This is the year for wellness
So 2023 is here. Seems like it got here fast and without much fanfare. Maybe that is a good thing for everyone. For me, after two full years of COVID panic and fear, political misinformation, and sadly, no general change in our health policies or the health of our nation, I am ready for a year of lasting change. A year that we can all move forward from the past and think about health in a way that begins at the roots and uses the power of our body's unique biochemistry to keep us happy and whole.
Why this year? Because this year I will turn 40. I want to spend the next 40 years living in a place of wellness. The only way to do that is to arrest the autoimmune dynamics that are happening now and create a solid nutritional foundation in which my body in its own wisdom, can function optimally. I have spent the last 5 years on a journey of self-reflection and personal growth. Before that, I spent almost my entire life with severe gut dysfunction. Western medicine failed me as a child, a teenager, and a young woman struggling to get pregnant. When I hit 35, after a divorce left me feeling like my world was falling apart, I started to research what true health looked like.
As a pharmacist, I was taught to diagnose a symptom and give a pill. Something about that was beginning to feel wrong in so many ways. In the case of my own health, I didn’t understand why specialists kept telling me nothing was wrong with me, yet I had acid reflux so bad sometimes that I coughed and felt like fire was literally crawling up my throat. There is definitely something wrong, but what? The medications I have been on for years (since I was about 13 or 14, can’t be sure of the timing here) reduces stomach acid production by up to 70 to 80%. I had been on them all and they all have severe long-term side effects that in the past 5 to 10 years have been published in studies done after the medications have already come to the market. Just a side note here, no initial clinical trial can show how medications affect us 20 years after use. Clinical trials do not run that long and they only reflect side effects seen in weeks or months of use. What about being on medication for 20 or 30 years? No one knows. That’s kinda scary. So here I am years later and reading a black box warning that I run the risk of dementia after long-term use of a proton pump inhibitor. Dementia! No freaking thank you. I will not stand for it anymore. And so began my journey to get off medications and figure out why I have digestive issues in the first place. In fact, I didn’t even know or understand it was digestive issues. Kinda sad when you think about the education I had. But when the health model is focused on stopping the symptoms rather than figuring out what is really causing it in the first place, then you get a disease care education rather than a healthcare education.
During the last 5 years, I have learned so much that it feels like my life has turned upside down and sideways. I have learned that health can be so complicated if you are trying to figure out that one thing that is stopping you and yet so simple if you stop trying to reduce it for treatment with a drug and instead expand your thinking to include the environment, the unique genetics and epigenetics at play, and the consumption of food or chemical food like substances that make up what is a set of unique life circumstances and choices.
So now that I have learned so much and will continue to learn about the complicated and most wonderful human body, I want to go on a journey in 2023 where I share the steps I am taking, the thoughts I have about being a healthy deviant, and the career and life changes I am making as 40 approaches. This isn’t to toot my own horn either. I’ve often wished someone somewhere would have helped me understand this 15 years ago before some of the damage had become irreversible. I hope this year, the information I put out there into the internet ether will help someone take control of their health and make some changes. I originally chose a pharmacy career because I truly wanted to help people. Now I know better. In fact, medications might even stand in the way of true health (just like my acid reducer).
Here is what I learned so far.
- Stomach acid is necessary for digestion, period. Twenty years without adequate digestion left me with nutrient deficiencies, an autoimmune disease, food sensitivities, and irritable bowel disease. Having too much acid is so rare that it truly doesn’t exist.
- Stress must be addressed for wellness. I don't mean getting on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. Those medications, while they may help someone get to a place for change in the short term, do nothing to stop the damage occurring behind the scenes. Changing the environment that caused stress in the first place is the path to wellness.
- Food is at the root of all wellness or disease. You can’t create wellness without eliminating foods that create a whole stress dynamic by itself
- The most important thing of all is to understand that the gut is the doorway to wellness or illness. If you don’t address the badness coming in, then how can you expect your body to respond in a health-promoting way?
- I need joy. Yes, I learned I was deficient in joy and play and fun. All the things that bring light into my soul. Why did I stop? I think adulthood stole the things that filled me up. This year I will bring those things back. I started a tap class, I aim to laugh more, and I want to play more! I want to be young at heart as the old saying goes.
- I want to write more! I used to love to write poetry and short stories. To create.
- I needed a puppy. This one might seem a bit silly, but in 2021 my dog Ike passed away. He was 14 years old. That left a deep hurt in my heart that I didn’t really come to terms with until this year. So we got a puppy. An adorable golden retriever named Teddy. He brought some joy and some play and a whole lot of cuteness. He did teach me that animals are necessary in my life.
I learned even more and I will share as I go through this journey. The most important thing I have learned so far is that I am not perfect! I just need to wake up every morning and do my best for this day. I hope 2023 is a year of hope, change, and fulfillment!