It all started right before I commenced year 12. Yep, perfect timing body! Cheers for that! And for the last two years I have struggled through school, exams and life with a melange of illnesses and afflictions. You name it - I've had it: glandular fever, ross river fever, kidney infections, asthma, the lot! It affected my studies last year big-time, with me having to drop subject after subject to keep up on work missed when I was off school sick, and it peaked around July this year when I had 3 - 4 months of constant sickness, lethargy, fatigue and loss of appetite which resulted in my asthma returning to haunt me from my childhood and the loss of six kilos that my slight little frame couldn't really afford to lose. This, especially my lack of response to antibiotics and rapid (and scary) weightloss, prompted the doctors to start taking me seriously, treat me like less of a hyperchondriac and more like a seriously sick person who needs help.
Blood test after blood test was done, and nothing came up. Then, finally - lupus. Yep, the doctors found things in my blood indicating that I had lupus. If you don't know what this is, I'll wait for you while you Google it (and what you find scares the crap out of you...)
All googled? Good. Yep, holy crap, right?!
So anyway, the next step was a trip to a specialist and then some more blood tests, but I had to wait for those because the doctors were hoping for a difference in the results. Well in the end, they got their results and their difference, but in the meantime I completly freaked myself out over the possibility of having lupus and never being able to lead a normal life again. I was told it was doubtful I had lupus, and then life carried on. Well, it did for them, anyway. I was still stuck in the same rut I'd been in all along. I was forever getting sick, had zero energy all day every day, had no appetite and couldn't go out drinking with my friends because every time I did I would wind up bedridden for at least the following week. The only difference between then and before was that the doctors had ceased to do anything to try and make me better. I cut back work to one day a week because I couldn't cope with doing anything more than that, starting sleeping longer, and completely gave up any notions of going out drinking ever again because I knew my body couldn't handle it. I even stopped going to the movies with my boyfriend if they finished later than 9, because I knew I had to be in bed by 9:30 if I wanted to be out of bed by 2pm the following day. Needless to say, not the kind of lifestyle an 18 year old dreams of.
This, as you can imagine, really affected my relationships both with my boyfriend and with my family and friends. It also severely affected my mental health. I started getting a bit depressed, and spent my days moping around the house, watching Harry Potter over and over again. Miraculously, I'm still not sick of Harry Potter, but here is about the time where mum started to get seriously worried about me, pulled me out of self-pity palace and sent me off to a naturopath. Conventional medicine had done shit all for me thus far, as far as she was concerned, and it was time to look at the alternatives!
Well, last Friday was my first trip to the naturopath. I put it off for ages, and then when I finally went, I did so dragging my feet and unbelieving in natural medicine (or expensive hippy bullshit, as I liked to call it!)
I can't even begin to explain to you how much that trip to the naturopath has changed my life already! One little talk/examination with a kind lady in an alternative medicines shop and, BAM! I'm practically a new girl! I won't go into detail about what she told me, because it will take me even longer than this post has already, but basically, my body isn't absorbing the nutrients it needs and I am especially low in zinc and magnesium, the energy-making nutrients. The naturopath explained to me all the inner workings of my body, and theorised about why I am not getting what I need out of the food I eat (I have a really good, balanced diet, so it's not as though I'm not eating the foods with nutrients in them). She thinks that I possibly have a bacteria in my stomach that is stealing my nutrients, but only a trip back to the doctors and a piece of poo in a specimen jar will tell us that for sure, so in the meantime she has given me some great advice to give my body the best chance it can have to absorb the nutrients out of the foods I am eating:
- No gluten! This one is probably the hardest of the advice-rules because I love cake, but I am slowly getting used to it :) Apparently, gluten bloats your intestines, reducing the surface area available for absorbing nutrients.
- Dairy after meals, not before! Dairy puts a lining on your stomach, hard fr nutrients to penetrate.
- Fresh juices! I'm actually loving this one! Juice is good and easier for my poor fatigued body to digest :)
- Eat less red meat! Hating this one, but luckily she told me to cut back on eating it, not to cut it out altogether :) Meat is hard for your body to digest, and for me, it is more energy than it is wort apparently.
- Lots of nuts, leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, lettuce, celery), mushrooms and fresh foods. Cutting back on preservatives has been easy since I haven't been eating gluten (basically halves your intake of preservatives straight up), and the leafy greens are delicious, especially in juice!
- Vitamin supplements! I am currently taking three: zinc, magnesium and St. Mary's Thistle, but depending on how my body copes with eating less red meat, I may have to start taking iron as well.