My Own Health Journey

It's "JUST" Carpal Tunnel

I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter (my fourth child) and woke up one morning with both hands tingling from being asleep.  I didn’t remember sleeping on them.  And it didn’t go away!  I did all the things you do when your hands go numb, but they wouldn’t wake up!  What was wrong?
My midwife, Xan, came over.  “That’s Carpal Tunnel and can happen during a pregnancy from fluid accumulating in the wrists”, she said.  I had, indeed, gained a lot of water in the pregnancy, which also included unrelenting nausea (“morning sickness”).  “It will go away when the baby’s born”, she reassured me.
I waited a long month for release from this tingling.  After my daughter, Juliana, was born, neither the tingling nor the nausea went away, plus I was dizzy often.  “Sometimes it can take a month”, Xan said, hopefully.

Surgery Seemed To Be The Only Option

Months went by.  Everyone commented, “Oh, that’s Carpal Tunnel.  You have to get surgery.”  I went to a neurologist who ordered a Nerve Conduction Study to see where, between the top of my neck, down to my wrists, the compression of the nerve was occuring.
I lay down on the table.  He shot a jolt of electricity through my arm out my fingers.  It felt like I’d put my fingers in a light socket; like my hand stretched across the room to touch the corner on the other side.  I came up to a sitting position, sobbing. 

The doctor stopped the test.  What?!  My reaction was sufficient to stop the test?  What about people who shouted or ran across the room?  “I’ll try again”, I insisted.  I tried again; same result.  How on earth was this done without anesthesia, I wanted to know.   He didn’t know. 

(The best answer I’ve gotten since, after asking many people is that the insurance companies don’t consider it necessary for the procedure, thus they don’t pay for it, thus it’s not ordered.  Even if one were willing to pay cash for an anesthesiologist, malpractice insurance wouldn’t cover it for the doctor since it’s not “standard of practice”.)
I decided to try my own anesthesia.  I found a doctor who was willing to do the Nerve Conduction Study in my chiropractor’s office.  I baked marijuana (illegally purchased) into cookies, which I ate, then tried to drink a whole bottle of wine.  I brought my husband to hold one hand, my pastor’s wife to hold the other.  This time when I cried, I blubbered drunkenly.  The doctor sent me to a physical therapist who gave me putty to squeeze several times a day.  My hands got very much worse and now I couldn’t sleep from the tingling.

What Good Am I If I Can't Use My Hands?

Now that I’d “flunked” the Nerve Conduction Study”, I had to pursue alternative medicine.  Different chiropractors tried different things, from suspending my by my neck in an elasticized contraption that hung off a door, to acupuncture needles in my hands for half an hour at a time.  No difference.  The doctor who did the acupuncture told my husband and me that I had to stop using my hands as long as tingling was present or I would cause permanent nerve damage, if I hadn’t already.
"If I can't use my hands", I thought, "I might as well be dead".  I had 4 young children I was homeschooling, one an infant.  Who would cook, clean, do laundry, sew,?  How would I pick up my little girl when she cried?  What good would I be to anyone?

My husband, Robert, (who lives in Heaven now after being taken out by a drunk driver in early ’09) became the one who did all this in the evenings.  Though he had the most to lose by my forced idleness, he was adamant that I not have surgery. 

“You don’t just wake up one morning with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Alicia.  It’s a repetitive motion disorder.  You don’t type all day or use a jackhammer!  If you get surgery you’ll regret it.  They cut a ligament in half and leave it that way.”  I knew he was right.
My 10 year old and 6 year old sons had unconscionable responsibility thrust on them.  The baby stayed on the bed with useless me to keep her out of their busy hair.  The 2 year old was “lost in the shuffle”.  
If Google existed back then, I certainly didn’t know about it.  Nonetheless, I began researching relentlessly.

Pursuing Every Option

Store-bought splints made my hands worse.  Discovering that I had wide palms for the narrowness of my wrists, I got custom-made splints which I wore 24 hours a day.  By binding them on so tight my fingertips were pale, I could get the tingling low enough to allow me to sleep through the night.

Everywhere I went, if I saw someone wearing splints I asked them: “Did you have the operation?  Are you happy with the results?”  Responses were about 50/50.  Like a coin toss!!  That didn’t seem like very good odds.

A "CHANCE" Discovery

In my doctor’s office, getting my thyroid prescription renewed, I discovered Dr. Sherry Roger’s book The EI (Environmental Illness) Syndrome. 

I was still nauseous and dizzy, along with the ever present Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and I was willing to entertain any chance of relief.  With my nursing infant, I flew out to Syracuse and stayed as her patient for 4 days. 

Her office staff, full of very young women, was pretty openly offended at having to get my stroller out of the rental car, close the trunk, help me get the baby in and out of her stroller.  I wasn't surprised: n general, people were offended at my needing help; after all, I wasn’t in a wheelchair.  So I stayed home as much as possible.  (I started telling myself I was “footicapped”.  After all, those in wheelchairs are handicapped.)
Dr. Rogers discovered that I was allergic to dust and mold, and other inhalants; severely allergic to chemicals, including pesticides and petrochemicals, the latter of which is in all body care products and household products that aren’t from the health food store. 

She put me on many supplements which I would discover later, whole and unaffected, in the toilet.  She took before and after blood tests which showed the supplements were making no difference at all.  (Not surprising since I wasn't digesting them.)

She had us remove carpeting (The pastor and Robert replacing it with hardwood floors) and particleboard from the house.  It turned out, I had gotten Sick Building Syndrome from the chemicals in new building materials (including formaldehyde, phenol and toluene) when we had built a new house 2 1/2 years before. 

Air cleaners went at both ends of the house. I had to throw out any clothing that wasn’t natural fiber.  But I was lucky.  Sicker people can wear only organic cotton!  Like all her chemically damaged patients, who came to her from all over the world, Dr. Rogers put me on a Macrobiotic Diet.  Long-suffering Robert, was, of course, the designated chef.

On The Way To A Cure

The Macrobiotic Diet really agreed with me.  I felt much better.  But the tingling continued.  Robert said, “I’m not making 2 separate meals.  If I have to cook this for you, we’re all eating it”.
I found a physical therapist who knew what she was doing.  She taught me to soak my hands in the hottest water possible, then place my hands on a table top, bending the wrists first the one way, then reversing the palms, the other, for something like 10 minutes, then ice for 15-20 minutes, 2-3x a day.  After 2 years of this, my hands were not perfect, but usable again.       
I read more.  Suspicious that I had Celiac Disease (a severe insensitivity to gluten), I asked for a blood test.  It came back positive.  I learned that this was why I experienced hypothyroidism, why I had miscarriages, why when I read lists of deficiency symptoms to see which supplements I needed, I had ALL the deficiency symptoms; why supplements passed through me undigested, why the colitis and IBS, perhaps even why all my teeth had rotted and why my vision had become so nearsighted when I was 10. 

Just before she died my mother told me that when I was a baby, a doctor had told her I was allergic to milk.  I guess she had to be dying, racking her brains for any information she had to leave behind before she died, in order to remember this! 

This was why I felt so good and improved on the Macrobiotic Diet, which contains no dairy and little gluten!  I contacted the Celiac Sprue Association who gave me a list of hidden sources of gluten which a Celiac must avoid; white vinegar, caramel coloring, soy sauce that isn’t Tamari, barley malt, modified food starch.  The colitis and IBS I had lived with for 30 years (“Due to nerves”) disappeared.
I got a series of colonics, passing many parasites and food so undigested, it looked pristine.  Celiac disease destroys the cilia on the gut wall so food travels through, undigested.
Per Dr. Rogers protocol in her new book, Tired or Toxic, I got a detox sauna to remove mercury from the “silver” fillings that had been in all my molars before I’d gotten them removed some years back.  (And, no, despite a letter from my doctor, the insurance wouldn’t cover any of the cost of the sauna.)  I began to do the Liver Cleanses she recommended, passing thousands of stones from my liver.

Someone suggested that my symptoms sounded like fibromyalgia.  I heard the treatment for that is malic acid and magnesium.  I couldn’t tolerate the magnesium so I had to trust that I was getting it from my diet, but the malic acid really helped get rid of most of the remaining tingling. 

It had been a long, painful journey and I'd had to go up against "traditional medical wisdom: but I began to be able to use my hands again, much smaller now from muscle disuse.

My Cure Was His Curse

Robert, who was still doing the majority of the cooking had declared,  “I’m not making 2 separate meals.  If I have to cook this for you, we’re all eating it”.
However, on the Macrobiotic Diet with me, Robert, who was very proud of my research and progressive recovery, was tired, crabby, dumpy, putting on flabby weight. 

At the locally owned health food store, Nutrition Stop, the owner introduced us the the book, Eat Right For Your Type.  I read it. 

Apparently, lectins in certain foods can cause clumping of blood in blood types to which they are not compatible.  My blood type is A.  No wonder I had done so well on the Macrobiotic Diet, which is basically vegetarian.  A modified version of that is the ideal diet for a person with blood type A.  I looked up O, Robert’s type...”Oh, this is funny, Robert.  You’re gonna love this!  You’re supposed to live on steak and salad...”  “Works for me!”, he cried.  “Here lemme see that...”
Within 2 months on the ‘steak and salad’ diet he’d lost weight and begun working out.  Some months later, he began training for triathlons, going on to win his age group in the sprint distance every time!

He decided I was going to move beyond my daily walk to running too - taking me to be fitted for running shoes.  Using the book Chi Running, he started me on intervals until I worked up to being able to run a 2 mile loop.  He got me a bike small enough to fit me, turning the handbars backwards so I wouldn’t have to lean forward, putting pressure on my hands. 

Getting out the book I had read as a child, Faith, Love and Seaweed, together we developed healthy alternatives to the sugary “nutrition” sold for triathletes to use while training and competing.

The Final Cure               

Robert went to a sports medicine doctor to get PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injections for a knee that had always bothered him after a bout with ill-fitting bicycling shoes.  His knee became perfect. 

Would that help me?, I asked the doctor.  It would, but would take longer since my problem was 15 years old by then.  Dr. Crane did ultrasound on the neck through wrist area that was supposed to have been covered in the Nerve Conduction Study. 

He said, “There’s a lot of scar tissue in the brachial-plexus (neck/shoulder).  That’s whiplash.  Did you have a car accident?”  I thought and thought.  Suddenly, I remembered.  I had spun the car, miring it in mud on the side of the road, and ruining the engine, 2 months before Juliana’s birth.  And a month later the tingling had started!  How had I forgotten that?  Because it was such a non-event, and besides my stiff neck, none of the kids had gotten hurt.

Progress & A New Life Path

I’m still, at this writing, getting PRP shots, but I get about 5 now, rather than the 13 or so I started with, and I get them once every 2 months, rather than monthly like at the beginning.  Dr. Crane takes a large tube of blood from my arm and puts it in a centrifuge, spinning out the healing factor.  With the aid of ultrasound, telling him where scar tissue and compressed tissue is, he shoots novocaine and this healing factor in those spots.  Before the health care crisis, insurance used to pay for it.

So How Can This Help Others?

With my knowledge of herbs and supplements, I went through menopause, uterus intact, no hot flashes, no mood swings, and only very occasional night-sweats.
With my employer retired to Heaven, I have been, in effect, laid-off as a housewife.  

Building on my Bachelors of Science in Education I enrolled in grad school, but realized that the Education establishment is not for me.  

But I did learn Google. So I explored links related to my passion for wellness and nutrition and found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This gave me the opportunity to deepen my understanding the impact our food and environment have on our health, as well as learn from world-renowned experts such as Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Deepak Chopra. This in addition to what I learned privately from Dr. Sherry Rogers who helped to put me on the road to health so many years before.

I am now a Certified Health Coach and am also certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. While my interest in healing others through Health Coaching arose from overcoming my own health challenges and chronic conditions through managing my nutrition and life choices, I have found a true passion in developing the skills to share my understanding of how to stay healthy while eating heartily and not dieting.

I offer support as I help you learn, for yourself, how you, uniquely, need to eat and to live, to be healthy, perhaps to lose weight, maybe deal with food sensitivities, allergies, possible gluten sensitivity.

By being able to help you to eat and live a healthier, fuller life, I bring my own journey full circle. 

If you're ready to begin your own journey, I'd like to be part of it. Call 636-485-6135 to schedule your free consultation with me, and let's get started.