When I started trying to figure out what the cause of my health issues were, it became apparent to me pretty quickly that the medical system I paid to be a part of (through health insurance) was going to be of no use whatsoever in helping me get to the root cause of my problem(s).
Zero, zilch, nada.
Oh, I tried, but no one seemed to know for sure, what was causing all of my problems. I saw an embarrassing number of doctors to no avail. Eventually I started asking friends, “do you know anyone going to a good hippy/alternative doctor? I’m desperate for help.”
Hard as it might be to believe, a mere decade ago the internet was no where near as robust as it is now. Even so, I spent a ton of time searching for answers and found most them from people like me, who were on line sharing their stories, resources and information.
Functional medicine was still not “out there” and root cause medicine was no where near what it has become today, especially for those of us with autoimmune disease.
What I I found on line was people getting results and sharing their experience.
I found people who could give me some sense of hope.
I quickly gave up on caring about the source of the information, all I wanted was for someone to help me get pointed in the right direction. I was willing to do the work and my own research, but I didn’t know where the hell to start.
It was slow but like anything, eventually the info started to snowball.
In hindsight I have come to strongly believe that when you keep going to doctor after doctor and no one can seem to figure out what is going on with you, you probably have an autoimmune disease. I see it over and again in my business and not just with me.
Once I decided that I needed to step outside the regular system to get answers, I knew I was staring down a big scary road. It was going to cost money. Money I didn’t have, but desperate (and sick) people do desperate things. They use their credit cards.
While I had had a pretty amazing life to date, I had always done it on a super ridiculously tiny budget. Mexico on $30 a day doesn’t represent me being a spend-a-holic, it proves that I’m able to get shit done on a close to nothing budget. That, I’m super good at!
I figured, I’ll do my research and do everything necessary for as cheap as I can and use my credit cards to fund my outcome. I figured that once I start feeling better (read: have more energy) and working more I’d be able to pay my debt off.
Nope. Not when you keep getting mislead and hitting roadblock after roadblock.
If my post Hurricane Katrina days taught me anything it was this:
Desperate people do desperate things. Yes, that’s the second time you’ve read that here and it’s likely you’ll hear it again.
I was desperate.
It got so bad that I thought I was losing my mind. How complicated could this all be? Really? Why can no one figure out WTF is going on with me?
I started pulling out the credit cards and paying for the care my insurer would not cover. Why didn’t they cover it? It’s a bad numbers game for them. Good care requires time. Bad care requires a short visit and a quick prescription.
The path I chose to take (functional medicine) meant that my doctor was going to do a full work up of my entire life and that would include a broad range of testing that my insurer wasn’t willing to cover. Things like chemical sensitivities, hormones, vitamin & mineral deficiencies, etc. Testing beyond the standard CWP (comprehensive wellness panel) that I got from regular doctors. Chemical “sensitivities, vitamin & mineral deficiencies”….not even on the radar of most allopathic doctors.
My biggest conundrum was this… I started getting some answers, but no one doctor had all the answers, so I continued to research and visit more docs.
Eventually I got a little piece of helpful information from each doctor and was able to start stringing enough of it together to figure out what I needed to do next. Ultimately, I was able to understand my needs enough so that I could make an educated choice with my final doctor, the one I needed to help me finish my healing process.
My journey was a success, a huge one, but it came at a very high cost.
It forced me into what I call Autoimmune (medical) Bankruptcy.
Over seven years I incurred a lot of debt getting healthy. It wasn’t just the doctors visits or the diagnostic work, it was also the vitamins, supplements, organic food, good quality water, therapist, etc. I have a reputation for being able to squeeze a quarter out of a nickel, but this constant pecking at my credit cards took its toll. $8,000 one year; $6,000 the next; $4,000 the year after…and so on and so on.
When you are sick, depressed, have low energy and feel crappy… getting out to work two jobs to cover your expenses isn’t high on your list of “things to do.” Getting out of bed some days was all I was capable of.
After Katrina I had liquidated my life, sold everything and started living much smaller. During this sick time, I was living in a really small apartment (550 square feet) and had low overhead. But with all of my expenses and mounting credit card debt I was still struggling to make my monthly obligations.
Always obsessed with a good credit rating, I worked hard to keep it all together while healing. Then I got an email on day from someone I knew in Vermont offering me a ridiculously high paying part-time chef gig and the long story short is I decided to take it. In all honesty, I had no choice. I had to roll up my little life and go to Vermont because the salary was ridiculously high and I had nothing close to those type of options in New Orleans.
This particular job was super high paying but it only required me to work 10 days a month for 8 months a year, then a full month (balls to the wall) in the summertime. There were 3 months downtime in the winter which is when I chose to leave and return to New Orleans to stay with friends.
Because I was a native New Englander, when I was in Vermont, I went and stayed with or visited with nearby friends between work weeks. I did have a friend with an empty (literally) apartment in Manchester, NH and I stay there quite a bit. I bought a small mattress and threw it on the floor. Grabbed a few things at the thrift store and made due. However, I was basically “living out of my car” for two years.
Not ideal conditions for healing.
This gig bought me the time I needed to financially keep my head above water short term, but not for the long term. During this time I was also taking an on line course to learn how to build digital programs so that I could help/teach others what I was learning and hopefully create an income stream for myself.
Before I took the Vermont gig I was already doing some general health and wellness blogging and trying to build that business while I was working full-time AND trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me.
Bottom line: I wasn’t sitting on my hands. I was working my ass off while I was sick. I had no choice. There’s no “bank of Dad” for this gal.
While I was in Vermont I started the AIP protocol. When I wasn’t getting the results I had hoped for my doctor said to me…
“Jodi, I wish I could get all of my patients to eat like you do, really I do. You are awesome at compliance. Here’s the deal… you can’t EAT your way out of this disease. You have got to reduce your stress or you are going nowhere fast. I urge you to look at what is causing your stress and do something about it or you are never going to heal.”
Boom! There it is.
My employer was a bat shit crazy gaslighting narcissist and it was time to go. There is a reason the job paid so well. She was crazy. I couldn’t live out of my car and heal. Who was I kidding?
It took me a long time to come to terms with this whole bankruptcy thing.
It took a really long time to not blame myself for a broken system.
However, it has fired me up to help you and other like us, get out of a similar situations.
I’m making my mess my message.
My autoimmune healing program is launching before the new year. I’ve been working on it for a long time. My hope is that it will get others on the fast track to healing their gut and reversing the symptoms of their autoimmune disease.
I did it and maybe you can, too.