When I was a child I wondered how old people could stand knowing that they would die soon. I wondered whether they thought about death more than children do? And there I was a child thinking about death.
I had my reasons. I had a serious kidney infection at age six and lived only because of penicillin. After that illness, I was tired a lot and my doctor and parents assumed my kidneys had never completely healed. That wasn’t it. My kidneys were fine. But my adrenal glands had been so stressed they were never the same again.
My book Tummy Story is an account of the detective work it took to unravel a lifetime of poor adrenal function–as well as a history of hypoglycemia. I hope my method will help others. I did several things to understand this body’s history and current state of health.
1) I made sure I knew as much as I could about what had happened in the past.
2) I used internet resources as they became available, taking care which ones to trust.
3) I consulted the best allopathic practitioner I could find in my area.
4) I consulted the best alternative medicine doctor in my area.
5) I worked with a couple of herbalists.
Yes, research and trial treatments took time, but in the end I was able to extend my life significantly–my life as Tricia in this body. I’m grateful. Day after fine day I’m surprised. I’ll be 77 in less than a month. When I think about that I see fireworks going off and my friends and family offering congratulations. I wrote Tummy Story when I was 75. What made me happy then was that I had lived long enough to find out what in tarnation had happened to me back in childhood and how it had played out through the years.
This life has been the most fun I can imagine, and the information about my health is the least of it. So, sure, I think about dying, not with any dread but rather a deep satisfaction that I know what I know about bodies and how they work and how little they represent us. But this one has provided me with an adventure into the ways our culture and habits both stress our bodies and offer remedies.
The update is this: I’m still here. I’m still using what I learned while I was writing the book:
1) You can get dizzy or lightheaded from low potassium levels and this may be caused by poor adrenal function. I take daily electrolytes.
2) Low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) causes a different sensation, including a frantic need to eat and a sense that every cell in the body is yelling “feed me or I will collapse.” They would, too. You can loose consciousness or have seizures from low glucose. I carry food with me when I go out even for a brief errand. The hypoglycemia was probably caused by corn syrup in the cow’s milk my mother gave me. She was following doctor’s orders. That’s what they did in the 1940s before today’s carefully made baby formulas, which still are not nearly as good as mother’s milk.
3) Corn syrup and the sugar habit that followed gave me trouble with digestion, something antibiotics made much worse. Today my tummy struggles to digest food well enough to provide nutrients and energy–I give it all the help I can. Inevitably some bad bacteria grow. I take supplements to discourage those guys–and then there is the die-off, which can make me ill (toxic). If I start feeling toxic–it’s the same feeling I remember from long ago when my kidneys quit but from a different cause–I take a supplement to rid my body of the toxicity.
4) When adrenal function is low it pays to take a supplement to supply missing hormones. This helps with energy and whatever else the adrenals do. Low adrenal function seems to make me more susceptible to metal and other toxins than most people so the supplement corrects that.
Today I do a juggling act, getting up each morning to the chores that must be done to feed and nourish this body. My chores are closely timed to ensure none of the essential ingredients to the best health possible are left out. That includes exercise, done not too strenuously so not to stress the adrenals. And in between these motions I find time to write and do picture puzzles with friends in my elder housing building. I take time to walk around and see the flowers and birds, to sit on my porch and read, and to visit family. That includes six young grandchildren worth sticking around for.
Mine is a joyful life.