Optic Neuritis, Real Food & Vitality Enthusiasm 101

I’ve been contemplating everything I want to share here for months!  Part of me couldn’t decide what to write first.  Another part was hung up about how to tell “my story”.  I was nervous about “putting myself out there”.

I finally just realized none of that really matters in the grander scheme of things.  There is far too much to cover to waste any MORE time.  This whole business of advocating for vitality could easily become a full-time job ;-)

The collective health of our society is declining rapidly.  This is evident in skyrocketing rates of obesity, Autism, autoimmune diseases and other chronic illnesses.  Reproductive health is also declining, which is certainly not awesome for the survival or strength of our species.

Somewhere on my own “healing journey”, I came to the unfortunate realization that most every person alive today is suffering from a modern illness themselves or witnessing, whether first or secondhand, the suffering of someone close to them.  It is like the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory, only I don’t think it requires six steps when applied in this context.

Cancer, Diabetes, Autism, Depression, Asthma, Allergies, Heart Disease, Autoimmune Diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis…just to name a few.  Can you honestly say you don’t know anyone dealing with a modern health condition?  Many of them are probably on at least one, if not multiple, prescription medications.

It seems like every day, there are new challenges to our vitality.  So, I am starting this blog, to share my experiences, shed light on connections I’ve found between REAL FOOD and Real Health and create & inspire a community committed to Vitality!

You may already know I am a passionate health researcher if you follow my Facebook page.  I’ve also been known to excel in ventures of critical thinking, which sometimes has drawbacks (like, occasional mental exhaustion), but serves my research missions pretty well.

I feel like I should explain what brought me “here”.

About a year ago, in what seemed like a period of only about 48 hours, I lost most of the vision in my right eye.  I was diagnosed with Optic Neuritis and told I likely had or would develop Multiple Sclerosis. The weeks following, as you can probably imagine, were pretty overwhelming.  Many of my views about health changed as a result of what I learned.  I am now convinced we are living in a culture of significant misinformation, and the resulting diet & lifestyle choices are at the root of most modern illness.  I’ve decided to make it my life’s work to advocate for vitality and develop skills to help myself and others heal.  

Following the recommendations of the Opthamologist who diagnosed me is not what helped me restore my vision.  With some quick research on my part, it was difficult to substantiate what he offered (intravenous steroids) as either safe or effective.

On the other hand, in those initial moments of crisis (near blind in one eye), it was very easy for me to substantiate the idea that gluten might realistically be affecting my vision, and health.   (I am so grateful to a wonderful friend for casually mentioning it, as though I already knew there might be a connection.)

I came to quickly understand that Optic Neuritis is the body’s reflection of severe inflammation of the Optic Nerve.  So, I figured anything I could do to address inflammation would be beneficial to my healing.  Luckily, in my research, I almost immediately stumbled upon Dr. Terry Wahls’ video, Minding Your Mitochondria, which clued me in to the concept that we all need to be eating to nourish all our cells, all the time.  I did not realize I had not been ;-)

Dr. Wahls used diet & lifestyle changes to get out of the wheelchair her Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis led her in to, despite her having full access to all “the best” conventional medicine.  She now enjoys riding her bike again, gets around quite well and is an incredible advocate for the power of real food to heal.  Dr. Wahls inspired in me a confidence that, even if I am eventually diagnosed with MS, there are strategies for dealing with this dis-ease that align with my values and instincts and appear to be producing a good quality of life and outcome for many people.  .

So, in the week that followed being told I might have MS while still blind in one eye, I eliminated ALL gluten/dairy/soy/caffeine/chocolate cold turkey (the caffeine and chocolate were to support my adrenal health).  Keep in mind, at this point I was already an amateur nutrition enthusiast, with several fantastic “alternative” health practitioner friends.  I was quickly able to cross-reference a variety of potential solutions.

I began juicing anti-inflammatory cabbage, cucumber and pineapple and taking turmeric internally.  I had some Biofeedback work done.  I began a rigorous internal cleansing program.  My vision began returning within a few days of the daily juicing and returned ALMOST completely within 24 hours of my Biofeedback session, eight days into the diagnosis.  This was after the Opthamologist told me it could take 2 weeks to 2 months and that there was no guarantee it would return at all, or completely, or that I wouldn’t lose more vision or the vision in my other eye (which, obviously, terrified me).  I have a slight amount of as-yet-undetermined damage remaining, but believe the work I continue to do continues the healing process. (*I also should note that I chose to decline the recommended MRI when diagnosed with Optic Neuritis, and have not had one yet, simply because I have focused on resolving symptoms and found success doing so.)

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the ability to see.  I now have a much deeper understanding of how the body actually makes that happen.  There is so much more to it than just your “eye” “seeing”.  Your brain is involved.  Your nervous system is involved.  And, in all reality, your diet and digestive system are involved.  When one or more of these systems break down, chaos can ensue in who knows how many ways!

Inflammation can occur anywhere and manifest in a variety of manners, including loss of function of one or more body parts.  By eating a diet high in inflammatory (for you) foods, you constantly overburden your body with the need to fight and process the inflammation.  A wide variety of health conditions are associated with inflammation.  Many people live, like I did, for years or their entire lives, unaware of their inflammation or how it is affecting their health!  I can’t tell you how much I am loving my life devoid of the inflammation I once simply accepted as normal.

Anyways, there is much more to “my story”, which I will tell in due time. I have basically spent the past year fairly consumed with attending to multiple, in my opinion, related, health issues.  I have quite honestly assessed and addressed the functionality of most every system in my body, including my psyche.  I had to get very real with myself to learn what “healthy” is, for me.  Even though I feel better than I ever have, I continue my path of personal healing work which is guided by all I have learned and continue to learn.  (I’m really looking forward to writing a post about PsychoNeuroImmunoEndocrinology, an awesome way of “conceptualizing the unity of mental, neurological, hormonal and immune functions with its many potential applications”.)

We are each unique individuals with unique needs and challenges to overcome.  However, there are commonalities, and by sharing our experiences, we can learn from one another and move forward more efficiently.

From what I can gather between doctors visits, lab work, symptoms and my research, my body is resolving, and has already overcome, some autoimmune issues.  I can’t say I understand the entire puzzle (yet).  I do feel like I have my health mostly under control.  I am still searching for the “right doctor” to further enlighten me, but am unwilling to waste much time, energy or money navigating the flawed medical system when I believe those resources could be better focused on healing and learning.  (I have seen a few doctors along the way, both conventional and “alternative”, and have been disappointed by their lack of current knowledge on nutrition in general, much less on how gluten and food sensitivities affect health and/or autoimmune conditions.)  I’m really not too concerned about doctors at the moment, considering all the improvement I have seen and the fact that most of my symptoms have disappeared since I found and implemented the Autoimmune Protocol of the Paleo “Diet”.

At a later time, I will write about how chronic stress, adrenal exhaustion and a bit of PTSD very likely contributed to the development of my autoimmune issues.  (My husband and I were in Chrischurch, New Zealand and experienced firsthand the worst of their earthquakes on February 22, 2011.  I saw the Christchurch Cathedral topple in front of my eyes.  The event destroyed the city, which we had just fallen in love with, along with our plans to live there….)

Now I need to be very real for a minute.  In the initial week of processing my vision loss and fears about being diagnosed with MS, I saw two distinct paths with regard to approaching dis-ease.

First, was/is a path with doctor after doctor (none of whom seem to communicate with one another), oodles of pharmaceutical pills, and a philosophy that “there is no cure”.  An assumption this concept of dis-ease is something you must accept and that you are fairly unlikely to change.  Sure, you might be able to manage it, with some cutting edge, expensive drugs that likely have horrible side effects.  Unfortunately, I see a lot of people take this path.  I often wonder if that is because it is the only one they know?  Many are also pressured by family, friends and society, to believe following this path is somehow “the right thing to do”.  In my opinion, based on what I have seen and read, the many people who take this path seem to suffer and endure far more stress than might really be necessary.  I suspect many may not feel sufficiently empowered to question the situation and/or take control of their own health.

Contrasting that, there is a path which involves carefully assessing your diet & lifestyle and determining which factors may need modification to better serve your health.  People are having AMAZING results on this path!  Truly inspiring!  For me, being newly married & looking forward to starting a family, I just can’t see any other approach.  I have so much quality living to do!

I have since come to view autoimmunity as an elaborate puzzle you need to solve to determine how your body functions best. Finding all the pieces, and solving the puzzle, takes significant work. Feeling good, and being truly healthy, is a worthy and amazing reward!!!  (Please note, I am in no way trying to trivialize what can be the harsh reality of challenges, setbacks and/or complications.  I am just confident these can be greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated, the closer YOU get to solving YOUR “puzzle”.)

So, if you are still reading, you now understand a little more about me, how I got “here” and why I have chosen to Enthusiastically pursue Vitality.

Moving forward, I have so many ideas & plans for this space and community.  I hope you will be patient with me as it unfolds and evolves.  I will be adding different sections and features to the blog as I go, like food creations, research on various dis-eases, book reviews (maybe even a book club at some point?), companies & products I love and love to support….really, the possibilities, as well as my ideas, are endless!  I just need to organize them all and get to work!  I will be tweaking and improving the design and layout of this site until I find the right fit.

I am passionate about health politics, and think we are at a crucial turning point for our “food” industry, as well as our agricultural industry.  So, you will hear me talk about the related issues.  I feel it is so important for us to share knowledge and spread truth.  How lucky are we to (still) be living in a time and place with so many ways to do so?!?

I plan to present analyses of a variety of modern health conditions, with a specific interest in strategies for using diet & lifestyle modification and natural remedies as solutions.

Beyond that, I look forward to talking about what I eat to stay healthy and why, and the habits I practice or desire to practice more that, in some way, contribute to my well being and may contribute to yours.  I’ll discuss and share things that make me smile and keep me happy.  I love to garden and am a huge proponent of growing your own food.  It tastes delicious and enables you maximum control of the environment and inputs.  PLUS, gardening is fantastic for stress reduction and often brings great joy.  Not to mention, it provides infinite lessons, and engages your brain in a most beautiful fashion.  It’s also great for children, if you have them!

I’m going to leave you with a quote from the most recent book I am almost done savoring, “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas.

“Despite all we face, it is possible to survive-and even thrive-in this modern world.  It is possible to avoid the ravages of our nation’s health care crisis and corporate manipulations, but only the uniquely informed, vigilant, educated, nutritionally disciplined, and savvy people are the likeliest to do so.

That’s a cold, hard reality.

We cannot afford to be ignorant any longer.  We cannot afford not to care or to be simply cynical.  We cannot afford to blindly depend on a deeply flawed and broken health care (read: disease management) system or government to save us, nor can we depend on the corporate-biased media to accurately inform us.  We cannot afford to take anything for granted.  Mindless indulgences must become a thing of the past.  We no longer have any room for error.

We still possess all the potential for physical and mental excellence our primitive ancestors enjoyed, plus we now have the science and the awareness of how to use Mother Nature’s agenda and her loopholes to our best advantage.  We actually have the capacity and key information that can allow us to live longer and healthier than we ever have before in our long evolutionary history…..

…..but only if we have the wisdom to actually use it.”

I’d love it if you would join me, learning about Real Food and Real Health and attempting to educate as many people as possible about the associated connections and truths.  The modern world presents a great many challenges.  My best strategy for staying healthy is to proceed through life as a Vitality Enthusiast!

 

11 thoughts on “Optic Neuritis, Real Food & Vitality Enthusiasm 101

  1. I have been following your Facebook page for a little while and have really enjoyed reading your posts. I never comment because I hate that everything I do on Facebook ends up in a newsfeed for everyone to see, but I have found your page very inspirational. I am in my mid 20s and so are the majority of my friends, yet some of them suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chron’s Disease, and MS. I personally have struggled with my weight since childhood. My whole life every physician told me to consume fewer calories and expend more. I did what they told me to no avail. I finally had a thyroid panel and was treated as though I was looking for an excuse to be overweight. Discovering paleo has been a Godsend for me. The more calories I cut from my diet the more processed the food I consumed became. Now I am seeing real changes in terms of weight and body composition and never feel hunger. I desperately want my friends who suffer from illness to try an anti inflammatory diet, but they aren’t the type to question modern medicine. I am hoping that as I get fitter and slimmer they’ll have to believe the power of whole foods because it will be right in front of their faces. Thank you for this blog. I am genuinely excited to learn from you :)

  2. What an inspiration you are for your friends! Isn’t feeling great, well, great?!? I am so glad you are enjoying my posts and appreciate the support and feedback. I really want every person to know they their diet & lifestyle choices will affect their bodies’ health status, far more than any genetic factors. And, also, that healthy, nutrient-dense, REAL food is completely delicious, and FAR more satisfying than the alternative(s)! I’m so glad I am paying attention to inflammation now instead of fat & calories….

  3. Awesome! I was originally dx’d with MS, then NMO, having lesions only in my eyes and spine. I went to a naturepath who suggested that I cut out nightshades, and do a Castor pack, my diet was already raw at that time. Anyhow, within a week I was off all meds, no pain and a year later no evidence of lesions what so ever. I truly believe you are what you eat. And a positive mind will get you anywhere.

  4. Thank you for the encouragement and for sharing your experience. When I originally heard your story, it was the last thing I needed to hear to know that, even if you had lesions (which is what the MRI is going to look for), they could just as easily go away with the right choices. I am thinking (not based on any professional accreditation or even much research, really, just my “gut” instinct and a few stories I have read along the way) that the lesions are maybe associated with the buildup of toxins from foods your body can’t tolerate?

    I know it probably sounds RIDICULOUS, but every time I sneeze white junk out of my nostrils while I am showering (yeah, TMI, I understand, just trying to “keep it real”…), I imagine that IF I do have any lesions, that is my way of getting rid of them….

    So, yes, I am ALL about the power of positive thinking!

  5. Thank you very much! I had NO clue on so much of what I have learned this past year. I did start with a background fairly conducive to accepting the information as reality, which helped. But, it really does blow my mind all the things I am learning. I look forward to continuing to share and hope you continue to share your feedback!

  6. Thanks for sharing your story and this information. I wish I had known about this stuff 2 years ago, when I too had optic neuritis in one eye . I reluctantly took the steroids, but thought I had no other choice, and just wanted to see normal again. I changed my diet (yes, and I too thought I was eating healthy before all this with eating low fat, tons of whole grains and greek yogurt) when I reluctantly agreed to take the 3 day IV steroidal treatment, going GF/DF initially, then phased in other aspects of the AI protocol (egg free/grain free/soy free) gradually over several months. I follow a AIP hybrid approach of Dr. Terry Wahls’, Dr. Fuhrman’s and Dr. Junger’s. I feel great and have had no more issues with my vision since. I have green smoothies daily, and can say that following this new AIP lifestyle has also lifted my brain fog and caused a mysterious small red bumpy patch of skin that I had on my back (which I had for 10 years) to completely disappear. For others out there with ON, I have found spirulina/blue green algae and astaxanthin to be helpful for vision as well. Dr. Mercola has a vision support supplement which I also take daily. Healing the eyes is sloooowwww, but patience is key. And as Dr. Junger says, “Kale is King”. Thank you again for sharing your story, as it helps people like us to feel connected to all the other AI people out there, as we are all in this together. And how many others are out there not knowing yet that they even have a AI issue until faced with something like ON.

  7. I agree with we are what we eat. And don’t accept the line ‘there is nothing you can do about it’. I want to bring into the picture two people. These are – in my view people who educate in the use of positive thoughts and using the mind to heal the body. They are Martin Seligman (USA) and David Hamilton (UK). They have both written books and do ongoing work on this subject. Just type their names into Amazon – or search for them on Facebook.

  8. I am so grateful to have found your blog and post. Finally information I can understand a that seems like a right fit. I lost my vision a month ago and was admitted to hospital with loss of vision and ON. Spinal tap and MRI confirm MS legions. I have not eaten well most of my life, abused alcohol, nicotine and drugs. I was told my Dr to lose weight but it wasn’t until a rude colleague called me nasty names and ‘fat’ that I do need a reality check and to look after my body and mind. Your an inspiration to me to start eating and living batter as I want a full happy and healthy life minus meds. Thank you.

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