Health Update/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

My good news is that I have made major improvements in my digestive system in the last five months- all by completely changing my diet and taking supplements! After nearly three years of daily diarrhea and crippling abdominal pain, this feels like quite a miracle, and I am very happy about it!
The not-so-good news is that my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome still holds a tight grip on me. I felt that I was starting to improve a bit in January, but slid right back in February and early March. I gave three talks in February, which is more than I have given in a month since I lost all of my energy in July. Unfortunately, my body still can not recover from exerting any energy. After each talk, I was nonfunctional the following day (only able to sleep or sit and do nothing while awake), and it took a good week to return to my baseline of sleeping 12/13 hours per day. Giving three talks meant that I was in a constant cycle of trying to recover from the previous one. When my body is trying to recover, my brain also shuts down and I am not able to write or do anything more than read a little bit. This is why I have not been able to update my blog in such a long time.

Because these were my last scheduled talks, I forced myself to send out over 60 e-mails to libraries and schools, reminding them that I am still offering my PCT talk and announcing my new talk entitled, “The Gifts of Chronic Illness: Turning Adversity into a Path of Awakening and Transformation.” To date, I have received only one response of interest for my new talk, which was quite surprising to me. I had hoped to reach broader audiences than ones interested in hiking. I have to trust that the universe is looking out for me, knowing that I need to put all of my focus into my recovery at this time.

On Wednesday, I went for a short walk for the first time in a long time. I thought I was doing something good for myself- getting out in some sunlight and fresh air, and moving my body and circulating my blood. I was thinking hopeful thoughts. But as soon as I returned to my apartment, my body quickly started shutting down. I had wanted to make a smoothie for myself, but suddenly had no energy to do so. I slept for 2 and a half hours and felt AWFUL for the rest of the night. I slept until 1:30pm the next day (a little more than my usual noon-1pm). All because I attempted to move a little bit! It felt scary and very disheartening to become SO depleted after a short, flat walk. I wonder if I will ever be able to hike again. And I wonder how I will ever be able to support myself.

Having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is like living in the red zone of the battery on your phone. When the power in your phone drops to this place, it warns you that your battery is low and asks you if you want to continue. If you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and do decide to continue and expend some energy, you become completely depleted without the ability to recharge. Completely resting for a week might bring you back to 10-15% of your power, and then you choose again whether to stay at that place, or do something and drop to zero again… Your body never moves past the “red” zone.

This video on singer Avril Lavigne’s experience with Lyme Disease shows her visceral remembrance of those months when she experienced the complete shut-down of her body to the point where she could not walk or talk, as well as how it feels to be told that you are “depressed” by your doctors- all of which I have experienced and felt, as well. It is very frightening to not know what is happening to your body, to suddenly become bedridden, and to be dismissed by doctors.

These chronic autoimmune illnesses have NOTHING to do with lack of motivation, laziness, or depression! They are completely physical. Avril is very lucky that she has a large fan-base to show her support. I have felt the very opposite!

Whenever I get down about my lack of progress, I have to keep reminding myself that I have not heard of a SINGLE person who improved in less than 1-2 years. I have heard of MANY cases who took several years to even start improving, and when they did, it was a gradual process.
One of these people is a karma healer who I just started seeing. She suffered from Lyme Disease, as well as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, herself. For three years, she was unable to work at all and was unable to care for her son. She started to get better by taking certain herbs and by receiving the kind of work that she now helps others with. She communicates with her clients’ guides, identifies their archetypes (accumulated from this lifetime as well as past lives), and then clears them. In my first session, she compiled a list of nearly two pages of archetypes for me and said that she would be exhausted if she were carrying all of that, as well! I have done a lot of work on my own (changing my diet, taking supplements, informing myself about autoimmune diseases, doing the daily workbook exercises in “A Course in Miracles”, listening to Marianne Williamson’s weekly lectures, meditating an average of 20 minutes a day, doing some gentle yoga when I feel up to it, and keeping up my gratitude journal). However, there are a lot of things an individual can not do on their own. We all need a support system and people to help us. I know that although my gut issues opened the door for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to be expressed, that this disease is heavily rooted in my childhood and in a lifetime of not being seen, and of enduring trial after trial with no breaks. My life has had very few joyful moments. Most of them have occurred on my long hikes, but this past one was tied with extreme illness and pain, which led to more and more of that until my body completely stopped functioning. This work helps to clear a lot of these burdens and pain. It is fascinating for me to sit back and be completely quiet while my guides tell her very accurately who I am, how I feel, what I have experienced in my life, and what my strengths and weaknesses are! None of us are alone. We might feel like it, but we all have unseen guides looking out for us and rooting us on!

I apologize for being unable to post for so long, and will do my best to write as I am able!

(For anyone interested, you can find me on Facebook, which I update much more frequently. Lately, I have been posting a lot of support for Bernie Sanders, who I feel very strongly about getting elected as President, as well as information on health-related topics.)

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The High Correlation between Childhood Adversity and Adult Illness

Very few people seem to understand the lifelong effects of chronic childhood trauma. In different parts of my life, I’ve had many people tell me they did not believe me when I described my mother (it’s hard for many to fathom an unloving, non-nurturing parent). More recently, I had yoga teachers tell me that I was making my struggles out to be “worse” than those of others when simply relaying some things I was going though. These responses felt hurtful to me. Because I was not “seen” or listened to or supported as a child, and have felt largely invisible for most of my life, being understood is a very rare, and therefore extremely important feeling for me. Earlier this month, as I read the book, “Childhood Interrupted” by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, , I finally felt understood. I wanted to shout out to the world some of the things she was reporting. At last,  a book was written that explained the reasons I am the way I am and why I feel the way I do. It also explains why I (and many others who have experienced similar childhoods) am so sick now. This book explains my life!
There is a VERY high correlation between chronic adversity in childhood and chronic illness in adults (heart disease, cancer, depression and anxiety, autoimmune disorders). While many factors contribute to chronic disease , including genetics, environmental toxins, nutrition, infection, and viruses, those who suffer from childhood adversity are at an increased risk because their bodies have been pumping out stress hormones over the course of their lives with no regulation to shut them down. The constant release of stress hormones causes inflammation throughout the body, which eventually turns into disease. If the immune system were a barrel, those suffering from chronic toxic stress would reach adulthood with a barrel already half-full. When environmental toxins, poor processed nutrition, infections, viruses, and adult stresses are added in, the barrel spills over and disease develops. Even those with healthy habits and lifestyles become sick. It’s as  if we, who have experienced difficult childhoods, are a ticking time bomb. It is only a matter of years before disease will develop. Time does not heal all wounds. It actually conceals many of them.
Nakazawa interviews several adults who experienced chronic trauma in their youth, and who now suffer from chronic illness. Echoing my feelings, one said, “I never felt okay in the world.” Like her, I have always felt something separating me from most others.
When a child’s trauma stems from his or her caregiver, he or she never feels safe. Instead, the child learns to be on constant alert. His or her fight or flight system is never able to turn off. Because a child can not fight or flee from a parent, as his survival is also dependent on that person, he is left with no choice but to freeze instead. Shutting down becomes the only method of survival. Trauma remains stuck in the cells of the body, altering brain and immunological functioning for life. Chronic stress is much more toxic to the body than a one time, perhaps more violent event. Recurrent humiliation has been shown to have a slightly more detrimental impact than other forms of abuse, and is correlated with a higher likelihood of adult illness and depression. War veterans are not the only group of people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!

The developing brain of someone undergoing constant stress becomes inflamed due to the steady stream of neurochemicals being released, resetting the tone of the brain for the rest of their life. When microglial cells that scan the brain, checking to see if it is safe, go “off-kilter” due to chronic, unpredictable stress, they prune away neurons, killing necessary brain cells for regulating emotions and calming stress. The resulting loss of grey and white matter leads to depression, anxiety disorders, and other disease. When combined with the normal pruning of brain neurons in adolescence, due to a time of specialization in things a person is interested in and good at, a person who has suffered from early adversity is left with far fewer neurons overall. This pruning process explains why depression often first appears in those in high school or college. (I personally distinctly remember feeling like I had a “hole” in my brain during my senior year in high school!) These changes in the brain lower a person’s set point of well-being. They experience far fewer positive moods, feel constant anxiety, and aren’t able to live life fully. Other changes in the brain structure include changes in the receptors of the hippocampus which help modulate stress hormone production, a shrinking of the size of the hippocampus and cerebral grey matter, and an impaired regulatory capacity of the brain’s fear circuitry (the frontal lobe, amygdala, and hippocampus).

Approximately fifteen percent of the population also has a variant of the gene called 5-HTTLPR, which causes them to be highly sensitive. This gene regulates serotonin: a neurotransmitter that aids in the body’s ability to rebound from trauma and distress. Those with the short/short version of this gene tend to be more highly sensitive to their daily environment than others. They recover less quickly, but also respond more deeply to positive nurturing. They feel pain more deeply than most, but are also more intuitive and receptive. (I definitely have this variant!). Unless they find an adult to offer them support and guidance, people with this variant who suffer from childhood adversity “face the greatest likelihood of suffering from depression in adulthood…. They get a double dose of inflammatory drip from early on, and for a very long time.” Differences in the way siblings respond to the same environment can be explained by having different variations of this gene, as well as having had different experiences within the same family.
The most critical period in a person’s development is the time spent in the womb until the age of three. In my yoga teacher training, we did a meditation exercise in which we had to imagine ourselves as newly born infants. Our teacher wanted us to believe that at that stage, we were completely happy. I raised my hand and disagreed. I felt that all of the months in my mother’s womb had already created a negative experience for me. I did not feel that I was a happy, blank slate upon my birth. My teacher continued to insist that I was. Fortunately, this author does validate what I have always felt and known. A chronically stressed mother bathes her unborn child in stress hormones, which have a tremendous influence on the baby’s nervous system. A neglectful mother will further hinder the baby’s ability to regulate her own nervous system. And a mother’s physiology will be picked up and felt by the baby. When a baby is not nurtured, it deeply affects its ability to attach and feel safe in the world.

Many of the studies on childhood adversity use scores from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study to calculate statistics on developing adult illness. In all studies performed, the higher one’s ACE score, the more likely that person is to develop disease later in life. Those who score 4 or more have been statistically shown to be 1,220 percent more likely to attempt suicide than those who scored 0.  With each ACE score, a women’s risk of developing an autoimmune disorder  increases by 20%, while men’s risk increases by 10%..(While testosterone suppresses the immune system, estrogen increases the production of autoantibodies, which contribute to autoimmune disease. Certain men also have a form of a gene that protect them from depression). Sixty percent of women who scored four or more also suffered from chronic depression.
Perhaps the most alarming study was one performed in 1993 on the medical records of 126 healthy male Harvard undergraduates. It  found that 91% of the men who, thirty-five years earlier, cited that their relationship with their mother was “tolerant” or “strained and cold” had been diagnosed with a serious illness by middle age. And a staggering 100% of those who said their relationship with both parents was “tolerant” or “strained and cold” developed serious diseases by middle age! “The Harvard and Johns Hopkins researchers concluded that no other single factor was more significantly related to illness than the degree of parental closeness one enjoyed growing up. In fact, lack of parental closeness was a more significant contributor to later disease than smoking, drinking, parental divorce, having a parent die, or being exposed to harmful, toxic environmental substances.”

Love is not a frivolous word to be casually thrown around. It is the single most important element in the life of a human being. The love of one person has the capacity to change the entire trajectory of another’s life. Attachment researcher Louis Cozolino wrote that we are not the survival of the fittest; we are the survival of the nurtured. “Those who are nurtured best survive best.” I could not agree more.

Thank you to Donna Jackson Nakazawa for your work and for helping so many of us feel understood!

When You Know Better, You Do Better

In early December, I read a book that I would put into the ‘life-changing’ category. It is called, “Medical Medium” and was published just one month earlier. In it, Anthony Williams shares his story of being tapped by Spirit to diagnose the health issues of all who he would come into contact with, beginning with his grandmother. At the age of four, he heard a voice external to him that told him repeatedly to go to his grandmother, place his hand on her chest, and say the words “lung cancer.” At the time, she displayed no symptoms. His family was taken aback. But when she visited her doctor several weeks later, an x-ray revealed that she did indeed have lung cancer. Every day since, he has been visited by Spirit and by the age of eight, Spirit was always accompanying him. He learned that this particular form of Spirit represented the word Compassion (which precedes Faith, Hope, Joy, and Peace). Williams’ life was made very difficult by this constant voice and its diagnoses and he often wished to be free of this burden. He finally relinquished when Spirit saved both himself and his drowning dog one day as a young adult.
William specializes in diagnosing and understanding chronic “mystery” illnesses such as Adrenal Fatigue, Autism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Digestive disorders, Lyme Disease, Migraines, MS, PSTD, Thyroid disorders and more. Western Medicine will not have an understanding of these illnesses for another three or four decades. No one has that kind of time to wait. He writes, “As with any addiction, the first step is for the medical communities to admit they have a problem.”

Just as Dr. Jesse Stoff understood and wrote about in his book, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Hidden Epidemic”, published in 1990, William acknowledges that the Epstein Barr virus is the cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and several other maladies including thyroid disease. (Many other researchers have also come to the same conclusion). Today, there are 60 varieties of this virus. The medical community is only aware of ONE version. While over 70% of Americans have this virus, only some become ill. [Dr. Nicholas Hedberg says that over 95% of the world’s population is infected with Epstein-Barr, most contracting it before the age of three. He also says that the first step in its progression to an autoimmune disorder is a genetic deficiency in CD8 T cells). In its earliest, most dormant, and most vulnerable stage (when it can’t be detected by antibody levels, causes no symptoms, and remains unknown), it floats in the bloodstream. It can remain in this stage for over a decade. At some point, the virus will look for a home in one or more of the organs. In this stage, the virus will still elude tests as it is not presently active in the bloodstream. Tests to detect its presence in organs have not yet been invented. Meanwhile, it is creating three types of poison: toxic waste matter, toxic corpses at the end of each cell’s 6 week life cycle (creating fatigue as the army grows), and neurotoxins that prevent the immune system from attacking it. These poisons affect the liver’s ability to flush out toxins and cause the intestinal tract to become toxic. The virus can remain in this stage for a very long period of time. When an extremely stressful event such as surgery, a car accident, or pregnancy occurs, putting the body in a very vulnerable state, the virus springs and makes a run to another organ, drilling into the tissue- commonly the thyroid gland. (5% of thyroid disease is caused by radiation while the other 95% is caused by Epstein Barr). The immune system then elicits a response, causing inflammation in the body, but can not completely destroy the virus. Rare, aggressive forms of EBV create cancer. When the thyroid is stressed, it places stress on the endocrine system. More adrenaline is generated from the adrenal glands, which EBV feeds on. Its next target becomes the central nervous system. Because Epstein Barr has existed for over 100 years, it has had many generations to mutate and evolve, creating more and more severe strains, which are affecting people at earlier and earlier ages. The medical community is only aware of one of these strains in Group 2 (a relatively mild one).
William also points out that the body does not attack itself! Viruses attack the body’s tissue.
He also discusses Lyme Disease and its true cause- viruses! Neither ticks, nor the bacteria they carry cause Lyme disease! In 0.5% of Lyme cases, a tick bite can be a trigger for Lyme, but it does not cause it! “Hundreds and thousands of people who have never been near a deer tick receive Lyme disease diagnoses.” The medical community, just as in many other instances, does not want to admit it made a mistake. Antibiotics given to Lyme patients create even more harm, as viruses love and feed off them! They also cause damage to the gut and immune system. A bull’s-eye rash (which can be caused by any type of insect bite) is a result of part of the creature being lodged under the skin, causing a normal skin infection. In these cases it is okay to use a mild antibiotic.
He writes about the causes of menopause and perimenopause symptoms in women (also due to viruses, radiation, and pollutants in the environment and in our food, and which are now occurring in women in their twenties and thirties), as well as numerous other ailments, including depression and PostTraumatic Stress Disorder. He says that Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by toxic levels of mercury in the brain and can be reversed by detoxifying the body of heavy metals. (ADHD and Autism are also caused by high levels of mercury and aluminum that settle in the brain’s midline cerebral canal). Mercury is able to be passed down through each successive generation.
He dedicates an entire chapter to discussing the current fear of fruit because of the sugar in it, which he thinks is preposterous. Fruit is the number one cancer fighting food. It also kills viruses. The sugar in fruit is very minimal and is not present in a form that can do harm to the body. He argues that high levels of fat and protein (especially in meat) is what actually causes and allows diabetes and other illnesses to persist by causing the liver to lose its store of glucose.
Some of the worst foods a person with a chronic illness can eat are corn, soy, canola oil, beet sugar, eggs, dairy, pork, farmed fish, and gluten. And one of the worst supplements to ingest is fish oil due to its toxic levels and form of mercury! This concentrated amount of mercury can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and enter sensitive organ systems. It also strengthens and feeds viruses and bacteria. (Ugh! So many things that we are told are “good” for us and that we need are actually toxic!!).

William says that while research will eventually catch up to the information he has listed about the above illnesses, the workings of gut health “may never be uncovered by medical communities on this earth”! (Possibly because we will destroy our planet before that time comes!). He says that Leaky Gut Syndrome is actually a very serious disease that causes severe blood infections and raging fevers. Most people who have been told they have leaky gut actually have ammonia permeability. If hydrochloric acid in the stomach becomes low, proteins that reach the lower intestine won’t be broken down and cells will not be able to access their nutrients. Instead, the food will just sit and rot, creating ammonia gas. This gas then drifts into the bloodstream and is carried throughout the body, resulting in fatigue, skin problems, anxiety, and other problems. Chronic stress is enough to create low levels of hydrochloric acid. So are antibiotics, immunosuppressants, overeating of protein (animal meat, nuts, seeds, and/or legumes) or foods that combine fat and sugar. William says that the first step in fixing ammonia permeability or in addressing any other gut health issue is to restore the stomach’s supply of hydrochloric acid and strengthen the digestive system. The most effective way to do this is to drink a glass of straight celery juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. (I have been doing this for several weeks now. I noticed that it immediately lowered the amount of stomach gurgling I was having). The second step in addressing gut health is to remove toxic heavy metals from the gut, which are prime food for viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and worms. “When these pathogens consume the toxic heavy metals, they release a neurotoxic gas that attaches itself to the ammonia gas and travels through the intestinal lining.” They then inflame the gut, release their poisons, leading to disorders such as IBS, Crohn’s, and colitis. The third step is to restore the gut flora and maximize production of B12. Good bacteria produce most of the body’s supply of B12 in the final section of the small intestine (the ileum). It is this form of B12 that is most recognized by the brain. When the good bacteria in the body dies, the ileum becomes inflamed and severely weakens the immune system. It also ceases the production of B12. Medical labs can not detect the levels of B12 in the gut, organs, or central nervous system, which critically needs it. The best way to restore good bacteria to the gut is through elevated microorganisms that are found on above ground fruits and vegetables. They must be consumed directly picked and unwashed (something that is not possible in the winter in Boston!). Most of the microorganisms in fermented food and yogurt will die in the stomach and never reach the small intestine! (Kimchi and kefir are not so beneficial, after all!).

William lists the highest nutrient foods for healing each of the illnesses he discusses, as well as the supplements needed to attack the viruses. (He does not give dosages, however). He also gives case studies for many of the illnesses he discusses. Unfortunately, the healing times for chronic illnesses are still very long (but much shorter than if nothing was done at all!). A person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome who follows these protocols will typically take a year to a year and a half to see major improvement. There is a lot of information in this book and I highly recommend it to anyone. It is a fast read, and as time progresses, more and more people will be needing to heed this advice in order to heal themselves!