Yesterday I had my first experience with a naturopath. I highly recommend doing thorough research before selecting a naturopath clinic, because the level of professional care and experience, along with professional certifications of the staff, can be highly varied. (Which is one of the reasons I put off the idea for as long as I did.) In my opinion, “word of mouth”, patient reviews, community acceptance and online research can go a long way to provide accreditation to a naturopathic clinic.
It was the persistent yet polite “nagging” from a co-worker that I try this particular clinic and doctor that finally got my butt in the door. My coworker has had an amazing experience with this doctor, and even after the Dr. helped to relieve some of her ailments, she continues to see him regularly for maintenance care. Her persistence coupled with the fact that and she witnesses first hand how miserable my allergies make me on almost a daily basis made me cave and finally schedule an appointment. I knew it was not going to be cheap, and although I have great health coverage through my employer I was fairly certain my insurance wouldn’t cover any of the treatment, classifying the clinic as “alternative medicine”. (I still need to call my insurance provider and see if there is any way they will cover part of the cost of the lab tests. Crossing my fingers for the best, but I’ll update on that later).
So… how was it? I’m still hovering between a fine line of Seriously?! You have got to be kidding me! and Wow, how did you know that about me? You are spot on and I’ve never told anyone that. When I arrived home after the visit my exact words to my husband were “this guy is either a whacko or a complete genius. I’m still trying to decide which…”
So I thought it’d be fun to blog about my experience over the next few months and share if the treatments actually make a difference. But in order for these posts to be effective I’m going to have to open up and get very real and up close with you all regarding everything that’s been bothering me prior to treatment. So… here goes nothing!
Prior to Naturopathic Treatment – My Health (Mental & Physical)
Overall fatigue: in the past year my energy levels have been on a slow and steady decline. I used to have all the energy in the world to cook up a storm in my kitchen, work out up to 5 days a week, and just enjoy life to the fullest. But my energy has really taken a toll this past year (if I had to put a finger on it I’d say right before our wedding last fall), and I’ve become extremely unmotivated, exhausted and just overall fatigued.
Sleep patterns: difficulty falling asleep, averaging around 5 1/2 hours a night during the week (I get up at 5:30 am for work), and my body is so exhausted from this that I play catch up on the weekends and average about 10+ hours per night. Not exactly healthy sleeping habits, but sometimes unavoidable with juggling full-time work, grad school and studying for my CPA exam. Still… not cool.
Dietary: I still follow a primarily plant-based diet (occasional organic eggs and fish), but I’ve also let dairy, caffeine and sugar sneak back into the picture. I know deep down that my body does not do well with dairy, caffeine and sugar. But I’m human and I struggle with avoiding these food groups entirely. I think dairy products also contribute to my allergies, but I have no substantial proof other than recognition of patterns of behavior. I’ve also gained weight due to changes in dietary habits and exercise routine. Blah. More on that later…
Mental: I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression over the past year. The anxiety really peaked while I was planning my wedding last summer. For the first time since my eating disorder recovery days (which was about 10-12 years ago) I went back on medication as needed for anxiety attacks. Lucky for me it was only occasionally needed, but the anxiety was excruciating when it hit me. My throat closed up and my lymph nodes became so swollen, I literally thought I had a sore through for 3 months straight. Crazy what the human body does during times of stress. The depression has been on and off, and not something I’ve been treating with medication because it hasn’t been too terrible. But still, as someone who is acutely aware of changes in my body, I’ve seen it creep up in small doses.
Immune system: My immune system has gone into full blown attack mode. My allergies assault me on a daily basis. I say this for a lack of better terms, since I really do feel assaulted and blindsided by the harsh physical symptoms I endure. I live (nearly 24/7) with a runny nose, terrible congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, dry eyes, painful sinus pressure and sinus headaches. Yes, I try to treat it. Yes, I’m slightly exaggerating when I say 24/7 because some days are better than others, but overall my life has been taken over and controlled by my allergies.
- I go through 3 boxes of kleenex each week. 1 box in the office at work, and 2 at home. (I know this because I started keeping track a few months ago).
- I call in sick to work quite regularly due to allergy suffering, but most days I just go into work in misery, and my boss and coworkers repeatedly ask if I’m okay or if I’m sick (quite embarrassing!)
- Sometimes my nose is running so badly at night when I’m trying to fall asleep that I stuff cotton balls or tissues up my nostrils. Thank god my husband thinks it’s funny and doesn’t make a beeline for the door.
- On that note, many nights my husband does sleep on the couch, because I can’t stop sneezing and blowing my nose and he is unable to fall asleep. This is quite sad, because I’m still a newlywed dammit.
- I’ve had at least 4-5 sinus infections in 6 months time. My sissy-in-law who’s an MD says they may not have been full blown infections, but I can usually tell because of the color and consistency. TMI? YUCK.
- I take 2-3 Zyrtec almost every day. This is 2-3 times the recommended dosage. Please note: I am not encouraging or promoting exceeding the recommended dosage of any medication. This is a decision I’ve made on my own, the reason being that my body has become irresponsive to smaller doses. Still–I know it is not healthy or recommended to be taking such high levels of antihistamine and decongestant daily. I just don’t see an alternative. This over-the-counter med seems to provide the most relief from my symptoms.
- I had permanent punctual plugs put in my eyes last fall (silicone implants placed in my tear ducts) due to chronic dry eyes and blurry vision, which my optometrist attributes to my excessive use of antihistamines. I have the dry eyes of a post menopausal woman. I’m 30. Go figure.
- I’ve tried it all. Literally. I had a good laugh because I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago asking for feedback from friends and family who have experienced naturopathic care for allergy relief. Instead of feedback, I got every possible allergy treatment known to man thrown at me. I literally laughed out loud. How can my friends think I haven’t tried everything? Why would any sane person endure these miserable symptoms? I’ve tried EVERYTHING. Allergy medications both over-the-counter and prescriptions, nasal sprays, neti pot, eating local honey, natural supplements, steam showers and saunas, allergy shots (for 3 years). The only thing I haven’t tried is naturopathic care or acupuncture, which I am exposing myself to now, and I hope to blog about my response to the treatments. :)
I should also note that my PVNS has flared up big time. My last surgery was in 2012, and just two years later and I have constant knee pain and swelling. This is part of the reason I haven’t been working out or practicing yoga regularly, but I know if I could overcome some of my fatigue and exhaustion that I’d quit using my knee pain as an excuse and find work outs that don’t trigger inflammation.
So that’s the gist of it folks. I’ve had a bit of a rough year. Maybe that’s why I haven’t blogged as much. Sometimes it’s hard to blog about the difficulties in life, and I find it much easier to share with others my happy times, fun recipes I’ve discovered, interesting articles on health, nutrition and fitness. Why on earth would I blog (on my healthy living blog), when I’m quite miserable in my own skin? Ha, the irony!
But with all that said, I’ve also been very blessed to have many many wonderful things happen this past year. Yes, my body is being a pain, but I’ve also crossed some major hurdles and millstones! I got married last November to this wonder, loving and amazing man whom I’m extremely thankful to have in my life. I have a husband! Still getting used to it ;)
I’m also just a few classes away from finishing my Master’s degree in accounting, and I’ve learned so much at my job the past 18 months, so I can finally label myself as an “experienced” accountant instead of a fresh-out-of-school newbie. :) That alone is a blessing!
More to follow on my first visit with the naturopath!