Where did 3 years go?!…

Little did I know when I wrote my last post, … AND THEN CANCER MOVES UP ON MY LIST OF HEALTH CONCERNS (AND WHY I’M OK WITH IT), that it would be over 3 years before I would return back to the blogging scene. Life can be a tricky game to navigate. It turns out that my father’s diagnosis of stomach cancer would be just the tip of the iceberg in a series of life-evolving events.

Sadly, just two months after my father’s diagnosis he succumbed to the disease and passed away quite peacefully surrounded by the love of his family. To this day, although sad, his passing is still the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. It wasn’t until after he passed that I realized just how amazing of a person he was to our community … simply by doing nothing more than just being “Don”. After seeing how shocked and grief-stricken our community was by his passing, I decided to build a Memorial Dog Park in his memory. The community loved the idea and over the next 2 years I worked my butt off to raise the funds needed and it ended up being a $16,000 project. You can read about our wonderful dog park here:
https://www.facebook.com/DonaldGatesMemorialDogPark.

While still grieving and regularly travelling back home to our hometown to support our mother, my husband and I were busy designing our dream home during our evenings and weekends when we weren’t working. We are quite smitten with the final result and it is a true reflection of our personalities … much the same way as our wedding was a reflection of who we are as individuals and as a couple. In November 2013 we finally moved into our forever dream home.

December 2013 I started transitioning from my current job into a new role in my department so the next few months were a real adjustment/learning curve. No big deal.

February 2014 I had my six month colonoscopy / annual gastroscopy as part of my FAP battle, and it turned out that my condition was getting worse. Six months earlier I had only a couple of polyps and all of a sudden it had jumped to about 17 polyps in my colon with about another 30 that were too flat to be removed so they had to be left behind. Such a drastic change in such a short amount of time made my GI Specialist nervous and she recommended a complete proctocolectomy with permanent ileostomy.

colectomy

Source: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic-colorectal-cancer/fap-inherited

March 2014 I decided to get away and cheer myself up. I travelled to Fredericton, New Brunswick to visit my dear friend Kelda who was undergoing a therapy program at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation. Kelda had been in a life-threatening and life-changing accident in June 2012 and I had been supporting her through her recovery since then. Most of my support was through funny letters that I would write her but it was nice to get away and visit her for a change. Kelda suffered Locked-In Syndrome as a result of the injuries that she sustained from her accident. You can learn more about her story through the Facebook Page that I created to keep her supporters up to date on her status — Kelda Farrell: Breaking Out of Locked In Syndrome. Although I had been supporting Kelda for the past nearly 2 years, I knew that Kelda would be a huge support and inspiration as I navigated through my upcoming surgery.

April 2014 the most amazing thing happened! I became an Aunt!! Again, time that I could have been dedicating to blogging was consumed by visits to see the most adorable little human being.

June and July 0f 2014 was crazy busy but very exciting. I kicked off a Fundrazr Campaign with some co-workers to raise money to purchase a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) “Stim” bike. The month was filled with answering phone calls, driving a social media campaign, as well as conducting newspaper and radio interviews. At the same time I was running a Teespring campaign to raise money for the dog park in my dad’s memory and designed a shirt with a saying that I came up after he passed: “Those who leave this earth too early do so because they use up all their energy being absolutely awesome.”

August 2014 I went back for my 6-month scope, and it appeared that my condition had regressed slightly. Perhaps it was due to taking curcumin, an anti-inflammatory supplement that has shown to slow or reduce polyp formation in some studies. We then entered the “do we even want to have kids” debate as I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pass along my genetic condition.

During the Fall of 2014 in addition to doing research into what impact the various surgery options would have on fertility, carrying and delivering a baby,  I was also busy doing some graphic designs so I could open a CafePress shop to raise a little money towards our fundraising efforts for the dog park.

My 2015 New Years Resolution was to “Slow down enough to find time to read (and enjoy) at least one book over the course of the year”. I started out doing well with that goal (managed to knock off one book in the first 3 weeks of the year) but on January 29th, 2015 I found myself to be one of the first to fall victim of corporate layoffs when the price of oil plummeted. The next week I was due back to the endoscopy unit for my 6th month colonoscopy and gastroscopy (as if I wasn’t already stressed enough as it was). They asked “Any chance you’re pregnant?” My nonchalant response was: “Nope, I’ve been having cramping all week … I’m fairly certain my period will start during this procedure.” A few more days passed and still no period. “Geez, I don’t suppose I went through a colonoscopy while pregnant?!” I started to panic. Sure enough, 2 separate pregnancy tests confirmed it. I stressed what the drugs that were intravenously administered during the procedure would have done to my baby. Luckily, my family physician assured me that it was so early in the pregnancy that fluids were not yet transferring from me yet. Phew!

So 1) surprise Layoff, 2) planned endoscopy,  and 3) surprise pregnancy — January 2015, you were a pretty intense month!

I had been planning on coming off my antidepressant for some time and my doctor had agreed to ease me off of it. But when I was laid off on short notice, I decided to ask her to keep me on it until things settled. The next week I returned. “Back again so soon?” was her comment at the sight of me,  and my response was “Um. I think I’m pregnant.” She let out a little laugh (knowing that I would understand the ‘what else can the world throw at you after going through a layoff and a colonoscopy’ intent). I reciprocated with my own chuckle as if to say ‘I know, right?!’ Between morning sickness and cutting out my antidepressant cold turkey the First Trimester was a beast. I wouldn’t have physically been able to work. At this point the layoff was a blessing in disguise. I did start applying for a few jobs and even interviewed for one contract position as I transitioned into the Second Trimester and started feeling better. But returning to work wasn’t in the cards for me so I enjoyed the rest of my pregnancy without employment which allowed me to continue fundraising for the Dog Park and was luckily enough to officially open it during August 2015. Finally I had a little time to rest before our baby arrived 2 weeks early on September 28th. I’ve had my hands full from that day forward and it’s been an incredible 11 months so far!!

Getting to GI Specialist appointments, prepping for and going through endoscopies,  and meeting with surgeons, all with a newborn had its challenges but we were able to make it work. After a long debate we settled on the Ileorectal Anastomosis (IRA) option for surgery.

ileorectal

Source: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic-colorectal-cancer/fap-inherited

Basically now I’m just waiting for a call from the surgeon and expect a weeks notice. It’s been one whirlwind of 3 years!

So now that you’re up to speed on what I’ve been doing for the past 3 years, it’s not surprising that I haven’t had an opportunity to work on my blog. I started the blog as a means of doing some branding for the restaurant I was dreaming up in my head. Unfortunately, due to the loss of my engineering job, my dream of developing a restaurant for people with food allergies and dietary restrictions has been put on hold (and most likely indefinitely considering the decline of my health condition) as I’ll have no financial reserve to invest to see it through. It was a beautiful and vivid dream while it lasted. I expect that while going through surgery to have my colon removed, I’ll use this blog as a means to chronicle what I’m experiencing both physically and mentally… and no doubt there could be  additional dietary restrictions imposed as a means of controlling the erratic behaviour of my new digestive system.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Writing this post has been incredibly therapeutic.

xo
Krista

 

… And Then Cancer Moves Up On My List Of Health Concerns (and why I’m ok with it)

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Two years ago I figured out that a severe gluten intolerance was the culprit of my ill health (as a side note, I’m still awaiting determination if it’s Celiac Disease). By strictly modifying my diet, my ill health improved drastically.

Just over a year ago I suffered a mental breakdown and began treatment for clinical depression. Again, huge results in my mental and physical health after I started on a low dose anti-depressant.

Now, Cancer is on the forefront of my list of health concerns that I need to keep an eye out for. Warning: This is a bit of a long story.

Remember the kids’ story “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day“? The particular day in question wasn’t quite as bad as that … but it was the start of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

I woke up the last Monday of March and it was just one of those days. It was one of those days where I just feel like all I want to do is sit down and cry and there was absolutely nothing that I could think of that had set it off. Once upon a time it was a regular occurrence. Now, it only happens from time to time. I’m not sure what exactly it is that spurs it on … it could be that my anti-depressants were taken too close together or too far apart. Perhaps it was related to my monthly cycle. Who knows what triggered it. I just knew that if I got up and carried on that it would likely pass at some point throughout the day and if not, my mood/state would be reset the following day after waking up after a long nights sleep.

Later on that day I had a message from my mom saying that my dad had went for an ultrasound and something had shown up. The next day, he returned for a CT scan and the results indicated that most likely one of the polyps in his stomach had turned cancerous.

This was not 100% entirely unexpected. My father has a condition called Attenuated Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (AFAP). If left untreated, growths (called polyps) can form in the colon and turn cancerous over time. A regular colonoscopy can check for these growths and if present, they can be removed at that time. My father had his first polyp show up at the age of 40. By the time that he had turned 50 the number had multiplied so rapidly that there were hundreds of polyps in his large intestine – too many to “burn off”. As a preventative measure, he had all but a few inches of his large intestine removed. The following year polyps began forming in his stomach. And similarly, they multiplied to the hundreds. At first there were talks about removing his entire stomach, connecting his esophagus to his small intestine, a process referred to as a gastrectomy . But it would be such a huge impact to his body considering that there was only a few inches left to his large intestine, and in his particular case they expected him to be on a liquid diet and probably have to use a feeding tube. They decided to monitor at 6 month intervals with the intent that they would be able to do the surgery the minute (figuratively, that is) that the polyps started to turn. He was due to go back in a few weeks for his 6 month “inspection” but over the Fall he wasn’t feeling well, having a lot of pain, and that past week he was starting to get nauseated, in addition to the other new symptoms that he was experiencing. That’s when they put him on the fast track for the ultrasound and CT scan.

I ended up calling in to work that Wednesday and said that I wouldn’t be in. I had a lot to process.

My first thoughts were just getting him through his surgery and treatments. Then I started to think about what was to come next. I thought about how his life would be affected by no longer having a stomach (I suspect I inherited my ‘foodie’ personality from him). And then it occurred to me that if I ever do get my restaurant idea off of the ground, that my dad would not be able to enjoy the food that is prepared there. And it made me sad. My dad has always been super proud of my accomplishments and I would hate for him not to experience it in its entirety.

And then my thoughts started to shift from my dad … to my eventual fate.

I, like my dad, am gene positive for AFAP. I’ve known that I’ve had the condition since I was little, due to genetic testing. Screening for polyps started for me while I was still in high school. My dad didn’t get his first polyp until he was 40. By age 50, he had the majority of his large intestine removed. I had my first polyp at age 26. The next year I had my first polyp in my stomach. So I worry, if it progresses at the same rate as my father, will I be looking at the removal of my large intestine by age 36? Or, like with his stomach, could the polyps in my stomach multiple so quickly that I have to deal with cancer and/or have my stomach removed before I hit 40? It was a lot to take in.

Then I started to wonder “What if I get cancer and/or have my stomach removed? What happens to my restaurant dream then??”

This blog has been a component of that dream and I’ve been having so much fun doing it. My blog and dream restaurant is my passion right now. It’s what drives me.

It’s funny. That Monday morning when I woke (before any light had been shed on the extent of the worsening of my dad’s health), I had read an interesting post on Offbeat Home, “I caught that dream that I was chasing. Now what?“. I could relate to the post because: 1) the writer deals with “Imposter Syndrome” and 2) I’ve also been wondering that exact same question. Despite waking up that morning feeling bad from the start, this post was just what I needed to make my bad day feel a little brighter. I felt encouraged that morning to continue after my dream.

Despite reading that post and feeling better about my bad day, after receiving the news of my father’s predicament, it fast-tracked my future-fears of battling cancer myself. In addition to that, I started to worry about what would happen if I had to have my stomach removed. Would I even want to continue to develop this blog and/or my restaurant dream if I were unable to partake in the pleasures of food? Or, if I did achieve my dream restaurant, would I come to resent it??

Then I started to wonder “What if I can no longer enjoy food? Will I become a social hermit?”

I thought about how we love to entertain and its always based on food. True to Newfoundlander form, we’ve always been known for our “kitchen parties”. For this reason, our new home is being designed with our kitchen as our focal point of the house. It’s where we will spend the majority of our time. What if I start to despise those kitchen parties because I would feel out of place because I can’t enjoy dining with my friends?

My not-so-final thought: “Should I give up on my dream?”

This was a lot to digest for one day. I felt lost and I felt like I should give up on my dream rather than face the possibility of my dreams eventually being crushed. I had an overwhelming feeling of “what’s even the point?“.

Then I received an email response to a previous request to do a guest post on my blog. They said that they wanted to do a post on Celiac Disease and Depression, and that they had found my blog by doing a Google search. I think it was what I needed to snap me back out of the funk that I had found myself in. I started this blog as a means to help others through sharing my experiences. By labelling my blog “Food Allergies Etcetera”, the etcetera portion has allowed me to delve into the topic of mental health. And I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who have read my posts related to mental illness because they could truly identify with what I had experienced, and they found that they now had someone else who knew what they were personally experiencing. So what, if at some point I may not be able to enjoy food and share in foodie experiences. Perhaps this blog will morph into something else that is useful to others … perhaps it will serve as a connection point for others with AFAP/FAP, or perhaps it will be a vessel to share my future story of cancer prevention and/or survival.

On the first Friday of April (funny how April just happens to be cancer awareness month), my dad received confirmation that, since his last 6 month inspection, he had cancer in his stomach. His GI surgeon advised that he would not be doing  the gastrectomy at this time and that chemo was the better treatment option. A referral was made to see an oncologist, to discuss chemo. Things have moved very fast and it’s already been just under three weeks since he started treatment and he is doing well with it. Other than being fatigued, he’s not felt sick, has no pain, has stopped losing weight, has regained his appetite and is able to enjoy food just as he always has. And best of all, he still has a full head of thick hair that any 58 year old would be envious of 😉. Hopefully this is an indication of the effectiveness of the treatment!

It’s been a month since that horrible, no good, very bad day … but since then, I’ve stumbled across this article about a young woman in her 20s who decided to have a gastrectomy, and it was quite positive. I also found the No Stomach For Cancer website which has a lot of valuable information, including this overview of a Gastrectomy (You’ll find a lot of useful info related to life during and after a gastrectomy. Just hover over “Gastric Cancer” at the top menu, then hover over “Life Without a Stomach” and you’ll find 4 subpages). In addition to this, I was connected with someone (who I’ll be meeting in the coming weeks) who also decided to have a gastrectomy because she knew that stomach cancer was imminent (due to genetic markers) and she claims that the surgery saved her life (in addition to many other of members of her family). I think she will be a huge resource should I ever decide to go that route in the future. As a result, I’m starting to feel that although having a future Gastrectomy would be life altering, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

My final thought: “You know what? … this situation isn’t as bad as it sounds”

I know the information that I’ve laid out in this post is a bit much to take in … and it sounds like a sad story. But I’m not letting it manifest that way for me. I know our family can beat this. I had a bit of an epiphany moment and its really helped me to deal with the whole situation:

Everyone has their expiry dates. If my eventual fate was to be hit by a bus and killed in a months time, I’d have no idea … And would go on living as if I had years to accomplish what I want to accomplish in life, only to be cut short of those accomplishments. Now I get to live as though I don’t have all the time in the world, it will motivate me to be healthier, appreciate life more and make the best of it.

I wouldn’t come out and be as cocky to say “bring it on!” to cancer … but if it happens to me I’ll be ready for it. I live a relatively healthy life, and am consciously aware of my physical and mental states. I’ve learned over the years that I need to listen to my mental and physical needs. If something seems to be wrong, I’ll immediately arrange to have it checked out. Perhaps in the years to come I’ll be pro-active and have a partial or full gastrectomy, if it looks like it will reduce my risk of developing cancer. I’m upbeat and positive and have an amazingly huge support network in my life, including a fantastic local-gone-national Non-Profit Organization called Young Adult Cancer Canada. I’ve been supporting this group since I’ve discovered it in 2009 and take comfort in knowing the fantastic support that they give to young adults dealing with cancer. I’m not in despair by the recent series of events … I am motivated and I am ready for whatever life has to dish out to me! 🙂

Have you, or someone close to you, had a gastrectomy, been affected by stomach/colorectal cancer, or are a cancer survivor? If so, care to share any advice?

Thanks for reading. As you may or may not have noticed, I recently took a short hiatus from blogging. I have a feeling that for the time being I might continue with this break or at least not blog as actively … although there is potential for some guest posts to pop up from time to time.

Also, positive thoughts are appreciated for our family at this time.

xo

Krista

Having suffered through depression, I’ve been guilty of more than one of these Cognitive Distortions.

Amanda, from Celiac and Allergy Adventures has done a great job of making the connection between Cognitive Distortions, Celiac Disease, Food Allergies and Eczema! Check out the whole article on her blog 🙂

Bell Aliant breaks a Guinness World Records™ Title for Mental Health

You may have seen my post for Bell’s Let’s Talk Day where I shared my story on how I’ve struggled with and am overcoming my clinical depression. If not, I invite you to read it, or learn about what Bell Let’s Talk Day is all about by visiting the official website: http://letstalk.bell.ca.

Thanks to all my friends and family who texted, tweeted, Facebook shared or made long distance calls that day to help shrink the mental stigma while raising money for mental health initiatives in Canada. You guys are AWESOME!!! x1000 🙂

Bell Let's Talk Day 2013 Results http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2013 Results http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

How To Add More Passion Into Your Life, Today!

Hot off the press: How To Add More Passion Into Your Life, Today!.

This is a great blog post from Around & About with NLOWE. You may be wondering what this has to do with Food Allergies …. ? Well, nothing actually. Mental health and wellbeing is an important topic to me and I thought this was a great post on finding more passion in your life. For me personally, exploring my passion in life is one of the key factors that has allowed me to regain control of my emotions and thoughts … it’s helped me to become more mentally fit. And most importantly, happy.

I added the term et cetera to the title of my blog so that it wouldn’t just restrict me to food allergies and dietary restrictions, so that I could explore other topics and share my life experiences and what I’ve learned along the way. Sneaky, huh? If you want to understand a little better about what my hopes and goals are for this blog, you can find various posts under the “Origins” category which will help paint a better picture.

If you feel like your life has been lacking passion lately, check out the above blog post link 🙂

Bell Let’s Talk Day: Shrinking The Mental Illness Stigma

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It’s February 12. Let’s talk.

Today, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives across Canada for every:

  1. Text message sent*
  2. Long distance call made*
  3. Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
  4. Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image

* By a Bell or Bell Aliant customer.

So how exactly did Bell’s Let’s Talk Day come about? It was an initiative that was started in 2010 when the company announced that it would be contributing $50 million over the next 5 years to support mental health initiatives in Canada. There are four areas of focus for this initiative and include:

  1. workplace mental health
  2. research
  3. community care and access
  4. anti-stigma

Recognizing that simply talking makes a significant impact in breaking down the barriers to mental health, the campaign encourages people to “start the conversation” about mental health and engage in dialogue with friends, family and co-workers.

Last year during Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, I was just getting ready to return to work after a 2 month sick leave period for depression. I thought that the campaign was a great way to just let it all loose, and announce to friends and family (who weren’t in the loop) why exactly I was on leave. I decided to make a post on my Facebook Page and link it to the Let’s Talk Campaign website. I shared my story about my battle with depression and was very open and honnest about it. Many people later commented to me saying how brave I was to just put it all out there on Facebook … for everyone to see.

To me, it didn’t seem like an act of bravery. In fact, it seemed to be quite the opposite in my head. I had been so secretive of my battle with the disease for so long that I was tired of keeping it a secret anymore. To announce it to everyone, was like a release. It was a weight that I no longer had to carry. Energy that would no longer be lost.

I know what it feels like to be depressed. I once heard the expression “Depression Lies” … and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had several battles with depression throughout my life and each time I was in denial of how big the situation really was. I wasn’t ready to accept it. I wasn’t ready to deal with it. … So I tried to suppress it as much as I could in an attempt to hide it from family and friends. In high school my depression convinced me that I didn’t fit in, that everyone was laughing at me behind my back and that I couldn’t trust anyone. It was this paranoia that convinced me that I wasn’t, nor ever would be, accepted. I felt so lonely during those years …. and in hindsight, I only had my depression to blame. If I had the courage back then to work through my paranoias, perhaps I’d have a happier outlook on those years.

In University, these negative thoughts started to go away as I met new friends through my degree. It was like a fresh start. But this only lasted a few years before the negative self talk and paranoia started to bubble up again. But this time, my depression started to lie to me in different ways. It realized that telling me that I would never fit in was no longer applicable as I had clearly integrated myself into a tight-knit social circle as I went through my degree. This time my depression was more clever. It started attacking me with the idea that I was no longer an intelligent person. These paranoias started getting worse over time and soon it started to affect my study habits and my grades. By the end of my degree I was an emotional wreck on the inside and was regularly breaking down behind shut doors. I was so careful to keep this battle a secret that none of my closest friends had any idea. Nor did my family. It was a heavy burden to carry.

When I started my full time job following graduation, I was convinced that I obviously must have just “lucked” into my position. I was convinced that people were talking about me behind my back. I was convinced that the water-cooler conversations were about how everything that I was doing was wrong and how worthless my work was. I was so paranoid, in fact, that there were certain co-workers who I would actively avoid passing in the corridor because just the mere sight of them would switch on, with full force, the negative self-talk that I just wished would go away. If this meant taking the long way to get to the meeting room to do it, or prolonging going to their floor until I knew they were in the middle of a meeting, that’s what I would do.

This paranoia was getting so much worse that I started to notice a trend of mini-meltdowns that would begin in the Fall and end around the end of January. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve locked myself in my office, and just cried from merely being overwhelmed by all the negative emotion. And the worst part was that my employer had only good things to say about my work. Never had anyone complained about my work and many saw me as a great resource to our team. But my depression wouldn’t let me hear this. My depression would filter this information and irrationally convince me that my superiors were just being polite.

So I can totally agree with the statement: depression lies.

Eventually, I had the biggest meltdown of all time and as a result, I gave in as I accepted that my doctor was writing me off of work for an extended period. You can read about the particular events that finally pushed me over the edge and inevitably led to my big breakdown in my post entitled “How Our Wedding Indirectly Inspired Food Allergies Etcetera“, as well as the actual positives that I took away from the whole experience.

I am sharing my story in hopes that people understand that depression does lie, and to reassure that it feels fantastic to let go of all the heaviness. I hope that if you are going through something even remotely similar that you can find someone to talk about it with. A family member, a friend, or simply an acquaintance. The biggest thing that I realized when I accepted and started opening up about my depression is that everyone can relate. Nearly everyone who I’ve spoken with has mentioned some point in their lives that they’ve had a bout of depression …. some to the point where it required medication. In other cases, they’ve mentioned that they have had a close family member or friend battle it. But you’ll never find those connections if you don’t talk. 

So what are you waiting for, Canada? Let’s talk and shrink the stigma associated with mental illness! 😀

xo

Krista

“Quack! Quack! Naturopath Attack!”

Good. Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk about my experience with Naturopaths.

The title of this post might mislead you to think that I’m making fun of naturopaths. This is absolutely not the case – there is a story behind the title.

First of all, I enjoy the word Quack. Its on my Favourite Words List (yes, I have a list, and Quack just happens to be on it … along with squirrel (as in to “squirrel away” money), kerchief, marjoram, epiphany and shenanigans).

Secondly, the title is related to an email from my friend, Sharon.

In 2012, about a year after I visited a naturopath for the first time, Sharon was asking about the experience. She was very interested in the test that the naturopath performed and decided to get the contact details from me. She later made an appointment for herself and was extremely excited about her assessment. A few weeks went by and in the same afternoon as her appointment, she sent me an email.

Now, there are two thing that you need to know about Sharon:

  1. she can get excitably enthusiastic about things that interest her
  2. she has a love of rhyming.

So when her email came in describing her excitement of her naturopath experience and her results, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had titled the email “Quack! Quack! Naturopath Attack!” (she said had she had more time, she would have come up with a better title).

Like myself, Sharon loved “the quack”. She had planned on asking her thoughts about a book that she had read called “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” but the naturopath actually brought it up before Sharon had a change to mention it. She also asked if she was tired when checking her adrenals and when Sharon mentioned feeling like she could have a nap in the middle of the day and just attributed it to hating her job, the naturopath went on a long (but positive) rant on how Sharon should quit her job and find something that she loved. Sharon left the appointment feeling incredibly inspired 🙂

So how did I decide that I should try out a naturopath? I told the story in my previous post “I started a what!?!“. During my initial visit, I was a little skeptical of the apparatus that she used. Perhaps it’s the engineer in me. But I think I’m a little more right-brained than the typical engineer and as a result, I was able to let that out of my mind and just go with the flow. And as I explained in my previous post, she hit the nail on the head with a lot of her results.

I went back to this naturopath several times, and even had my aunt and my guy try them out. My aunt followed her advice for a month or so, but found the restrictions a little hard due to living in a small town and found the remedies that she had to purchase to be expensive. My guy felt similarly about the cost of the remedies and just didn’t have the motivation to avoid all of the things that he had been instructed on. We all left the appointments with a list of all of the things to avoid. And it was a very long list of things. With no real indication of how much these foods affected us. Just a list instructing us to not eat this, this, … and this.

When I was on sick leave from work for depression the first two months of 2012 (see How Our Wedding Indirectly Inspired Food Allergies Etcetera post), I was seeing my psychologist once a week. During this time, I started talking about what I was passionate about and I started talking about my restaurant ideas for a restaurant that caters to people with food allergies and other dietary restrictions. My psychologist found this idea to be extremely interesting and shared with me that she would love if such a place were to open in St. John’s because she is vegetarian but also has extreme chemical sensitivities and can only eat organic foods. Knowing that I was keen on naturopaths, she recommended the naturopath that has treated her. She told me that I would LOVE her because of her emphasis on the foods that we eat to treat our ailments versus expensive remedies. She gave me her contact info but it was months before I actually made an appointment to see her.

I’d like to introduce to you Dr. Eddi Kenny, ND, PhD, RN. Dr. Eddi has over 25 years experience in the health care field and you can find out more about her background on her About Page on her company website Innergy – Center for Health & Stress Management. According to the Innergy website, Dr. Eddi covers:

  • nutritional guidance
  • meridian stress assessment
  • integrative lifestyle
  • whole body & mind balance
  • health management & lifestyle
  • stress management & techniques
  • preventative medicine, and
  • innovative approaches to energy

I think this list should be revised to include “life coach”. Dr. Eddi seems interested in helping you figure out what you need to do when you’ve lost that “spark”.  Not sure what I’m talking about? I’ll give you an example.

Immediately after my first session with Dr. Eddi I immediately thought of two people who would totally benefit from a session with Dr. Eddi. One of which was a work colleague …. lets just call her “Jocelyn”. Jocelyn used to have a lot of pep. But over the years her energy and spirit just seemed to have dissipated. Jocelyn was having a lot of issues and it sounded like they may have been diet related. I used this as a way to weasel in the idea of her making an appointment with Dr. Eddi. And she took the bait! It was some number of weeks before she was able to see Dr. Eddi but when Jocelyn returned to work the next day she seemed very enthusiastic about what Dr. Eddi had recommended. The biggest chance that Jocelyn made based on Dr. Eddi’s advice was to cut out chocolate and dairy as her testing indicated that Jocelyn did not react well to those two particular items. Within a few weeks of following Dr. Eddi’s advice, I noticed that the old “Jocelyn” was finally starting to emerge. Her energy was returning, she didn’t appear to be as negative in her thoughts, she was getting more easily excited. She was so happy about the positive results and there was a sudden influx of energy. On times it seemed like she was hyper, there were so many things bouncing around in her head. I really knew that the old Jocelyn was back when she came into my office and told me that she was taking drum lessons. And was loving it! It was great to finally see Jocelyn feeling happy again because the old Jocelyn had been away for far too long. Dr. Eddi was instrumental in helping Jocelyn find her spark again! 🙂

I also made an appointment recently for my guy to see Dr. Eddi for an assessment. He’s been complaining of digestive issues for months, has had very little energy, trouble sleeping, and just didn’t feel balanced in life. I wasn’t too sure about how he was going to find the session, but he actually came out of it very positively and was ready to do what Dr. Eddi suggested and actually has carried through with making those necessary changes. He’s starting out slow but so far has been able to stick to the first few changes that he made. He also felt like Dr. Eddi was coaching him more than directing him like he felt like with the previous naturopath.

The assessment that is performed is a Meridian Stress Assessment. It’s also known as a bio-energetic/electro dermal screening. Basically it uses acupressure points on the body and the results are inputted into a computer analysis in order to give a detailed evaluation of your body’s imbalances, according to Dr. Eddi’s webpage. I like that you can see the testing as it is happening, which was different from the session with the previous naturopath where it was all performed behind your back. At the end, Dr. Eddi prints out a report and goes through it in detail with you. It also gives you a visual to help you quickly see the areas in which your body is balanced, weakened or stressed, which I really liked because you get a feel for how much the items actually affect you. With the other naturopath, we were simply instructed to stay away without a real sense for how much it negatively affected us.

Partial view shown for an indication of the results generated from my Meridian Stress Assessment

Partial view shown for an indication of the results generated from my Meridian Stress Assessment

Above is a partial snapshot of each page of the report. The left hand of each page is cut off but I more or less included it to give an indication of the possible number of readings versus showing the particular items that were tested for me, personally. One thing that I noticed was that there were differences between what was reported on my report versus my guy’s report. This is because the analysis is catered to the individual based on her initial conversations with the patient. The first thing that the report displays is your base point readings. It’s basically an indication of how the various systems in your body (e.g. Endocrine system, nervous system, lungs, intestines, skin, pancreas, kidneys, joints, etc.) are functioning. The report then lists your “holds” readings. The categories tested will vary from person to person, but in my case it included various hormones, acids, minerals, food groups/categories,  vertebrae stresses, and fungual readings. Apparently right now I have an issue with yeast and acidity and she recommended that I do a cleanse to help clear it up. I’m actually starting Renew Life Cleanse Smart this week, which I recently picked up from Whole Health, so I’ll be interested in seeing how well the product worked when I return for a follow-up session.

The other thing that I really liked was instead of prescribing certain supplements or remedies, she just advised us how to eat better so that we could compensate in the areas that our body was weakened. For example, the results showed that my circulation was weakened so she advised me to eat more “warming” foods such as using cumin, curry, cayenne, cardamom, turmeric, etc. in our meals. She also advised me to incorporate more avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, chia seeds and hemp hearts into my diet in order to boost up my Omega fatty acids. My iron was also low so she suggested foods to incorporate to boost my iron levels.

Dr. Eddi was also talked a lot with me about finding passion in my life and was thrilled when I told her of my recent meltdown and (well, it wasn’t necessarily the meltdown that she was thrilled about, but) how I had used that experience to become more in tune with what my mind and body need and that I’ve become more self-aware. She also enjoyed my ideas for my future restaurant that caters to people with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Like I said earlier, I feel like Dr. Eddi is not just a naturopath, but a life coach to boot!

The sessions can be quite expensive so check with your health insurance to see if naturopathic/homeopathic assessments are covered. If your insurance covers it, and you can afford it, I highly recommend setting up an appointment with Dr. Eddi …. especially if you’re feeling a bit lost, out of sorts, and not quite sure what else to do to get your life back on track. I’m more than positive that she’ll be able to get your health and stress back on track!!

Cheers to our physical & mental health!

Krista.

How Our Wedding Indirectly Inspired Food Allergies Etcetera

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In a nutshell:

Wedding. Depression. Medical Leave (for said Depression). A Restaurant Idea. A trip to Winners. An online Business Plan Course. A Blog.

So exactly how are all of these related, you may ask?

Up until we got engaged, I dreaded the thought of getting married – I would shutter at the thought of a traditional wedding. I like being unique and true to myself ….. a real roadblock when it comes to a traditional event. Once I realized that I was ready to get married, I decided that I would plan the wedding just the way that we wanted it: relaxed, fun, bright and colourful – and just as much about showing others a good time as having a good time ourselves.

I had so much fun planning our wedding. And the day turned out perfect! It truly was an awesome day, not only for us, but for everyone who attended. It was so awesome in fact, that OffbeatBride.com did a feature on our wedding story. Please read our story here so that you get a bit of the background story of how our wedding led to Food Allergies Etcetera. As you would have come to learn from the “What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?” section, it was after our wedding that I realized that I need to be more creative and be able to work on something that I’m truly passionate about. At the time I realized that my current job wasn’t igniting a passion in me like I had come to realize that I needed. For a while I felt quite lost…. To the point that I stooped into a deep depression. Realizing that I had a very comfortable life, a well paid job with security, and the fact that I wasn’t satisfied with it made me feel like I was being a spoiled brat who couldn’t be grateful for what was placed in front of me. And these negative, self-defeating thoughts (which were fueled by the depression) only caused me to sink even further into depression. It was a very nasty cycle. But a secretive one at that. There were few who I had let in on my dark little disease, until it got so bad that I had a severe enough mental breakdown to make me not mentally or physically fit enough to continue working (I’d had many mini-breakdowns almost annually for the past several years, but none were of this severity). My doctor had written me off on medical leave for a month. I hadn’t dreamed that I would have lasted for two full months.

While I was on sick leave my doctor had started me on a mild anti-depressant. I had no idea what I was in for in that first month. I knew there would be side-effects but didn’t realize that I would have zero energy during the day while unable to sleep at night. Sleeping was one of those things that I said that I did best. Now, all of a sudden I wasn’t even good at that anymore. But I was told that I would feel worse before I felt better while waiting for my body to adjust to the meds. In the beginning I could barely pull myself from the couch I felt so bad. I’d spend my days alternating between playing iPhone games, scanning through Facebook, and imagining a restaurant where I could go to eat that catered to people with food allergies so that I didn’t have to worry about getting sick. What a wonderful place that would be! If only it existed 😦

Once I hit the 1month mark, I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor. I figured she was going to suggest that I was well enough to return to work (I was starting to adjust to the medication, after all). To my surprise, she said that I was only just starting to adjust to my meds and that it’s not until week 7, 8 or even 9 before I could expect to feel the full effect of the medication. I walked in feeling a bit stressed about the idea of returning to work, but walked out more relaxed because I knew I still had more time to adjust to my medication, as well as focus on some self-awareness/self-help reading. One of the books that I read while I was off was “Be Your Own Life Coach” by Jeff Archer. I found this book to be very helpful.

One day when I was feeling a bit better I decided to take trip to the mall to do some errands. I decided to pop into Winners to check out (what I jokingly call) the “Freaky People” aisle (the one with all the Gluten-Free, natural/organic products). Once I was in the store and was on my way to my aisle, I happened to walk past the kitchenware section. My eye caught a glimpse of a “Happy Blue” metal stacked dessert stand and I thought “That would look fantastic in a restaurant ….. I should buy that”

…… I could swear that I heard a record needle fall off of it’s record at that exact moment. I didn’t have a restaurant!! What was I thiking?!?

It was like I had an epiphany. That idea that I was dreaming up in my head for that restaurant that I was dying for to open, the one that catered to people with food allergies – maybe this was my sign that I was meant to be that person to open it! And with that, I found my passion. My drive. I couldn’t stop talking about my idea. And people were starting to notice how excited about it I was. My hair stylist once commented to me, after going on and on about it for a half hour, that “I haven’t seen you this excited since you were planning your wedding. And your eyes light up the same way when you talk about it!” Her comment not only made me smile, it also made me feel warm and tingly on the inside …. Like a sign that this is the direction that I am supposed to move in. When I think of my future restaurant, I see a world of colour and happiness. And content. 🙂

So, knowing that I couldn’t just jump into the restaurant business, I decided to take my leave from work to complete an online course on writing a successful business plan. And also to learn what dietary restrictions local people have and the challenges that they are faced with when trying to eat out – ergo, the Food Allergies Etcetera blog. 🙂

At the end of the 2 month leave, I returned to work on an ease-back period. My responsibilities were altered after it was realized that it was the area of work that I was previously doing that was causing such a personality clash for me. I could do the line of work, but it was such a stretch for my personality and natural line of thought that it was draining the life out of me. I was so good at hiding what I was going through that no one at my place of work had the slightest idea of how much I was suffering, mentally. After my leave I was honest with them and they were able to modify my scope so that I was working on projects that came more naturally to me. As a result, I’m back to working full time and enjoying it, but I’m still working on my blog in my spare time. Eventually, I hope to develop my restaurant idea, find someone to manage it for me, and put my plan in motion. Until then, I’m going to continue blogging and help those around the city find places that give them delicious options, despite having dietary restrictions. And I’ll continue to dream up colourful ideas for my restaurant, “Etcetera”! 🙂

Copyright: Charla Maarschalk – Charla.ca