Who Knew?

Puzzle PieceFor the past fourteen weeks I have been eating ‘clean’;  mostly raw, all vegan, juicing every day, lots of super foods, super herbs, and tons of sprouts.

And, feeling like a million bucks, I might add.

And so, I wonder, why is my eczema still flaring? What is it that my body is still trying to tell me? Could it possibly be the natural process of detoxification? Or is there something else that I haven’t quite figured out?

Well, yesterday’s wellness fair just may have given me the next piece in the puzzle in my quest for audacious health!

And that piece is called…carrageenan.

Spring WaterI start my day with at least three glasses of spring water with a dash of Celtic sea salt, then a ginger shot with my hubby and a fresh green juice. I do not need any food. Around 11:00am when I am feeling hungry, I make myself a chocolate Sun Warrior smoothie which I pack with superfoods; maca, ashwaganda, hemp hearts, acai, bee pollen, coconut milk and organic coconut water.

This, apparently, is where I have been going wrong.

The organic coconut milk which I have been buying contains carrageenan. And after doing a fair amount of research last night, I have discovered that carrageenan is causing quite an uproar in the organic foods industry. It is used to thicken foods and to keep them from separating and, apparently, causes inflammation, among other things. And inflammation in the body has all kinds of negative health effects, including exacerbating eczema.

And, I would not have known about carrageenan had I not been in the right place at the right time yesterday watching my friend Loren give an amazing presentation on raw almond milk at the wellness fair!

Raw Almond MilkI continue to be in complete awe of the incredible food and health journey that I am walking day by day. It seems that just when I am ready for the next piece of information to take my health to the next level, there it is.

So…here is my solution to the coconut milk dilemma. On my way home from the wellness fair yesterday I stopped at Whole Foods and stocked up on raw organic almonds. I soaked them overnight and made a delicious, creamy and sweet raw almond milk this morning. And, incidentally, making nut milk happens to be yet another one of those things that I said I would never do because it is too much work. And it was one of the easiest raw food preparations I have encountered to date.

Go figure!

I am going to sneak in another batch just before I put the kids to bed so we have cold, fresh, and carrageenan-free milk for our smoothies tomorrow.

That’s my wildly Radical Act for today! Living on the edge, huh?!?! 🙂Living on the Edge

 

 

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Candid Camera

I travelled to Toronto yesterday afternoon for a follow-up dermatology appointment with a well-known specialist. The first time I saw him was seven weeks ago. I was two weeks off of high-dose Prednisone and my eczema was flaring badly. He told me that long-term Prednisone was not an option and that he would do a chemical allergy test the next time. He could not do the allergy testing at that appointment as my immune system was far too reactive and delicate. So, he prescribed a strong steroid cream and then sent me on my way with a request to follow-up in seven weeks or so.

helthy-body-alternativeSeven weeks later I am an entirely different person. My eczema is clear, my energy is fantastic and my hopes for the future are off the charts! The only reason I actually kept the appointment was for the chemical allergy testing. I mean, why not find out what to avoid, right?

After waiting an hour to see the doctor I was ushered into a room to speak with the resident that I had met during the last appointment. She looked at my skin and remarked on how clear and healthy it was looking. She asked me if I was using any other products other than the cream she and the doctor had prescribed during the last visit. I told her that I was not using the steroid cream and she looked surprised. She asked me what I was using and I told her…food. And in particular, no animal products.

She got this amused and slightly patronizing look on her face and, in no uncertain terms, informed me that there would be no correlation between animal products and eczema. She looked to be about twelve years old so, I must say, it was very hard to take her seriously. However, I nodded politely and did not attempt to sway her beliefs in any way.

images (38)But wait…it gets better.

The doctor arrived and the resident filled him in on my condition. She told him that my eczema was clear and that I believed it was due to removing animal products from my diet. I couldn’t wait to hear his response to that! He gave me another one of those looks and a sort of energetic pat on the head when he gently explained that there would be no correlation between animal products in my diet and eczema flares.

He went on to comfort me by saying that although I believe my eczema is cleared up, it will come back. He told me that I would always have eczema and that it would probably be better in the summer and then get worse in the winter again. Feeling immensely grateful for his comforting diagnosis of my life-long skin condition, I asked him about the chemical allergy testing. He told me that he could see no reason to do the allergy testing because my skin was so clear.

And, as a parting request, he asked me to book another appointment in six months. Because by then it would be late October and my eczema would be returning.

As I paid my $17.00 for parking I wondered what the heck I had accomplished by spending almost four hours of my day to visit one of Toronto’s most renowned dermatologists. It was so ridiculous I had to giggle to myself as I imagined that I was on Candid Camera and that some funky alternative health guru was going to pop out and have a good laugh with me.

Alas, no one popped out so I had to laugh all by myself.

goldfish-jumping-out-of-siloAs I drove the ninety minutes back home, I thought about the silos of our health care. And I thought about all the traditional and alternative practitioners that I have in my life. And as I reflected on all those professionals I wished for an opportunity to bring them together to help me care for my health. Just imagine the impact on our overall health if we all had access to the full spectrum of care. I truly believe that the time for the Integrative Health model is right now!

And…in the meantime, I will continue to eat in a way that makes me feel alive and vibrant and young. My visit to the doctor yesterday reminded me that I do not need to evangelize my lifestyle. I don’t need to justify or convince. And, I don’t even need agreement.

All I know is that ‘you are what you eat’ has taken on a whole new meaning for me in these past nine wonderful weeks. And I know that I will remain in a state of deep appreciation as I am guided toward the next resonant path on this incredible journey!images (40)

The End of the Tunnel

rainy-day-in-parisI have been off Prednisone for seven days. And I am on Day Seven of my Clean Cleanse.

Energetically I am feeling more of a spring in my step than I have felt for a very long time. The impact of coming off of Prednisone, removing meat from my diet, and starting a cleanse, is absolutely blowing my mind. And the raw live diet I am eating at the moment is feeling incredibly resonant.

Ironically, while I am feeling this incredible resonance within my body, my eczema has returned full-force. My arms, legs, abdomen and right hand are covered with a red, swollen and painful rash. My arms are the worst…it feels kind of like having a really bad sunburn that doesn’t just hurt but is also itchy to the point of driving me mad. It hurts to wear any clothing on my arms and I am back to waking myself up in the middle of the night scratching like crazy.

25199564-optimistic-word-cloud-concept-with-great-terms-such-as-hopeful-upbeat-happy-and-moreTwo months ago, when I was in the throes of this kind of eczema flare, I felt defeated. I felt powerless and hopeless and I didn’t know where to turn. The only solution I could come up with was to head to my local Emergency Room to cover up the symptoms and to get some much-needed relief. Prednisone did give me the relief I was looking for…but at a very high cost.

Two months later I am feeling more hopeful than I have done in a very long time. I feel like I am on the right track. I feel like I am deep-cleansing my body and that the eczema is simply a by-product of all the junk in my system that just wants out. And now I am living in a way that is going to allow that to happen; exercising regularly, meditating daily, eating a clean diet including wheatgrass, sprouts, blue green algae and lots and lots of pure water.

I am thrilled to realize that I now see a light at the end of the tunnel…and it’s not the oncoming train.

photo light at the end of the tunnel...

The Radical Act of Health Continues

Three months ago I wrote a blog post entitled; A Radical Act of Health. My post pronounced my intention to work toward and to claim audacious physical health over this year. What I did not know at the time was that I was quickly heading toward a health crisis.

clip-art-rollercoaster-347569In the past three months I have been on a roller coaster of health. The peak of the ride came in December when my eczema, which had always been itchy and annoying, flared to a crisis point. My immune system went into overdrive and I was covered with so much eczema I don’t think I have ever felt more miserable in my life. The complete and utter misery finally drove me to an Emergency Room visit on Boxing Day where I happily surrendered to pharmaceutical intervention.

I have been on Prednisone since Boxing Day. The girl who does not even use Advil or Tylenol has been on a heavy oral steroid for almost two months. I tried to come off the Prednisone a month ago and ended up right back where I had been in December. And so, for the past month I have been decreasing my dosage by 1mg per day to try and trick my immune system into believing that all is well.

Unfortunately, the cure is almost as bad as the disease. Prednisone has made my face puffy, my hands shake, and my heart pound. Even when I am settling into bed for the night I still feel as if I am driving around in fifth gear. And as I have been slowly cutting back on the Prednisone, my eczema has begun to rear its ugly head again. I now have eczema on my face and ears and I have never had it there before. It is getting worse, not better. The thought of going back to where I was in December is unthinkable. But staying on Prednisone is neither an option nor a solution.

So what is the solution to this ongoing crisis in my health? I have been asking that question for weeks and have been feeling as if I have been hitting a brick wall in terms of an answer.

The answer came this morning.

flintstoneI have spent the past four months giving up my favourite foods; chocolate, nuts, cocoa, red peppers, spinach, and kale, to name a few. I decided that I would try anything to get my eczema under control. But, really, if I am honest, I was willing to try anything…except removing animal protein from my diet.

It seems that I would do anything as long as I could remain a card-carrying-carnivore.

I have been hiding for months from the probability that giving up meat would radically alter my health. I know that meat is highly acidic, I know that it is inflammatory, I know that it is hard on my digestive system and I know that it drains me of energy. But I have convinced myself that I would starve without it.

Yesterday was my last day of Prednisone. To celebrate, I decided to start a 21-day cleanse this morning to give my body a kick-start into better health. My Clean Cleanse was so successful last fall that I wanted to revisit the feeling. But this time, I have decided to add a little extra.

I am giving up meat for 21 days. I have decided to be brave and bold and courageous. I have decided to do the one thing I thought was impossible for me. Isn’t it funny how what we resist persists?

I am both excited and nervous to see what will happen in the coming weeks. Will my eczema clear up? Will my digestive system calm down? Will my left hand stop aching as if I have arthritis in the joints? Will I have more energy?

Or will I just feel hungry all the time?

I have absolutely no idea what is in store as I continue this journey of Radical Health…but I will keep writing and I hope you will keep reading!A-journey-of-a-thousand-miles

The Coming Home

download (5)I have had an absolutely fabulous week and I feel, to coin a phrase, back in the saddle again. The combination of exercise, meditation, mindfulness and magic has allowed me to shed all the energetic weight I have been carrying and leap back into the version of myself that feels so alive and so magnificent.

Feeling this way gives me an opportunity to reflect back on the past few months and notice some interesting things. The first thing I notice is my progressive downward slide into the role of victim. I felt, as my eczema  symptoms worsened no matter what I did, like a victim of my body. And, I suppose, I chose to cope by staunchly claiming the victim archetype. The other thing I notice is that I felt as if my body was letting me down. And a startling disconnect from my physiology was the unfortunate consequence.

This combination of victim and body-disconnect somehow resulted in choosing to abdicate all my power. I gave my power away. I am not judging myself for doing it, I am simply noticing. And abdicating my power meant that I forgot that I am the master of my own destiny, that I create my reality and that I am a gifted manifestor.

Highs and Lows2I had a wonderful conversation with my dear friend Shelley this afternoon and something she said resonated deeply. She reminded me that relationships go through stages of coming together and pulling apart. That they go through highs and lows. And without those highs and lows the relationship ultimately stagnates. What I realize about the past few months is that I went through a low point in relationship with my physical body. I felt separate from and betrayed by my body so I stopped leaning into the relationship.

I left my body. I gave it over to my Naturopath, my doctor, my chiropractor, my coach. I gave it over to despair. I wanted to be fixed. And I wanted answers from anywhere but inside my own wisdom. I lost touch with my own power and forgot that my inner wisdom ever existed at all.

What I know about tough times in relationships is that they carve us deeply. They can be extremely painful at the time but the result of the deepening offers a new resonance and allows the relationship to move to the next level.

The next level began on Monday morning when I put a stake in the ground and claimed my physical fitness at the gym. It began when I sat in the quiet dawn to quietly commune with my soul. And it began when my system cast off the pall of December and, once again, began to sing.

The prodigal daughter has returned and the joyous reunion feels spectacular. I know that there will be times ahead where I will, once again, lose touch, feel despair and slip into hopelessness. But, having gone through this deepening, I will know that it is just part of the natural cycle of relationship with this magnificent body.

For now, though, I get to take a deep breath and bask in the sweet reunion of mind, body, and spirit. I get to listen to the hum and the alignment of my deep inner wisdom and celebrate the sweetness of coming home.The-Mind-Body-and-Soul-Connection

Decidedly Detached

viagraad.jpeg.size.xxlarge.letterboxI always laugh when I see those television commercials for the latest and greatest pharmaceutical offering from the big drug companies. Whether it is for insomnia, hypertension, erectile function, allergies, or depression, there are always these really happy-looking people living a wonderful-looking life. So, really, whatever the drug is supposed to be doing, it is certainly doing it extremely well. The part that makes me laugh is the last 20 seconds of the commercial where the peppy announcer quickly reads all the potential scenarios for the catastrophic side effects of the drug.

So, all these really happy people, as a result of taking whatever drug has made them so happy, should know that there are dangers lurking around every corner.

Yesterday afternoon, I saw my fourth doctor in less than two weeks. I have also filled my fourth round of heavy-duty pharmaceutical medication. And, I feel like a walking advertisement for the last 20 seconds of the commercial; pounding heart, restless sleep, shaky, weak, easily tired, restless, and edgy.

So why not just come off the drug if it is making me feel so terrible?

drugquestion_vert-1020fee670341c68641eb0ca08d930c82a8dba4c-s6-c30I am still dealing with the massive eczema flare that plagued me all through the month of December. I tried to quit the Prednisone cold-turkey and had another flare. So, I am back on a big dose to slowly wean down over the coming weeks. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I simply cannot go through another month like the one I have just endured. I cannot go back to all that eczema, the sleepless nights, the agonizing scratching and the despair of living in a shell that is so out of balance.

The trouble is, the side effects of the Prednisone are making me feel like I am living in someone else’s body.

I take very good care of this body and in doing so I honor my deepest core values. I love my body and I want to hear what it has to tell me. I don’t feel comfortable covering up its voice with a drug. I have always been fit, vibrant and extremely healthy. I have a zest for life that bubbles over with the passion for whatever I am doing. I have a deep and resonant connection with my body, my mind and my spirit.

I am not someone who needs to sit down after folding a load of laundry!

I am trying very hard to tune in to what is being offered. I am trying to lean into Simon’s advice and just allow these moments to be what they are and not fight them. However, I am finding it challenging to be decidedly detached from the container in which I am living.

Maybe I should just go ride a bike, take a shower, do a handstand, fly a kite, or go sailing. It seems to work for those uber-happy people in the commercials!3282117

In the Arms of Morpheus

I am a glass-half-full kind of a woman. I am an eternal optimist. I look on the bright side. I can always see the silver lining. I can reframe just about any situation in which I find myself. And I can laugh and cry at the same time with alacrity.

This past month has worn my positivity down into the ground. And last night I came as close to despair as I have been in quite some time.rain-1

I have not slept in over a month. I have spent night after sleepless night in an agonized state of desperately itchy, prickly and painfully sore skin. And during the day I have felt as if scratchy burrs were attached to the insides of all of my clothing.

My eczema flare has, quite literally, brought me to my knees.

Sleep deprivation is akin to torture. It is brutally hard to function on not enough sleep. I have been short with my kids, impatient with Simon, and frustrated with the lack of energy and drive that typifies a sleep-deprived body. And every exhausting and frustrating day has been hemmed in by skin that has felt virtually impossible to live in. Being desperately itchy 24 hours a day is its own unique brand of torment.

In short, I have been feeling absolutely wretched.

I have been afraid to admit, even to myself, that I have been struggling. My determined focus on positivity has felt like a shield. And it seemed that to let that shield drop would only invite deeper vulnerability. I have been afraid to admit that I have hit rock-bottom because perhaps it would take me down even further. I have felt myself clinging to my last shred of positivity like a shipwrecked sailor to a tiny life raft.

I know it all sounds pretty dramatic but that is how low things have been feeling for me. And it is characteristic of the dangerous downward spiral of too many nights without sleep.

imagesThe world has taken on a whole new hue today. I am back. And I am okay.

I slept last night. I closed my eyes at 11:00pm and did not awaken until 5:45 this morning. I did not itch desperately all night long. I did not need drugs during the night to help me hobble a few hours of sleep together. And I was not playing Solitaire on my iPad at 1:30am for hours on end to pass the long night alone.

I just closed my eyes and I slept.

And, today, I am changed. All it took was one night of uninterrupted sleep to change my entire perspective. The kids are back at school, the family is returning to its routine and I can live in this body again.

When life is normal and sleep comes naturally, it is easy to take for granted the gift of sleep. Tonight, however, I will take nothing for granted. Not the welcome feel of warm flannel on a cold winter night, not the tenderly healing skin inside my PJs, and not the simple bliss of slipping effortlessly into sleep.

And as I am observing these small wonders, I will deeply appreciate the miracle of a long and peaceful night resting gently in the arms of Morpheus.morpheus