else is going on, stress can either cause your blood sugar readings to plummet or sky-rocket. It’s all in a delicate balance and it can be so very frustrating. Believe me, I know.

So what do you do? First, make sure when you are out shopping and rushing around like a crazy person, that you have healthy snacks with you. Second, make sure to test yourself maybe a little more frequently, especially before driving. Trust me when I say you do not want to get behind the wheel when your blood sugar is too low. Third, forgive yourself if you “cheat” a little. It’s ok. It happens to everyone and it won’t do any good to beat yourself up over it. Just acknowledge the cheat, forgive yourself and move forward. Always move forward. Remind yourself that you KNOW what to do and that knowledge is power. You have the power over your choices and your own health.

You can do this. I believe in you!

My Current Rant

December 7, 2016

Today I was told that I really needed to start blogging again, which I knew but resisted. I was thinking what do I talk about? I have nothing to say. Then, while I was just doing some research on healthy recipes for diabetics, it hit me.

I see so many recipes posted from places like American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Food Network, etc. To be honest, they really aren’t all that healthy. Some of them are ok. But so many of them call for artificial sweeteners because they don’t affect blood sugar. While it is true, they don’t cause it to rise, they are actually toxic to your healthy in so many other ways and actually promote weight gain.

I personally don’t eat a lot of sweets, although on occasion my sweet tooth gives me a little nudge. So, baking isn’t really a big issue for me because I don’t do it. I understand that some of the natural sweeteners, like stevia, are really hard to bake with so using Splenda or (gasp)aspartame is an easy solution. But I urge people to stop and search out other options. Perhaps using some orange juice as the liquid in a recipe or applesauce. Both of these are very sweet. Also, try using raw honey. It has less of a glycemic impact than processed honey. Actually any highly processed food will have be higher on the glycemic index than a food in it’s natural form. By glycemic index, I mean, how quickly it turns into glucose in your body. They higher something is on the scale, the faster it becomes glucose and can spike your glucose readings.

So please do a little research, try some new things, or better yet, eat a piece of fruit!

 

I Should Have Given Up By Now

June 1, 2016

It has been 10 years, 2 months and 16 weeks and 4 days since The Wellness Council for SC began as an official 501c3 nonprofit in the state of South Carolina. But who’s counting, right? Well………

To say it has been a constant struggle is putting it rather mildly. Little to zero funding, little to zero volunteers at times,  a revolving door for members and board members alike, etc, etc.

Our mission is basically to “promote healthy living through education”.  However, we are constantly competing for attention, a voice, with organizations who want to “cure” different things. I think that curing a disease is a very noble cause, however I don’t always agree with the organizations themselves and how they do things. And the simple truth is that so many of these diseases they are trying to raise money to cure can actually be prevented by using the tools and information that we teach. We all know that prevention is much easier, much cheaper and safer than treating or “curing”. Yet, people still would rather send their money to other places instead of us.

My guess is that some people, not all, would rather do what they like and eat what they like instead of making any changes. It’s easier and whatever ails them later can be fixed with a pill. Unfortunately so many illnesses don’t have a quick and simple fix. The pills and other treatments have a long, long list of side effects, and things such as chemo and radiation are actually highly toxic. I personally would rather make a few simple changes in my diet and lifestyle and try my best to avoid those dangers.

We can’t avoid and prevent everything of course. Things happen and we can still get sick, but isn’t better to have your body filled with the nutrients it needs in order to fight illness and help the body heal, rather than a body full of preservatives, dyes and artificial sweeteners? I would think so.

So, after all of the blood, sweat and tears that I have put into the 10+ years. Not to mention all of the money spent to run programs, why do I continue? Why don’t I just throw in the towel? Because I truly believe in our mission and in what we do. Event though community support is very scarce at times, I believe that things are slowly changing. I love what I do and I love the people that I have met along this journey. What we do is important and it is impacting lives, even though people really don’t know about it. But I believe we can change the tide of health in our community, our state and our country.

That is why I am still here.

Kristi

Forward

May 19, 2016

From our Executive Director:

 

In 2009, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis of the lungs. Before then, I had never heard of it before and it is still a rather rare disease. Doctors seem to have no clue as to what it is or how it is contracted. It is not a contagious disease and rarely can you tell that someone has it just by looking at them. After getting winded very easily while working out with my husband (we did P90X together) I started to wonder what was going on. It didn’t get better. Instead it got worse. That is when I sought out answers. It took a couple different doctors and different testing to determine my diagnosis. I was initially told that I had lung cancer, but after scans were done that was ruled out. It was then that I actually told my doctor at the time what test to do, a biopsy on some raised red spots on my skin. That test gave me the answer. It was my constant research that led me to ask for that test and I’m glad I did.

Before I got the final diagnosis of sarcoid, my doctor decided that since my vitamin D level was low, she would just give me an injection of it. After my diagnosis, I learned that vitamin D can actually make sarcoid worse. It leads the granulomas in my lungs to replicate faster. Needless to say, I was not happy with that treatment before diagnosis.

The standard protocol for sarcoidosis, which can by the way affect many different organs in the body, is always prednisone or methotrexate. Since I am also a diabetic, type 1 diagnosed at 12 years old, I am unable to take prednisone. Methotrexate can have life threatening side effects so that was also unappealing to me. Again, the internet was my best friend.

My husband is a chiropractor, a very very good one at that. He and I both strongly believe that the more natural you live your life, the less chemicals you consume, the better. Good health comes from a healthy lifestyle, not a pill bottle. I tried just about everything I could think of. Acupuncture, hyperbaric chambers, sauna, and a multitude of “miracle” products that I found online. Some things helped for a short time. Some things did not. I was actually doing much better before we headed to Las Vegas for a chiropractic conference.

Anyone who has been to Las Vegas knows what it is like being in a casino. Everyone it seems is smoking. In order to get to the conference, we had to walk through the smoke-filled casino, sometimes multiple times a day. You had to do that to even go to the hotel gym. Well, cigarette smoke and sarcoidosis of the lungs don’t mix and it started me on a downward spiral. A couple of months later, I could barely walk 10 feet without stopping to catch my breath. We had to fly to Seattle to another conference at that time, and in the airports, I had to get a ride on the carts to and from the gates. It was devastating. I felt helpless and absolutely hopeless. But I kept pushing. Kept moving forward. What else could I do? I am not one to give up easily.

It was at the conference in Seattle that I would meet the woman who would change my life. Dr. Lorina Shinsato of Primavita Family Medicine in Seattle. She is a naturopath and a life saver. We talked to her about what was going on, how I was feeling, etc. She had some products on hand that she gave me to use. There was a cream called Inflamyar, and anti-inflammatory cream that she told me to put on my chest. I did that when I got back to the room. That night I was able to walk around Pike’s Place Market a little bit better. It wasn’t until I got home that I tried the other product from her. It was a detox formula from Pekana.  3 different liquids that I used twice a day to help detox my liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. She gave me a specific number of drops of each to use, which I followed to the letter. After just two days, I felt a tremendous difference. I contacted her soon after to thank her and then began working with her to get my body to function properly again. This was in November of 2013.

Even though I was doing so much better with my breathing, my body was still not working properly.

In April of 2014, I had our biggest event of the year, Earth Day Music Fest, coming up soon. I was stressed out and I came down with what I thought was the flu. I slept on the couch every night. I couldn’t keep anything down. I had constant fever and chills. Luckily, the sky opened up the day before and day of the schedule festival so it had to be cancelled since I could barely lift my head. This continued for another week or so, with a few times of relief in between. I finally decided I had had enough and drove myself to the emergency room, thankfully only about 2 miles away. I really don’t remember much after signing in but I remember being told that my kidneys were failing and it wasn’t the flu. A few days later I woke up in ICU. It turned out that I had both kidneys filled with stones which caused a blockage. When they put in the stents, it caused sepsis. So I ended up on a breathing tube for a few days. It’s a good thing I don’t remember any of it. The kidney stones were a result of my high calcium levels in my blood due to the sarcoid. Going back to that first diagnosis of lung cancer, I remembered that the reason the doctor thought that was because of my high calcium level. Not one doctor along the way ever told me that it was dangerous, what it could lead to and that I had to get the numbers lower. Not a single doctor said anything. I kick myself everyday because I didn’t think to research it on my own like I do everything else. But again, I move forward. I was in the hospital for 10 days. I went home on a Sunday, having trouble breathing, walking around, and basically doing much of anything. My husband pushed me, and then I started pushing myself. That Saturday, we got on an airplane headed to Venice, Italy to begin our week long anniversary trip that we had been planning for months. My doctors and nurses didn’t think I would be able to go and one doctor told me I couldn’t go. But to be honest, it was the absolute best thing I could have done. In Italy, you are forced to walk. Everywhere, especially in Venice where there are zero cars. I did it. We walked all over Venice, Florence, Pisa and Roma. We toured museums, galleries, cathedrals and even the Vatican. When I came home, my health was greatly improved. It still took months and multiple procedures to get rid of all of the stones, but I kept moving forward and doing what I needed to do.

The urologist kept trying to get me to take prednisone to help lower my calcium. I told him that I absolutely would not. It would cause my blood sugar to go way too high, I would be unable to sleep and I would drive everyone around me away because I was mean. Basically, the medication would ruin my health. His exact words were, “well you are going to die from something”. I believe that is one of the last times I ever saw him.

He had also told me that I needed to stop eating dairy to hep lower my calcium, but that there was nothing natural I could do to help. I personally don’t eat a lot of dairy, but on occasion. What I had been doing however, was daily smoothies with commercially produced almond milk (which has close to 50% more added calcium than dairy) along with spinach and kale. Anyone who studies nutrition knows that you get far more calcium from dark leafy greens than you do from dairy. Even different dairy products themselves have different calcium contents. Cheese is about 35% whereas heavy cream is 2% and butter is 0%. So I then changed my diet completely along with still working with the Naturopath to get my kidneys working properly again.

Again, I was doing much better, but the story doesn’t end there.

In February of 2015, I gave a seminar on nutrition at a local recreation center. I gave what I think is one of the best talks I have ever done and was quite pleased with myself. I then went home and started cooking dinner for my husband. While I was doing so, I noticed a sharp pain in my back by my left shoulder blade. I tried working it out but I decided I would ask him for an adjustment when he got home. We ate dinner and he gave me an adjustment. We sat on the couch to relax a little after but the pain came back and just got worse. No matter what I did, it didn’t go away. While getting ready for bed, I started having trouble breathing and I felt my heart racing. So it was back to the emergency room to rule out anything bad. When I checked in I told them I had had high blood calcium levels and I was afraid that I was having a heart event. They took me back immediately. My heart checked out, but after an x-ray, I found out that my left lung had spontaneously collapsed. The lung tissue was so damaged from the sarcoidosis that it just collapsed. I was there overnight and had a tube put in to resolve the issue. The doctor who put in the tube happened to be a good friend and someone I trusted. I went back to see him a few days later and we decided to leave the tube in for 2 weeks to let my lung heal. After two weeks, the lung tissue did not heal on it’s own, so I headed to surgery. My friend was the surgeon. I was in the hospital for about a week this time around, but the lung was repaired and I just had to keep moving forward.

I had to follow up frequently with the doctor and the pulmonologist that I had while in the hospital. In May of 2015, I went to see the pulmonologist for a breathing test and to review scans that had been recently taken.

I was doing so much better and confident that was I was doing was really helping me. His opinion however, did not reflect that. After reviewing my scans and breathing test, he told me that I needed to be on oxygen 24/7 and I needed to go to the Medical University so that I could get on the transplant list. I tried to refuse the oxygen but he would not let me leave without the portable tank. I left the office and have never been back. A few days later, I was in Costa Rica hiking a mile up a mountain to see a volcano with my husband. It took some time to do it and I had to stop frequently, but I did it. Without the oxygen.

I don’t mean to bash medical doctors or western medicine all of the time. They have their place. When I had my emergencies, they saved my life. Quite literally. However, when it comes to chronic disease, disease management and especially prevention, the medical community has so much to learn. They get little to no training whatsoever in nutrition. When my calcium levels were coming down to a normal level and I told the doctor what I was doing in regards to diet, he said that he couldn’t explain why I was better, even though I had just told him. They don’t understand. It’s not their fault because they are not taught to believe in anything natural, they are not taught nutrition, they know nothing about chiropractic. But they do need to learn to listen and open their minds. They need to understand that chemical based medications, even though sometimes necessary, are not always the best option for patients.

I am lucky to now have a local doctor who works with me, listens to me, applauds what I do, and even works with my naturopath. I wish every doctor could be like him.

I still have my ups and downs. I still use my inhaler from time to time. But today, I can walk for 2-3 hours straight without issue. I can again take deep, healthy breaths. My lungs feel clearer, my immune system is stronger and I quite honestly feel like a new person. I still eat as healthy as I can and still watch my calcium intake, just to be safe. As the saying goes, “nothing tastes as good as healthy feels”. I can’t tell you how very true that is.

What is the moral to the story? I want everyone to take responsibility for their own health. I never relied on what the doctor told me. Do your own research, try different things. What I did may not work for you, since everyone is different. Ask questions, get a second, third opinion. Question everything. Don’t forget to move, anyway you can. Keep the blood flowing. Keep laughing. Appreciate your loved ones. Enjoy life to the fullest. And keep moving forward!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this is not attempt to take the place of medical advice. Everything written is from pure personal experience in an attempt to share my story and help others.