10 Ways I Healed from a Decade of Chronic Illness

10 ways I healed from a decade of chronic illness

After years of being told nothing was wrong, she discovered that she was suffering from hypothyroidism, heavy metal accumulation, adrenal fatigue, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), chronic fatigue, and an IgA deficiency. She was also born without the gene MTHFR which is key in detoxification.

Written by Amie Valpone

Rather than enjoying the youth of my 20’s, I suffered from a decade of chronic illness – everything from Lyme disease to Hypothyroidism, C-Diff Colitis, Leaky Gut, PCOS, Chronic Candida, Heavy Metal Toxicity, Mold Toxicity, and much more. It started with severe leg swelling that felt like bricks of water on my legs, chronic pain, horrible digestive issues, and lethargy. These years of chronic pain set me on my journey to heal and detox, leading me to feel healthier and more energetic than I had in my entire life. The interesting part is that I’m not really sure if I ever actually felt ‘great’ the last 32 years of my life. I think I just ignored the bloating. Blamed being tired on a corporate job in Manhattan. Believed my sporadic headaches were from looking at a computer screen. But now that I’m healed and I can’t remember the last time I touched an Advil or any other over the counter sinus medicine, indigestion pill or box of Gas-x.

What’s sad is that the norm today is to take an Advil for a headache and Pepto for a belly ache and Claritin for allergies but no one asks the question, WHY? WHY do I have a headache, why is my stomach bloated or rumbling, why do I have seasonal allergies? Well, I finally started asking myself WHY and got to the root cause of all my issues.

Why did I have headaches? My hormones were an absolute mess and Western medicine doctors only looked at my bloodwork, which was a poor measurement for what was actually going on with my hormones.

Why was my belly aching and bloating? Years later, Integrative medicine discovered that I had Leaky Gut, parasites, pathogens, and other nasty critters in my gut that were causing bloating, brain fog, and feeling awful anytime I ate anything.

Why did I have seasonal allergies? I had Chronic Candida so bad that I was in bed for 6 months because it literally attacked every muscle in my body and I was in so much pain, I could barely move.

How did I figure all of this out? It took me 10 years, way too much money, and a ridiculous amount of time. At 25 I had been to Mayo Clinic for an entire week, I had 2 bone marrow biopsies, a muscle biopsy and was put on every antibiotic, steroid, pain killer and water pill that doctors could get their hands on to cover up my symptoms. Four years ago, I was on disability from my job and was given 24 hours to live with C-Diff Colitis. From that day on, I knew I had to find the answer. I quit my corporate job, left the Western medicine world, went back to school to learn about integrative nutrition, and read every single book I could get my hands on to figure out what was going on inside of my little 20 something innocent body.

I learned that detox is not about starving yourself on a diet like the magazines make us believe. Detox is about getting the bad bugs and toxins out of your body and restoring your body to wellness and back to balance. Toxins are harmful substances that kill living, organic materials. Unfortunately, toxins are all around us and often in our bodies, which take a toll on our organs. Hidden in our air, water, food, cleaning supplies, and beauty products, toxins are associated with many health issues.

I learned that detox is about stimulating my body’s ability to cleanse itself of these harmful toxic substances. Though my body is detoxing on its own every second, I learned from my doctors that our bodies can get overwhelmed and unable to remove these toxins, so they start to accumulate and get redistributed throughout our bodies.

Some of us, like myself, are more sensitive to toxins than others. Through integrative medicine doctors I’ve learned about detoxing and how to prevent illness from toxins. I was born without MTHFR, a handicap that doesn’t allow me to detox properly. This is why some people, like myself, get sick from mold exposure while others don’t have any symptoms. It’s why some of us have a hangover after drinking alcohol, while other people do not. I learned my body needs support to get rid of toxins on a daily basis.

Here are 10 things that helped me heal from my decade of chronic illness. You may find that you resonate with some of these points and I hope they are helpful on your wellness journey. These tips are not meant to cure any illness or disease. These are simply the steps that I took to get my body back to abundant health. Please check with your doctor before starting any new protocols. I’ve included links in bold below to supplements and products that have made a difference in my life.

  1. Make a Medical Binder and a Day-to-Day Personal Calendar. Create a HUGE binder of all the information from all of your doctor’s visits including your blood work, test results, and any notes from the doctors. You’ll also need a mini daily planner calendar you can fit into your bag to write down every day: what time you woke up, how you felt throughout the day, what you ate, how your bowel movements were, how you slept, how your energy levels were, PMS, acne, night sweats, mood changes, bloating, food intolerances, hot/cold intolerances, etc. and keep this with you at all times so you don’t forget to write down what’s going on throughout the day. Also, create a folder on your computer’s desktop called Doctor Information and save every test result there so you can easily just email every new doctor you work with all of your records BEFORE you even get to their office. This saves so much time and is incredibly helpful to you and your doctor.
  2. Soak in Detox Baths, Try Infrared Saunas, and Use Filtered Water. Our skin is our biggest organ. I bought a water filter for my sink, another for my bath, and another for my shower because the chlorine in tap water, as many of you probably know, can negatively affect your thyroid and the good bacteria in your gut. I’ve used a few different water filters. Aquasana is what I have now on my shower head. I also learned from my Lyme disease doctors to do detox baths once a week when I felt they were needed or if I was having die-off headaches and reactions from my Candida and Lyme protocols. I used 4 cups Epsom salt with a small amount of peroxide and 1 cup baking soda along with Aura Cacia Organic Essential Oil combined with warm water and sat in the bathtub in this detox bath for at least 30 minutes while drinking a lot of water. Then I rinsed myself off in the shower and dried off. It’s very important to drink a ton of water while you are doing this detox bath because you will sweat and you need to replenish your fluids. I used 3 large bottles of water with a pinch of sea salt in each one to help bring minerals back into my body. Another tool that I used to help me with my heavy metals, mold, Lyme disease, and Candida symptoms were Infrared Saunas. I still do a 30 minute infrared sauna session every week to help my body detox. I have a solo infrared sauna unit that fits in my NYC apartment. This was so incredibly useful when I was sick in bed with Lyme and Candid die-off and nothing could relieve my migraines and exhaustion.
  3. Support Your Liver. I supported my liver to help process excess hormones, toxins, and everything else that was running through my body making me sick. Organic coffee enemas can be helpful, especially for die-off symptoms from Candida and Lyme disease herxing. I also made sure to do daily lymphatic drainage or rebounding with my body to support my lymphatic system. I read every book I could find about supporting my liver and my lymphatic system.
  4. Eat For Wellness. I started eating organic and removed peanuts, pistachios, vegetable oils, gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, soy, refined sugar, and anything processed. I started eating whole, organic fruits, vegetables, lots of healthy fats (especially Omega 3’s), lean organic proteins, and a large variety of fresh herbs as well as fresh turmeric and fresh ginger. I made sure to eat dark leafy greens at every meal and found my favorite brand, Earthbound Farm, which is easy for me to take on trips and travel with to meetings, etc. because it’s sold in a sealable container. When I started eating like this (an anti-candida diet), I started to feel better. I added in very high quality sea salt to support my adrenals and good sources of fat at every single meal and snack so that I could balance my blood sugar. I also learned through extensive Integrative urine testing (I’ll have a full list of integrative medical tests that helped me in my book that comes out March 2016), that my vitamin C was very low even though I was taking vitamin C daily, so I learned my adrenals were using up all my vitamin C and I started doing vitamin C drips and taking other forms of vitamin C that I was able to absorb and feed my adrenals. I use NOW Foods Vitamin C.
  5. Learn Forgiveness, Self-Love, and Self Care. Learning how to forgive myself, forgive others, and take care of myself on a deeper level was the missing piece of my puzzle that shifted my entire life. I started deep belly breathing to activate my parasympathetic nervous system and stopped breathing from my chest (sympathetic nervous system). I cannot stress enough how important it is to create an environment of self-love and self-care for healing. It took me 9 years to realize that this was a HUGE missing link to my healing that I always overlooked because I was too busy trying to ‘heal’.
  6. Listen To Your Body. You know what’s best for you. If you find yourself in the office of a doctor that uses one approach on every patient, you need to find a new doctor because their approach is NOT going to work for you. I learned this the hard way and did what every doctor told me to do without researching the supplements and their interactions and what else was going on in my body at that time. I learned not to take advice from every healer, doctor, naturopath, etc. Although they mean well, we are ALL different and each of our bodies is different. You need someone who can focus on you and your symptoms and your specific root cause without assuming what’s going on and trying to solve it with supplements. For instance, DHEA and topical progesterone cream helped me tremendously at first for 1 ½ years but then everything changed and all of a sudden my hormones hit a wall and these 2 supplements put me into the worst 12 months of my life. Furthermore, I did terrible with taking Evening Primrose Oil and awful on Vitex/Chaste Tree Berry, which are supposed to be gentle hormone balancers according to the doctors I was seeing, however my body reacted so badly that I was sick for months and it made me worse than I was from the start. Also it’s key to know that taking supplements can cause other issues for certain people. For instance, something like ashwaganda can be helpful but, I learned the hard way, it can increase testosterone and that’s what happened to me. So, the point is, tread very carefully even with supplements. Our bodies are all different and what works for one person may not for another.
  7. Look for Alternative Healing Work. Find something that works for you. I tried everything under the sun but the only thing that brought me relief was acupuncture. I did acupuncture 2x a week for 3 years and it helped balance my hormones. No other supplement helped me so I had to turn to healing work and body work, which did wonders for me!
  8. Create Your Own Medical Team. I learned that one doctor will not cure you. You need a team of doctors, healers, and people who have been through the issues you are facing. And it’s not cheap. I’ve put my life savings into my health and it was so worth it. I learned the most from other people who had been through the same health issues and I listened to what worked for them and wrote everything down but took my time with trying new things. Working with a team of experts to understand my methylation, hormones, gut, detox pathways, mold, candida, etc. was key to my final healing.
  9. Research Biofilm. Biofilm is a very interesting topic. Many of us have infections, Lyme, parasites, heavy metals, candida, etc. stuck in our biofilm without even realizing it. I did two years of the biofilm protocol to break down my biofilm and kill off the pathogens. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do but it was worth it. Removing all the pathogens from my body was a huge step to my healing.
  10. Rest, Remove Cardio, Start Walking and Meditating. You’ve heard this a million times and I was too stubborn to believe it until I hit a wall and couldn’t do cardio any longer. I learned to accept that walking, resting and meditating was my new ‘normal’. I learned how to sleep at least 10-12 hours a night, which is what I need every night – anything less than that and I’m not myself. I also learned how to STOP, slow my life down and just BE instead of always feeling like I have to DO, DO, DO to feel like I’m busy and worthy.

Was the last decade easy? Heck no. But I learned a lot and now I’m helping others who feel lost and alone with medical problems. My goal is to help people who are frustrated and exhausted with Western medicine, those who can’t get a diagnosis, and those who are on pharmaceutical drugs to mask symptoms. I am living proof you can heal.

There is hope. There is an answer. Breathe and remember to keep fighting until you get an answer, because your answer IS out there. I’m excited to announce the launch of my cookbook Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body.

About Amie Valpone

I’m Amie Valpone – HHC, AADP, a Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Personal Chef and Writer specializing in simple Gluten-free, ‘Clean’ recipes for the home cook. I have continuing education certifications from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University as well as the Drugless Practitioners of America.

After healing myself through a set of life-changing diagnoses early in my professional career, I was forced to change the way I live, eat and ultimately the way I make a living. Today my sole desire is to help you and your body feel as amazing as possible through various simple yet life-altering changes to your nutrition and lifestyle habits. Visit me at The Healthy Apple.

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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini M.A., Ed.M., founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

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