I want to start out by saying… it takes a lot of courage to be here.
Believe me, I know. I was in your shoes.
Just typing into the Google search engine can feel like you’re climbing Mount Everest when you’re experiencing chronic symptoms, be it pain, anxiety, or fatigue. But I’m hoping my story will help you to pause and pivot- if only for a minute.
Because I healed from chronic illness. And I want you to be able to have the same opportunity I had to learn the information that may just save your life.
My story with illness started when my husband found a tick burrowed into the back of my neck in the Redwood Forest in California. Little did we know what would unfold from this event. As a teen, I tested positive for Epstein-Barr virus after months of various vague symptoms, and I continued to have a weak immune system during my young adult years. I was still able to maintain a normal, active lifestyle, but I easily fell ill to various viruses and infections.
I studied Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno and graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree. While there, I spent my Saturday nights looking into a microscope and watching cells lyse in nematodes (and, I loved it!). I also went on numerous medical missions to indigenous places like rural Africa.
With my experience in Molecular Biology and medicine, I studied physician assistant studies at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and became an internal medicine travel physician assistant. While practicing in South America, I fell ill to various parasites that kept me fatigued and bloated well after my travels. But the tick bite in the Redwoods was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I had a buildup of biological and environmental toxins after years of various exposure. After seeing countless doctors about my vague symptoms - fatigue, migraines, nausea, joint pain and swelling - I became bedridden. For a period of time, I couldn't even bend my wrist to lift a fork to feed myself. I tested positive for Lyme Disease, multiple parasites, systemic Candidiasis, and other co-infections. After receiving a grant from the LymeLight Foundation, I tried every course of treatment - from heavy doses of prescription medications using a western medical approach to any and every therapeutic option offered to me.
I tried it all. I had to survive.
After devoting all my time to replenishing and detoxing, I got to the point where I could move around my house. But I still couldn’t do anything because of the pain and other symptoms that lingered. My doctors told me to make myself comfortable - that my diagnoses were something I'd have to deal with for the rest of my life.
But I refused to believe them. I began reading about the brain's ability to change - a concept referred to as "neuroplasticity." I read about how it has been used to treat medical conditions like brain injuries, strokes, Autism, and learning disabilities, and in the past 10 years, it's been used to treat chronic medical conditions - diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases, POTS, and chronic Lyme. It is then I began to use techniques to retrain my brain out of its high stress response. I did this so my body could start to heal and work for itself again.
After eight months, I had taken myself from "fight-or-flight" to "rest and digest." This improved my immune system, hormonal functions, and countless other organ functions. And my lab tests showed that decrease in inflammation that my body felt. Rewiring my brain caused me to even change my genetic expression - an idea referred to as "epigenetics." After researching, studying, and experimenting with various techniques, I founded Vital-Side, a neuroplasticity-based healing program that uses neuroplastic techniques, along with practice, repetition, focus, breath, and lifestyle changes, to re-wire the brain's limbic system to help you recover from chronic illness.
I can now say I am 110% healed and can do, eat, and feel anything I want to. I am happier and healthier than I've ever been! Because many of us have been dealing with stress to our brains for so long, it's hard to imagine what life would be like to live without constant worry, fear, anxiety, and symptoms that results from our diagnoses. But, I am a walking, talking, and breathing example - telling you that with a little help - you can be wired to heal (in as little as 6 months).
You are a self-healer. You have that capability.
But I have to say, it helps to be part of a community that is focused on healing too. So, continue to hope, to believe, and to advocated for yourself. With proper guidance and techniques, you can heal your brain to heal your body.
I wish you nothing but the best,