Naturopath vs. Alopecia – Round 2

Found something....

Found something….

I am writing this one in a bit of physical pain….

As most of you are aware I have been dealing with Alopecia and currently started seeking an alternate treatment plan. This came in the form of a Naturopath, was tested for food allergies and have recently taken on the daunting task of removing eggs, dairy, almonds, pineapple, ginger, flaxseed and a couple of others. Most of those have been easy to remove with the exception of eggs…..they have been my nemesis. It has been a challenge, but manageable. I am lucky to be living in Vancouver, where it is a mecca for the gluten-free, vegan population. In addition to not eating these items I have also been taking supplements supplied by my Naturopath to help heal and repair my stomach lining.

So I was dumb and decided to test the waters….

Eggs have snuck in a couple times in the form of mayonnaise or in a baked item like a muffin, but I didn’t link my upset tummy…I know not the sharpest tool in the shed at times. I hadn’t out right eaten an egg for almost a month, until one day last week I thought I would give it a “try.” All seemed well and fine, until about an hour later….the pain began and after another hour I was in intense physical pain in my tummy and the bloating was ridiculous…combined with the noise my tummy was making…I couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day. I had no appetite and spent the day taking things like Tums and Pepto to relieve the pain.

So I was dumb again last night…yes, I know… I promise I have learnt now!

Last night I decided to test the waters with some cheese…..guess what happened…yup…same situation as the eggs. I didn’t sleep terribly well and am still feeling the effects this morning. Clearly my Naturopath was right and I no longer feel the need to prove her wrong, Sorry Dr. Akehurst! What I am reconciling for myself is that for years I had eaten those things and struggled, not really feeling the side effects because my tummy wasn’t in good shape. I also had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Ross (dermatologist) last week and my scalp and hair are improving. Although, she openly doesn’t agree with Naturopath’s and what they do, she simply said “Keep doing what you are doing, because you have some great regrowth” and we didn’t do as many injections…MORE GOOD NEWS!

What is the result of this rambling…..my tummy is healing, I have been working with the ladies at Seva Fitness and listening to health practitioners orders…I did some measurements on Sunday, inches have been lost, pants and shirts that didn’t previously fit are now starting to fit or fit. Being healthy has always been and still remains my number one goal – the weight loss is an added benefit. With everything going on in the media regarding Tess Holliday(Munster), it needs to stop being about size and beauty and start being about health and living a healthy life no matter size or shape.

Naturopath vs. Alopecia…

Found something....

Found something….

It has been a while since I have posted, hiding a wee bit, not really hiding as just full on enjoying the holiday season. Christmas is my favorite time of year and for the first time in 7 years I got to spend it with my Mom and I honestly could not have asked for a better holiday season. In that time frame I was also processing a lot of information health wise. I apologize for the longness of this post and will do my best to explain!

As most of you know over the last 2 years I have been dealing with Alopecia. I was receiving injections into my scalp, had a biopsy done and looking for answers. I wasn’t getting any concrete answers from my medical doctors so I went a different route. For the first time I visited a Naturopath, Dr. Akehurst (who, for the record, is amazing).

Visiting a Naturopath has been a bit of an expensive route, but one that has provided more answers and results in the last 60 days than 2 years of visiting traditional medical doctors. After a series of appointments and several attempts to draw blood and tests run on that blood, the big one being food allergy/sensitivity test here are the results. Years of unhealthy eating finally caught up with the permeability of my stomach and I have “leaky gut.” This happen when over a period of time you eat unhealthy foods and foods you are sensitive too. They begin to breakdown the stomach lining and everything seeps into your blood stream. Normally your stomach lining only allows the small “good” molecules which you want absorbed into your system. When you have “leaky gut” everything gets dumped into your system good and bad and your body can only compensate for so long before it gets overloaded. All of these “bad” molecules floating through my system attached to my autoimmune system presenting as Alopecia. It was so bad that my body was barely absorbing water. The allergy test revealed that I am sensitive to eggs, dairy, almonds, pineapple, flaxseed, ginger, oysters, and mustard. Dairy was not new for me, but I had switched to all things almond milk and eggs were my favorite protein source and I tested off the charts for both. What does this all mean?

I have begun taking a series of supplements from my Naturopath to heal my stomach. I have removed everything that I tested sensitive too from my eating habits. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever under taken. Eggs is proving challenging because they are in EVERYTHING, all the alternatives to almond milk that aren’t dairy are taking some getting used too. Over the last 60 days my stomach has begun to heal because when I have any of those things I am sensitive to now, a few hours later I am doubled over in pain. It has called for a complete re-evaluation of what I thought was healthy eating. I have had to pretty much go Vegan, but with chicken and fish. I have also noticed a reduction in the amount of hair loss which has started to give me piece of mind and taking a series of stress off of my plate. I am sleeping better, have more energy and have noticed a shift in my moods, less mood swings.

For the next 12 weeks I will be following a specific eating plan and will then re-introduce the items I tested sensitive for and any hint of a reaction will mean that item is removed from my life altogether. I can’t begin to describe the piece of mind having some answers and proven results has given me. I was a bit skeptical going into the Naturopath, but the results speak for themselves. For the first time, in a long time I am looking forward to the road ahead. Information is power.

If you have an ailment that traditional medicine has not been able to cure, I invite you to consider a non-traditional route, whatever that looks like for you J

Down and Dirty 30 – Day 10

Bit of a rough morning on my front 😦 Warning, there is a bit of a queeze invoking photo at the end of this post.

Yesterday proved a bit more challenging than I anticipated, but I did survive! I had my scalp biopsy yesterday afternoon, which took me out the rest of the day. Picture the freezing your receive at the dentist and now take that feeling to your scalp, it was quite bizarre. Overall the procedure was quick, easy and painless and I didn’t look anywhere near the scalped zombie I had pictured in my head. Note to others, do not Google scalp biopsy images before going for this procedure, it makes your anxiety level a thousand time worse! As the freezing came out the pain quickly set in and I didn’t move from my couch until I climbed into bed for the night. Whenever I stood up I was met with that woozy, seeing spots, might pass out feeling, so I didn’t go far or move much. I am glad it is over and I look forward to getting the results and hopefully having an answer to what is going on.

For this reason, sadly there is nothing to report on the exercise front. I am glad to have this behind me and no longer having the brain occupied with pictures of Zombie scalping’s!

Apologies if this offends anyone....

Apologies if this offends anyone….

 

Down and Dirty 30 – Day 9

Persistence

Thank you Pinterest!

Good Morning Everyone!

This one will be kept short and sweet. Yesterday (Tuesday) did not go according to plan. I had a great day up until I was on my way home….then it sunk in that this afternoon I will be having two small portions of my scalp removed. Click this here if you are curious why.

As I was heading home the fear and terror began to set in. Ever since I can remember my pain tolerance level has been non-existent, I admit it yes, I am a big baby when it comes to pain! They will be freezing my scalp today and punching out two small sections to send for testing, not a huge deal….until you “Google it.” How do I cope with fear, well yesterday….it was anything pumpkin flavored. I did log everything in MyFitnessPal and I went over my calorie goal by  733cal and did no exercise. Did I get stuck in a little bit of a shame cycle afterwards, yup, but then I owned up to it and why and am choosing to move forward. I knew days like this were going to happen, I was hoping that there wouldn’t be so many of them, but it is part of the process.

The silver lining….the scale down in the gym is accurate. The last time I weighed myself was 3 weeks ago and according to the scale on Monday I have lost 11lbs. So that makes me happy 🙂 I am going in the right direction!

Today is going to bring a mix of emotions and I have one of my BFF’s joining me today for support! I have planned all my meals accordingly so I feel well prepared…..stay tuned for tomorrow!

Alopecia Update…

2014-08-25 17.01.17_Tony_Vignette_SwollenI have gotten a few requests to provide an update to this post, Confidence, so I thought I would happily oblige!

Dealing with Alopecia has not been easy. As mentioned, physically it is virtually harmless, but emotionally and mentally it is absolutely devastating.  For those of you that don’t know, alopecia has no known cause and no known cure. It occurs when your immune system decide to start attacking the hair follicles in your body. It can attack every hair follicle on your body (alopecia universalis), it can attack only the hair on your head (alopecia totalis) or, in my case, patches of hair loss (alopecia areata).

My doctor referred me to one of the leading physicians in Vancouver, Dr. Elizabeth Ross. The diagnosis was made and we opted for steroid injections into the bald patch and it worked! The regrowth began and I was over the moon. I was getting ready for my second to last appointment with Dr. Ross when two tiny spots were found towards the front of my head. It has been decided that later this month I will undergo a scalp biopsy. There are going to take two 4mm holes of my scalp for biopsy. In addition to the alopecia there appears to be something else going on, which we aren’t quite clear on, so to be on the safe side, biopsy is the best option.

This hasn’t been easy to deal with, with the injections comes the pain of feeling like a million hot pokers are being driving into your scalp. When they are complete it is usually followed by an afternoon of a not so pleasant headache. Stress is a huge trigger, so I have to find ways that would help me take my mind off of it, ways to help me cope and feel like not everyone is starting at my bald spots. I have a lovely collection of scarves, headbands, hats and I have clip in hair extensions. My favorite is the extensions, because they add the volume back to my hair that I have lost and I instantly feel less naked and a bit of my confidence is restored.

I am not saying steroid injections, scarves and extensions are what will work for everyone, but it is what has worked for me. If I am destined to have no hair on top of my head I am learning to be OK with that. I will be the woman with no hair, but wicked earrings, some fun wigs, and amazing eye makeup. My beauty will not be defined by my hair, my breasts or my ability to bear children. My beauty will be defined by how I feel on the inside about the kind of woman that I wanna be 🙂

For the record I am taking applications for anyone wishing to apply for the position of hand squeezer when I go for my biopsy later this month!

Confidence…

20130306_124336_resizedHaving confidence in yourself is something that comes easily for some and not so easily for others. Growing up I would say that I fell into the second category, not so easily. I have struggled to believe in myself, struggled to find myself beautiful, but over the years it has become easier and easier and I say I was moving into the first category until May of this year.  This is hard to talk about, but I know I am not the only one…

I had just gotten out of the shower and I was brushing my hair and something felt funny, so I grabbed the mirror and did a little looking and there it was a bald patch the size of a dime. I was a little shocked, but as someone that colors my hair and had done so not 24 hours prior I thought it was totally my fault. Over the next two months, this patch got larger and larger. I went to my Doctor and he told me it was stress related and I needed to ride it out. For the next six weeks I cried, my hair falling out in clumps and there was nothing I could do to fix it. When you do research online they tell you that stress is the worst thing for it. Now as a woman, we tie a lot of confidence and womanhood into our hair. I know I did. Being a plus size girl, my hair and my make-up were two coats of armor that I could control and now I couldn’t control one.  I cried myself to sleep many nights, my mom received many tearful phone calls from me. I marched back to the doctors and when he saw the size of the patch was sent for a battery of tests and to another doctor, then I was told to see a dermatologist.

After weeks of waiting I saw Dr. Ross, she is an amazing dermatologist in Vancouver, who specializes in hair. I was diagnosed with Alopecia.

I call her "patch", original I know :)

I call her “patch”, original I know 🙂

This is when your immune systems starts attacking your hair follicles for no known reason. There is no known cause and no cure, only treatments to help slow the process. There are also different kinds, I have Alopecia Areata.  It is medically harmless, but detrimental emotionally and psychologically, especially in woman, and the tears started flowing. My prognosis is good in that the likely hood of me losing all my hair is not that high.  In addition I have one large patch and a lot of thinning and she has one patient with 23 small bald patches. My patch is relatively hidden, but I feel totally exposed when my hair is down. My treatment, I am receiving multiple steroid injections into my scalp and there are signs of regrowth in the bald spot and I am feeling a small sense of relief. Dr. Ross listened and gave me some good advice and direction, she held my hand, handed me a tissue and made me feel a little less ugly.

The last couple months of been emotionally packed full. I keep reminding myself that there are people in far worse situations than me and I have nothing to complain about. Should the worst case scenario happen and I do lose all of my hair, well then I am going to get to have a lot of fun with wigs, hats, scarves and big earrings. For now I am going to have some fun with clip in extensions and love the hair that I do have.  I will take the pain of the injections and pray that the regrowth continues. It is easy to curl up into a ball when it feels like the world is pummeling you with nothing but bad news, which I have done a few times over the last few weeks. I also know that when you surround yourself with the friends and family like I have, they don’t let you stay down for long, before they start reminding you of the fighting spirit you have inside.