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August 22, 2017

The Signify Collection: Intentional Jewelry for the You That You Choose


Have you ever wondered where the name "Katya Valera" came from? This name actually has a lot of significance: it literally means "Healthy Kacie." 

Wait ... how? 

Well, in college I took two years of Russian and absolutely loved it, and I gained the nickname "Katya" from that class. And "Valera" means "healthy." 

So back in 2012 when this little business was even littler, it took on this name as an act of defiance in a sense: I was definitely not "Healthy Kacie" as I was pursuing this home-based business in the midst of chronic illness. But I would. be. healthy. Despite everything. 

Fast forward 5 1/2 years, and guess what? I am. I AM Katya Valera. 


As I shared last week, I am finding victory in my quest for health through God's gift of neuroplasticity, and I cannot keep this gift to myself. I want to share this tool for a better life with everyone so that they too can identify the changes they desire and make them happen.

I want to help YOU reach a place of victory through Katya Valera, through the pieces you find here, and specifically through this new collection, whether you are living with illness or not.

Let me tell you about this collection a bit more personally:

 


I am supremely excited that The Signify Collection is finally live in the shop--you can see all eight necklaces right here, and I hope you will take a look and see if a piece resonates with you and the changes you'd like to see in your life.




Calm. Confident. Energetic. Grateful. Healthy. Positive. Strong. Successful. It is all possible!

August 14, 2017

I Am Healthy: Where I Am Now and How I Got Here


This post has been nearly seven years coming. And it's still happening sooner than I thought it would.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've probably noticed that things have drastically changed for me. But in case you've missed that, here's the short version:

I'm healthy, you guys! 

 

My life has transformed since March 20th (we'll get to that date in a minute), and I am now healthier than I was before I got sick in fall 2010.

I have gone from only being able to go to Sunday morning church about once or twice every couple months to my new default being every Sunday. I am now able to regularly do those mundane things I've gathered apparently every housewife loathes but that I've been longing to do since I got married: the dishes, the cooking, the cleaning.

Last month Daniel and I went to the beach with his family for a couple days. If you've been following my posts for a while, you may remember this post, which recounted how I spent most of our last such trip two years ago in our room. Not mentioned in that post was that of the two short times I went to the ocean, Daniel carried me back across the sand to the main road. Because walking on sand is hard, but especially when you're sick. But this time? There was no such carrying. And I played catch with Daniel and two of  my sisters-in-law for a looong time and ran briefly on the shore just because I could.

From our anniversary <3

So how did I get to this point? How did I go from a chronically ill, completely incapacitated person (circa 2012) to an improved, still-suffering hermit (circa 2016) to a new, thriving me (circa now)?


Well, the short answer is God. But here's the human tools He brought into my life for this purpose.

 

Back at the beginning of the year, I learned about a program that is based on the principle of neuroplasticity: the brain's ability to change itself. That program was the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) which you can learn all about on its website here. The founder of DNRS did not make up this principle of neuroplasticity; neuroplasticity is just fact, like gravity. This particular program is an incredibly helpful framework to help you harness this brain capability specifically toward health.

When I first heard about DNRS, I looked it up briefly and just kept it in the back of my mind. But it kept resurfacing. I finally talked to a couple people who had done the program or were considering it, I read about it, I watched testimonials, and I really started considering it.

Now, I was at a point in my health journey that I had been improving steadily for two years of holistic treatments--just very slowly. I had in no way even begun to give up on those treatments, because they were working, and my periodic blood work continued to prove those changes, again and again. We were interested in this program for two reasons: that awesome blood work still was not quite translating into how I was doing day to day, and this program seemed to encompass a realm of health I had never even touched before.

With my holistic doctor's blessing, Daniel and I finally decided to order DNRS, even though it honestly seemed too simple or too good to be true. All of these people in the testimonials went from states far worse off than even mine and absolutely transformed to healthy, thriving, best-versions-of-themselves-ever. But still, it just made sense.

This program has two versions: an in-person workshop (which I did not do because no dates were anywhere near me) and an at-home DVD workshop. I started the program on March 20, 2017, the first day of spring. And that date will always go down as the day my life changed.

I started the DVDs, designed to take about four days, which explain neuroplasticity, how our brains are constantly changing regardless of our age, and that we can change our brains ourselves to our benefit. This program is based on the understanding that many illnesses are the result of a limbic system impairment caused by a traumatic brain injury. Now, I know when we hear "traumatic brain injury," we generally think of a car accident or a concussion or something obvious like that. But we can sustain traumatic brain injuries from anything severe like an illness, a chemical exposure, or a highly emotional event. And when a serious event results in a brain injury, it can send your brain's neural pathways--how your brain and therefore your body functions--into chaos, otherwise known as trauma loops. And those trauma loops can manifest in any number of ways: pain, anxiety, depression, food allergies, chemical sensitivities, POTS, PTSD, chronic fatigue, detoxification issues, unresolved infections and viruses, on and on and on. Basically, a state of chronic illness, with your body stuck in fight or flight mode, something I suspected I was stuck in before I even learned about this program. So basically, in the case of a limbic system impairment, it's possible for your blood work to come out great but the improvements to not quite translate to your day-to-day life because your brain is stuck in emergency mode.

And when the above happens, your brain literally becomes stuck in the rut of sickness-induced and sickness-fueling pathways--through no fault of your own.

This program helps you literally rewire your brain pathways from those pathways of illness to pathways of health, freeing your body of the state it's stuck in to transform it to the best that your body can be. 

It took me about a week to get through those DVDs (it was a lot of info!). Then came the hard part.

The next part of the program is six months of practice: allotting a set amount of time every day to actively rewiring your brain, along with constantly putting into practice all the things taught through the DVDs. This is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Because our brains like to take the paths of least resistance, and the pathways associated with years of sickness die hard and die slow. The neural pathways your brain is used to using are like a well-worn path in a thick forest. It's been traveled thousands of times, and your thoughts follow it on default. Rewiring your brain is like choosing a new path in the woods, overgrown and covered with trees, and taking that route. It's not easy, not even on the fifth or tenth time you go through it. But taking that path over and over will in time wear it down to an easy, default path, this time a path to health and well-being.

Your brain is capable of that, and you are capable of making that happen.

 

With that said, I would describe the first few days of this program as an uncomfortable relief. It was a relief because I was falling out of those old pathways of suffering, but it was uncomfortable because that is simply the nature of change.

However, I noticed a change in me the first night. A very subtle something had shifted.

Just a couple weeks into the program, I had my first jewelry fair since starting DNRS. There were soo many smells, like the Scentsy booth and people smoking and people's perfumes, and it was soo loud. All those things normally would have driven me to a physiological fog. And yet, while I was not completely unaffected by the strong smells and sounds going on, I was okay. I found myself having a lengthy, enthusiastic conversation with a new acquaintance and saw myself from afar for a split second, realizing how ... normal ... I was. And I could have cried.

In May, two months into the program, Daniel and I celebrated our 5th anniversary for a week at the beach. And that trip was unbelievable. We went to so many new places, like shopping and restaurants, we played on the beach, walked--and ran--on the beach at night, and rode the SkyWheel, a gigantic, enclosed Ferris wheel that came with a warning sign to not ride it if you're claustrophobic or have a chronic illness. I showed it! ;) That week I was a totally different person than I was at our last anniversary beach trip four years before, and even than I was, as you saw at the beginning of this post, with my in-laws two years ago.

And the improvements keep coming.

I am now almost to five months since I started this six-month program. I understandably still have improvements to come, and the longer I go, the more I realize that what I'm learning about neuroplasticity is a life-long change and not a set of months to be checked off. Sure, the changes will become easier as time goes on, but being conscious of my words and thoughts and making sure they are encouraging healthy brain pathways and not fueling the old pathways resulting from sickness will be a constant practice.


One huge thing I am constantly reminded of in this experience with neuroplasticity is that God made our brains this way

 

And His admonitions on the subject of neuroplasticity were right there in the Bible, right under our noses, all along. There isn't room in this post to expound on them all, but Romans 12:2 is a great place to start. Neuroplasticity isn't some fruity notion somebody dreamed up to make people feel better. This is a remarkable gift God equipped our bodies with, that so many people don't even know is there.

From the beginning of Creation, He knew He made our brains this way. And from the time I got sick He knew that this was going to be the missing puzzle piece to my health and that my life would change through this knowledge and this practice in ways I never could have expected.

I know many of you reading this aren't even sure what all symptoms I lived with for years before this, so I would ask that you please take a look at this post to see what my life used to be like. I realize this post is already a mile long, and I still have not said everything I wish to say on this topic, so I will try to condense some of the changes I have experienced over just five months here:

- The Lyme Disease (Babesia and Bartonella) have not shown up in my regular Field Control Therapy testing in months. Which means either it is now gone or is not affecting me. I'm claiming it is gone. :) (Yes, I have continued the FCT while doing DNRS, as there are still some toxins to eliminate and organs to support, though those needs are continuing to lessen!)
- My reactions to harsh sensory input are greatly lessened. Previously loud music or appliances popping (our fridge has problems) or multiple sounds going at once (like a neighbor's music going at the same time as construction outside) would result in headache, nausea, or basically physical panic. Now it's like the sensitivity dial has been turned down much closer to normal level.
- Similarly, I can carry on a conversation with someone while there are other loud noises going on around me, such as other people talking. This used to be a great struggle.
- I am happier. I'm now often experiencing this phenomenon called "happy tears." I wasn't familiar with those before.
- I am now much more positive. I didn't think I was a negative person before, but ... let's all laugh at that now. ;)
- I have actually uttered the words "I feel so good" more than once. That sentence was not really in my vocabulary before.
- I can handle phone calls like a boss. ;) Previously, situations such as phone calls, the prospect of making phone calls, having serious conversations, or seeing confrontational comments on social media would send my body into fight or flight mode, complete with racing heart, adrenaline rush, and shaking. My brain had wired such situations to such reactions. Now I have to stop and realize how easily I have been making phone calls. (I'm trying to find a good dentist right now, so currently making phone calls is practically my job.)
- I can now relax much easier than before.
- I can now focus on one thing at a time more easily than before, as opposed to always having to multi-task.
- I am mentally and physically calmer.
- I am in much less pain.
- I am stronger. For example, I can now open bottles that normally I had to have Daniel open. (And, no, I'm not exercising my arms. ;)
- I actually have this thing called energy. And stamina. Definitely didn't have those before. I realized the other day that when I get ready to go somewhere, my battery isn't running on low by the time we leave the house. I'm fine. 
- I don't have to lie down after taking a shower.
- I'm walking better than before. (Hadn't realized my walk was lacking until now.)
- Even my chiropractor could tell a difference in my body--and was amazed by my improvements to the point of tearing up--the first time I went after starting the program.
- My thoughts are clearer and I lose my train of thought much less.
- I sleep deeper and fall back asleep easier if I am startled awake.
- My actual dreams have changed. Previously, I basically had like six dreams I just rotated. Once I started this program, it's like I got a whole new set of dreams and now I dream brand new dreams all the time. It is such a relief.
- I'm able to eat foods I wasn't before.
- Daniel says my "aura" is different. :)
- My hug is different. I saw family in July for the first time since starting the program and quickly realized I was actually hugging them tightly—easily and spontaneously. Normally my hugs are light, bordering on air hugs. Do you know how much healing had to take place for something as mundane and involuntary as a hug to be transformed?
- I am just doing so much now. I was already doing a lot for a sick person with "no job" before while running two small businesses, but I have cranked up the productivity dial on both shops, while also being able to be a housewife. Plus, Daniel and I are finally now getting to explore our area, now that we've lived here for three years. I actually could consider getting a "real job" in the future.

"Wait, so how is all this happening because of changing your brain?" When your brain is working properly, the rest of your body will follow. 

 

It's getting to the point that I don't even notice some of these changes now. I'm reading through my notes of improvements over the past few months to write that list above, and so many of them that were a huge deal are basically my normal now, to the point I almost forgot how big they were. And that is crazy. Thankfully, I already knew that when I got better I would forget, so I'm glad I made this list a few years ago. I may get used to the new normal, but I will never truly forget. And I wouldn't want to.

This is the story that God has chosen for me. And it's far more mind-blowing and beautiful than I ever imagined. I can now see how God orchestrated that I would learn about this amazing gift at just the right time in my life, and every bit of the glory goes to Him.

I want to share the hope for healing--and a better life for everyone--found in God's gift of neuroplasticity with everyone I can. 

 

And I'll be sharing the first development in my quest to do that in just a few days! In the meantime, you can see peeks of what that is on Instagram and on Facebook.

If this whole idea of neuroplasticity is brand new to you (as it was to me!) I would highly suggest watching this video (please excuse the dated music--neuroplasticity isn't brand new!) and exploring the DNRS website.

I know how I have suffered. I know so many others are still suffering. And it kills me to see that suffering and know that it could be greatly helped. If you are living with any unresolved chronic health issue, large or small, from anxiety to MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) to chronic pain to PTSD to food allergies, I am truly begging you to open your mind to neuroplasticity and specifically consider DNRS. And I am more than happy to do my best to answer any questions you may have; email me!

There is hope for healing. And it is so much closer than we ever dreamed.

June 22, 2017

When Life Goes Dark

What do you do when you find yourself suddenly in the dark? The lights go out and you're caught off guard. You're home alone, your phone is dead, and you're left to find your way around based on what you know about your home. Of course you rely on your memory of where things are: where they were in the light before it was dark. You rely on your knowledge of what was true when there was plenty of light to see by. 


So you stumble to your bedroom and feel for your bed, not worrying that maybe it's suddenly disappeared. And you lie down because it's safe and reliable, not afraid that it won't catch you this time even though it has every other time before. You also probably weren't worrying that it might have disappeared between the time you felt it and the moment you fell onto it simply because you can't see it.

You know that everything that was there in your home in the light—your clothes, your books, your prized possessions, everything—is still there even though you can't see them now. You have the proof of past experiences to boost your confidence, you know without even thinking about it that no one has broken in and taken your things since the lights went out, and you have faith that they have gone nowhere even though you can't see them right now.

You're also not wondering if, now that everything's dark, maybe you just imagined your clothes and books and prized possessions. You're not thinking that maybe you never even had a house to begin with. And you're definitely not thinking that maybe there never was this thing called "light."

We know better. We know nothing has really changed and that all darkness is temporary.

So why do we fear the worst about God when we come to a place of darkness? 

We have the knowledge that He was there in the light, we have the proof of past experiences of Him to boost our confidence, and we know no one and nothing is capable of hiding Him or much less taking Him away from us. And yet when life reaches a dark valley, our human instinct is fear and worry. Fear and worry that God has forsaken us, that He's mad at us, that He's preoccupied with other more important people or better Christians, or maybe that He simply doesn't care. That He has abandoned us in this place of suffering. Or maybe that He was never there at all.

And we find ourselves in this position of fear because darkness leaves us without simple proof of what we once knew so easily; it's easy to assume the best and trust what you cannot see with your own eyes when there's plenty of light to see everything else by. But darkness brings us face-to-face with the one supremely vital key for overcoming that fear: faith—believing in what you cannot see but what you know to be true. Even if at this point the darkness is so deep and the pain and suffering is so loud that you can neither feel nor hear the God you knew in the light.


Why do we do this? Why do we never doubt our beds' or possessions' continuing, unchanging existence when we cannot see them but err on the side of doubt when it comes to God? I think it's, simply, we all know that the value of possessions cannot be compared with the value of relationship with our God. And in the dark, we fear the loss of the most important thing in the world the most. We are mere humans with a tie to the God of the universe, and at the slightest hint that that tie could be threatened, we lose all sense of what we know is true out of fear of what is not.

And, as we are but human, that is understandable, in theory. But the theory is obliterated with one darkness-shrinking, fear-conquering, worry-soothing promise: 


And "never" has only the one meaning.


April 26, 2017

Rising Above Lyme | New Collaboration Line at Katya Valera

It's been a while since I've had big news to share about Katya Valera, and now for the first time, I have a collaboration to announce!

My dear fellow Lymie friend Kami Lingren of Living Grace created the phrase "Rising Above Lyme" last year and offered it on tshirts. Being the unpredictable creative that I am, the idea of making Rising Above Lyme jewelry lightning-striked through my brain one day, and I characteristically jumped right in and contacted her with my idea. She, thankfully, loved the idea, and thus began a good couple months of planning and work!

I ended up coming up with four necklace designs, each with their own customization options (expounded on below) and each also coming with an explanation of the RAL phrase, making them equally perfect to purchase for yourself or give as a gift.



Kami created the Rising Above Lyme phrase to inspire others on their own healing journey that their story doesn't have to center around a diagnosis.

"Rising Above" happens from our couches, our homes, and our interactions with others in that we simply say, "I will breathe in this moment. I will face another day. I will cherish this laughter, soak in that sunset, embrace another healing heart." For it's together, with linked arms, that we RISE.


Let's get to know each design!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/525955947/rising-above-lyme-necklace-lyme-disease?ref=shop_home_active_4

The large frame necklace has three pattern options (the middle is my favorite because it's juicy ... like a lime ... and while I do not love Lyme, I do love lime, so...). Kami designed each of them!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/525955947/rising-above-lyme-necklace-lyme-disease?ref=shop_home_active_4

You have your choice of either a silver or bronze frame on chain or a soft green cord. Plus, you can choose the length, so you're covered whether you prefer short or long necklaces.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/525955947/rising-above-lyme-necklace-lyme-disease?ref=shop_home_active_4

There's also a teeny-tiny version!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/526132917/lyme-disease-necklace-rising-above-lyme?ref=shop_home_active_3

The options are the same for this one, and it is offered at either 16" or 18". Of course if you'd prefer a different length, I can happily accommodate that on request.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/526132917/lyme-disease-necklace-rising-above-lyme?ref=shop_home_active_3

https://www.etsy.com/listing/526132917/lyme-disease-necklace-rising-above-lyme?ref=shop_home_active_3

While the first two necklaces are more obvious designs, this necklace is a symbolic take on the phrase, which makes it extra suited for those who wish to show support for a loved one living with Lyme with a more understated style.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/512325752/lyme-disease-support-awareness-necklace?ref=shop_home_active_1

The necklace features a sterling bar atop a frosted lime green glass bead, and they hang from your choice of silver plated or sterling silver chain at the length that you choose.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/512325752/lyme-disease-support-awareness-necklace?ref=shop_home_active_1

And here's what it looks like on a real, live person ... that happens to be Kami herself! :)

http://livinggraceshop.bigcartel.com/product/rising-above-lyme-unisex-jersey-shirt

The fourth style is also very understated and elegant, making it extra versatile.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/512324210/lyme-disease-necklace-minimalist-silver?ref=shop_home_active_2

A vintage, lime wedge-style pendant is set in a silver frame that hangs from your choice of silver plated or sterling silver chain at the length that you choose. So dainty!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/512324210/lyme-disease-necklace-minimalist-silver?ref=shop_home_active_2

You can see all of the necklaces in my shop right here. Any of these necklaces would make a wonderful gift for anyone you know living with Lyme, made by two people who really get it. While Kami and I are both continuing to heal from Lyme, we will always remember the struggles of our hardest days and wish to help those who are similarly suffering.

To top off the excitement of this release, Kami and I are hosting an Instagram giveaway of the bar necklace and the winner's choice of a shirt from her brand new Living Grace shop! Be sure to check out her shop here for some awesome Rising Above Lyme shirts and tanks (plus another new design!), and be sure to enter the giveaway before it ends Friday night! 💚

March 27, 2017

When Christians Fail Us


I have gathered over the past few years that many of us have been disappointed or hurt by Christians. Those of us dealing with chronic illness or any other long-term trial have probably especially encountered some hypocritical actions or words on a Christian’s part when we needed help and love the most. And whether those actions have hurt you, hurt your view of just those people, hurt your view of all proclaiming Christians, or built a wall between you and God altogether, I feel the need to point out that if you too have been hurt by proclaiming Christians, the hurt they have caused you—well-intentioned or not—is a reflection of them and not a reflection of the God that Christians love and serve. Their mistakes are all on them, not on God. 

We tend to expect more of Christians, don't we? I sure do. And we should. 

But humans are still humans even when they are followers of God. 


The difference is the hope that we have and the guidance that we have to do better—and it is up to us to listen to that guidance. But Christians will still fail you and still mess up because that is human nature, something we do not suddenly become totally resistant to when we accept Christ. We know better, and we should do much better, but we will still sadly fail. And while that does not excuse any hurt that has been caused by such failure, it is still the truth. 

So please know: I will fail you; the Christians in your life will fail you, just as anyone in your life will fail you at some point.

But my God will not and cannot fail you. He truly is perfect. His ways are higher than anything that earth’s greatest, deepest minds can begin to process. And He is the reason I have hope.

He is my hope.



He is the reason anyone can have true hope: hope that waits all night while we sleep and meets us when we wake up. Hope that holds our hand through every excruciating moment of chronic illness. Hope that cannot die, no matter the unimaginable pain and sorrow that life can and will bring. Hope that carries us all the way into eternity, to a heaven we cannot imagine where we will finally see our Hope face to face.

I have been hurt, yes, by many Christians. I have wrestled with faith in the face of 6+ years of chronic illness, clinging only to the truths I cannot forget from a lifetime of Christianity. And hope has followed me, waited for me, and burst into glowing brilliance when I finally looked its way. It has not failed me. God has not failed me. 

And He never will.


~~~~~

If this kind of hope blows your mind and you have any questions at all, please feel more than welcome to comment or message me.

February 26, 2017

My Alternative Journey to Health

In response to this post of mine being shared on another site recently, many people have wanted to know more specifically what I am doing in my alternative, holistic quest for health. So if that post led you here, welcome! :) I will now endeavor to answer those questions, and if I miss anything, please feel free to comment or contact me. (I do ask that you please read this whole post carefully before commenting.)

HOW IT ALL BEGAN | I had mild health issues and symptoms throughout my childhood and teenage years (they were regarded then only as quirks). In 2010, my body crashed and I began living with debilitating eye pain, headaches, all-over body pain, constant exhaustion, memory problems, IBS, extreme sensitivities to being poked or pushed against, and a plethora of other symptoms, turning my world entirely upside down. (I finally wrote down all the symptoms I could think of a while back, and there were about 75.) In 2011, after testing including an MRI to rule out other possibilities such as arthritis and a brain tumor, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (and a bit later unofficially with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). 

I then embarked on the traditional route of antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and other prescriptions to attempt to ease the symptoms. Only one helped briefly, and based on what I know about those drugs now, I regret taking them. By 2013, I chose to go off all prescriptions, as they, at best, were not helping. I also eventually chose to quit taking over-the-counter medicines, including pain medication.

HOW I STARTED ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT | In 2013, a friend of a friend suggested an alternative holistic doctor in the area and passed along a DVD that covered this doctor's view and treatment of Fibromyalgia. It was all brand new, mind-blowing, belief-shattering information to me, but I skeptically gave it a chance. During my treatment with this doctor, my most notable improvements were losing about 25 pounds (that I really needed to lose) through addressing my diet needs and a brand new sense of hope I didn't know existed for people like me. After being treated there for about a year, my husband and I happened to move to another state and so started seeing another alternative, holistic doctor that my previous doctor recommended. That is when things really started to get good.

MY ACTUAL DIAGNOSES | This new doctor of mine ran a large number of incredibly in-depth tests to check for everything under the sun: Lupus, Lyme Disease, Epstein-Barr Virus, arthritis, metal poisoning, Celiac Disease, food allergies, gene mutations, hormone imbalances, and a multitude of other imbalances, infections, parasites, viruses, and more. While testing revealed literally a dozen or more problems, among my biggest issues were Lyme Disease (the co-infections Babesia and Bartonella), mercury poisoning, and the unresolved chicken pox virus from when I was five years old, along with gene mutations that inhibit my body from detoxing properly on its own. You can read about a few more of my diagnoses here.

HOW I'M BEING TREATED | My treatment has been made up of three main things: 1) Field Control Therapy, a cutting edge treatment that periodically determines what pernicious agents are affecting your body the most and addresses them by strengthening your body to rid them on its own. 2) Supplements that continually change based on my body's changing needs. 3) Diet changes tailored to my body's needs. I also see a chiropractor for adjustments every so many months. Most alternative doctors either are also chiropractors or have a chiropractor in their office that can do this; I just go to a separate one for these specific needs because it is closer to home. I am currently considering adding another layer of alternative treatment and will definitely write about it if I do and find it to be helpful.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES I'VE MADE | In addition to the treatments listed above, I have made several changes myself that have proven to be hugely beneficial:

1) Removing toxic products from my life and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives. There is a ton of information to be found online about what all ingredients we need to avoid and why. But the bottom line is that all mainstream products (yes, probably the ones you've been using your whole life as I had; think Maybelline makeup, Clorox wipes, Tide detergent, etc.) contain chemicals that we absolutely should not be putting on our bodies--what we put on our bodies is absorbed and just as important as what we eat. You can see some examples of what I do not eat below, as removing toxic foods and ingredients is also vital.

2) Detoxing. In this day and age our bodies are bombarded with harmful, sickness and cancer-causing toxins, from makeup ingredients to food additives to cigarette smoke to EMFs. And while some of us have the MTHFR gene mutation (like I do) that inhibits our body's natural ability to help detox these things, we could all use some help in this department because of the sheer, unprecedented amount of toxins we are being exposed to. A while back I realized that the pain I once would have called "Fibro pain" is frequently actually the build-up of toxins and is eased by detoxing. There are a few suggestions for detoxing practices here and here that I have found very helpful on this journey. I would add to that list oil pulling, which I wrote about here; it alone immensely improved my migraines. (You can browse some of my favorite detox tools here.)

WHAT I DON'T EAT | I do not eat gluten (wheat barley and rye), grains (corn, quinoa, and oats), dairy, soy, nightshades, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners (which means I do not drink pop), table salt, yeast, vegetable oils, and a few fruits and vegetables that I have shown allergies to. While the right diet for each person will vary and is best determined with thorough testing, anyone with autoimmune conditions especially should avoid gluten, grains, dairy, soy, nightshades, refined and artificial sugar, and table salt. I do not eat your typical processed foods and eat organic whenever I can, a change that would behoove anyone, chronic illness or not. The additives and chemicals in today's popular food is absolutely unbelievable. (You can browse some of my favorite foods I've found here.)

HOW I AM NOW | Any journey to health is going to be, as my first holistic doctor put it, a marathon and not a sprint. Anyone with as many issues as those of us diagnosed with Fibromyalgia are going to take a lot of time to heal, especially if you have been sick for many years as I have. (I'm pretty sure I was infected with Lyme Disease about 17 years ago.) There is most definitely hope of being "all better" or at least vastly improved, but that is not going to happen overnight or even in just a year--for anyone. As with any chronic illness, there is not a quick fix.

While I am still in this journey to healing, I am the best I have been since I got sick in 2010, and I even have the bloodwork to prove it. This past year, each of my sets of bloodwork came back better and better, a concept I was definitely not familiar with! I know I still have a ways to go, but I accept that because I know this journey of alternative treatment is worth it, not only for improving my health but also for opening my eyes to the truth about health, medications, toxins, diet, and more.

MY TRANSFORMED VIEW OF FIBROMYALGIA AND CFS | Stay with me here and try to understand what I'm saying with an open mind: I firmly believe that diagnoses like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome only describe the symptoms one is experiencing and are not legitimate as end-all diagnoses. I too was once relieved when I was given that diagnosis. And then I learned the truth. The suffering of those of us given these labels is painfully, excruciatingly real--but such a diagnosis is a cop-out. "Fibromyalgia" literally means "muscle pain." Chronic Fatigue is just that: chronic fatigue. Those are symptoms. Do you believe that symptoms, like headaches, extreme pain, exhaustion, memory loss, etc., all just happen on their own, with no cause?

When you see someone with a broken leg, do you assume that their leg just broke on its own? Spontaneously, with no cause but only the diagnosis of "broken leg syndrome" because sometimes that just happens? Or even that the leg is just not working for some inexplicable reason that cannot possibly be determined because sometimes that "just happens"? Of course not! Something had to cause that leg to break--a force of some kind had to come in contact with the body, and the evidence of that occurrence is a broken bone, manifested in pain and the inability to walk.

Similarly, nothing that happens in your body "just happens." There is a cause--or more often a combination of causes, whether infections, viruses, gene mutations, trauma, toxins, parasites, inflammation, and more--manifesting itself  in any and all symptoms you are experiencing. Further, any symptom you experience is your body's way of trying to tell you that something is wrong. It's not your body cruelly deciding to mutiny and ruin your life--every pain, every memory slip, every trembling limb, every moment of panic is your body begging you to help it in the only way it can: by getting your attention.

I grew up being told that anything odd my body did was "just because," even that my symptoms summed up with "Fibromyalgia" happened "just because." I believed that for a long time. And that belief came to a screeching halt when my eyes were opened to the truth through my experience with alternative treatments. I have come to truly believe that "Fibromyalgia" is just a label that mainstream doctors give to people with more problems than they can or want to attempt to help. The average doctor doesn't want to run a ton of time-consuming tests (and often isn't even equipped to), see the same patient frequently for six months or a year or two, work with them, analyze every single part of their body system, determine exactly what dysfunctions are occurring, and treat them all individually, patiently, and thoroughly, no matter how long it takes, without a single prescription. The average doctor wants to prescribe you something to make you "feel better"--just enough to get you through--and send you on your way. I don't want to just "get through." I want to thrive. And mainstream medicine does not offer you that option.

Mine was not a "classic misdiagnosis" because I finally found I had other things resulting in my symptoms; mine was a classic diagnosis. It was determined that I have Fibromyalgia because it hurt in a certain number of places the doctor pushed on and because I tested negative for everything else that they decided to test for. That is a classic Fibromyalgia diagnosis. They didn't make a mistake in giving me that diagnosis; rather, their whole belief system that results in that diagnosis is flawed.

Please keep in mind, I am in no way saying that everyone who has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or CFS has the same exact problems I was found to have. But I am saying that I firmly believe everyone who has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or CFS has their own unique combination of actual structural and/or neurological and/or metabolic problems that are all teaming up to absolutely ruin their health, and that every one of those root causes is at least treatable or even healable at the source.

Now, if you find all of this insulting to those of us thousands of people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I ask that you please go back and reread this and try to see what I am actually saying. I am writing all of this (and all of my other posts on this topic) because I have been where you are. I have reached the end of my rope over and over and sobbed over my body's state more times than I can count. I have earned a college degree only to get sick a few months later and be unable to go get a "real job." I have had my life turned upside down. I have assumed there was nothing that could be done. And then I found out all of the above information and my life completely changed. I went from no hope at all to all the hope in the world simply because I opened my mind and became informed with the truth. None of this is being written to bash anyone who is suffering--it is written to help. I am pouring my heart out, gritting my teeth, and getting through this post not because it's fun or because I think it will be well-received but because I know there are people out there just like me who need it. Surely one or two of you will see the hope in this post and be compelled to become your own advocate and fight for answers and health as I was, and you are why I am writing. I only wish I had learned all of this years ago, and so I am writing for you what I needed to know but did not have access to.

A FEW TIPS | Things to keep in mind:

1) If you're considering going off any medications, please do not do so cold turkey; make sure to check with your doctor first and, if you do, ease off very gradually.

2) If all of the above sounds so promising but you have no idea where to start, the first step is to find a doctor near you. Just search Google for "holistic doctors," "alternative doctors," or "functional medicine doctors" in your area and see what you find. Read their website to see what they say they treat and how they treat it. Ask around and see if someone you know knows one they would recommend, or even if they know someone who would recommend someone (that's how I got started!). Once you find your doctor, he/she will be able to order tests tailored to your needs and walk you through every issue found, one issue at a a time. I highly recommend trying to find one that does Field Control Therapy.

In the meantime, I recommend trying a couple of the lifestyle changes I've made and listed above that can naturally help with many symptoms. But keep in mind, it is all about baby steps--start small, and all your steps will inevitably add up to something great. I know it all can seem overwhelming and even scary, but I want to encourage you that it only seems scary because it's unfamiliar territory, and once you get going on this journey, things will become clearer and more understandable. 

And please know: you are never too old or too many years into sickness to try alternative treatments. There is always hope for improvement!

3) If all of the above sounds absolutely impossible or ridiculous to you, please know that I am just one in thousands being helped by alternative, holistic treatment--and I do not mean just symptoms being soothed but actual causes improving on paper in test results and in day-to-day life.

4) If all of the above sounds like way too much trouble to you, then that is your call and I'm sorry you see it that way. You have to acknowledge the true value of health in order to truly aim for and commit to it. If you want to improve, you have to really want it, more than you want familiarity or even some of your favorite foods. You can be skeptical, as I was, but you must be open-minded and dedicated.

5) No, unfortunately insurance does not generally cover alternative treatments and testing, though it does often cover some. The reason for that is a whole other story.... I know most of us dealing with chronic illness don't exactly have scads of money lying around, and I have said "yes" to things but had to say "no" to others. But each of us needs to weigh the options offered by our alternative doctors and see what we can make happen and what we can't. You do the best you can and will make work what you really want to work.

MY HOPE FOR YOU | As I said before, I know this post will not be well-received by many. A few years ago I would have probably scoffed at it and maybe even laughed. But I'm offering you hope, and if you want to scoff and laugh at hope ... I really can't help you there. You have to reach that point where desperation meets open-mindedness on your own, in your own time.

My hope is that someone reading this has their eyes opened, that the clouds begin to part a bit and you catch a glimpse of the hope that lies in the truth and in the alternative, holistic world. If you are in misery and feel like you are stuck in a life-sentence of Fibromyalgia, CFS, or any chronic diagnosis, you do not have to stay that way. I know this is some mind-blowing stuff, but once you begin to wrap your mind around this temporarily unfamiliar world of alternative treatments, you'll see it's mind-blowing in the best way.

I'm not going to lie and say this is an easy road. Any journey to health is going to hold a multitude of ups and downs. But what worth doing is ever easy? I hope you can see that your health is worth it.

Would you like to hear more about anything in this post? Still have questions? Please feel free to comment below or contact me
You can also check out some of my favorite foods and tools I've found on this journey here.

-----


 Nothing on this blog is to be construed as medical advice,
as I am not a doctor or health professional. I am only 
 a woman with powerful personal experiences to share 
 and am not responsible for any adverse affects from 
 incorporating my suggestions.  No claims about promising
 treatments or approaches are to be taken as guarantees
of improvement or cures. Please do not make any 
drastic changes without consulting a doctor.  

January 5, 2017

Six Years


I look back, and my heart cries over that twenty-three-year-old woman crying on the couch, drowning in the fuzzy, answerless diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and the helpless helplessness of a life doomed to pain, exhaustion, and misery. 

"Fibromyalgia" literally means "muscle pain." That's just a symptom. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome--that's just a symptom. How on earth did I not know that those diagnoses essentially meant nothing, that there had to be infections and viruses and toxins in my body manifesting in my multitudes of symptoms? How did I not know what is no-brainer knowledge to me now? 

Because that kind of thing is a secret. 


That's not how good little people think. We have all grown up in a society that has conditioned us to playing the role of the helpless victim when we need to be taught to play the role of the ruthless advocate, the capable hero in a battle we have every reason and advantage to win. It's just that those we have so dangerously come to trust the most won't tell us how.

That woman who had no idea her diagnoses were just names of symptoms, that she was sick for a reason, that there was healing in her future cried a lot. She lost years to a bogus diagnosis and trying all the ways to help that everyone said to try. And then she found out what was really wrong with her body and learned in the process that thousands and thousands of suffering people are so suffering for many of the same reasons. And that's why that girl who kept crying on the couch back then can't shut up about it all now. Because she learned secrets that flipped her upside-down life rightside-up again and better than it ever was before. And all the other people crying on their couches, drowning in a fog of bogus diagnoses and the helpless helplessness of a life doomed to unending misery need to know:

Healing is yours for the taking if you want it.


I cry over that girl now not so much because she was suffering but more so because she didn't even know she didn't know what was wrong. I thought I had the answer and was simply doing the best I could, the best that anyone could do in such a situation. But I was dead wrong--miraculously, hindsight-is-20/20-gut-wrenchingly wrong.


When I was a teenager, I had this distinct feeling that I would be sick one day. As bizarre as it sounds, you could say I almost saw it coming. But while I had the impression I would be sick in the somewhat distant future, I had no idea at all I would or could later be well one day--and on the way transformed to a completely different person.

Sometimes I have moments of seeing social media posts of mine or hearing my words to others on health and wellness from afar and do a mental double take. Because I distinctly remember Health class back in 2nd/3rd grade and beyond. It was dry, dull, and pointless, made up of food pyramids and admonitions to exercise. (Considering health textbooks are fueled by mainstream views, it's no wonder they didn't exactly light a fire in me to truly care, but I digress.) I had no motivation to care about my health, as most healthy people don't. And well into my twenties, "health" was this abstract, unimportant idea floating in the air, something we all know our whole lives to be important but most of us not really caring to know why. And "eating healthy" held an even less appealing connotation: lots of greens and vegetables with no flavor but filled with deprivation and hunger. If anyone really didn't care about health, it was me.

Funny how you have to lose something to learn what the fuss was about.

If I could change what that girl lying on the couch six years ago is sobbing over, I wouldn't. I wouldn't snap my fingers and make her healthy if I could. Because she would continue to be exactly the same as she was before: floating along in blissful, pill-popping, gluten-filled, sugar-coated ignorance until some other illness caught up with her.

I would not change the what. But I would change the how--I would tell her the truth, the truth that took me years to discover, that I never dreamed existed:

Healing is yours for the taking if you want it.