It’s no mistake that I became a nutritional therapist, though it wasn’t exactly clear to me until rather recently. You know how they say people become “something” (think psychologist) because they themselves need that particular “thing” (i.e. therapy)? Well, first I became a therapist (ha!), and soon thereafter I got married, had a couple kids, and stayed home until my youngest entered kindergarten.
Let me backtrack a few years to some pivotal points that led me here. I had a car accident in March, 2011. It was fairly minor as those things go but I was stiff and sore and saw my MD the next day to be sure nothing more serious was going on. I’d been t-boned and my neck and shoulder were out of whack. She sent me to the Chinese medicine clinic and insisted I not leave until I’d gotten acupuncture. Pretty cool for an allopathic doctor! That was my first real experience with “alternative” medicine. By the time I’d recovered from my car accident a few months later I’d become a regular with the acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and a naturopathic physician. Not only did I have inflammation in my neck and back, I had it throughout my gut as well. My ND suggested I try an anti-inflammation diet for 4 weeks. I removed gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, corn and soy. I looked and felt better than I had in ages. Then life slipped back to “normal”.
I wanted to return to part time work while the kids were still young but didn’t really want to wear the therapist hat after being out of it for so many years. So, I asked myself some questions on a train trip from Seattle to Portland where I’d been visiting my brother: What am I passionate about? I’d been a stay-at-home mom for about 8 years and nothing came to mind that didn’t involve being a mom. I narrowed it down: What aisle do I hang out in at Powell’s Books (the largest new and used bookstore this side of the Mississippi)? Wellness, cooking, health, nutrition. (I’d been so inspired by the holistic practitioners I’d seen, I would spend any free time I had learning more about these topics.) I knew I was on to something!
By the time I stepped off the train 3 hours later I had mapped out my plan. I would become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) after spending the following year earning my certificate at the Nutritional Therapy Association. I could use my skills as a therapist to help people with their wellness goals. The program opened my eyes to so many things, especially the benefits of healing chronic illness with real food rather than prescription medications. Yet I still didn’t know that the chronic illness I would heal would include my own.
Since the birth of my children in 2004 and 2006 I had a growing list of health concerns and conventional medicine wasn’t helping much. My Ob/Gyn noticed in 2006 that my thyroid was inflamed so he sent me to an endocrinologist. After annual blood tests showing normal TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and ultrasounds showing goiters on my thyroid gland, I was sent home with the same message every time: “You’re normal. Lots of women have goiters on their thyroids. Come back in a year.” In 2009 on a trip to Cambodia, I noticed a “lump in my throat” sensation that wouldn’t go away. I was referred to a GI specialist who told me there used to be a mental illness having to do with the sensation of having a marble in your throat. Gee thanks! So not helpful! During school in 2012, my internist (the same one who’d sent me to acupuncture) ran tests showing a plethora of nutrient deficiencies but couldn’t explain why. I started having worsening GI problems. I had a growing list of food sensitivities. My hair started falling out. I was having problems with brain fog and other neurological symptoms. (This was especially troubling since I’d just moved my mother into memory care after she was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s.) And I couldn’t shake bouts of fatigue that sent me back to bed within hours of waking.
Finding nothing but frustration with western medicine, I found an amazing naturopath who ran lots of tests: stool analysis, hair and urine tests for heavy metal toxicity, extensive blood tests including a full thyroid panel, and a breath test for SIBO. I finally started getting answers. I’ve done extensive research myself on all my diagnoses – Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, heavy metal toxicity, leaky gut, and SIBO so I understand what each of them means and know what my doctor is talking about when we discuss treatment options and protocols. Soon I’ll post a list of resources I found most helpful in my research.
I guess I became a nutritional therapist in part to heal myself, and to use what I learn to help my clients. This blog is my way of documenting my healing path.