I recently had a pretty intense illness. Like, stuck in bed or on the couch, can’t move, hurts to exist level of sickness. I usually get over being sick in a day or 2. Three tops. But this was dragging on. And on. And on. I had the most intense sinus infection known to man (not really, but it was bad). I was going through a roll of toilet paper a day. I swigged gallons of echinacea, usnea, and goldenrod tinctures. I was pounding vitamin C until I had to live on the toilet. My sinuses were so impacted and inflamed that I couldn’t do saline rinses. I tried. I did ALL. THE. THINGS. I suffered through Thanksgiving not being able to taste anything. The only thing I could taste was coffee and it was awful.
And then, I finally started to feel better. I got a sinus drainage massage from my friend Sherri. She gave me a cup to help move things along (have you looked into cupping?). I bought a guasha to move my lymph. I could kind of breathe again. I mean, it was so bad, that I had sores on my nostrils and couldn’t sleep. I seriously looked like a drug addict.
And then. I woke up and felt 1000X worse. High fever. Chills. Now, I know not to try to lower fevers because it is an immune response. It means your body is working towards killing the infection. So I stayed hydrated and took baths, and slept. Unfortunately, when you are really sick, and don’t have a partner to care for you, it’s all you can do to even get some water, much less steep and strain tea. So, likely I didn’t do everything I needed. But it hurt to exist.
And then. I woke up and felt 1000X worse. Yes. Worse than the day before. Worse than the week before. Worse than 3 weeks before. All the lymph glands in the back of my neck down into my clavicle were hot, inflamed, and PAINFUL. I couldn’t move my neck. I started to get scared. I messaged my friend that recently recovered from meningitis to ask what her symptoms were. Thankfully I didn’t have them aside from the headache (from sinus pressure and caffeine withdrawal) and stiff neck-but mine was stiff from pain-not meningitis.
I finally gave up. Now, had this all happened at the beginning of my illness, instead of 3+ weeks in, I could have likely worked a little more to clear it on my own. But at this point I was done. I wasn’t able to work, care for my family or myself, or do anything that even remotely resembled being a human. I dragged myself to a clinic. Ready to accept help from allopathic medicine. So I was diagnosed with a severe sinus infection, two ear infections, and lymphadenitis (infected lymph nodes). I was definitely feeling ashamed of the fact that I gratefully accepted my prescriptions of not only antibiotics, but also prednisone (steroids). I needed to kick start my healing to get back to the land of the living.
Now, in retrospect, I realize that I had been receiving signals from my body. Even though I feel like I mostly maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle, I was doing the things that I shouldn’t have: not resting when called, relying on caffeine to carry my through, consuming alcohol, and not following my normal self care practices because “I’m just entirely too busy.” HA! When we don’t LISTEN to the tiny voices, the loud voices are undeniable. Due to my pushing off the voice that told me to slow down, to rest, to practice self-care (yeah yeah, it’s a cliched buzzword anymore-but it IS RELEVANT) my body pushed back and forced me to rest. I created the perfect host for this virus and subsequent bacterial infection to take root. My immune system was depleted. My lymphatic function was zero. And everything stopped.
So, how do you listen to your body? What are these voices?
It starts with setting aside time in the morning. When you wake up, before you get out of bed-do a body scan instead of just hopping up right away. How are you feeling? Muscle tension? Weird tickle in your throat? Sometimes we have things going on that are very subtle, and if we are rushing throughout the day, we can easily ignore them. But if we take the time to proactively assess and figure out what is going on, this is a good place to head off an illness. Another trick is to notice when you are rushing around, stressed and frazzled. Taking the time to stop for just a minute and breathe. While you’re sitting in traffic, when you’re sitting at your desk, when you are once again standing over your sink. Just stop. Just for a moment. And breathe. Any tightness? This is a good time to think about your hydration level. You probably do need some water. Do some light stretches. Before bed-how are you going to bed? Do you fall asleep exhausted? Do you watch tv or stare at your phone? Develop a good bed time routine that is calming, relaxing, and invites sleep.
Let me tell you. Even though I’m happy to report I felt exponentially better within a day, it’s not without consequence. And the moral of this story is NOT to take antibiotics when you are sick. I feel like I was responsible in my usage of western medicine. I consider it a last resort and that’s exactly what I did. Like I said, usually I can kick an infection in a few days. But this set in HARD.
So, side effects that I dealt/am dealing with: the prednisone made me crazy. I rage cleaned. I ate horribly. I was an asshole. I don’t understand how people take it long term. I would lose my mind and gain 100s of pounds. The antibiotics killed my gut. I have had/still have loose stools. Sometimes just mild, other times full blown diarrhea. I had a yeast infection. Lots of bloating. And these are only the noticeable side effects.
It can take years to recover your gut microbiome after a round of antibiotics unless you are proactive about it. You may have seen me post on Facebook about starting the GAPS diet protocol. This is mainly why. I’m also doing it to help with absorption in general as I have Hashimoto’s which also affects digestion and gut health.
I made the mistake of attempting to start this protocol before the holidays. BIG mistake. So, I am now ready to restart fully. If you would like to follow along, I’ll be sharing my meal plan and experiences in my Facebook group. You can join here.
Read all about GAPS here.
GAPS isn’t for everyone. It’s a pretty restrictive diet. But, I feel like for me, it is the fastest way to restore my gut health and set me on the correct path to focus on rectifying the damage and deal with my autoimmune issues.
The moral of the story, take care of yourself while you are healthy. Listen to your body before it is forced to scream. Have a system in place. You don’t want to be sick and then realize you don’t have herbal teas at home. Keep a nice stash of holistic remedies. Stay hydrated. Move daily. Eat nourishing foods and ferments. Get outside more. REST. Practice self care. Reach out to create a support system.
I am always available to help you develop a personalized prevenative plan. You can schedule a free consultation here.