the patient’s guide to:: dysautonomia

dysautonomia- a disorder of autonomic nervous system (ANS) function that generally involves failure of the sympathetic or parasympathetic components of the ANS.

 

A little known term, dysautonomia is a series of symptoms that almost every person I work with experiences often. Generally, patients will feel weak, faint, dizzy, and have tachycardia for no apparent reason. They may feel the sensation of their heart pounding, sweat too much or not at all, and be sensitive to light, sounds and crowds. Most describe it as a feeling of sudden overwhelm from stimuli and notice that they withdraw from those around them and their own bodies in an attempt to cope. Extremely high or suddenly low blood pressure are common. One common form of dysautonomia is POTS. (See my post on managing POTS holistically here.) Because of these symptoms, which can result in seizures, fainting or temporary paralysis, many find themselves scared to leave the house. 

It’s important to know with dysautonomia that you CAN heal from it. Correcting the confused signals between brain and nervous system takes a little time, but is relatively simply- once you have all the information you need. The majority of ANS disorder folks find that removing triggers, implementing grounding and soothing techniques, as well as using aids such as essential oils and functional neurology rehab helps tremendously. People with POTS can attempt therapies such as tilt table therapy with a qualified practitioner and recover in as little as 6 or 7 sessions. Learning how to breathe properly and use tricks such as ice cubes under the tongue, peppermint oil and sour candy all have the potential to restart your ANS and get you out of fight/flight/stuck mode. Strength building exercises in your quads and abdomen work to allow the nervous system signals to be transmitted properly as well.

ANS disorders are healed by increasing oxygen to the brain (breathing properly, essential oils), regulating blood sugar and mineral levels (ensuring a constant source of fuel to the brain) and repetition (giving the brain a mirror to copy, allowing it to mimic the correct brain wave pattern to do things like walk or multitask, until it produces the correct form itself). Expect a brain map procedure first to allow your doctor to gather as much info as possible about which parts of your brain are over and under performing; from those results they will put together a series of therapy based exercises for you to work on together. Stick with it– it is so worth it, I promise. If you need help finding an experienced practitioner, please email me for some recommendations.

Have you healed from an ANS disorder? How did you do it?

a peek into the life of a health coach::

The life of a health coach may seem glamorous from the outside, but we are just like everyone else. Today I’m sharing a behind the scenes peek into my personal life, hoping to show the few staple habits that keep me feeling strong and living life well. Read on for a bit of our laid back back every day life!

 

 

7-8 am:: wake up. My son usually hops in bed with me to snuggle and chatters away until we’re ready to go downstairs for breakfast.

8-9 am:: breakfast for Liam and morning routine for me. The two of us eat a modified Paleo type diet. He loves oatmeal with berries or gluten free pancakes, which we make on Saturday mornings. I stick with a protein and veggies, usually chicken sausage or turkey meatballs with brussel sprouts, asparagus, or sauteed greens. While he munches away, I dose out his herbs, work on drinking my celery juice and journal. Each morning I jot down 7 things I am grateful for, and then go on to write out affirmations, prayers and goals. I usually finish with time in my Bible and prayers for the day. My celery juice will have settled in my empty stomach by then and I’ll be ready for breakfast myself.

 

9-10 am:: breakfast for me, Liam plays, I get ready for the day. I like to be dressed, done with the little things and sitting down at my computer to work by 10 am. A slow start to the morning maximizes our digestive systems and eases us into the day. I love our easy going first few hours of the day!

10 am- 1 pm:: work time. One of my healthy habits is to complete the most important task by 11 am each morning. I believe in putting my best energy forward into something that will lend to my day feeling productive, no matter how I may be feeling. Thankfully, I have had minimal symptoms so my to do lists have been shorter. I’ve been able to really pour energy into some of the larger projects I have going on. I like blocking off my mornings to focus on back office tasks, like emails, blog posts and planning out financials. Coaching sessions tend to take place later in the day.

1-5 pm:: wind down. If it’s a preschool day, I will drop Liam off and go back home to wrap up work for the day. He still naps, so another crucial healthy habit for me, is to take his nap time to relax myself. Even if I don’t nap, I will catch up on emails, do a detox bath, or read a book. I always do this with my afternoon smoothie which contains most of my supplements for the day. Mid day pauses let me reset, refocus and slow down. It is easy to get caught up in the fastfastfast pace of life which only causes my stress levels to rise and doesn’t serve my body in any way. My 2 pm break is one of my favorite parts of the day!

5-8 pm:: our evenings tend to be different every night. I may hold a coaching session, have some 1:1 time with Liam, catch up on chores around the house, or go over research for work or chill out with a book to read. Sometimes Liam’s body needs some extra support so we’ll do a detox bath for him, functional neurology play therapy, or make some healthy snacks together.

830 pm:: bedtime for Liam. I consider my day over at this point. My last cemented healthy habit is to quit when he goes to sleep. I’ll make a list of what needs to be done the next day and walk away from it. Showing yourself love is incredibly important. When getting ready for bed myself, I will shower, flow through my yoga stretches, eat a snack and then turn the lights out. I’ll play binaural beats, nature oriented music or a comedy episode (audio only! my screen is always turned facedown) to listen to as I drift off. Struggling with quality sleep is still my most prevalent symptom; keeping my bedtime routine solid is how I ensure I give each night my best shot.

 

 

That’s our usual day!

-Morning routine of gratitude, journalling, devotions each day.

-Get the most important task of the day done by 11 am.

-Rest when Liam rests.

 

What are your foundational habits for a productive, healthy day?

what to do when you can’t do anything, part 2

I’m a big believer in taking responsibility for your own health. Even if you can’t afford treatment or if you haven’t been able to find a doctor yet, there are dozens of ways you can make strides in your recovery on your own. This is part two to the topic I first posted earlier this week here. I got some many great suggestions to add to the original list that I just had to share!

-Oxygenate your home by bringing in plenty of plants. Allow them to do what they do best and clean the air of toxins so that you are breathing in quality oxygen.

-Create a sanctuary in your bedroom. Allow only calming, soothing colors/textures/items in there. No screens, stress or drama allowed. Make it an instantly calming experience each time you walk in.

-Get outside. Nature walks, grounding/earthing, meditating in the breeze. Studies show that getting outside for 20 minutes a day or more has a healing effect on our bodies. Plus, the indoor air is much more toxic than outside- take a break and soak up some natural medicine outdoors!

-Affirm yourself. Making a consistent practice of journaling things you are grateful for and affirmations about your healing are a great way to rewire your brain and introduce higher vibrations into your frequency.

-Swap out all of your household cleaners, personal care products and cooking utensils for non toxic materials. Essential oils, silicone containers and white vinegar + baking soda make this an easier task than you think!

-Tap into your creativity. Painting, coloring, sculpture making, scrapbooking and crafting are all great ways to pass your time, but also to spark a fire in the underactive parts of your brain that slow down while being chronically ill. Making time for creative activities will always leave you feeling calmer, happier and more positive.

 

I hope you enjoyed this two part series! Still something that should be added? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

what to do when you can’t do anything

It never fails. I will wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and have at least one or two emails from followers who were up all night, overwhelmed with the feeling of “stuck.” They feel completely hopeless and limited by various circumstances and are convinced there is no way out of their chronic illness. When I dig deeper into their lives, I always find out that this is not true. There are always several things these people can be doing to help themselves that they weren’t able to see.

Here is what I want you to remember today::

 

No matter what roadblock you have in front of you, there is a way around, over or through it.

 

Today I am sharing some of the more practical things you can be doing at home, without the need of a care team, that will improve your health and pave the way for a remission. All of these are free or low cost and can be done from the comfort of your own home.

5. Dental hygiene. It seems common sense, but there are way too many people ignoring the care of their mouth. The first way disease enters our bodies is by what we put in our mouths. We need to be making more of an effort to be brushing and flushing. If you aren’t oil pulling already, start NOW. Also consider things like activated charcoal rinses (easy to make yourself in ten seconds) and dental probiotics to keep bacteria from growing and following those nerve pathways under each tooth into the rest of your body. (PS add bonus points for smiling often!)

4. MOVE! No excuses here, folks.  You MUST be active in some way for your lymph system to cleanse and flow and toxins to continue to be flushed out. Moving your legs especially, allows the lymph to thin, creating a better filter to catch the bad stuff. Can’t handle a 30 second dance party? Try a foam roller or resistance bands for slow, concentrated efforts. You can even google yoga routines in bed or talk with a physical therapist for options on how to move in a way your body can manage. This is crucial!

3. Juice/smoothies as snacks. It is appalling to me how many people request my help finding supplements that will replace them having to actually eat a vegetable. There is no replacement! If you are having time getting those greens in, then know your body is likely overly acidic, allowing disease to continue living. We need an alkaline inner environment and juicing or building a proper smoothie is an easy way to pack those nutrients in, in a way that still tastes good. Check out the Facebook group for more on this. 90% of people are doing it wrong!

2. Rest. Ignore the opinions of others and take that nap. Sleep in. Many of the chronically ill complain of less than quality sleep. Take this time now to incorporate a solid routine that allows you to rest when your body needs it. Even if you aren’t sleeping, listen to soothing music and allow your brain time away from any type of stimulation. This winding down allows the brain waves to even out, causing us to feel more relaxed and less stressed.

And lastly, invest in your face to face relationships. If you are feeling under supported, reach out and reconnect with those around you. If you are bedridden, ask them over to play a game or a cup of tea. If you are able to get out, pursue a hobby, attend a meetup group, try a new grocery store. Consider working as a freelancer on websites like Upwork.com. Small, short forays into the world are a great way to build up confidence in yourself and how far your body has come. Make it a point to reach out to someone each day and have a real conversation with them, even if only for a few minutes. This will make you feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment and can often raise your vibration to a higher level, allowing healing to occur within. Your illness does not stop you from being able to listen to them, give advice or laugh. Your diagnosis does not make you any less of a person– it only changes how you execute certain situations. I truly believe that.

 

Is there anything I should add to this list? What do you do to control your health when unable to afford a doctor’s help?

magic juice:: what it is + how it changed my life

I often get asked what my secrets to healing were. If it is one thing I wish everyone knew about, it is celery juice. Adding in this one simple thing changed me forever! It has been over a year since I began drinking it daily and I can’t go a day without it. (Seriously. My juicer recently died and it took a month to be replaced. I did the blend and strain method instead but didn’t get nearly enough of my magic juice that way! I was a very grumpy person that month.)

The perfect blend of minerals and electrolytes in celery make this a necessary component to your staple diet—especially if you have POTS. Each client I work with gets the suggestion of adding celery juice to their diet because all of those who are chronically ill are mineral deficient. Every single metabolic and cellular process in our bodies require minerals to be performed. It can be very difficult to keep track of all the supplementation you need each day, but juicing is an easy way to start the day off on the right foot. If you don’t have a problem with oxalates, this is a safe and easy change to incoporate.

 

Celery juice can help alleviate:

-heart palpitations + skipped beats

-headaches (often because headaches stim from dehydration)

-frequent urination (from stressed kidneys that are overworked. The kidneys are the balancing organs of the body; if something is out of whack, the kidneys are working to put everything back to right.)

-dehydration, preventing POTS episodes

-body temperature regulation

-dizziness (again, from dehydration and stressed kidneys) and too low blood pressure

-near syncope symptoms

-brain fog

-inner trembling, shivers or chills

…and so much more!

 

In the morning, we wake up from sleep already in a dehydrated state. Our cortisol levels are high and our bodies need to adjust to being awake as we begin to move throughout our day. All of this is extremely stressful to our nervous system and kidneys when we are chronically ill—even more so if we aren’t getting quality sleep! And yet this cycle repeats every day, depleting us even more. If we aren’t taking enough minerals in, we can not produce things like energy, mental clarity, stamina and mood stabilization. Hence why celery juice in the morning is so crucial—it brings in added nutrients at the exact right time we need it, allowing our bodies to sustain us throughout the rest of the day.

A lot of you may notice that your dysautonomia symptoms are worse during the morning,

 

when you are dehydrated, over stimulated, stressed or very tired. This is another time you can turn to celery juice. The effect takes place within minutes versus waiting for a pill to take effect. Many people will start with 8-16 ounces in the morning and add more to a smoothie or mixed vegetable juice in the evenings to get ready for quality sleep. Experiment and see for yourself what your body likes.

You may be thinking, “Ew, celery!” Don’t let that stop you! The juice tastes like salt water. As you make drinking it a habit, the salty taste disappears. The closer to water it tastes, the better your internal mineral levels are. I love that I can have a measuring tool for what my body needs. If your morning juice tastes extremely salty to you, consider adding another glass later in the day. Likewise, for anytime you are extremely symptomatic, recovering from a detox session or POTS-y.

What do you think? If you give it a try, let me know how it goes! Send me an email at lisa@abundantlifeandwellness.org!

traveling with your diagnosis

Recently, I spent a weekend with friends out of town. Since I wasn’t the only one with a chronic illness diagnosis going, I thought sharing how I coordinated with the others to make sure I had everything I would make a helpful blog post!

First, we planned all of our meals ahead of time. This helped us put together everyone’s restrictions and preferences and allowed us to bring as much as we could from home, cutting down on possible cross contamination and cost. We also made a list of items to bring that we would all share: one juicer, a crock pot, one single container of bone broth protein, etc.

We also made a rough plan of activities that allowed for flexibility for everyone going. Those who needed some afternoon siesta time (me!) were able to take that time for ourselves, without missing out on things we wanted to do. Obviously, flexibility is key here, but it worked well for us.

 

Here are some other things to put in place for a successful trip away from home::

-Pack the go bag. This will be within close reach in the car or on the plane so you want it to have all your essentials in it: any medications, oils and other doses you will need to take while traveling. Also include a warm scarf or jacket, water and any aid that will help if anxiety arises. Don’t forget snacks! Sunglasses and a hat in case of overstimulation of your senses is always a good idea. I like to keep Alka Seltzer Gold, bergamot EO and my beanie in mine; this all bring a sense of comfort to me.

-Be prepared to struggle. If you can accept before hand that you may experience a sense of discomfort or even panic when leaving your safe place, it can make the rest of the trip much easier. Traveling is hard on your body AND your mind. Accept that symptoms may show up in the process—both physically and mentally.

-Keep your eye on the prize. You deserve to have a great time. Allow for plenty of time to travel and give yourself the chance to orient and settle in once you reach your destination. Don’t jump right into the activities. Rehydrate, remineralize, and rest.

-Open yourself up. Mentally, approach the trip as a way to make new positive memories, laugh and relax outside of your usual scene. Let your guard down and allow the good to flow to you! Note what thought patterns go through your head while you are away from home. Journal about anything that seems to resonate with you. Reflecting outside of our normal spaces can bring about incredible breakthrough. I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me after getting some time away to reflect and organize their ideas.

 

Taking a trip can be a great way to raise your inner vibration and fast track healing. If you’ve been unsure about giving in to that wanderlust, go for it! Don’t let a “limitation” keep you stuck. There’s nothing a little planning can’t break through.

Need help prepping for a getaway? Email me for more suggestions on how to make it go great!

review:: bowen therapy- updated

It’s been 6 weeks since I started using the Bowen therapy in my routine. So much has changed! I am sleeping great, experiencing less headaches and definitely less stressed and more centered. Who doesn’t love that? One of the biggest improvements though is this: My 15 year old knee injury that left me numb in that area is actually waking up- I can feel it for the first time since the surgery! All from just four, yes FOUR, sessions.

I have gotten a lot of questions about my experience with Bowen, which is the purpose of this post. I feel like my first review here didn’t do enough justice to the technique now that I have a few more appointments under my belt!

When I first started working with my therapist, my biggest complaints were the cyclical insomnia, chronic headaches and repeated ovarian cysts. Clearly, my hormones needed some extra support outside of what I was already doing for them. The first session helped decrease my headaches and got me back to sleeping more than 3-4 hours a night. The second one was more pelvic focused and my PCOS symptoms vanished. I haven’t thought about them since!

The best result for me, is the feeling of peace and calm after our time is done. Bowen isn’t massage necessarily, but it carries all the benefits of it afterwards. There is a definite sense of grounding I feel in the days after that helps me stay focused and productive. I love the very real “feel” of improved circulation and inflammation being repaired after each set of acupressure points is opened up. I love the sense of my energy flowing through me instead of being stuck and stagnant. My initial complaints before I started are definitely vanishing.

Bowen therapy wonderfully complements my mindful approach to my healing. I know I’ll be using it for years to come as I continue to progress. With each session, my therapist points out areas to nourish and how to be more aware of my trouble spots before they become symptomatic. Who doesn’t love a partner in their recovery? I’m blessed.

Bottom line, if you haven’t already, try Bowen. It’s gentler than massage or cranial sacral therapy so there is no worry of a Herx effect afterwards. It is detoxing without being negative and restoring without being depleting. You’ll love it!

the patient’s survival guide to:: syncope

Syncope, or fainting, can be one of the most terrifying symptoms you may feel while battling an illness. It is often the sign of the brain not getting enough oxygen, which results in fainting or near fainting. The tunnel vision, cold sweat and temporary paralysis can leave emotional scars. Syncope often hits suddenly and quickly, and leaves us in fear of leaving our safe spaces.

My goal as your health coach is to improve your quality of life with your illness by providing you with the right information for your bio individuality and your diagnosis. Syncope can appear differently in people but it does have a basic outline:

+a sudden loss or near loss of vision, strength in the body and ability to talk

+clamminess or a cold sweat

+pins and needle feeling in limbs or even the entire body

 

Other symptoms can present as well but these are the three usual symptoms.

If syncope or near syncope keeps rearing it’s ugly head at you, scope out this checklist and see if you can narrow in on the possible trigger. Then, email me for a consult and find out how to eliminate this issue for good! Knowing your trigger(s) is key in order to fix it. I find that doctors don’t talk often about this issue (“panic attack” anyone?) and this issue is a very common goal I work on with my clients.

possible near syncope triggers::

+as a pain response to any type of physical or emotional event (you may feel other adrenaline related symptoms if this is the case)

+hypoglycemia or ingestation of too much sugar. Balance that blood sugar!!

+DEHYDRATION. Your kidneys balance your body’s overall mineral levels. If you are chronically ill, you are in a constant state of mineral depletion. Make sure to drink your fluids and to include the proper electrolytes and minerals with them!

+a sudden change in blood volume. Were you constipated for several days and finally able to move your bowels? Did you have eat a large meal quickly? Experience loose stools or diarrhea in the past couple of days? Chug a ton of liquids? All of these events are known to trigger syncope episodes within 48 hours of happening. (fun fact:: this is the most common cause of POTS symptoms!)

+heat intolerance, too much sweating — even hours after coming inside.

+not exhaling as you change positions, allowing gravity to suck the oxygen out of your brain too quickly. Make this a habit!

I’ve had numerous syncope episodes during my years of Lyme disease and the POTS life. All of this info was gathered from my personal experience and the education of my doctors. I love teaching on this topic because the truth it, it is actually quite easy to correct this issue, but the process looks different for everyone. I encourage you to get in touch and schedule an intensive with me to come up with a plan of action for you, especially if you have POTS!

Hope this helped! Leave your comments and questions below!

 

 

 

fatigue :: the patient’s survival guide

Fatigue.

Glorious, crushing fatigue. The kind where your eyes burn around the clock, you feel like you’re floating away, and your legs are too heavy to lift to take the next step. I remember this feeling well. To decode fatigue and why you are experiencing it, it’s important to cover the 3 cornerstones of chronic illness.

 

1. Are you detoxing? — This is an area that people think they can avoid. If you have been a client of mine, you know I address this in our very first session together. It is too important to ignore! We take in toxins every day through our air, skin and mouth. But what about the toxins produced from fermenting food in our gut? The ammonia levels in our brains? The imbalance hormones whose levels sky rocket? All of this HAS to come out. If you don’t have a regular detoxing practice that address all THREE areas of the body (blood, lymph, gut/brain) then don’t bother to read further. (Tough love. As your coach, I won’t apologize for telling you the truth.)

Our body gets weighed down from exerting energy swirling those toxins around from place to place inside of us– how else can you expect it to have energy to do things like digest your food, sleep well or tolerate exercise? You can’t.

 

2. What is the air quality around you like? — Check your oxygen levels. Are you breathing properly, from your belly and diaphragm? Treating your asthma and allergies with natural options as they occur? Staying clear of dust, mold and other microbials? What about internally? Is your brain getting enough oxygen? Are you producing mycotoxins inside? If you don’t know, talk with your chronic illness doctor right away, or email me!

 

3. What are you eating? — Listen, I love you, but give up the gluten and sugar. Please. If you want the ability to live a little more normally, to have a better quality of life, you need to feed your body what it needs, not what you want. There is time for that later. Digestion takes up an enormous amount of energy, especially if it’s processed food you are ingesting. Alleviate that stress (and therefore inflammation creation!) by going back to the basics: no sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten. No eating the things you know you are intolerant of but want anyway. No excuses.

Anything you do, say (yes!), or eat has the ability to create inflammation within you. If fatigue is ruining your days, start analyzing your inflammation levels with the help of a qualified health coach or provider and take the steps needed to bring those down. You should experience an energy surge within a few days if you are doing it right.

—————–

Still exhausted? It could be several things. Shoot me an email and we’ll get to the bottom of it.

the patient’s survival guide to:: dizziness

Dizziness can be one of the most frustrating symptoms you will ever experience as a chronically ill person. It can often be one of the first signs of illness to show up—and last to leave. Did you know that there are several types of dizziness? All of them originate from different parts of the body; brain, vestibular system, kidneys for instance. Being able to decode what type you are experiencing can help you figure out what to do to minimize or get rid of it.

Most people are familiar with the rocking, lightheaded sensation of being dizzy. Vertigo also has a few different types. But what about when dizziness comes with inner pressure or a splitting pain in your head? This list was created for those who have already ruled out the normal causes of dizziness, such as an inner ear imbalance or infection, or the crystals inside winding up outside of their vestibular curve. If an Epley maneuver just isn’t doing the trick for you, try some of the suggestions below.

———————

-Basil essential oil around the outside of each ear. Reapply every few hours as necessary.

-Frankincense essential oil under the tongue. Can repeat every 20 minutes and combine with the above remedy.

-Is your blood pressure lower than normal for you? Raise it! Slowly and steadily sip on cold water with a pinch of real salt (not table salt!) in it for every 8 ounces to replace lost minerals and electrolytes. Dizziness can often be the result of a kidney imbalance. The answer to any kidney stress is fluids: but what you put in those fluids can make all the difference in the world!

-Get cool. Shed some layers, open a window, put some ice under your tongue.

-Try a chiropractor adjustment. Pinch each earlobe between your pointer finger and thumb and pull up sharply into a J motion, starting from the bottom of the letter, upwards. Youtube has several videos on ear self adjustments for better direction.

-If the spinning sensation is particularly intense and worsens with even a slight movement of your head, look up vestibular migraines. These are different than regular migraines. They feel like a combination of severe dizziness AND vertigo AND a migraine. There are several triggers for those excruciating events and they are more common among the chronically ill because of our knack to be unable to retain minerals. Incorporating a lot of fish into our diets and supplements can also be a trigger, as well as sudden weather patterns. If you think you may be having one, the above remedies will still help. You may want to talk with your doctor about medication options if they occur often despite your avoiding all of the known triggers.

 

Still not finding relief? Get an autonomic and vestibular workup. This is a series of neurological tests that will help you find the root cause of your dizziness. Rule out BPPV vertigo or a viral infection. Make sure you know and understand all of your medications and supplements and any contraindications among them. Drink drink drink!

Often times, physical therapy (yes, you heard right!) is all that is needed to correct the imbalances that occur structurally when dizziness is a chronic symptom. It is well worth the effort to follow through on anything your doctor or therapist prescribe here—less kidney stress, more overall balance in the body!

As always, use your best wisdom and talk with your doctor between attempting any of these suggestions. Ask all your questions and understand each answer before trying something new.** 

 

 

Have questions? Post them in the free Facebook group for me and over 100 other individuals to answer. You never know what you may learn!