Photos by gena larson photography

Photos by gena larson photography

 
 

I spent many years wondering why I felt so terrible when my conventional medicine doctor was telling me everything was "normal." It wasn't until I found functional medicine that everything started to fall into place.

My journey to health and happiness began about 10 years ago when I started to feel as though my energy levels were lagging. My mother has Graves' disease and hypothyroidism/hyperthyroidism runs in my mother's family. I knew it was only a matter of time until my thyroid tests came back abnormal. Each year, I went into my conventional medicine doctor and said something doesn't feel right. My sleep is bad, my energy levels are low, my stomach is upset and I'm often cranky. Ultimately, the tests would come back normal and I would wait another year. Each year was the same...over and over.

In 2013, a colleague mentioned that I may want to see a functional medicine doctor to get a second opinion. Excited to hear a potentially different response, I made an appointment with Dr. Nicole Fenske, a recommended functional medicine doctor in Madison. 

We did a more comprehensive panel of tests and it turns out I wasn't crazy! I had pretty severe adrenal fatigue as well as hypothyroidism. I felt such relief that someone was going to help me get past these health challenges I'd faced for so many years. After a year, I started to feel better until January 2014 when I got vertigo. I spent over three months battling the vertigo with every remedy I could find (medication, acupuncture, cranial sacral therapy, etc.) . My ear, nose and throat doctor told me it was a viral infection in my inner ear. I asked if I should get a MRI just in case it was something more serious and he said it wasn't necessary. Eventually, the vertigo went away, but my health continued to decline after the vertigo. I had been involved in CrossFit and yoga for years prior to the vertigo. About six months later I couldn't finish workouts at the gym and recovery was days long. I eventually stopped doing CrossFit and tried to do yoga twice a week until I had to stop doing that too. 

In March of 2017, I began to have numbness/tingling on my torso and about a week later both hands. I went to see Dr. Fenske and she suggested I request an MRI. I couldn't get the worst case scenario out of my mind. On April 1, 2017, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). At first, I felt overwhelmed and wondered how could this be happening to me! Over the years, I had read about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), the Elimination Diet, and the Wahls Protocol, thanks to my husband.  This was a turning point in my life.  I could choose to take medication and continue my unhealthy diet and lifestyle or I could take control of my life and commit to making significant changes. I chose my health and happiness and began the Wahls Protocol. It's important to note, I decided to begin this journey without medication, but I know that we are all at different points in our life when a diagnosis happens and sometimes the best choice is medication.

After one week on the Wahls Protocol, I felt changes in the numbness on my torso. At three months, all my numbness was completely gone. After a few months, I began mixing in the Autoimmune Protocol (or Autoimmune Paleo) with the Wahls Protocol. I spent 11 months on this and felt much better except I couldn't shake the fatigue and sleep issues. I was listening to a podcast by Robb Wolf and his guest was Ryan Frisinger.  Ryan's experience deeply resonated with me. Could I have been misdiagnosed? Turns out I tested positive for Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), had heavy metal toxicity and nutrient deficiencies. I now work with Ryan on a very strict protocol to address these issues and I'm feeling better than I have in decades! I now have energy all day and a zest for life that had been missing for a decade. 

I truly believe in these lifestyle changes as they've improved my health like nothing else I've tried. Remember, YOU are your own best advocate! I'm always happy to share my tips and resources with anyone interested. As a functional medicine certified health coach, I can encourage and support you on your journey because I personally know how challenging everyday...every moment, can feel. Living a healthy life isn't always easy, but it's worth it!

In health & happiness,

Jennifer