From Healer to Victim to Health: A personal story of healing
Gloria Gilbere, N.D.,D.A.Hom.,Ph.D.
In the fall of 1992 my dream had come true.
After 20 years in healthcare in large metropolitan cities, I was finally able to relocate to practice in a beautiful area of the U.S. in northern Idaho.
I had a thriving practice in natural health specializing in ergonomics, occupational health and safety: ill people and ill buildings... I never considered that one ill step would change my life forever!
I slipped on a matt and I fell face forward onto concrete. I fractured my foot and ankle and ripped the muscles in my shoulder. A week later my injuries had escalated into life-threatening blood clots, then pulmonary embolism.
During my seven-day stay in the intensive care unit, I was prescribed various potent drugs for pain and inflammation. When I entered the hospital, I had excruciating pain from a fractured foot and resulting blood clots; not muscle pain, fatigue, allergies or insomnia.
Shortly after my release from the hospital, I developed what was diagnosed as chronic fatigue. The doctors attributed my symptoms to trauma recuperation, and the odyssey began of poisoning my body.
As my complaints grew in intensity, so did the list of prescribed drugs for symptom-care. I was prescribed antidepressant drugs; I was apparently too impatient to regain my energy and stamina. Anti-inflammatory drugs; for muscle pain and decreased pain tolerance. Muscle relaxing drugs; for my insomnia.
Next came the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. My physician said I developed fibromyalgia because I was "under excessive stress."
You bet I was under stress!
I had very little quality of life, I could barely work, I was sleep-deprived, and my body was so sore it felt like the nerve endings were on top of my skin. I looked fine on the outside, but something was drastically wrong on the inside. The pain and frustration could never be explained to the observer, when everything external looks so normal.
This scenario continued until I determined no one really knew what was wrong and no one was getting to the causes. They were merely causing more and more drug side effects: heartburn, increased insomnia, chronic constipation, accelerated muscle pain, irregular heartbeat and unbearable muscle spasms.
I finally regained quality of life through alternative natural therapies with only minor residues of my past symptoms. I was not prepared for what followed:
In the winter of early 1998 I was sitting in a lovely theatre when suddenly a sharp pain penetrated my right arm, shoulder and shoulder blade. It felt as if I had been stabbed.
Examinations by medical doctors, chiropractor and several therapists could not find any cause for my distress. After five weeks of escalating pain and impaired function, I reluctantly agreed to prescription drugs for pain management and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Shortly thereafter, I experienced a strange feeling of internal swelling in my throat.
When I mentioned my symptoms to the doctor, the first suspicion was thyroid involvement. Subsequent traditional laboratory testing indicated the thyroid was "within normal range."
Then another symptom emerged; my hair was falling out in alarming quantities. My doctors and I kept digging for an apparent cause. It is now obvious we were all excavating in the wrong places.
This vicious cycle of pain, swelling, and drug side effects continued for four months. My next referral was to see a neurologist to evaluate for any spine involvement. I kept expressing that the pain felt as if my ribs were going to poke through my skin. The neurologist examined me by having me touch my nose, skip across the room, bend over and touch the floor, tested for reflex responses and determined I was "normal." After examining the MRI, he explained the massive swelling in my neck was from thoracic outlet syndrome.
He prescribed stronger NSAIDs and recommended I have a series of sessions with a physical therapist. At this point, while still attending to my practice, in excruciating pain, and with little quality of life, I again, reluctantly agreed to the drug therapy. The pain was somewhat manageable with the stronger NSAIDs; however the following side effects manifested within one week:
- acute constipation
- abdominal cramps
- accelerated fatigue
- muscle pain and weakness
- "thickened throat"
- heart palpitations
The symptoms became a daily occurrence. My family, friends, and clients observed the steady decline of my health. I'd consulted with thousands of clients worldwide overcoming the side effects of prescription drugs, and now I was in the same vicious cycle.
Modern wonder drugs, with their toxic side effects, took another victim... Me!
Shortly thereafter, I started to experience rashes to foods I normally consumed. At times my eyes were barely visible through the swollen lids. In addition, the rashes would appear as an apparent cause of having an empty stomach. I knew the hot rashes weren't female mid-life "power surges."
Then, my throat began to swell and I was given a prescription for injectable epinephrine (adrenaline), used for bee and insect stings. In retrospect, a drug, not an insect, had stung me. Because of the intense pain, I continued the NSAIDs, only to have the same effects of throat closure with progressive intensity. Then I developed chemical sensitivities from the weakened immune system. I started reacting to perfumes, new carpeting, new furnishings, anything with petrochemicals, my gas stove, my new computer, and common everyday products for personal care and cleaning.
The next option proposed was a steroidal drug to control the allergic reactions. It was now very clear how patients get caught in the tangled web of prescription drugs and their side effects. Modern conventional medicine performs miracles and saves lives, especially in the case of injury or trauma of which I'm a prime example after my accident.
However, conventional medicine has little to offer an individual with digestive, multiple chemical sensitivities and chronic disorders. Physicians are trained to turn off a reaction with drugs for symptom-care, but in the process, can perpetuate a self-destructive cycle masking the root causes.
From past experiences with clients, I suspected leaky gut, but still didn't have confirmation. New symptoms kept emerging: malnutrition, accelerated hair loss, acne and rashes, deep ridges in my nails, dark circles under my eyes, and jaundiced skin. Traditional liver testing results were "within normal ranges." However, alternative testing showed excessive liver stress and inability to neutralize toxins.
The chronic fatigue and muscle soreness made me feel as if I was bruised all over, and the right-sided pain persisted.
The next suggested traditional referral was to an allergist to determine which foods and substances I was allergic to. I had been down this road with many clients who had never fully recovered because the root causes of their symptoms were never dealt with. Disease had set in, I was again on a professional quest, this time it was for me. I confirmed my suspicion of leaky gut through non-invasive alternative testing methods, and embarked on a program for health-care, not symptom-care.
Getting to the Gut Causes
Note: The original symptom (as I had suspected) causing me such intense pain that I resorted to pain medications and NSAIDs was a displaced rib! I finally found a therapist that identified my problem and as soon as the rib was aligned, my pain would disappear. However, the damage done to my intestines, liver, lymphatic and immune system still had to be repaired.
After alternative testing methods confirmed I had leaky gut, and decreased liver function, I tailored a natural therapy program aimed at detoxifying my colon, liver and lymphatic system, and I controlled my reactions with homeopathic remedies instead of drugs.
The journey that took me from fibromyalgia, insomnia, chronic fatigue, digestive disorders, leaky gut syndrome, food allergies, anaphylactic shock and multiple chemical sensitivities all have the same root causes; toxic gut, liver and lymphatic system induced by taking pain medications and NSAIDs. The gut is responsible for over half the immune and detoxification system, so if the gut isn't healthy the body cannot repair through just avoidance of food and chemical allergens.
Today, I've reversed my fibromyalgia and leaky gut and I'm well on my way to reversing my chemical sensitivities. I have a full head of hair (a little grayer for the wear) and a tremendous compassion for the millions who are caught in the tangled web of drug side-effects. Leaky gut syndrome, and the related chemically induced immune system disorders, with their life-changing consequences, are endured by many that are labeled as "incurable" or "dead-end cases."
Many suffer in silence without emotional support from doctors, family, friends and employers. They don't understand how someone who looks so "normal" on the outside can possibly be experiencing such intense chronic pain, fatigue and allergic reactions. The symptoms are often varied and seem unconnected by any conventional view, but all share the common cause: Leaky gut.
Note: When I was in the midst of an allergic reaction, and could arrange for colon hydrotherapy, my reactions would stop within ten to fifteen minutes. I utilized this immediate care schedule in addition to my therapeutic schedule many times over a period of months, until my body was finally detoxified enough to schedule routine maintenance sessions.
I took control of my life and health-care and you can too!
The pain, inflammation and damage can be repaired without the use of drugs. I tailored a therapy program aimed at detoxifying my colon, liver and lymphatic system. It included homeopathic remedies;
- one to support liver detoxification and,
- one to control allergic reactions,
- colon hydrotherapy and colon cleansing supplements, to rid my body of stored toxins and keep them from re-circulating,
- medical food protein drinks with amino acids like l-glutamine, for healing the gut and providing easy to digest nourishment,
- natural mineral replacement, for electrolyte balance and to eliminate muscle spasms,
- therapeutic body massage with lymphatic stimulation, to assist in moving stored toxins in soft and connective tissue and "guiding" them to elimination pathways,
- herbals such as slipper elm, for intestinal gas,
- antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and grapeseed extract for enhanced immunity,
- digestive enzymes, to eliminate heartburn,
- systemic enzymes, to heal and reduce inflammation and pain.
It takes commitment, and there are no natural "quick fixes"...
But if I can do it, you can too!
About the author: Gloria Gilbere, N.D., D.A.Hom., Ph.D. is Director of the Naturopathic Health and Research Center in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Her specialty is identifying causes, effects and natural solutions for leaky gut syndromes and chemically induced immune system disorders. Dr. Gloria Gilbere is the author of "I was POISONED by my body... I have a gut feeling you could be too!" from which much of this article was adapted. A copy can be ordered through bookstores ISBN 0-9676050-9-1, directly from the publisher at 1-800-345-6665 or on-line at www.luckypress.com
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