No, not if you are feeding margarine to your family! Those ads drive me nuts, especially the cute little kids explaining why their mum has changed them from “unhealthy” butter to “healthy” margarine. Advertisers know how to make parents feel good about healthy choices, it is a shame they don’t actually promote healthy choices!
Eye experts are getting it right, many are warning their patients against eating margarine, because of the vegetable oil in it – which they believe speed up macular degeneration, cardiologists advise their patients the complete opposite, even though some cardiologists have reviewed the evidence; many are still caught up in old beliefs about cholesterol and heart disease, go to Cholesterol, what you need to know.
Dr Paul Beaumont, founding Director of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, nine years ago warned those with a genetic risk of getting macular degeneration to stop eating anything with vegetable oil in it – eg. margarine. Even though there was an enormous backlash at the time, there have now been multiple studies supporting his recommendations, so his advice remains the same. “Whilst there’s a cloud of suspicion over vegetable oil, they’re best to avoid it, and have a scraping of butter,” Dr Beaumont said.
Of course we are supposed to believe that vegetable oils are bad for your eyes but healthy for your heart! Cardiovascular Disease is a disease of inflammation. Nasty fats such as vegetable oils, oxidised oils/hyrogenated oils cause inflammation – they drive disease!
There is a new book out on the dangers of vegetable oil “Toxic Oil – why vegetable oil will kill you & how to save yourself” by David Gillespie. At the moment many dieticians are advising the public to ignore this book, after all David is not qualified in health, he is a lawyer! The same argument they used when he started telling us rightly about the dangers of sugar/fructose in his book “Sweet Poison”.
I have to disagree, as a lawyer he knows how to gather information and examine it, looking for facts, looking for proof, that is exactly what he does! The problem with being “qualified” is that many are afraid to really look at the truth let alone tell it! They quote the same old tired lines, and most are influenced/sponsored by food companies in one way or another! Who wants to admit that their bad advice is harming people?
I have received my copy of Toxic Oil and although I haven’t read it yet, I am happy to support David in his quest to change the way we think about food and get people to start eating real food again, avoiding sugar and vegetable oil! My advice as a Clinical Nutritionist, start eating real butter and use coconut oil, stay away from margarine!
For more information or personalised advice on a healthy diet contact us on (02) 47 222 111 at the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre or www.informedhealth.com.au
I see people make this assumption all the time, and they are wrong. Slim does not automatically mean good health!
Don’t get me wrong, being slim is good for your health (as long as you are a healthy weight and you are eating well). I know that in my life, when I am slim, I feel better, I have more energy and overall am in better health.
What is frustrating, is seeing slim people judge overweight people, blaming them for being overweight, when they eat much the same diet. There is an assumption that overweight people are unhealthy but slim people are examples of wonderful health. The other assumption is that overweight people’s issues are caused by “glutton and sloth”, this is far from the truth.
Dr Robert Lustig does a good job of dispelling this myth in his latest book “Fat Chance – the bitter truth about sugar”. Here is an excerpt from the book, (page 7): “Being thin is not a safeguard against metabolic disease or early death. Up to 40 percent of normal-weight individuals harbor insulin resistance – a sign of chronic metabolic disease – which will likely shorten their life expectancy. Of those, 20 percent demonstrate liver fat on an MRI of the abdomen. Liver fat, irrespective of body fat has been shown to be a major risk factor in the development of diabetes”.
As I have explained before, you really are what you eat. The body continually breaks down and renews itself, making new skin cells, new blood cells, new bone etc. To do this well, it requires good quality building materials, especiall good quality fat and protein, along with many vitamins and minerals etc. Before you judge anyone else, have a look at your own diet, are you eating foods that nourish your body and provide great building blocks or are you eating rubbish?
Some foods are what I like to call nutrient foods, they supply energy and wonderful building blocks for the body eg. vegetables, quality meat, coconut oil, organic blocked butter, avocado etc. Some “foods” are anti-nutrients, they add loads of sugar and nasty hydrogenated fats/vegetable oil to the body – all of which are inflammatory and cause harm to the body. This kind of “food” takes important nutrients from the body and puts the body under great stress. Eg. most fast food, frozen dinners, confectionary, biscuits, cereals, bread, cakes, muffins, chocolates, margarine, sugary drinks including soft drinks, fruit juice, flavoured milk, flavoured iced tea etc. If you regularly eat these foods you will always be under-nourished and not have quality building blocks for your body to use! This will ultimately lead to aging and many inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and dementia!
For more information or personalised advice on a healthy diet contact us on (02) 47 222 111 at the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre or www.informedhealth.com.au
This week I had a high school student attend the clinic to interview me for a school assignment. One of the questions was about how much parents are to blame or if parents are to blame for the obesity of their children. It really got me thinking.
I will admit here straight away that I am not a parent and this makes me a “perfect parent” because the only perfect parent that exists is the one in your mind before you actually have kids! Of course, once you have kids you learn that “perfect parents” and “perfect kids” do not exist. It is the real world and we all have strengths and flaws! Oprah’s mentor Maya Angelou’s famous quote “when you know better you do better” is absolutely true. Except for a small number of people, most parents actually do their best.
It is not unusual now for there to be three to four generations in a family who have not been taught how to shop and how to cook. In my experience most people are not taught to be “in tune” with their body. Eating is often followed by feeling bloated, sick, tired etc and this is considered normal.
Our bodies continually break down and rebuild themselves, new blood cells, new bone etc. For this to work well, the body needs a continued supply of good quality “building materials” and “energy”. Not many people truly comprehend that you really are what you eat!
When parents go looking for answers, they find a whole bunch of food company sponsored information that does little to help, sometimes much to harm. How can you blame parents for getting it wrong if they are been given bad advice from doctors, dieticians and other health professionals?
Then we have the media, besides all of the usual tv commercials for toxic “foods” that infuriate me such as “you ought to be congratulated” for feeding your kids toxic margarine! There are also all of the movies, tv shows and reality weight loss or cooking tv shows etc, where you constantly fed really bad information. You often hear lines like “we are cooking a low fat healthy meal” or “this is bad for you or fattening because of all the fat”. It seems that if you hear the same message enough, it becomes the “truth” whether it is based in fact or not.
Or maybe they look to the Heart Foundation which is unfortunately a BIG mistake as of course they don’t consider sugar at all when they “tick” foods for money, that ensures they can tick that breakfast cereal that is jam packed with sugar!
Every so often you will see someone giving great advice such as, Dr Robert Lustig and David Gillespie advising people on the dangers of sugar (particularly fructose) but of course they are usually drowned out by the junk food sponsored dietician explaining that they are wrong and of course we all know that sugar is part of a healthy “balanced” diet!!!
No wonder parents are so confused, they either don’t know why they should care about these things, or get fed really bad advice! I am currently reading “Fat Chance – The bitter truth about sugar” by Dr Robert Lustig, as he explains in this book, obesity is much more complicated than most of us understand. It is not simply about calories in calories out. Not all calories are the same and sugar, particularly fructose is a major cause for concern. Since the war on fat in food started approx 40 years ago we have replaced the fat with sugar/fructose in our foods resulting in increased obesity and diabetes.
Yes parents do need to set a good example, you can’t complain that your child eats too many chips or too much fast food when you supply it or when you eat it yourself! Though I really feel for parents today trying to navigate a “healthy” diet and life for themselves and their family when the overwhelming message is that obesity is about “gluttony and sloth”, therefore blame and shame! We need to teach ourselves and our kids to listen to your body, and eat the way nature intended, real foods that nourish and energise you, with fat and all!
What are your experiences?
For more information or personalised advice on a healthy diet contact us on (02) 47 222 111 at the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre or www.informedhealth.com.au
It is now less than a week until Christmas and I notice each year people getting more and more stressed. So much to do before Christmas, with the countdown a constant reminder of how many days you have left to do everything!
My question is why do we need to do everything and create a “perfect” Christmas? Why do we need to stress out, overstretch our budget and ourselves? We spend a fortune buying stuff for each other, many gifts are unwanted and end up in a charity bin, on ebay or being re-gifted anyway! In this busy world spending time with your loved ones and friends is far more valuable than any stuff, that is what I call a “perfect” Christmas.
Since when did Christmas become a competition with who can spend the most and who can eat the most? It has just become another excuse for excess. It is not about spending thousands of dollars on gifts, fixing up the house so it can be just perfect and stressing yourself out to breaking point leading up to Christmas day.
It is no wonder that there are so many family fights on the day, people put so much pressure on themselves leading up to the day that they are already well “over it” before the day! We seem to place a bunch of unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others about what we should have achieved by Christmas and how our experience “should” be. It is just too much pressure for everyone involved!
What happens after Christmas Day, Boxing Day and then the next day and then the next. Life goes on……the world will not stop because you didn’t buy perfect gifts, send Christmas cards or fix up the house! It is just another day. A day with special significance that has nothing to do with shopping and stressing!
Ever since I started relaxing about Christmas, I have been able to enjoy it and really connect with people without the stress and expectation! It is your responsibility to create your own experience, don’t rely on others to shape it for you! What have you done to make your Christmas less stressful?
I have battled with my weight over the past 20 years and have done regular diets, lost 10, 15 or 20kg and then put it all back on, plus some! Have you noticed it is always plus some?!! I have been aware from fairly early on that some foods effect me, made me feel bloated and tired etc but until recent years didn’t link this to my other health problems. I had been bloated and tired for so long I no longer had a reference point for how it felt to feel good! I see that in clinic all the time, normal is subjective, if you have symptoms for long enough, you will believe that is “normal” and not realise it is your body giving you a clear message that something is wrong!
Last time I presented to emergency with numbness and tingling (thinking I was having another stroke), I spent a week in hospital and was given some sort of strange diagnosis of migraine that causes numbness and tingling but no other symptoms! One of the medications I was prescribed caused a huge reaction, first I broke out in hives and what followed that was three months of incredibly painful arthritis which moved day to day from my knees to my shoulders and around my body. It was so painful that I cried myself to sleep some nights shaking in pain and had trouble and incredible pain with basic tasks like using a door handle or holding a glass. On reflection, I believe my symtoms at this time were about anxiety, and had nothing to do with migraine. After this experience I decided to NEVER put my health completely into anyone else’s hands, I had to take charge and take full responsibility for my health. I had to (as is often said), feel the fear and do it anyway! I could no longer just be a victim.
Somewhere along this confusing and frightening road of health problems, hospitals, diagnosis and more and more medications I decided to study nutrition. By now, I knew that nutrition mattered (one of my friends was studying naturopathy and the things she was saying seemed to make sense), but I still wasn’t quite sure how it all fit together. I gradually started eating a somewhat healthier diet, I really didn’t know who to believe, there were so many conflicting views on what a healthy diet was and whether to take medications or herbs or vitamins etc. I knew I wanted to head in the direction of nutrition and natural therapies but needed to understand it better to be sure. Even though mainstream medicine was not helping me and if anything making me sicker, there was much fear around letting go and believing there was a better way! The sickness industry control you with fear!
I moved forward one step at a time, embracing new ideas along the way. I cleared out my house of toxic cleaning products, perfumes, skin care etc. I started using Certified Organic Miessence skin care, what you put on your skin and what you breath in matters, it all ends up in your blood stream so I cleaned up my environment. Eventually I graduated and started working as a nutritionist. At this time, I was eating what would be classed as a healthy diet according to the food pyramid, and feeling better than I had when I was eating lots of junk food but still didn’t feel quite right.
I had been told by various friends and health professionals that I should look into food allergies/intolerances but found it so overwhelming, I didn’t really know where to begin. I had managed to overcome my addiciton to cola and chocolate but was still very addicted to sugar and did not like the idea of giving up my favourite foods. The weight was piling back on again, I starting feeling depressed and had no motivation and felt like a fraud as a nutritionist being overweight and unwell!
Then when I was finally ready to listen, I came across two practitioners who became mentors and helped me understand and navigate my way back to health. The first was Stephen Eddey Naturopath and Biochemist, Principal of Health Schools Australia (Gold Coast, QLD), whose seminars I started attending, he is the first person who brought my attention to the truth about grains and how inflammatory they are in our diet, he was the first person to explain the connection between grains and auto immune diseases to me. I resisted my new knowledge for a while still wanting to hang on to my morning porridge (oats are good for you right?), but eventually I listened and I gave up my addiciton to grains including my morning porridge! Have you ever had that experience where you learn something new and deep inside, you immediately know it is true but you also instinctively know everything is about to change and you slip into denial and resist the change? However you cannot “unlearn” something!
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
At around the same time, I attended a webinar by Jodi Chapman a Naturopath based at the Advanced Wellness and Behavioural Centre in Maroochydore, (QLD, Australia). She explained the connection between food intolerance/allergy, weight gain, gut problems and depression and finally I had that “aha” moment, it was all starting to make sense! I contacted Jodi immediately, she has been my mentor for most of the last two years. Jodi put all of the pieces together for me and put me on the path to wellness, she then went on to teach me how to do this for others. Jodi has changed my life in so many ways, I can’t begin to thank her enough, her colleague Suzi Le Fanue – Naturopath has also been a great source of information and support.
I finally identified my food intolerances (chronic allergies) and with support from Jodi and Suzi, learned how to change my diet accordingly. Now I help many others with the same challenges! My weight is finally back to normal and I am feeling happy and healthy now. I also started working with a Personal Trainer last year (Shane Hodgins from Fitness First, Penrith), he has also been a great source of encouragement, advice and support for me. I have now expanded my clinic the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre to include another Nutritionist, Rachel Shaw and our Receptionist Cindy Clarke, the three of us with guidance from Jodi and much support from my husband Greg have worked together to build and grow our clinic and helped many people on their path to wellness.
A couple of months ago, I had loads of blood tests to see how my new diet and lifestyle have been working over the last couple of years. I no longer have any auto immune diseases, they are both gone! My thyroid is functioning and making thyroid hormones now (I have been off my thyroid meds for approximately 18 months after 8 years on them)! My cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels are all normal. My CRP levels (which measures inflammation in the body) are very low.
Many people have supported me along the way, my husband, family, friends and practitioner friends, particularly Victor Tuballa – Naturopath, Linda Campbell from Mind Mastery and Denver Oliveux from Looking Good and Feeling Great who have both been “in my corner” for several years now and my Bowen Therapist Maureen Rogers who has supported me for many years. Thanks to everyone for your support and to my clients for believing in me and letting me help you!
One of my biggest lessons has been to allow myself to be vulnerable, to allow myself to be wrong sometimes and not have all the answers. To ask for help and be open to new ideas, be prepared to change! Sometimes it is so overwhelming you don’t know where to start, my advice is to just start, one foot in front of the other, one goal at a time, you will get there. I would also advise, don’t do it alone, ask for help! Feel free to share your journey below, I would love to hear your story.
For part 1 of this story, click here
Today I have been looking at some photos and posts on Facebook from a friend in Cambodia, he was our tour guide when we travelled there in the summer of 2011/2012. At the time I posted about our relationship to food compared to the Cambodian attitude.
Looking through his photos, especially the photos of children in Cambodia reminded me of a trip we took with him to go and visit what he described as some of the poorest people in Cambodia who lived in a water village. They lived on and next to a “lake”, in a mixture of huts, floating houses and dinghy’s. The kids some of them tiny, probably only 2 years old very easily handled a large boat and were able to row themselves to school if they were lucky enough to go. We were able to give a whole bunch of note books, pens, soap etc to these kids who were so appreciative.
The Cambodian people had a profound effect on me. In my experience, the less people have (I am talking about “stuff” material things), the happier they are. People who by western standards have “nothing” actually have everything. They know their own value, these people are truly grateful for what they have and don’t dwell on, or complain about what they don’t have.
In the western world we have so much stuff and many are so unhappy, just as we do with food, we have emotional attachments to stuff. It is as if the stuff is part of us and if we don’t have “enough stuff”, the “right stuff” or the “latest stuff”, we are not good enough, life is not OK, we can’t possibly be happy.
There are people who are so attached to stuff that they are literally drowning under it and need intervention of council workers, professional organisers and therapists just to help them part with their stuff!
Stuff will not make you happy, you may briefly enjoy having something new and different but it wears off very quickly and you now need more stuff to feel OK. Many children in the west get mountains of expensive beautifully wrapped gifts for Christmas but it doesn’t stop them from complaining that they didn’t get enough stuff or their stuff isn’t as good as someone else’s stuff, as if our happiness depends on having something more or better than someone else. They had to learn it from someone, we are the ones that teach them that you are not OK if you don’t have lots of stuff!
I remember trying to explain this to someone in Cambodia but I think they found it too hard to comprehend, I don’t blame them, it makes no sense! We are born into this world without stuff and leave this world without stuff, we need to find value in ourselves and our relationships with each other and acceptance of what “is”, that is the key to happiness!
I encourage you to start a Gratitude Diary. Every day, write a list of at least 10 things you are grateful for. If you can’t think of anything I would suggest being grateful for: having access to a computer and internet so you can read this post, having a pen and a book that you can use as a diary, having electricity, hot water, clean water, shelter, food etc. Focusing on what you have, will change the way you think about your life!
“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.” – Charles Louis de Montesquieu (1689-1755)
You may also enjoy reading my post on What gets in the way of healing
This week is Spina Bifida Awareness Week. I am often surprised and alarmed to note that many women do not know why folate is important in pregnancy and even more importantly when it is required. It is important throughout the whole pregancy but it is ESSENTIAL on approx day 18-21 of pregnancy!
There has been much research on folate and pregnancy, it is now known that women, who have adequate intakes of the folate for at least 1 to 2 months before they conceive a baby, and for the first 6 to 12 weeks of their pregnancy, have a greatly reduced chance of having a baby with abnormalities known as neural tube defects. The likelihood of having a baby with a neural tube defect is reduced by up to 70% when adequate folic acid is taken.
Neural tube defects occur when there are problems with the development of the baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord. The baby’s neural tube normally closes approximately between week 3 and 4 of pregnancy (day 21-28, approx 5-6 weeks after the woman’s last period). If there is a deficiency in folate at this point, a neural tube defect eg spina bifida and anencephaly will occur.
Unfortunatley; this is so early in the pregnancy that many women are unaware they are pregnant.
Adequate folic acid also appears to decrease the incidence of some other abnormalities, such as cleft lip and/or palate.
Folate (vitamin B9 also called folic acid), plays a role in DNA and RNA synthesis and is therefore critical in cellular division. In order to divide properly cells need adequate folic acid. The development and growth of a foetus involves constant cell division, which can lead to an increase in the mother’s demand for folate.
Preconception preparation is important, not everyone has a planned pregnancy which is why all women of child bearing age who are sexual active must know their folate status. Talk to your GP about a simple blood test to see if you have good levels of folate.
Many medications can reduce your folate levels, most commonly in women it is the birth control pill or implant/injection. If you are coming off the pill it is important to know you are at a high risk of being deficient in folate, especially if you are planning to conceive. It is advisable to allow a minimum of three months or even better six months before attempting to conceive after stopping the contraceptive pill/implant/injections.
Alcohol and a poor diet can also cause a folate deficiency.
Folate supplementation alone may cause imbalances in other B vitamins so it is best to take a suitable good quality pregnancy multivitamin with good levels of folic acid. For your body to make and digest folate in the body – you also need good quality bacteria in your digestive system so taking a probiotic supplement may also be useful.
Some foods have now been fortified with folate (some pastas, breads and cereals). These foods are highly inflamamtory and very unhealthy so I would not recommend you eat these. It is better to eat foods that naturally contain folate!
For more personalised information about the best foods to eat or appropriate supplements call us on 47 222 111 to make an appointment with our Clincal Nutritionists or book via our website.
Examples of foods that naturally contain folate are:
|Chicken||Vegetable juice (carrot, celery, silverbeet & parsley)|
|Chick peas||Soy bean|
|Hazelnuts (raw)||Peanuts (raw)|
Still recovering from Easter? Too many bunnies and buns?
Have you tried every Diet and still Overweight? Not able to Lose Weight or Re-Gain it every time – plus more?
Eat healthy and exercise but still no success?
OVER the Diet Merry-Go-Round?
FREE WEIGHT LOSS SEMINAR
Presented by: Fiona Kane and Rachel Shaw, Clinical Nutritionists from Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre and
Darren Pereira, Personal Trainer from InPursuit Personal Training
Everyone is welcome!
Book Now: (02) 47 222 111
Details: When: Saturday, 13 April 2013, 9.30am to 11.00am
Where: Penrith Cricket Club, Station Street (just off Jamison Road – next door to the Football Stadium), Penrith NSW 2750
There is so much mixed information on weight loss and health! What do you believe?
Join us for an eye opening take on weight loss. This seminar is FREE and presented by two Clinical Nutritionists and a Personal Trainer.
Mythbusting: common diet myths and facts and how to control your weight loss hormones.
You will learn the truth about low carb, low fat and Paleo!
Is sugar the enemy or fat?
Find out what you can do right now to achieve healthy weight loss!
There will be giveaways and prizes on the day too!
Taking the time to attend this event will be an investment in your health!
A few weeks ago, I a shared a picture on Facebook that said “parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry” Alvin Price. We now know that the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. We know that what we say to our kids is extremely powerful but what about what we do in front of our children?
It is not unusual for parents to tell their children that they are beautiful in one moment and then stand in front of the mirror examining themselves, pointing out their own flaws, wrinkes, spots, big bottom, big tummy, thunder thighs…… right in front of their kids. Others cross examine their day, looking at all of their so called “failures”, planning for the day that they will be happy. “When I get the pay rise, I will be enough therefore I will be happy” or “when I lose 5kg, I will be happy” or “when we get a new car, we will be happy”.
What you do it equally as powerful, if not more powerful than what you say. If you encourage your kids to love and believe in themselves but you don’t love and believe in yourselves or each other, what message are you sending them?
I was chatting to a young dad with an infant son recently and explained to him that one of the best gifts he can give his son as a parent is to know that he is enough, to know that he is a good parent, a good human being. Parents must fill their own buckets too! I can’t tell you how many young mothers I see in my clinic who are completely exhausted, completely spent and have nothing left to give, they put absolutely everyone in front of themselves.
Women in particularly often feel guilty if they do anything for themselves at all! What does that teach your children? It teaches your sons that women have no needs and your daughters that women are not allowed to have needs. Is that really the message you want your kids to learn?
If you nourish yourselves as a couple and as individuals, this will nourish your whole family. That is what will set the example to your children, it is wonderful to fill your children’s buckets but even better if they learn how to fill their own (as you won’t always be there to refill it for them).
If you are not sure where to start to fill your own bucket, read this previous post.
“BELONGING STARTS WITH SELF ACCEPTANCE…..
BELIEVING THAT YOU ARE ENOUGH IS WHAT GIVES YOU THE COURAGE TO BE AUTHENTIC”
My story of auto immune diseases and overcoming fear so I could heal…
People often ask me “why did you choose nutrition and health as a career?” or “how could you know how I feel, surely you have never been overweight or sick?” . To be completely honest I was not particularly interested in health until I was sick, it certainly was not a career I would have ever chosen, as often happens, it kinda chose me……. as John Lennon said “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans“.
I was a fussy kid who wouldn’t eat much unless it was chocolate, soft drink or bread or something similar (I had all the food groups covered)!! I also suffered from lots of digestive issues (surprise surprise) and in my teens and early 20′s regular debilitating migraines and lots of fainting/dizzy spells. These problems were just a way of life for me, it didn’t occur to me that my diet could be causing these health problems! I had always been relatively slim so when I started piling on the weight in my early 20′s it took my a long time to understand that my diet was the cause! I had always eaten that way – why was I putting on weight now?
I now know, looking back that my body gave me lots of warning signs that I was not well (as if digestive issues, migraines and fainting were not signs!) along the way, I just chose to ignore these signs and largely accept these health conditions as just normal. It is quite common to collect little health issues one at a time and before you know it, you have some pretty big health issues. If you don’t listen to your body’s whispers, eventually it shouts at you until you listen, if you don’t listen – it forces you to listen!
For me, this happened on 1 November 1996, at the age of 25 – I suffered a stroke. I remember that day like it was yesterday, it was 40+ degrees (celsius) Friday afternoon, I was at my job in an office in the centre of Sydney and I had a visual disturbance come on so I knew a migraine would follow soon. I diligently finished my work and caught the train home (I was legally blind at the time I was on the train and the pain had started, I remember with great difficulty trying not to fall as I stepped off the train onto Penrith station). I caught a cab home and went to bed.
One of my husband’s mates rang and told me I sounded like I was “on drugs”. I was not aware at the time, I was slurring my words and he was not aware that it was a clear sign I was having a stroke! (Please remember that the person who is slurring their words may not be aware that they are actually slurring, I thought I was just speaking slowly). I was in incredible pain and violently ill the whole weekend, attending many medical centres and waiting for many hours in the hospital emergency. I knew by this time I was very ill, but not sure what was happening. I couldn’t get any doctors to take my concerns seriously as I was only 25, so surely it was just a headache, right?
Finally, the hospital agreed to do a CT scan on the Monday, and all of a sudden many doctors were all looking at my scan and very interested. I was now seriously worried as I knew they had found something wrong with my brain, I knew this for sure, the fear started to set in, there was something wrong with my brain and I was about to get a diagnosis. The doctors offered to get me a wheelchair to take me back to emergency so they could discuss my results, there was no way I was waiting for that, I walked back to emergency where the doctors did a neurological examination which felt like it went forever, before they finally told me the diagnosis. You have suffered a stroke! It resulted in permanent brain damage, losing 25% of my peripheral vision although in the early stages of the stroke I lost all of my peripheral vision and would have been legally blind – so I and extremely grateful that 75% of my vision returned. This literally stopped me in my tracks, life would never be the same again.
The scans showed that this was not my first stroke, I had experienced several “mini” strokes before this one. Now it began, the conflicting diagnosis and dire warnings from specialists, the medications with debilitating “side effects” – the fear merry-go-round. I was paralysed by fear – what if I have another stroke? will I die? will I be OK? I really wasn’t too sure that I would live until 30. After going to a whole lot of specialists – neurologists and haematologists – I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease described to me as anticardiolipid antibodies, I was told that this auto immune disease caused my blood to have a tendency to clot and that I would have this disease for life and need medication for the rest of my life too!
My headaches had stopped but I didn’t seem to be getting better, I was always tired and general unwell, a few years later I was diagnosed with yet another auto immune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease, now I had to take thyroid hormone as my thyroid was not making enough. I was stuck in this victim mentality where I felt that my body had let me down, far from it, my poor body was doing the best it could under the circumstances! I was doing nothing to help myself as I didn’t know at the time that there was anything I could do and that my diet and lifestyle is what led me there in the first place!