AIP Stories of Recovery – February 2017

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AIP Stories of Recovery is a success story series about regular people from the Autoimmune Protocol community who are changing their lives using the protocol. Each month a new person is featured and readers have the opportunity to discover all the different health challenges that are being overcome by folks just like themselves on the same path. At Autoimmune Wellness, we hope you’ll be inspired by, empathize with, and learn from these stories. If you are interested in sharing your story, please let us know by filling out our interest form.

Vickie is a veteran of self-led healing. Her wellness journey began more than 40 years ago when, at age 14, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Then, in her twenties, she received a myasthenia gravis (MG) diagnosis. Although she’d always been a proponent of natural medicine, it wasn’t until her MG symptoms returned in 2015 that she explored the Autoimmune Protocol and finally found her perfect balance of conventional, natural and self-led treatments.

What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?

In 1983 or so, at around 26 or 27 years old, I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) for the first time, and again in 2015. I went for a year with symptoms not knowing something was wrong. After another new symptom appeared, I knew I needed to see a doctor, but what kind? I finally did see one and went over all the symptoms with him, and he made an appointment with my neurologist (I’ve had epilepsy since I was 14). There, I went through a series of tests and he told me to meet him at the hospital as soon as I got some things from home and let someone know. I believe he knew I had MG. I went right into ICU and within days had my thymus taken out.

It didn’t take long to get the diagnosis once I saw the first doctor. I seemed to be alright until 2015, when I had to see another doctor because of the same symptoms. They had come back stronger than ever. This doctor knew at the start it was MG, so I had another round of tests and, for the first time, a medication.

Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.

In 2014, my neurologist put me in the hospital for testing and found that I had a second set of seizure activities. Two months later I started going blind, and a short while after that I had a tumor removed from my optic nerve. Between the trauma that my body had gone through, the hospital stay, the medicines and their side affects, doctor appointments and more testing, I was existing more than living. Still, finding out the MG had come back in 2015 and having undiagnosed allergic reactions to the medication was really difficult as well. I continued to take the medication because I had to wean myself off of it.

What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?

I’d been researching for years how to help my epilepsy naturally. Between that, not eating certain foods to help my arthritis, not going to the bathroom correctly when I ate certain foods, and everything that happened in 2014 and 2015, I knew I had to look deeper.

When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?

I wasn’t allowed to work or drive, so I started spending more time on the computer which wasn’t something I normally did. I found The Paleo Mom and as I read, I new I needed her book (The Paleo Approach). As I read, it I finally figured out the foods that were hurting me and my epilepsy. I realized though that I wanted a book that wasn’t so scientific and I needed recipes.

What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?

From The Paleo Mom came Autoimmune Wellness and from there, others. The blogs were great but I new I wanted books. As I read, took breaks, and read some more, I realized they were talking my language. I bought Mickey’s and Angie’s cookbooks first, Simple French Paleo then The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook and have loved every bit of it. I have in the past been able to stick with the Autoimmune Protocol a few days to a couple of weeks at a time. When I did, I felt wonderful in my body, and my strength, sleep, and epilepsy symptoms improved.

Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?

No, I have always let each doctor know my preference in natural and conventional medicine, vitamins and herbs. That’s how I eat and believe in living. I showed them the Autoimmune Protocol after I started and got great feedback from my chiropractor, my neurologist and the one who checked me for MG.

It can seem like our lives are consumed by a chronic illness, but there is so much beyond those struggles. What brings you true joy right now?

My true joy right now is rereading my Paleo/AIP books and working through the emotional side of autoimmune disease, sleeping well, learning, and doing all the things to love myself and be stress-free. I have taken baths in the middle of the day, spent more time in my gardens even at this time of year — there is always something to look forward to — and spent more time outdoors. I take naps when I need to without the guilt, and I love cooking. 

Would you like to share your Story of Recovery? Let us know by filling out our interest form.

About Grace Heerman

Grace Heerman is a writer, editor and yoga teacher from Seattle, and the Blog Assistant for Autoimmune Paleo. She's on a mission to help other women thrive in their 20s using real food and intuitive living, and she shares recipes and explores how to live her most vibrant life on her blog. You can browse her recipes on Pinterest and find out what she did yesterday on Instagram.

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