Tuesday, November 7, 2017
I can look back from each day after these thoughts have invaded me like a rampant virus, and they seem like silly, childish memories. But in the moment they are real. So pervasively, honestly, deeply real.
I can't trust myself.
Do you know what happens when you spend day in and day out with someone you know you can't trust? The relationship crumbles. Flip it around. I can't begin to convey the kind of torture it is to never be trusted.
I'm all about self love. Kindness, gentleness turned inward. This chelation process is putting it to the ultimate test.
Let me step back for a minute.
In July, I found two naturopathic doctors in the state who knew how to treat copper poisoning. One was in my town. I worked up the courage to call, and they put me on a two month waiting list. I called everyday to ask if they'd had any cancellations. Three days later, I had an appointment for the same week. Or so I thought. Long story short, I ended up seeing the PA, not the actual doctor. Blood tests were ordered, chelation supplementation began. High levels of Zinc and activated B6. I expected strange symptoms. My facial numbness returned, intermittent tremors, exhaustion, copper mouth (it's all I can taste at times). Three weeks later, I saw Dr. Jacobs. He reduced my chelation dosage. He added HPA support to help my organs function better and ease my anxiety. Iron to help with the hidden anemia. He also added supplements to balance my female hormones. To attempt to get my Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and severe menorrhagia managed. This started changing immediately, but not for the better. I gained weight immediately, my skin broke out, my anxiety worsened. My period week was hell. I was determined to wait it out. To let things get better. But the worst was the mental seesaw. Anxiety, depression, anxiety, depression. I spent so much time pacing and shaking just to try to get through things like cooking dinner. I took myself off the hormonal supplements midway through my second raging awful cycle on them. The suicidal thoughts and dreams were returning. I could not live this way.
My doctor agreed that the intended effects of the hormonal balancing were being reversed by the chelation process and the stress my liver was under. We agreed to leave those for after the copper detox is done. He changed my dosage of almost everything, and added 5HTP to help the anxiety. That's when depression came swinging like a sledgehammer. Luckily I have some Dopamine and Acetylcholine support in my arsenal to contend with it. I'm sure we'll adjust things again the next time I go in. The things copper does to my brain are brutal and unpredictable. This chemistry manipulation game is exhausting. I hate it.
I can't trust myself.
I can't make a decision. I can rarely handle a schedule of any type. Very rarely can I feel awe. I know it sounds weird, but for someone who has made it a point to stay in awe of life and the world around her, it's a tragic loss.
I haven't been able to draw or paint well in weeks. My custom orders have gone unfilled. I know I need to give myself space to heal, but I just feel like I'm failing at everything.
Jenna and Katie dragged me off to the Grand Canyon this weekend. I'm so grateful Aaron took care of the kids and let me go. It was amazing, and I'm so glad I went. There was so much to be in awe of. And yet, between the breathtaking sunset and the mind blowing full moon rise, I leaned back in the the car, delirious, and cried into my pillow until I found the presence of mind to take something to support my brain. Everything between the highs and lows is numb. The girls were incredibly patient and kind. I'm grateful every moment for such incredible people in my life. I'm grateful that while Katie went to run Rim to Rim to Rim, Jenna took me out on the most unreal trail for 4 hours of feeling almost like the girl that I miss being. I'm grateful for mini gummy bears, and Sweetwood Meat Sticks, salt and vinegar chips, and car trip dance parties, and Chinese fire drills to keep us awake as we drove through the night to get home. I'm grateful for gentle memories of Coyote songs in the middle of the night, and long walks along to rim of the canyon to find the best views.
I'm beyond grateful that even when I can't trust myself, I have people that I can undoubtedly trust. To hug me with their whole souls, through long deep breaths. To make me laugh when I've forgotten how. And to trust the me they know is in here somewhere still. They know she's still kind, and generous, and strong, and worthy, even when I don't.
It's going to get better.
I don't know how long it will take, or how many friends or brain cells I will have left when it's over. But it has to get better.
Thursday, July 6, 2017
In January I started Mountain Soul Creations. Now officially Mountain Soul Company. The healing that has occurred in my brain has brought new and surprising talents. I'm a professional artist. All of the sudden, there it is. It is overwhelming to have something that is quite literally my therapy- carving wood, making jewelry, painting, be so lovingly and widely embraced and in even in demand. I love how personal it is. Mountains are one of my great loves, and every time I get a custom request, it feels like being asked to paint a portrait of someones dearest lover. I spend time and energy and emotion getting it right. It has to feel right. I get to celebrate mountains every day, and I love it.
How is my health? Well. That's complicated. From the time I started diet and supplementation in September/October, to June, by body has changed immensely. I lost 25 lbs and went from a size 12 to a size 6/8. In February, after a particularly painful and expensive kidney infection and ER trip, I decided that I really wanted to see what real dedication to yoga would do for me. So I bought a 6 month unlimited membership- which cost less than half what the ER visit did, and committed to going as often as possible. I was convinced I had MS. I had read first hand accounts of people basically putting their MS in remission through diet and yoga. I wanted to try.
So I'm better, right?
Better? Yes. Well? No.
I still have numb spots, and nerve and joint pains that are spreading. I still have constant fatigue and periodic episodes that send me to bed. I'm prone to infection. I still have mental health issues, and weeks when it's all I can do to send the suicidal thoughts packing. I finally found a medical doc who would listen to me.
From visit #1, Dr. Kennedy was on my side. "I just want to make it clear that you are in charge. You hired me. We are on a team. I have expertise, but you are the resident expert on your own body, and I respect that." Hallelujah. I handed him a two page long list of medical history and ongoing symptoms. He gawked and we laughed, and then he ordered tests. Blood tests and MRIs.
On June 17th, I was on a trail run with Jenna, Merete, and Katie when Aaron called me. Aaron almost never calls me. He couldn't get the words out. The world stopped. Our friend Zac had fallen off a mountain ridge just hours before. He didn't make it. I dropped in the dirt as my heart cracked to pieces, and sobbed. I told Jenna and the others. We sat trail side and cried together, held each other, dry heaved together. Zac was wonderful. Zac was a careful badass. Zac was every single one of us. He was a Wasatch Mountain Wrangler. It just couldn't be. I needed to be with Aaron. We started back down. Jenna took off. She needed to run. I couldn't even see the trail through my tears.
The fallout has been huge. We speak of the ripple effect. Zac left tidal waves. He was just that good. In the gatherings of friends, and the support of Zac's incredible family, the funeral, the dinners, the meetings and the memorial runs, we've found solace, and camaraderie, and introspection, and so much love. It hurts. So much. And it always will.
We've designed apparel in memory of our friend Zac, with the proceeds going directly to his family.
We can't do much, but they are ours to care for now. And we'll do all we can.
My regular blood tests came back normal. Lyme came back negative. The brain MRI came back clean. No MS lesions. My abdominal MRI showed that my 7 liver hemangioma have been growing, and the vessels are dilated, but this wasn't a big concern. So what? Why do I feel this way? As wonderful as you'd think it would be to get news that things look normal, it's not. It makes you question your own sanity. It makes you want to give up.
The day after the MRIs, I had a gall bladder attack. It felt a lot like a kidney stone, but worse. I went from cramping uncomfortably, to curled up in a ball, panting, to vomiting uncontrollably, to writhing and hyperventilating. I knew instacare would send me straight to the ER. I knew the ER would do scans and tell me everything looked fine, and give me pain meds and antibiotics and send me on my way. Besides, I wasn't about to make it to the car. My skin was greyish yellow, and whatever part of me wasn't in excruciating pain, was numb. I called the docs office- which was closing. I told them I'd had an MRI the day before and asked them to check for kidney stones and gall stones. They said everything looked clear. I called my dad. He and my mom rushed up the hill- I've never been so thankful to live so close to them. He examined me, worked my reflexes, diagnosed it as a gall bladder attack, and gave me an adjustment. The pain subsided. I called my doctor the next morning. He set up a surgery consult for later that week. Maybe my gall bladder was just bad.
A few days later, a nurse friend dropped by to say hi. She didn't know what had been going on, but immediately called out the contrast dye from the MRI as the culprit for my gall bladder attack. I cancelled my surgery consult.
The last test came back on June 30th. A blood serum copper test. We didn't expect much from it. I had always suspected copper toxicity, but knew that it often doesn't show up in the blood because the body is so quick to shuffle it off to organs. Besides, it's been over 2 years since the IUD was removed from the side of my bowel.
Normal max is around 110. Copper toxicity. "This is concerning," my doctor said. "If I were you, I'd be thinking about litigation."
Turns out I've been poisoned. For 9 years, I've had strange symptoms that have gotten worse with time. This explains everything. My shattered bones, my kidney stones, my mental health, my nerve issues, my apocalypse style periods, everything.
Symptoms of High (Excess) Copper