My Health Story
Where to even start...
It's hard to know where to begin with this journey when I'm thinking about everything I've endured but also the crazy growth and mountains of knowledge I've learned along the way. I've created the Holistic Health Blog page to cover everything that's led me to understanding why my body was going through so much but also all the things that have helped and given me relief on this mad journey. Head there for things I've learned & recommendations for self healing.
Here we go, buckle up because it's not a short ride!!! [8 minute read]
I was a happy, confident, vibrant and fit 31 year old when my health & life quite literally fell apart around me. I remember saying to my mum that I was constantly dizzy in October 2015 and I couldn't shake it. Things came to a head on Oxford Street whilst Christmas Shopping in November and I felt like the floor below me was moving upwards and I was sinking down. Quite terrifying and with that scare I took myself to a walk in clinic. The outcome was it was likely nothing to worry about and to keep an eye on how I was feeling.
December 17th 2015 (my birthday - yay!) I fainted doing a client's highlights after feeling particularly woozey all day and almost like I couldn't swallow with a left arm weakness / heaviness. Off to A&E where my heart was checked but they could find nothing. I was signed off for the rest of the festive hairdressing salon rush period and an inner ear problem was diagnosed. I was given medication for that and I assumed I'd just go back to work in the New Year.
Life was literally never the same again.
I returned in the New Year but the fainting and dizziness wouldn't stop, I was really worried by now as to be honest I was never ill for this amount of time. Now a referral to ENT and another A&E visit post fainting episode with more checks and then signed off again. I went back to Southampton from London to stay with my mum and whilst I was there attempted one of her Pilates classes - I turned my head to the right, she said she saw the colour drain from my face and that caused crippling pain across the top of my head from ear to ear. This pain did not subside for 4 months straight. I was unable to go to supermarkets and look at the displays because I felt like throwing up and I had constant luminous floaters in my eyes.
With the dizzy spells & fainting episodes and now headache, I was advised that Neurology was the right line of investigation for me and an MRI of the brain recommended. NHS waiting lists meant I would have to wait 3 months or more - all the while I was not working and on statutory sick pay which didn't touch the sides for rent in London. I decided to self fund MRI and follow up with a self funded private Neurologist which cost around £800 in total. Thankfully there was nothing sinister in the findings, the Neurologist could see the headache on the scan and advised that I had a migraine that he said appeared from nowhere and lasted 4 months - the first instance at my distrust in our medical system. I don't believe things "just happen" and I never have. I was prescribed beta blockers as a solution which made me feel terrible and so I looked for ways to heal naturally. Firstly, I didn't resonate with migraine symptoms - I've heard people describe migraines and whilst it hurt, it wasn't debilitating - I was managing to work on reduced hours and I took a demotion back to assisting instead of seeing clients - plus I could look at lights etc. Secondly, I felt certain physical positions and movements made it worst. I did a lot of research online and found that "cervical headaches" made more sense to me. I self funded private physio to have some release on my neck which did give me some relief.
With that breakthrough I felt called towards the fact this was a physical or structural problem in my body and that was where investigation needed to go. I went back to my GP and advised them that things had changed, the dizziness had subsided and now I was dealing with constant pain. The GP would not stop my ENT referral because he said we needed to rule that out before we looked at anything else. By this time it was Spring 2016. I was referred to an eye clinic to rule anything out there and all was fine. My ENT appointment was cancelled on the day twice - once when I was travelling on a coach back and had cut my trip short for the appointment - and in the end my ENT appointment came through in November 2016, pretty much a year after my first symptoms started.
I was starting to feel like the system did not want to help me at all. I was managing to work but in constant pain, it had radiated from my jaw, over my head, down the neck, into my shoulder & ribs. I was unable to sit, stand or move my arms for any period of time without pain. It would often make me feel sick to my stomach and sweat. I called my GP many times in distress to be told to go to A&E - whenever I arrived at A&E they said they could not help me and I needed to go back to my GP. It's quite traumatising to be asking for help when you desperately need it and for no one to be responding. Without any help from our medical system I self referred myself to physios, massage therapists, an osteopath and I was attending fortnightly chiropractors who could tell me that hairdressing was not great for my body but not much else. I was self funding all of this on a low, newly qualified hairdresser income in London. I knew it was something to do with my arm that was setting off the pain and by the end of my hairdressing day it was so acute, all I could do was collapse in a heap. Sometimes on a really busy day my body would go into spasms and my left shoulder would hitch up and the only way I could get it back to a normal position was an emergency visit to the chiropractor. I tried everything that the physio said - they came to the conclusion it was likely my posture and hypermobility but no matter how much I stretched or did my corrective exercises, it didn't have any affect on the pain.
We are now in November 2016. After two cancelled ENT appointments, one year later and somehow surviving my way through work building hairdressing clients as a new hairdresser, I finally had the appointment that had hindered any further investigation on the NHS. By this time I was exasperated and literally had none of the symptoms that were the reason I was initially referred for. Low and behold the ENT appointment showed nothing so I was signed off from that department and finally able to seek the help I so desperately needed from the right place. THANK F**K!!!! One year is a long time to be surviving through life.
Oh I wish it ended there.
I'd been in acute pain for 1 year whilst working with no help from our medical system or any support from the government in terms of allowing me to work less or pay for rent etc.
As I hadn't had a clear diagnosis, I was "unrecognised."
I'd basically powered through and felt terrible for the entire time but put on a smile for my hairdressing clients day in day out.
I was able to start a new line of investigation via the NHS now they had signed me off from ENT. I was referred to a Rheumatologist after speaking to my GP and thankfully I got an appointment in two months - I really thought this was it.
In January 2017 I saw Dr. Michael Irani which would turn out to be an appointment I would never forget for the wrong reasons.
Here's how my Rheumatology appointment went:
Doctor: "Are you ok?"
Me: *Bursts into tears* and tried to explain the shit show of the last year as much as possible.
Doctor: "You're in the right place now. I can totally see what's happening here. Are you married?"
Me" *Literally dumbstruck at the irrelevance* "errrr no?"
Doctor: "How's everything at home?"
Me: "What do you mean? Everything is fine."
Doctor: "I don't even need to examine you and I know what this is, and I think you do too. Now what do you think I'm going to tell you?"
Me: *Completely baffled* "So I'm hypermobile, and the pain appears to be made worse by arm movements..."
Doctor: He cuts me off..."People are actually really sick with that." He then asked me to bend my thumb back and said, "see you're not hypermobile and I'm going to explain to you what's happening. I don't even need to look at you because you've shown signs as you've walked in. You have fibromyalgia."
Me: "I have no idea what that is."
Doctor: "There are plenty of leaflets outside so I suggest you take one of those and find out how you can manage this."
Me: "I don't mean to be rude but I feel like you're diagnosing me based on me crying but you haven't looked at me properly."
Doctor: "What do you do?"
Me: "I'm a hairdresser."
Doctor: "So if I came into your salon as a client and asked for a fringe trim, how would you feel if I told you how to do your job."
Me" "I guess I wouldn't like it."
End of appointment.
I was beside myself after that and vowed I would have as little to do with our medical system as possible. To correctly diagnose fibromyalgia a doctor must physically touch several parts of your body called "tender spots" and there needs to be pain present in at least 11/12 out of 18. I did not have this examination and upon second opinion by my physio it was confirmed I didn't have fibromyalgia and I also am hypermobile - you can be hypermobile without every joint being affected. Dr. Michael Irani's write up stated I hyperventilated to cause my problems, he referred me to a psychologist and for some reason prescribed me IBS medication when I hadn't even talked about anything digestive. I took up none of this advice and continued with my own physical work.
I managed to work as a hairdresser until April 2018 in a routine that went something like, work a full day of clients - home to stretch & recover + constant chiropractors + repeat. I'm not a big fan of long term meds and I hadn't taken any pain relief, it honestly didn't seem to help much anyway but by Spring 2018 I couldn't cope with life anymore. I was existing and sad. I couldn't see any way out. I really tried to make hairdressing work because I made a big decision to give up on a music career, and get myself out of office day jobs which were so unfulfilling for me in order to train as a hairdresser. It took me almost 3 years to fully qualify with massive time and financial investments so I found it hard to let go, even if it was really affecting my health. But I did. I had to.
So many people told me that I was so good for prioritising myself in that way but it really didn't feel like a choice. I'd honestly never felt so alone. I almost started to believe the doctors that this must be something I created in my head.
I knew I couldn't start again in London financially. So I thought the most sensible decision was to move back to where my parents live in Southampton. I also thought that waiting lists for treatment wouldn't be as long. Off I went with a broken spirit and hugely broken bank balance from the constant treatments.
Once back in Southampton I decided I would have another go at our medical system because surely there was something they'd missed? How could I still be in the same pain with no answers? Having a break from hairdressing and doing some investigative exercise, it was very clear to me that the left arm was causing a lot of pain. I went with this new knowledge and had X-rays, another MRI and more tests that showed nothing around my arm so they signed me off again. They did, however, find a lump on my thyroid which was benign and I was told can just appear - this will become relevant later and I'll talk about in my blog.
I was confused and decided that if the doctors said it wasn't my left arm then they must be right. I gave up on my own intuition and our medical system yet another time deciding to keep looking into things outside of it.
I had a lot of rib pain so did my own research as to what that could be - "slipping rib syndrome" seemed to fit the bill. I had a CT scan in Egypt on a visit with Karim because that's the diagnostic process for the this rib syndrome, it showed a weird shaped rib but that wasn't surprising to me as I'd broken a rib in uni. I took it that it could be that and went back to the UK looking for a rib pain specialist. I found a chiropractor with amazing reviews in London so I went for it - he was around £150 an appointment and he did make me feel I could heal which was great. Unfortunately that didn't work and I was back to the drawing board.
Because of everything that had been going on with me physically I'd neglected any other health complaints because I was so overwhelmed but I'd absolutely started to see deterioration in other areas of my health - namely digestive, my weight (even though I was exercising and eating the same), hormonal health & needless to say I was depressed, anxious and felt hopeless.
In June 2019 I found a new part time job with private healthcare that allowed for pre-existing conditions. I knew this was what I needed. Full time work was now impossible with the pain and although this was an office based job which I really loathed going back to after everything I'd done to get away from office jobs, health was making the decisions now and it wasn't about anything else anymore.
I can't recall when this was in 2019 but it one day after an office work shift and about to start another, I cracked.
I actually have a high pain threshold but I was broken, I tried stretching my ribs out but it just made it worse so I laid on the bathroom floor sobbing unconsolably. Karim said I had to call the doctor because this was crazy. I called and asked for a pain management appointment and the GP told me they wouldn't help me because they "didn't know where the pain was coming from." Our system sees fibromyalgia as unrecognised which literally means they don't know what to do with it or what causes it. Aside from the fact I don't have fibromyalgia, I didn't know at the time what it meant to have it on my record. If you've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and it doesn't resonate for any reason, I'd highly recommend looking further into it as it can dramatically affect the help you will get.
By this time I am unable to lift my left arm above my shoulder and I realise that I have to bring someone with me to advocate in appointments. My mum works with physios and has incredible anatomy knowledge so I started to bring her. I also started to really feel down that exercising was so painful so my GP put me on duloxetine which allowed me to exercise in less pain.
In Winter 2019 we spent 60 minutes with a physio who wanted to sign me off but we persevered and finally he suggested it could be to do with the nerve in my elbow - tennis elbow. A common injury. I couldn't help but feel if a man had presented with the symptoms I did, he wouldn't have had the timeline I did - 4 years later and after I'd already pointed towards the problem being my elbow. I know this has something to do with fibromyalgia diagnosis, when doctors think it could be you "creating the pain in your head" they are reluctant to investigate. I felt that I may as well have "hypochondriac" written on my notes. There is a lot of stigma against women in our medical system, we account for more chronically ill people, we are often told that pain is "in our heads" and we wait longer for diagnosis than men. There's a brilliant book that explains how we got to this in such a supposedly "advanced" medical system, I'd really advise a read if you're a women and feeling unseen & unheard. I cried my way through it, it was so relevant! Doing Harm by Maya Dusenbery
We're going into 2020 and I felt like I was a f**king mess, I won't lie. I was dragging my way through life, I'd never felt this worn down or tired. My body had never looked like this, weight was piling on even though I was eating less because I was paranoid about my swelling stomach. I'd started sweating ridiculously when it wasn't even that hot and I thought I was going through early menopause in my 30s. I was depressed, angsty and weirdly drinking alcohol helped the pain temporarily so I was drinking often to help calm my system. This rock bottom is where things finally start to look up.
In February 2020 I saw a musician friend promote a gut health program, she had fibromyalgia and even though that wasn't what I had I just knew I needed to do it. I didn't really feel at the time I could justify the spend but now I look back and see it was worth it's weight in gold. As I was eating healthy already, I didn't think nutrition could heal me in the way it did. I was expecting to lose a bit of weight. One week into the program, my brain fog lifted - my depression felt like a black cloud just drifted away from me. The puffiness in my face and my stomach went down significantly and symptoms started to melt away one by one.
I was astonished, relieved, grateful and for the first time in 4 years, hopeful I could heal. I was also angry that I'd been through a system that hadn't thought to suggest such small simple lifestyle changes to me that had the most incredible impact on my health. This is how my obsession with Holistic Health began, this is why I'm the biggest fan of our 30 Day Program. It saved me from one of the darkest places of my life. I made it my mission to share the magic of gut health to help others in the way I so desperately needed.
After I saw such incredible change in my health, I decided to invest in a Nutrition Coaching qualification and honestly for the first time in years, I had a purpose outside of my own health crap!
I learned that because my body was trying to fight off whatever was happening to it but it wasn't able to heal fully, it had gone into a state of chronic inflammation. Certain foods and other toxins can totally contribute to inflammation and as soon as I removed foods from my diet, switched to non toxic products and started taking my gut health seriously, I felt miles better.
I then looked at EVERYTHING - it was like I'd had a health breakthrough. Up until that point I'd given away my power to a system that wasn't going to help me and suddenly I had power to change how I felt. I also started to focus on following people who had healed themselves against all odds and when the system told them it wasn't possible. I started working on my mindset, digging in to past traumas, therapy, subconscious reprogramming, regulating my nervous system, meditating, dry brushing, sauna blankets and prioritising holistic health.
Although I hadn't cured the pain, I felt powerful and positive. I referred myself through my private healthcare with my job to the best elbow specialist I could find. I found one who was incredible and referred me for nerve conduction tests, he also did an MRI but positioning me in a different way than the others. I weened off the duloxetine which I'd been on for a year, detoxing my system with lots of fresh fruit / veg smoothies, dry brushing to get my lymph system going and also sweating out toxins in my MiHigh sauna blanket (use CORINNE30 at checkout for discount if you want buy one). With this new, amazing surgeon I tried intense physio, steroid injections into the elbow joint and in the end tendon surgery. The intense physio and surgery has given me full movement in my left arm & I am able to do a plank now and exercise with less pain.
I really wish I could say it was the end of all the pain on my left side altogether, but it's not.
Over 6 years on and I still live with a lot of pain, its definitely improved but I'm not done yet. I refuse to believe there isn't a root cause for all this. The allopathic medical system doesn't understand why I have jaw / rib pain and so I've turned to functional medicine for answers. I've done so much research, invested in courses, read so many books and I continue to find more and information about truly being healthy in this day and age. None of it is really passed to us via our allopathic medical system and sometimes doctors will even deny that there is a link between things like nutrition or toxins and our health. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it just means that medical research has not funded studies - when big Pharma funds research to support its medications, it isn't any wonder that research doesn't look into natural or holistic remedies. There isn't money to be made in that and the allopathic medical system is a business. If you want to go down the rabbit hole do some research into the origins of modern medicine and The Rothschilds.
Whilst our medical system is great for acute situations or amazing surgery, it really doesn't have all the answers and it's especially in the dark when it comes to chronic conditions. This is why I want to share my story and updates with you all, I know the more I have spoken out about my experiences, the more people have reached out to say they have had similar issues and I hope I can give you some relief.
I'm 100% certain I'll be pain free, it's a matter of time and finding the right solution for me. If you're dealing with health challenges and you're here reading this, please know you can heal. What you believe to be true about yourself, your body and your worthiness to heal is AS important as your physical healing. Your thoughts will dictate the effort you think you are worth and you are so worthy of being healthy.
You are not your diagnosis, you don't even have to agree with it. Maybe the system doesn't have a label for you yet but you know intuitively when something isn't right. I hope my Holistic Health Blog helps you to join some of the dots or at the very least know you're not alone, I hope you know you and your body are amazing.
You are not broken, the system and many big companies that profit from your ill health are.
Thank you so much for reading.
All my love,
If this has hit home, send me a message...
I love to hear from you ❤️
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