I can’t believe it’s been two whole years since my last entry. The trials and tribulations of life have tried to keep me away, but I knew I needed to come back. I needed to return not only because I’ve missed connecting with my readers – my followers – you, but because I’m dying to share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve learned, and how my newfound knowledge may be able to help others.
Now that I’m back, I thought it’d be best to make some changes to this blog. It’s time to start new. I won’t lie; at first, I struggled with the idea of starting over. In some way, I felt like I failed you and myself. I now understand that embracing change is ok and is a part of my journey.
Throughout this past year, I have been learning about gut health, food sensitivities, natural remedies, herbs and nutrition. Health, with a holistic approach, has become a big part of my life, and I would like this space to reflect that (while not abandoning my passion for hair of course). I want to share what has helped me turn my health around. If this information can reach and help at least one of you who may be going through something similar, my heart will be truly happy.
So, what led to the shift in focus of this blog?
Well, before 2015, I wasn’t aware of my own symptoms and what was going on with my body. To me, I thought the aches and nuisances were completely normal.
Then, two years ago, the stomach pain began.
I was living and working in D.C. at the time. One night after attending a birthday potluck for a group of friends, I suddenly became nauseous. My stomach was extremely bloated, and by the end of the night, I vomited pretty much everything I ate at the party. I contemplated seeing a medical doctor, but being the resilient woman that I am, I thought the pain would pass and I would be back to my normal self. However, after a few weeks, the pain persisted and got worse. That’s when I knew I needed to rip off the superwoman cape and make a doctor’s appointment.
I had high expectations walking into the doctor’s office on that day. I was convinced that we would sit down, chat and find a solution. But during my appointment, I’d only received one piece of advice: to increase my fiber intake. I ended up leaving feeling defeated and confused. I followed the doctor’s orders and increased my fiber intake, but I did not feel any better than before. As time passed, I started to experience a range of other symptoms: eczema breakouts, constant gas/bloating, irregular bowel movements, diarrhea, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, vomiting, heightened anxiety/panic, depressive mood swings, brain fog and tingling in my hands and feet. This was more than just low fiber; this was serious.
So, I’d decided to book another appointment, but this time with a dermatologist because my face started breaking out in acne. At the end of our conversation, the dermatologist recommended an antibiotic called Doxycycline as it should remove the acne-causing bacteria from my body, improving my overall skin health. Who was I to argue with a medical professional? Out of desperation, I took the antibiotic for the prescribed 30 days. But after a month, I did not notice a difference in my skin; in fact, it got worse.
Unfortunately, one of the major side effects of taking an antibiotic is that the drug is not selective in choosing which bacteria – good or bad – to kill in the body. All of the good bacteria colonies, which assist in making vitamins to boost the immune system, die along with the bad. As a result, a person could experience poor gut health, nutritional deficiencies and chronic health illnesses. After learning these facts, and having suffered through highly inflammatory, neurological and endocrine symptoms for almost a year later, I was filled with regret.
Through the frustration and hopelessness, it started to click in my mind that if I wanted to feel better, then I needed to be more proactive in my own health. Going from doctor to doctor spending money on useless medications was emotionally draining and causing a strain on my finances. It was then that I decided to take a step back and start from square one.
One day, I described my symptoms to my sister, who’d then suggested that I research Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Eager to finally self-diagnose, I got on YouTube and was surprised to find a huge community of people sharing their stories with similar symptoms as my own. The one thing that stood out from each individual story was how a change in diet played a major role in getting back to good health. Could it really be that simple?
A short time later while chatting it up with a friend about my health, she connected me to her co-worker who just a year prior had suffered from similar symptoms. That conversation led to getting a recommendation for a naturopathic doctor who specialized in gastrointestinal disorders, digestive health and hormonal imbalances amongst other things. It was the first time I’d met a doctor who was genuinely interested in getting to the root of my health issues. We spoke for over an hour and discussed a variety of potential diagnoses: Celiac disease, Candida, and even IBS. She strongly suggested that I get a comprehensive food allergy test to check my blood for any antibodies linked to allergies and/or food sensitivities and also get a blood test to check my vitamin/hormone levels. The results were shocking! Not only did I learn I am sensitive to gluten, wheat and eggs, but I also discovered I was extremely deficient in Vitamins D and B12 and Iron, essential nutrients needed for a balanced immune system. The more research I did and the more knowledgeable I became, the more I began to attack the symptoms I had ignored for so long, paying more attention to my body’s subtle messages.
So, I cut out gluten, wheat, dairy and eggs from my meals. I slowly cut out processed and fried foods as well. I focused on eating more leafy greens, vegetables, whole fruits and drank tons of water. I also started taking daily supplements of Vitamins D and B12 and Iron in order to rebuild my energy. Shamefully, before getting sick, my meals lacked vegetables, which is probably an understatement. I was not getting enough nutrients to build a strong immune system. Growing up in a Haitian-Caribbean household, meat was also a big thing. I ate it every single day. Rarely did I fill my plate with salad and vegetables. If I did, it was usually a very small portion. Nowadays, after taking control of my health, I rarely eat meat.
It has now been a year and a half since I’ve made these changes, and my symptoms have completely reversed. I no longer experience abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, irregular bowel movements, brain fog, muscle pain and tingling sensations, and my longtime battle with eczema is gone. My skin is improving, my mind is clearer, and I have more energy than ever before. Being on the other side of my health has greatly inspired my path toward wellness and embracing a plant-based holistic lifestyle. I feel connected and more in tune with my body and spirit.
I currently reside in Connecticut with renewed health and a sense of being. Every day, I am finding ways to learn more about what my body needs to feel good and balanced. Enduring a chronic sickness has completely shifted my outlook on health, mental wellbeing and my relationship with food. In a weird way, I appreciate it for opening my eyes and alerting me to how poorly I was taking care of myself. It shed light on the fact that food is definitely medicine. What we eat directly affects our bodies and minds. I neglected myself for too long and allowed stress and horrible eating to be the driving force. With the awareness that I’ve gained, I do not want to go back down that path. This journey is challenging, yet knowing I have the power to heal myself keeps me going and empowered.
Disclaimer: By sharing my personal experience, I am hoping to spread awareness about the importance of listening to your body and making the right choices for your health. Please do not read and self-diagnose. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that I have shared, I strongly encourage consulting with a health professional.