My Journey begins . . . By the time I was able to see my doctor, I was a total wreck. Every time I stood up, I felt the world spin and my legs would shake; I would start to panic that I was going to pass out. And I was very scared! The doctor took one look at me and knew that I was anemic. Blood tests confirmed that I was severely anemic, and I had a choice of taking iron supplements and waiting to see if my hemoglobin levels would go up, or receive a blood transfusion. I opted for the supplements.
It was a slow process, and I spent weeks flat on my back in bed or on the couch. As I lay there, I wondered why this had happened. Why, out of the blue, did I go from massaging clients, working out, riding my horse and running errands to a bedridden invalid? I went back to my doctor to see why this was happening. She was unsure but guessed it was due to my heavy periods. I had never thought about my periods much before, other than they were messy, painful and something I had to suffer through every month.
I followed up with my OB/GYN to see what she thought. She ordered an ultrasound and found that I had a 10 cm fibroid (about the size of a grapefruit!). Her advice – “Let’s do a hysterectomy.” I knew I did not want to jump into surgery, especially while I was so anemic. Back at home, I still wondered why this had happened. Why was it that I was now anemic, when I had heavy periods for years? What caused my fibroid? Was there anything else causing me to feel like I had been kicked by a mule?
I started to research anemia online and found that, beyond the usual causes of blood loss and disease, there were lesser known causes, many of which were very dominant parts of my life:
1) I was always on the move and found that having trail mix on hand was a good way to have a healthy snack when I needed it. What I didn’t know was that the almonds in the trail mix can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron.
2) From the time I was first introduced to coffee, it was my morning wake-up call and kept me going throughout the day while working never-ending hours as a public relations specialist. After leaving the corporate world, I kept my coffee habit, but I now found that coffee, too, blocks the body’s ability to absorb iron.
3) And there were other foods that I loved that interfere with iron absorption: chocolate, dairy, cashews, spinach, Swiss chard, and so on . . .
I was floored. Here I thought I was taking care of myself, and instead, I was stressing my body to the point where it could no longer support itself. And what was worse, I felt dumb, that here was all of this information I was unaware of, that if I had only known, I could have made better choices for myself and avoided this crisis. The more I learned, the more I understood how a healthy tummy means healthy everything.
The journey continues . . . As I made changes to my diet, I saw my overall health improve. My hemoglobin levels improved, my fibroid stopped its rapid growth, and my periods lightened. I continued my journey by training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, learning from some of the leading health and nutrition experts, including Andrew Weil M.D., Deepak Chopra M.D., David Katz M.D., David Wolfe, Mark Hyman, M.D., AnneMarie Colbin and many more. I furthered my education with a focus on digestive function and hormones, learning from experts such as Andrea Nakayama, Sara Gottfried, Andrea Beaman, John Lee, M.D. and Ann Louise Gittleman.
Taking what I have learned from all of these experts, I knew that I wanted to help other women; women like myself who are transitioning from perimenopause to menopause and feel let down by mainstream medicine. I am now blessed to be able to teach women how to live without the burden of heavy periods, fibroids, headaches, weight gain and more, so they can create a life of energy.
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