40th Year, in the Desert

40th Year, in the Desert

I turned 40 this year. Life continues to surprise me. Ten years ago I was chronically ill with a very long list of “no known cause, no known cure” illnesses, chronic anxiety, and a very, very painful body.

That year a friend of mine, Jerry, was with me the day after I was recovering from another familiar migraine. I was frustrated that with all of the attention and care I gave to my health I still had to suffer so much. Even worse was that I felt I was not able to stop declining deeper into illness. My extreme efforts had slowed, but not stopped it.

Jerry said, “Well, you’re thirty now, but what if by forty you figure out how to heal? You might be healthier then than you are now.”

Well that’s wishful thinking, I mused sadly. It seemed impossible. I’d had MCS, anxiety and migraines since I was four. Growing pains that I never grew out of, that instead were relabeled fibromyalgia. Severe gut pain, joint and nerve problems, outrageous menstrual cramps, and an autoimmune disease by my teens. I caught every virus that came along and missed an astounding amount of school, yet no medical testing ever indicated a fixable issue.  I wasn’t even considered “sick” despite my growing lineup of physical problems.

And Now for Something Completely Different

In my 20’s the list kept lengthening. It became ridiculous. Allopathic medicine had failed to provide any healing, and at times caused me more harm. I became completely discouraged with conventional medicine.  However, I gained the courage and freedom to pursue whatever health choices made sense to me. And I did so with a mission.

The majority of my extra money went towards trying or learning some new healing approach. Naturopathic, homeopathic, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathic medicine, and rolfing. I became an herbalist, learned Reiki and trigger point therapy, and practiced yoga and Qigong. Tried therapy, hypnosis and EMDR.

I also learned about managing food and chemical sensitivities through avoidance. This turned out to be incredibly valuable for my future, though I didn’t know it at the time.

All of these things were helpful. Some were absolutely necessary at the time. I made gains, or at least I came to recognize some definite triggers which I could avoid. But I still declined, though much slower than I would have if I didn’t live a very careful life with special diets, avoiding chemicals, and knowing the limits of my body. This was hard for friends and family to understand, but they tolerated it because of an odd blessing – they knew me when I already had problems.

Despite all my efforts, by 30 my health had continued to decline. I’d experienced years of agonizing back pain, multiple lung collapses, been diagnosed with osteoporosis at 28, found to have POTS, CFS, IBS, and all sorts of “female problems”. More acronyms than anyone needs.

How on earth, or anywhere else for that matter, could I imagine getting better from all that? I almost gave up trying.

A Flower Blooms in the Desert

I’m forty now. Jerry was right. I finally discovered it, the hidden thread in my web of illness.

I’m now healed from the majority of that absurdly long list of “no known cause, no known cure” ailments. I can hike for miles. I can work outside in 100 degree weather. My vision has cleared up, my hair un-greyed. My skin tans again and I look healthier than I did at 30.

I’m not in chronic pain anymore, whether physical or mental. I rarely get brain fog and I can multitask again. I can get up from bed without help. I can even lay on the floor and get up all on my own, something that was not possible at all in my worst years of illness.

I can go in grocery stores and not have to shower and “de-scent” afterwards. I can hang out in Home Depot for over an hour and not get sick. Now, I am rarely ever anxious and can be in very stressful situations without crashing afterwards. And I regularly enjoy all of the foods to which I used to be outrageously reactive.

I not only have health, I have freedom.

Unexpected New Horizons

Learning to avoid mold and other biotoxins was the key for me, and for my husband. It was astounding to discover that exposure to toxins in our house, belongings, and even home region affect our health so dramatically and directly. It was also remarkable to find that we could leave these exposures, and feel better and better doing it.

After a lifetime in my beloved Oregon which I thought I’d never, ever leave, my husband and I moved to a desert region in Southern California. It took three challenging trips – mold sabbaticals – to find a home and area we didn’t experience biotoxin reactions in. And here, forty years old and living in the desert for just one year, I have mostly healed from a lifetime of illness.

To learn more about mold avoidance and biotoxin illness, check out some of my favorite online resources on the topic – Paradigm Change, Biotoxin Journey, and momsAWARE – or join the Facebook groups Mold Avoiders and the group Mold and Chemical Sensitivity Lifestyle.

Be well, all!