Tuesday, February 25, 2014

trip to naturopath- warning, long post!

I did something super exciting today, people: I saw a naturopath for the first time ever! As I am actually studying to become a naturopath and have a whole host of health issues that the regular doctors haven't managed to clear up with their onslaught of chemicals and antibiotics (surprise, surprise) I decided to make an appointment with the lovely Ally from Woden Wellness Centre to get my health back on track. Before I get into it, I will give you a bit of a history so you can understand why I have been such a frequent customer at the doctor's office (although I do not in any way want to come across as a "sick" person, because I am aware that there are a lot of people with problems much worse than mine!).

Just a handful of my new treatment plan...excited!

Basically, I have been feeling pretty lousy and exhausted for the past three years. I have felt fatigued, anxious and depressed, with recurring infections (especially eye infections), minor skin rashes, swollen lymph nodes, unexplained abdominal pain which had me in the hospital twice, dizziness and the occasional fainting episode, and stubborn bouts of thrush that no doctor-prescribed medicine could completely get rid of. I believe my immune system was and still is pretty run-down, and I ended up contracting glandular fever last year that knocked me around to say the least. Doctors have suggested that I feel so shitty due to post-viral chronic fatigue syndrome, health issues stemming from severe endogenous depression (I am still medicated for this) and even irritable bowel syndrome.

How I feel a lot of the time

This past fortnight I caught a virus that left me virtually bedridden for three days, and hung around for three weeks; this past fortnight alone I have had to visit the doctor three times at between $75-$130 a pop. On top of that, I have been prescribed several different medications to try and band-aid up my symptoms- the last medication I bought was $85 for a few weeks' worth. And guess what? I don't feel any better, and I definitely don't feel reassured in the slightest that any of their tablets or creams will help me heal for the long term. 

I tried to treat myself

I have really tried to give my body the best chance it can to heal itself, but I am only a semester into my studies and am very much still a novice at this holistic healing game. I changed my diet to plant-based vegan (as you know), which I think has helped a lot with the thrush and the abdominal pain (I think eliminating yoghurt was the best thing I ever did). I introduced a daily probiotic to my diet to try and crowd out the nasty microflora and restore my gut health and immune system. 

I self-prescribed natural anti-fungal supplements like pau d'arco and garlic, and drank calendula tea made from dried flowers. I avoided refined sugar and grains. I culled my skincare and make-up down to coconut oil, organic herbal shampoo and a couple of organic vegan lip balms and concealers (this was actually an ethical move too, due to my vegan lifestyle). I will try almost anything to try and make myself feel well. But even with all my efforts, I know that I am still unwell and I have a lot of difficulty recovering when I do get sick. 

Gluten-free pasta from now on (this was delicious!)

I feel like a pain in the ass and my social life has suffered immensely as a result of just not "feeling up to it." I used to go to house parties and fall asleep two hours in! I still feel that I am a burden on my beautiful fiance, who has been crazily patient and cares for me like no other; he has been known to drive half an hour to the chemist at eleven at night to bring me antibiotic drops for my eye infections! My family have also been very supportive and sympathetic to my plight, although I'm sure I bore them with my complaints sometimes!

Hi Dad!

Today's naturopathic consultation with Ally was admittedly an expensive appointment, but I feel that seeing a natural, holistic practitioner and purchasing supplements and herbal tinctures is justified and I believe in it. After reading my health history and a self-assessment, she ran a reflex test (98% accurate!) which revealed a diagnosis of hypothyroidism (also known as an underactive thyroid), which explains a lot of the symptoms I have been experiencing. My results were apparently pretty bad, so I am glad that I am starting to get on top of it now. She has given me information on the condition, explained some dietary changes I can make to give my thyroid the best chance possible, and prescribed iodine, magnesium powder, vitamin B supplements, vitamin D supplements and a herbal tincture to help my body and immune system begin to heal itself.

The "witches brew" she made for me

I will see her again in three weeks to check my progress and tweak the doses if need be. In the meantime, I have to start eating my kale and spinach cooked instead of raw (bye bye, green smoothies; they have actually been worsening my situation instead of improving it by blocking my thyroid hormones!) and try to cut out gluten. I am excited for this step forward for my health, not least because it is now around a month until my wedding and I want to be feeling and looking my best!

I'll have to limit my raw kale now- sad!
If you have zoned out by now, I apologise, but I just personally find all this health stuff so interesting! Making discoveries about yourself and your body is fascinating. Yes, I am a nerd. What an interesting day I have had. On a completely unrelated note, I also had the most amazing bath today with apple cider vinegar and coconut oil (but I figured the hypothyroidism would be more interesting to read about. I do have really soft skin though).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

different focus

Prior to braces, the thing that monopolized most of my thoughts and time was probably food. Vegan food, to be exact. That's the reason this blog exists, so I can talk about vegan food; I have been vegan for a little over seven months now, and I still love everything about the lifestyle. Unfortunately, post-braces (and it has only been a few days!), I feel like all I can focus on is my teeth. 

If I created a pie chart dividing up the day's activities (e.g. sleeping, studying, bathing, spending time with family), I estimate that an 80% chunk of that chart would be labelled "stuff to do with my teeth." I want to bring my focus back to food, vegan food, raw vegan food, and have fun in the kitchen (and in my mouth) again! I am sick of soft food. I am sick of mouth ulcers. I want salad and blue corn chips.

Okay, rant over. I promise that this will be a relatively dental-free zone from this day forward. And, somewhat satisfyingly, the photograph below of my breakfast is a meal that I ate regularly pre-braces. Thank God for some food normalcy. 

Soaked chia seeds, fresh mango and coconut yoghurt

Sunday, February 16, 2014

happy belated valentine's day!

I am sadly still a little bit miserable as I have been very ill this week, and I got my braces put on a few days ago. It has been an interesting learning curve.

My bottom braces are labial (meaning, regular ones) but my top braces are lingual (behind my teeth); this means that I have a major lisp and am contending with a raw, sore tongue. My tongue makes me want to cry! I did however get through a fancy Valentine's Day date with Luke the day after the braces, and I felt very proud. My technique at the moment is mashing my food up against the roof of my mouth and then swallowing. Winning! The restaurant prepared a special vegan menu just for me, so I was going to eat the food even if I had to go without chewing. I was so relieved when the main was a baked potato with some nice soft risotto. It was my favourite dish of the night, just delicious.

Romantic roses from my partner (in crime!)

Thanks, Benchmark!

I can't eat very much, and have been blending almost everything in my Vitamix (in hindsight, how clever was I to purchase one- it's the gift that keeps on giving!). Living on green smoothies, blended-up soaked oats with banana, chia seed gel pudding, and baked sweet potato. Luke kindly bought me four different varieties of baby food yesterday too, so I will definitely be giving those a go.

This mix of banana, oats and dates actually tasted awesome, but I miss chewing

Now I am going back to bed to rest up and try to kick this illness. I am on antibiotics now too, which I am not too happy about because I am a bit paranoid about the effective genocide of all my good symbiotic bacteria along with the nasty, infection-causing ones. I am just going to seriously up my probiotic intake (two a day, as I usually take one a day anyway). I told you, paranoid! Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

so sick!

I have been pretty sick for a week now, so I don't have much exciting news to pass on in the way of vegan food. I tend to become very restrictive with food when I get sick, which isn't great news for my palate, imagination or digestive system. 

I have done one new thing though- I've started having a tablespoon of organic unsulphured blackstrap molasses every morning with a glass of orange juice (iron absorbs better if you have it with vitamin c) to help my iron and hopefully get some more energy. I will let you know how it goes (Mum, have you started doing this too?).

My other bed buddy

Due to being so darn queasy this week, I have been disgustingly boring with food. My grand raw 'til four plans have been put on the shelf because I can't bring myself to eat salad (or much at all, really). Devastating! All I want to eat are plain vegetable Subway sandwiches and soaked chia seeds with fruit.

Can't wait until I'm all better to throw myself into life again.

Friday, February 7, 2014

the latest with me

So this post is a little overdue; I wrote it a few days ago but had to run off to work and neglected to press "publish" before I left. So, what's been happening (I hear you ask)? Well, I have been sick for the last few days so have mostly just been lying in bed reading with the fan on, trying not to throw up and generally feeling sorry for myself.

Luke bought me some expensive coconut milk ice cream from the health food shop today ("German Chocolate" flavour, whatever that means) because I think he felt a little bit sorry for me. And because he loves me. But I have admittedly been a bit of a misery guts.

Then this happened. My bad!

Anyway, pints of delicious German ice cream and whole-body aches aside, last week was actually super fun and awesome and kicks the last few sick days out of my mind. I will fill you in.

Firstly I caught a bus down to Sydney (a three and a half hour drive) for the Wellness Warrior tour with Mum: it was excellent, although I would have liked Jessica to go into a bit more detail about her experience with Gerson therapy. They talked a lot about "balance." The special guests were Melissa Ambrosini (as I predicted), musician Wes Carr and celebrity chef Pete Evans. I was thrilled to receive a green juice to sip during the night, too- nice touch! Hanging out with Mum was the best.

Mum and I in Sydney
Our little hotel room

Luke picked us up from the bus terminal when we got back and then we went straight to the coast with Toto for the night. 

It was amazing to be in the ocean; I find myself craving it a lot of the time and find that it does wonders for my anxiety. Our poor little dog did not fare so well; she hated her experience in the sea, and clawed our skin raw trying to cling to us. That night we trawled Bateman's Bay for a vegan meal for dinner, but they are pretty hopeless in that regard so I just ate some vegetable sushi that Luke had bought for me earlier, and shared a big bowl of fresh watermelon snuggled up on the coach. That is my idea of heaven right there.

As soon as we got back from the coast I had to quickly shower, pack a suitcase full of clothes, and head to a salon to get my makeup professionally done before meeting the photographer for my modelling portfolio shoot. Very cool!

Waiting to get my makeup done

First it was thirty-nine degrees outside, then it bucketed down rain for the shoot. Lovely. It was a lot of fun and I hope we got some good shots in! I spent a lot of time tottering around in a tight little dress and high heels dragging a suitcase almost bigger than me, trying to dodge the rain and keep my hair and makeup intact. The photographer Emily said that any modelling shoot from then on would feel like a breeze. She was so lovely- thanks for being so kind and fun on the day, Emily!

Later that night Luke and I had a special reservation for my birthday dinner (that's right, I turned twenty four) at a fancy wine restaurant. I wore the same clothes and make-up as I had at the photo shoot as I had no time to get changed! It was a beautiful night, and the chef had prepared a separate vegan menu just for me! I appreciated that a lot, especially since I didn't have much luck in Bateman's Bay or Darling Harbour. It was very romantic and we split a bottle of wine. I love that man so much.

My soulmate

I worked Saturday, and then went horse riding in extremely hot temperatures on Sunday with my siblings and one of my best friends (when I took my helmet off at the end of the ride it looked like someone had tipped a bucket of water on my head). 

My horse trying to nip my brother's

It was amazing, fun and relaxing, and I discovered that horse riding is also good at quelling my anxiety. You can't concentrate on much else besides the horse and trying not to fall off, so that doesn't leave a lot of time for stressing out. My horse was named Woody, and was absolutely gorgeous and well-behaved (even though he had a reputation for being a bit naughty on trail rides- but he was perfect for me!).

Now I am exhausted, but have a lot of beautiful experiences to tuck under my belt from the past week. The doctor gave me a couple of days off work today (which I was very grateful for- I don't have enough energy to give my clients the care they deserve right now!), so I think I will focus on resting and trying to eat well. The past few days have been an absolute write-off in terms of eating the best I can, so I will clean things up starting from tomorrow. Excited for raw transition!

Raw capsicum with homemade guacamole

Raw homemade strawberry  coconut "yoghurt"

Salad with roasted organic purple congo potatoes

I really want to focus more on raw foods, as I have been mentioning pretty frequently on this blog! I have loosely been sticking to "raw 'til four," but have ordered "The 80/10/10 Diet" by Dr Douglas Graham (which I have heard really good things about) so will be working out how I feel about that in the next few weeks as well. I will write a bit more about that later- going to crawl back into bed now. In a heatwave. 

Peace out.