Previously I posted about a health crisis that I found myself in throughout my 2015 racing season. This entry picks up where that entry left off. For some reason this particular blog post has gone through several iterations and I am not really happy with what I have here but whatever, it serves its purpose. Please note that while I am sharing my experiences, this in no way serves as a diagnosis for anyone else out there with similar symptoms – I have even omitted some of the therapies or diagnoses on purpose – I do not want to be responsible for some bozo (yes possibly you reading this, bozo) reading this and saying ‘oh that sounds like me, I think I should do what this lady did’. Yeah. Don’t do that. Now…to part II.
Meeting Dr. Kanodia
Before I got to the doctor’s office I had to complete a 15 page comprehensive handout. It covered everything from my monthly cycles, sleep habits and quality, to what kind of dental work I have had. As I was answering these questionnaires it was really quite apparent that I certainly wasn’t in good health. When I added up the totals of some of the worksheets I referred to the totals at the bottom and it was very clear I was “sick”. “This is going to be an interesting meeting” I thought to myself – but again I felt SO bad that I didn’t really care if he told me I was dying – I would have believed him.
The first thing you notice about Dr. Kanodia’s office is that it’s not your normal doctor’s office. It’s cozy. I mean, really, the seats are comfortable, there’s a water feature, calming music plays. It’s awesome. I felt better just walking in. Once my vitals were taken by the nurse, Nicole, who rocks, I was brought back to meet Dr. Kanodia.
His office is bright. It’s got a wall full of books that cover a whole spectrum of healing modalities and eating protocols. He has a tall bar height table in the center of his office. He stands. You can sit or you can stand while you talk. In his steady and calm demeanor he explained he was going to ask some questions for about 40 minutes then we would put together a plan that both of us agreed to commit to and would go from there. I wasn’t sure what any of that meant but I smiled and nodded.
This is the piece of the blog entry that I haven’t written to a point where I feel like it does Dr. Kanodia justice. I have my notes and several drafts of this part but you’re going to have to wait on this one. To put it in a few sentences (you’re all cheering, right?) it’s this:
Dr. Kanodia believes (my words not his) that our symptoms aren’t just physical and shouldn’t be treated symptomatically. Our symptoms are a warning sign that there is a root cause that needs addressing. Our emotional, psychological, relational, and yes, metaphysical health all connect and can manifest themselves into disease.
I will try to go into more on this later, but I think it requires me actually getting Dr. Kanodia to answer some questions so I can share his words, he’s so smart I can’t do him justice!
At the end of the inquiry, Dr. Kanodia provided his thoughts and insight into what he thought was wrong. He basically rocked my world and said that for a 31 year old my health was not only bad, it was downright awful. The thing was, I believe him, and as I’ve started healing, I’ve realized HOW sick I was. He basically said that this was at minimum a 6 month process if I was fully committed to everything I needed to do to get better. It might take longer – upwards of a year. I was scared to hear that because I had PLANS within those 6 months to race! I had a life I was planning on living – I can’t just burn it all down for an unknown period of time?! Then I thought back to those few days I was paralyzed with the debilitating depression and I thought – over the course of my hopefully long life, 6 months to a year is nothing if it means I never have to experience that emotional crisis again
The first ‘issue’ we had to deal with was sleep. Dr. Kanodia explained there are three levels of sleep quality, the lowest being sleeping through the night, waking up to your alarm, and needing to go back to bed in order to wake up rested. The second level is waking up at your alarm, rested, but feeling tired later in the day. Then the top layer of sleep is waking up before your alarm goes off with energy. When I heard him say that I immediately thought:
“I’m sorry, did you just say that you have to wake up BEFORE the alarm goes off and feel rested? Who the hell in America does that?” (Now, I do J, but I thought he was crazy).
Maybe I wasn’t that big of a jerk in my mind, I mean I had committed to this new process but it was just a little bit crazy for me to think I, the girl who had to nap for 4 hours a day to survive, could ever wake up before her alarm, rested. I had been taking a sleeping aid for almost 3 years too. Dr. Kanodia expressed the risks associated with me taking the sleep aid – if my body couldn’t relax and repair itself ON ITS OWN the risk for a major cardiac issue increased. I mean it makes sense if you think about it. The thing I couldn’t reconcile in my head was HOW DO I SLEEP if I haven’t slept well for YEARS!
Dr. Kanodia recommended I write before I went to bed. He gave me a journal and said, you’re going to write before you sleep. Everything that is in your head – get it down on paper. Let the journal do the thinking for you. If you wake up in the middle of the night, write again. He also recommended I stop using my phone late at night as the light can disrupt sleep. He also didn’t want me doing anything super strenuous from a training or exercising perspective. Walking and stretching like yoga was acceptable ONLY if I hit that top level of sleep. The last thing that I will recommend to EVERYONE is the last thing he told me to do each night. He told me to sleep on a spoonk mat. There are 2 sizes of spoonk mat and they rock. They are these little nubby things that you lie on before you go to bed. They help relax the body using acupressure points and some other magic – but they are amazing and I am obsessed with mine. I even lay sore legs on it for recovery or roll it up and put under my neck after a long day. The best though was taking it on a long plane ride and my back never tightened up. Okay salespitch over (I don’t get paid anything if you buy one of these things or not, they’re just badass).
Sugar, and Gluten, and Dairy OH MY
This was the piece I knew was coming. Sugar was out. Gluten was out. Dairy was out. Soy was out. Grains were out. Beans were out. Fruit was out (for now). Basically I was on a super strict Paleo diet focusing on cruciferous veggies, meats, and a few root vegetables if I was planning to workout. Bye bye Sour Patch Kids. No more fruit though??? UGHHHH. I knew it was coming so before the appointment I had a goodbye bag of Sour Patch Kids. One day we will reunite…perhaps in heaven. The diet eventually evolves (stay tuned for part 3 when we get my test results back!) but this was the big next step.
Tests and Bloodwork
We ended the meeting with a list of tests and bloodwork that I was to get done. Many of the tests were things that I really didn’t want to have to do. For example, I was given a box that was a test for parasites. Yes. I said parasites. How did this test evaluate the presence of parasites? Well let’s just say that I had to collect several stool samples over a few days period and then SEND IT OFF to a lab. There were blood tests that I also had done that tested things I’d never heard of before. We also had a test done to see if my blood reacted to certain foods and certain what the vitamin/mineral content was. I spit into test tubes, I collected my urine, I did all sorts of crazy stuff – but again, I felt SO BAD, if he had said stand in the corner on my head for five hours I would have done it.
The End of the Appointment
At the end of the appointment I had a plan written out. I knew what my responsibilities were. I knew that we had some thoughts on what might be out of whack but we would follow up with testing to confirm. I felt so much better knowing that I had just spent an hour with someone who is so passionate about healing the whole person versus just throwing a bandaid on a wound, I was hopeful. Sometimes when you’re so down and out all you really need is that little spark of hope.
Watch the blog for the next installment of the journey – this one includes poop, many trips to the whiz palace, and a whole lot of bacon.