I haven’t blogged since February, mostly because the spring is when business picks up and I don’t really make time to share a lot on S&F, but also because the last few months have been sort of a confusing interim for me as far as my health is concerned, and I’ve taken a small step back from my everyday routines to try and re-evaluate my approach to my own personal wellness.
After a few hiccups, I wanted to share why I’ve been a little MIA… I’ve been trying to figure things out and through it all, remembered why I started S&F in the first place - to keep myself accountable to my health journey. I fell off the wagon over the winter and now I’m back on track. It happens sometimes, things in life set us back or cause us to prioritize differently, but this blog has been what’s kept me searching for the best for my body, and I need to bring it back into my life regularly.
So here’s a bit about what happened… It’s surely not the worst thing that could happen so I don’t want to seem over dramatic, and apologize if this comes across as so, but there’s a lesson I learned in the end. :)
In March, I came down with the flu. I couldn’t believe it. I was seriously shocked, and my pride took a hit as a result too. As health-conscious as I usually try to be, as many antioxidants I usually do my best to consume, and as much as I usually diffuse Thieves all throughout the winter months, it hit me. I was so embarrassed. I know that sounds stupid but I’ve said a million times that I’m a perfectionist and have trouble extending grace to myself, even for something beyond my control like contracting the flu.
We were helping friends move and three of us got it the same week, who had it first? No one knows, but it doesn’t matter because we all went down together… Same symptoms of feeling like we got hit by a train, beat up repeatedly and left for dead, slammed in the throat with a bat, and sucked dry of every ounce of will to live. Yes, that sounds extreme, but you know if you’ve ever had it, that the flu is quite a b*tch. I lived on water, ginger ale, and popsicles for a solid week straight, eating nothing else and getting out of bed only to pee. My hair had turned into a squirrels nest beaver dam mess on top of my head, and I don’t think I showered more than once because I couldn’t stand long enough on my own. I’d tried to bathe multiple times but I was still shaking and shivering too badly even in the hot water. So I laid in bed and when I wasn’t sleeping, which was most of the time, I binge watched Anthony Bourdain’s travel/food shows and Friends, along with every season of the British Baking Show. I still can’t think of Paul Hollywood without associating him with having the flu.
I didn’t go to the doctor because I’m prideful and stubborn but we said if my temperature got to a certain point, I’d go to the hospital or doctor or whatever. I didn’t take any medicine either, not a single Tylenol. Again, stubborn. I wanted my body to fight it off on it’s own, and because I’m blessed to work from home and didn’t have any weddings in March, I was able to put work out of my mind for at least a week and just lay there like a turd. A whining, aching, moaning cow turd. I am tough and can withstand a lot, but the flu can seriously kiss my ass. That shit is awful… Whew.
My acupuncturist explained to me that when we have a fever, it’s our body’s way of burning off the virus or bacteria, which makes so much sense, I’d just never thought about it before. When we take medication to lower the fever, it’s preventing our body from doing what it needs to do to fight off the virus. Don’t try that at home unless it’s your own choice - I’m not telling you not to take medicine - i’m just relaying information to you and explaining my own personal choices to you as a result.
My fever broke after a while and about a week after that, I went to acupuncture and had definitely been knocked down several pegs. No pneumonia or bronchitis luckily, but I had some catching up to do. I began my daily walks and healthy eating, and slowly started to feel myself again. It took a solid month before I felt like I didn’t need a mid-day nap though. It really wiped me out.
I never shared about it online because I am just that prideful. It’s the darn flu, who cares? What if I was ever diagnosed with something much worse - would I keep it to myself out of pride? Maybe. I don’t know. But I stopped posting to S+F for a while because I felt like I had failed at being healthy, like I had fooled those who follow along by saying the things I was doing were helping to boost my immune system, kill germs, and prevent things like the cold and flu. I felt like a fraud, simply because I had the flu. But more importantly, I felt like my body had failed me after all I’d tried doing for it.
But what I’ve learned is that when it comes to health and wellness, sickness, disease and cancer-prevention, and self-care, is that consistency is key. It doesn’t mean something won’t happen, but it means you’re always making an important effort to try and prevent it from happening. And if you stop, like I did over the winter, it gives more of a chance for something unwanted to creep in. I completely slacked in taking care of my body during the holidays and my symptoms, depression, emotional pendulum, and well-being suffered as a result. I wasn’t diffusing my Thieves oil, drinking my juices and teas, and getting exercise, especially in the latter part of the winter. Why? Probably seasonal depression and boredom. Nothing stimulates me in the winter time and I don’t give a shit about anything, as hard as I try to motivate myself. I know that if I had gotten over myself and kept up with my routines, it probably wouldn’t have still hit me as hard, or at all. I vow to be better this winter with keeping up with my sickness-prevention routines! I don’t ever want to go through that again.
Spring came and I felt better about my life because the sun was shining and flowers were blooming, which I realize is a personal problem I fully plan on working through this winter, to appreciate the season for all it is, dead trees and foliage and lack of sunlight included… and it was easier for me to get into the routine of self-care and joy. The flu was now a memory… an unpleasant one, but in the past.
So then, about two months later, the weekend of Mother’s Day, I started to notice that my hair was shedding much more than usual. When I showered and washed it, it would come out in clumps sometimes almost the size of my pinkie finger. It terrified me and I needed to get to the bottom of it and fast. I waited a week or so to monitor it and it wouldn’t let up. Conditioning it was the worst, so I stopped washing it all together and just wore it lightly up in a loose bun to keep it in one place, washing it with shampoo only, about once a week at most. Lots of dry shampoo and minimal brushing… I was forced to welcome the beaver damn squirrel’s nest into my life again. It wasn’t coming out in patches or receding, which was good, but at least 50 strands would come out every time I’d run my hands through my hair. I’ve never left so much of my DNA behind in my life… Clumps all over Target and the grocery store… just falling out uncontrollably as I walked down the aisles. It would bother me on my arms as I drove or really did anything, and I was constantly pulling strand after strand off my clothes, sofa, the acupuncture table, everywhere I went…
Long story short, it was keeping me up at night and freaking me out so I called my endocrinologist and made an appointment to have some blood work ran. She ran a huge panel of everything including my iron levels, thyroid, etc. Nothing monumental came back except for an extremely low Vitamin D and pretty low B-12 deficiency, both of which I’m now supplementing for, and a potential touch of Thyroiditis, which she said can be treated with diet and exercise, and will potentially improve with the B supplementation.
I’d also made an appointment with Dr. Ria Gilday, a talented Naturopath outside of Philly, several months prior to the hair fall-out because she books so far out and was waiting to see her out of interest and to pick her brain about all of the fun holistic things. Tyler and I loved our visit with her. She was amazing, so kind, knowledgeable, and so smart - I highly recommend that anyone and everyone go to her… But I’d already had Laura Ruby, my Endocrinologist, run blood work so I didn’t want to pay for a duplicate panel. She didn’t have any numbers to run on, but she treated me for a mild thyroid issue and hormone imbalanced based on what she could see when looking at my body, tongue, etc. She didn’t seem to be concerned with the hair as much either, just like Laura, saying it was a secondary result of an underlying issue we had to address first before we knew anything further. It made sense, so I had to wait for my blood test results to come back from Laura.
And when I went to acupuncture, he advised me to simply monitor it and that it obviously wasn’t Alopecia and not to be overly concerned, that we go through “shedding stages” sometimes, but doesn’t realize how much hair I’ve actually lost over the last several months… I’d say at least a third of my hair, easily. I knew I was definitely experiencing symptoms of what I'd researched to be Telogen Effluvium.
Why was this happening to me? I spent all of May and the first half of June trying to figure it out as I waited for my doctor appointments and even after I went to see 3 doctors, yet I didn’t yet have answers. The hair was still falling out but I didn’t have any crazy issues worth noting necessarily. Which of course I was grateful for, but why the fall-out and when would it stop???
At that point, I chalked it up to stress, that maybe my husband’s stressful job search and the winter blues, along with a few other things, had caught up with me too strongly and my emotions were literally getting the best of me because nothing else was adding up. And then it hit me while out on a walk with the dog one evening...
Telogen EfFLUvium…. FLU! The damn flu!!!
I went home to research what I could find right away, and sure enough, I found that the flu can cause hair loss about 2-3 months after you’ve contracted it. By golly… Have any of you ever experienced this before? Currently my hair loss has finally subsided and I can finally see little tiny baby hairs starting to grow back. I look like I stuck my finger in a socket at pretty much all times. I feel like my hair is so incredibly thin even though luckily I don’t think the average person would notice. I’m glad I had a good amount of hair to begin with, because wow it feels like I have about a third left of what I did have.
The flu virus is what I believe caused my TE, and am so grateful it seems to be over… I’ve been eating lots of nuts and seeds, taking Biotin along with my supplements, and continuing with lots of antioxidants. I think I’ve finally reached a turning point and I’m so thankful!
I wanted to share all of this because my takeaway from it is this… No matter what happens in life, we need to keep our pride in check. No one is perfect and I acted ridiculous about getting sick. So sick that my hair fell out. It wasn’t necessarily my fault, even if I could have tried a little harder during flu season to prevent it. I thought I ate enough fruit and washed my hands plenty, but I needed to be doing more. And as hard as we try to do things right, sometimes shit still happens and we need to be strong and go through it, owning it and allowing it to strengthen us. This may be hard at times, and some may have to go through harder times than others, especially diagnosis-wise, but through it all, we must TRY and we must stay CONSISTENT. We can’t forget to put our health first and foremost, not to say we can’t have a piece of chocolate cake or a milkshake every once in a while, but our normal daily routines must consist of healthy choices in order for our bodies to stay fortified, and that doesn’t mean just physically, but mentally too.
I wasn’t keeping up with my healthy routine because I wasn’t mentally pushing myself to get out of bed with a smile, the courage to choose happiness, and intention of making the most out of the day that I could. And because of that, I got run down. I was depressed. I wasn’t grateful. I wasn’t happy or joyful. I was being selfish, lazy, and unappreciative of the brand new days God was giving me rather than using them for something amazing. And in the meantime, I set myself into a downward spiral.
So today I choose happiness. I choose to try to choose happiness. After all, it is a choice. I choose gratitude for this beautiful day I’ve been given, with the clean fresh air streaming through my window, with the sound of the birds singing and he wind blowing through the Cypress tree. I choose to go to bed after using my immunity rollers of Oregano and Thieves, and making healthy choices through the day that will support my body so that it can attack what outside toxins and threats it may face.
If I get sick, I’m going to do my best not to get defeated, disappointed, or let my emotions get the best of me because I know I tried my best. I’m still going to allow myself to get popcorn at the movie theater every so often and enjoy some chocolate on occasion, but the majority of my choices are going to be for the betterment of my body because to not is just not worth it. We only have this one life and I want to live it to the fullest, as healthy as I possibly can. If outside circumstances get me then so be it, but I’m going to try my hardest to fight against them.
And here’s what that looks like for me right now… I say “right now” because I’m always learning and growing, changing things based on my findings or what happens with my body, but based on what I’ve been told and know up until this point, here’s how I’m choosing to care for myself…
When we visited Dr. Ria, she enlightened us on eating for our blood type. Without explaining all of the reasons why, you can research it on your own HERE. I love it because it’s a lifestyle specifically for MY body, my type, and my blood - the nourishment and life of my being. And I happen to find the basis behind it fascinating. So Tyler and I are both type O’s which makes it nice for grocery shopping and meal prepping. We’ve been getting more into high intensity exercise as type O’s should, and eating more animal proteins than we used to. I’ve noticed a big positive shift in my metal clarity and energy levels as a result of this. We’ve cut out most dairy (except for occasional feta and goat cheese, which was normal for us anyway), and gluten. I am not supposed to have any grains whatsoever now with this supposed “touch” of a thyroid issue, so I’m staying away from rice, corn, quinoa, etc. There are certain foods to avoid for type O’s which used to make up the majority of my diet. Foods included in this are avocados, brussels sprouts, coconut products, and black tea just to name a few. However, the lectins in these foods don’t mix well with my blood type and can cause issues with thyroid and other workings of the body. I don’t want to butcher the explanation but if you read up on it, it’s really pretty amazing. And you can get a blood typing kit for super cheap on Amazon, like less than $10.
So we’re doing that, and I’ve been jogging ever since December. I’m absolutely loving it and am still growing and working up to being good at it and continuous, but it takes time for the body to acclimate. I’ve noticed changes in my endurance though which has been so cool, and my weight limit at the gym has gone up when I’m lifting which has been awesome too. Baby steps…
I’ve also been trying to start my mornings with protein rather than fruit, which, for me, is what I need to kick my day off right with a boost of energy and something for my body to power off of. I’m still struggling with breakfast because I’m sort of sick of eggs and don’t want a plant-based protein powder because a lot of what is in those are not beneficial for type O’s and increase my nasty bloated feeling. So a lot of times I’ll have a salad with chicken or something, and save the berries and antioxidizing juicing for later on in my day.
I’m diffusing Thieves at night to help boost our immunity and using my Thieves cleaner around the house! Any exposure to it will help. We’ve also been using our immunity rollers at night like I previously mentioned.
So far we really like having the structure of what we’re eating that gives our bodies specifically what they need, avoiding what they don’t, and doing what we can to optimize our health. Who knows what the future holds but again, at least we’re trying. That’s more than some can say…
What blood type are you? Have you ever tried this method of living? I’d love to hear your experience!