It’s NOT all in my head

Today I feel drained! For the first time in a while I am taking a sick day – sofa, daytime TV, Disney movies and rest! Last night I spent the evening being sick, so today I feel exhausted, my whole body feels tender and aches and I feel unsteady on my feet. I am not sure what’s caused it, perhaps something dodgy to eat, a bug, or I have run myself down lately trying to do more than my body is ready for?

These feelings remind me of my “weird days”. The days when I could barely string a sentence together, felt exhausted, ached all over and could barely walk. The days they said were all in my head!

It feels like the right day to finally put together this blog post to share with you some of my journey.
Until recently, I rarely talked about, I felt like a fraud. I still do sometimes. Knowing family that are living with cancer it feels wrong to talk about it, somewhat insignificant in comparison. Then earlier I spoke to a friend who is experiencing similar symptoms to me. I hear the pain in her words, wandering if things will ever get better, wanting answers and I remember just how ill I really was. So if by sharing my story I can help one person feel less alone, it is worth it.

I can pin point the exact moment in time when things changed… Easter 2014!

Leading up to that moment, I felt like superwoman! Business was the busiest it had ever been, things were going full steam ahead with our wedding planning and I was exercising several times a week. For years I hadn’t even had a sniffle. I thought I felt great! To put things into perspective, I used to be called the Energiser Bunny – I was full of energy, smiley, bouncy!

I was working Good Friday to get some wedding invitations finished, it had felt like the busiest week ever, adrenaline was pumping and I didn’t need anything to get in the way, I had no time to stop. And then I chopped the top of my thumb off on the guillotine! Ouch indeed! I didn’t need the hold up. With the adrenaline pumping I think my body went into some sort of shock and it took a week to stop bleeding! On top of that, we had just discovered that the house we had always dreamt of buying had just come on the market, totally unexpected, we weren’t planning to buy a house until after the wedding, an opportunity we couldn’t miss! All of a sudden, there was a new pressure, a new excitement, more to plan, more adrenaline! So it was no wonder that after an eventful weekend and months of being superwoman that my body had had enough and I was struck down with a vile sickness bug! Things have not been right since.

I was wiped out! It took a while to get my energy back but it never quite got back to where it was before. With so much going on, I kept going. I continued to feel exhausted and started to feel anxious. Some days there were knots in my stomach.

Then the “weird days” started…

It’s so hard to explain, I don’t think anyone will truly understand unless they have experienced it. While I could breath OK I felt out of breath, like I could barely get my words out, as if I had no breath. I felt wiped out, exhausted, unsteady and foggy. These days happened a few times, every few weeks.

In between things didn’t feel quite right. At first I was trying to convince myself it was just a virus or something? But as they continued, I became a fearful of them – I was anxious.

In the meantime, my sinuses started hurting too, the exhaustion continued, I was struck down with another sickness bug (trips to Ikea will never be the same again) and the panic attacks got worse. The doctors did the usual blood tests, all of which come back clear. It was a mystery?

Things felt so overwhelming, I could’t face people at times and even cancelled my hen do for feeling so anxious and wiped out after being sick again. I remember people telling me to chill out, that the wedding was stressing me out. I drunk copious amounts of camomile tea, had a massage, soaks in the bath and constantly dropping rescue remedy on my tongue. Nothing worked. It wasn’t the wedding stressing me out. I just felt weird! I was scared of how I was feeling, these unexplainable “weird days” frightened me.

We got married in July 2014 and picked up the keys to our new house the week before. I should have been on top of the moon, but I was exhausted!

The wedding day was amazing! I saved up all my energy for that day and loved it. The days around it were challenging though. I felt dreadful. I could barely face our guests as they arrived during the days proceeding. The evening before our wedding, I went home early from celebrations for some time to myself, it was all too much.

I thought that once we were married and in our house, things would improve. The major stresses were over, it was time to relax. But they didn’t. By this point other symptoms became more intense. I had developed a hideously loud, barking cough, my sinuses were so painful, I was full of congestion, my ears were blocked, I had pressure in my head, I couldn’t concentrate and was constantly wiped out. The day we arrived back from our wedding, I was sent up to the hospital for a chest X-ray. Nothing wrong there which was a relief but it was still a mystery! I was back and forth to the doctors again, I tried inhalers, antihistamines, steroid sprays, antibiotics but nothing touched it! Because the symptoms had become so physical, the focus had turned to them rather than the “weird days” and I got referred to a specialist for my sinuses when they couldn’t find an answer.

I asked the doctor if it could be allergies or food intolerances but they said not. They dismissed the idea, just like how they had many years before when I recall having similar symptoms and discovered through my own trial and error that I was intolerant to dairy. I was desperate for answers.

By the time I had got to see the specialist, typically the intensity of the symptoms had calmed down. While the doctors had dismissed it, the specialist diagnosed allergies, basically hay fever. I was so confused. While I was wandering myself if an allergy was causing it, I didn’t have the typical hay fever symptoms, so it was hard to believe that was the cause – why did I feel so bad?

I tried kinesiology and homeopathy. I still didn’t get any answers at this point. The testing contradicted the results of allergy test by the specialist and the blood test I was about to try for food intolerances. No food intolerances or allergies showed up and the guy I saw was convinced it was a virus – I was still so confused. I was given Pulsatilla for the congestion which did reduce the mucus completely within a few days, but my symptoms were improving at that time, so was it a coincidence? I was disappointed! I just wanted answers!

Having heard good reviews, I paid for a York Test – a private blood test for food intolerances. The doctors weren’t supportive of it, but I wanted to explore any avenue for answers that I could. I discovered I was intolerant to dairy (which backs up my own findings) as well as yeast and egg whites. So thats when the dietary changes started. I was already eating fairly healthily, I have always been conscious of what I eat, so started to cut out the intolerance foods as much as I could but not entirely (but I will talk about that in a separate post).

While the bad days had eased, from there on things still weren’t right. My energy levels were still low, I was still feeling somewhat anxious, my sinuses felt painful (face ache as I would call it), I had really lost my mojo. Even though things had improved and I didn’t always feel ill, I didn’t feel well either.

2015 arrived, and after feeling ill at Christmas I was determined to feel better. I moved my focus towards my new business venture and come February, I remember a week where I actually felt normal – it felt good. Then the “weird days” started to return, along with the anxiety. I would feel as if something had taken over me, an exhaustion like no other, I could barely move off the sofa. It was like having the flu – but different. I didn’t feel ill like when you have a cold, my glands didn’t hurt, but things were not right. My arms would ache, my legs would ache, I could barely bend my knees and walk up the stairs. I would walk the dog at snails pace, slower than the 80+ year old ladies nearby walking their dogs. So weird and so hard to describe. Unlike being physically ill, no-one could see anything wrong with me. Family would tell me to pull myself together and think positive – believe me I am a positive person. On these “weird days” it is like something has taken over my body the feelings are so intense, it’s not as straight forward as just pulling myself together.

Reluctantly I went back to the doctors with a list of worries and a timeline of symptoms wanting answers! I had researched and researched and for fear of sounding like a hypochondriac, my symptoms seemed to sound like M.E. I never got diagnosed with it and the doctors were keen to dismiss it. Again, all the blood tests came back clear, and they were still quick to dismiss food intolerances. I had seen references to Candida and Leaky Gut online but didn’t know where to start to find out if that was the cause and the doctors didn’t go there either. I was stuck. In the end the doctors could not find any conclusions. As far as they were concerned I was healthy! Their final offering… counselling.

That was the final straw! It was not all in my head! Unlike symptoms that people can see, I certainly was not making up how I was feeling. These “weird days” were bad days.

That was June 2015… A lot has changed since then… my lifestyle, my health, my understanding. I’ve had ups and downs, good days and bad days and I am still learning.

I will share more of my journey soon. I hope that helps give a bit of a background to what was going on and I welcome any questions you might have, so please feel free to ask away.

Till then, thank you for reading and keep smiling

Nic : )

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Disclaimer… This is my personal blog. I write about my own experiences. I am not a medical professional. The contents of this site is not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on illness and medication.

 

Welcome to When Life Throws You Lemons

Hello and welcome to my new personal blog When Life Throws You Lemons…

I’ve decided to set this up to further share with friends, family and the wider world my journey transforming my health with the hope to inspire others along the way.

profilepicMany of you will know me, for those that don’t, I am Nicola, a thirty something year old happily married wifey, chihuahua mummy and family girl. A dreamer, believer, designer, maker and smiley person. I run my own design studio, so you will usually find me creating things In The Shed.

Hard to believe from the smiles in that photo, that around the same time that it was taken, I began to find myself feeling really ill, for years in fact.  I suffered an array of symptoms, but worst of all, I had totally lost my sparkle. Doctors couldn’t pin down an answer, and I became very anxious trying to work out what was wrong when the doctors were telling me it was all in my head and I am healthy.

So I decided to take a more holistic approach. My intuition knew something was going on, and I would later discover my gut reactions were somewhat correct.

Long story short, I am now creating a lifestyle to improve my health, through nutrition and supplements, yoga and fitness, mindfulness and trusting my intuition more (it’s a powerful thing trusting your instincts). For various reasons I now follow a sugar, dairy, gluten, yeast, egg white and alcohol free diet. It’s no where near as bad as it sounds, it’s just a matter of perspective and getting creative in the kitchen. I love experimenting with food and trying out new recipes or making up my own and proving that a restrictive sounding diet is delicious, whilst knowing that I am working towards a happy, healthier me!

I plan to share some of my food creations and recipes to show that a transforming the way you eat, either through choice or necessity, can be easy and tasty. I will explain a little more about why I eat the way I do now and the transformations I have been going though to change my health around so you get a better picture of my journey. Plus any other gems of health inspiration l find along the way.

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I welcome any questions and hope you find something here to inspire you as I begin posting!

The moral of the story (and this blog) is… Sometimes life will throw you lemons… and if you can’t make lemonade (too much sugar) – get creative!

Thank you for reading – keep smiling and enjoy your day!

Nic : )

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If you would like to follow me on my journey, feel free to subscribe to When Life Throws You Lemons (link in the side bar). You can also follow my journey on…

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And remember…

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Disclaimer… This is my personal blog. I write about my own experiences. I am not a medical professional. The contents of this site is not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on illness and medication.