Problems with my health began at menarche when I was only 11 years old. Even back in the 1970s people knew this was very early for a girl to begin menstruation. I experienced trouble with my weight and moods from that point forward. Monthly, I would blackout or have out of body experiences. I thought I was crazy and would be taken away if I told anyone what was happening. Thank goodness my mother has some good instincts. She would not let doctors put me on antipsychotic drugs and she found a specialist that was confident she could help me.
The PMS specialist did find a glaring issue with my blood work. I made absolutely not a speck of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone critical for emotional and physical balance during the intense hormone changes that occur near a woman’s monthly cycle. A few months before I saw this doctor, I began keeping a diary. I used my diary to keep track of what days I’d be incapacitated due to my hormones: at first it was five days per month then eventually 2 weeks per month. I also kept track of when to take the proper doses of progesterone to keep my cycle as balanced as possible. I kept this diary for over 30 years. This was a tedious and time consuming task I wanted to end!
During my 20s I was able to control most of my symptoms with exercise and did not have to take any supplemental progesterone. But after my career picked up, I wasn’t able to keep up the amount of exercise I required to keep my moods stable and bleeding manageable. So, I had to go back on progesterone. In my experience, our modern medical system does not believe that women can have hormone imbalances. My doctor didn’t even give me a blood test to look for these possibilities. I was only offered antidepressants and mood stabilizers to deal with my symptoms. They made things worse, causing a speedy 50 pound weight gain and medically induced adenomyosis (when the endometrial cells grow into the muscle tissue of the uterine lining and create an excessive amount of inflammation resulting in excruciating pain).
After seven years of these treatments and many doctors later, the result was pain so bad I no longer wanted to live. I was even told that the adenomyosis would only get worse with age. I ate a standard American diet at the time and believed I had to eat animal products every meal or I’d become hypoglycemic. But I was willing to try anything at that point so I researched new ways of eating and a whole new world opened up for me. A world that restored hope!
My live, plant-based journey began April 13th 2007, and since then many of the symptoms I experienced have either greatly reduced or completely gone away. While my body was healing from the side effects of dozens of prescription medications, a few issues still were not clear. I was still gaining up to 10 pounds of water weight a month and bleeding more than my body could reproduce before my next cycle. I was suffering from anemic conditions and impairing fatigue. In February 2013, I feared I would lose my job because I could hardly function. Using food as medicine works completely in many cases but my body was so worn down from years of imbalance that I required extra help.
At the time, I was working on a speaking project with Dr. Jonathan Murphy at An Oasis of Healing. He saw the imbalance and heard my symptoms. I asked if a test existed that would show my hormones over a month. He said it was a common test and he’d order it for me. My first thought was, “A common test? Then why, after 30 years of searching, had no other doctor suggested it?”
After seeing the test results from the 30-day hormone panel, another issue came to light. My testosterone and DHEA levels were off the chart. Dr. Murphy recognized this as a 21-hydroxylase conversion syndrome and told me that it’s actually common for 1 in 60 women. There is a test that can confirm it so I took that test too. After the results came back from that test, Dr. Murphy saw just how much the 30 years of unbalanced hormone conversion took a toll on my adrenal system. I was basically one stage away from complete adrenal burnout. The test confirmed that I was indeed converting all of my progesterone and cortisol into testosterone and DHEA.
After 30 years of searching, a simple little 20mg pill of hydrocortisone now allows my body to convert properly and my adrenals to rest and recover. So you see, I have a new story now. The old has past. I am finally experiencing balance. Homeostasis is the balancing system the body is always striving for so that we can thrive, not just survive. I feel the difference now. I feel so blessed, so filled with gratitude to have this experience. I am SO grateful for doctors like Dr. Murphy who practice to find truth and real solutions!
I look forward to my daily meditation now because I don’t fall asleep anymore. I look forward to assisting my adrenals in healing by doing gentle exercise and stretching instead of pushing myself to extremes. I know that I am on my way to achieving the flexibility and strength I had when I was doing endurance sports and gymnastics before things got out of hand on all the wrong medicines. My goal is to be able to do a front walkover and a back walkover as well as getting back into cycling as soon as possible.
My old story has now passed. I have come to a new era of my existence thanks in part to Dr. Murphy, as well as my faith in the superpowers of my body to heal when given the right tools. Personally, I don’t want to rely on any pharmaceuticals. But I’ve learned that the tools I need for wellness are a balance of diet, self-care, and small-dose medications. We live in extreme times with more chemical exposure than ever, so sometimes it takes extreme measures to get the healing we want.
That is a fact I see at the clinic daily. The chemical exposure in our modern day world frequently requires stronger treatment than what nature can offer. Although we may not want to use pharmaceuticals or strong chemicals sometimes they’re necessary to tip the body balance back into health. Once we get back into a space that’s less toxic the body can takeover again. Nature is gentle, precise, and efficient.