Black coffee and bone broth
At the beginning of last year I was in a pretty bad place in terms of my health, I felt defeated, hopeless and very sorry for myself. I went to my gynae begging for a hysterectomy – not even a cure for endo but I was desperate. He refused and sent me back to a gastroenterologist I’d last seen 8 years ago – wanting to explore digestive damage and treatments. Dr T (gastro extraordinaire) sent me for numerous tests, some so humiliating I have not been able to talk about them since, and one thing identified was my inability to absorb nutrients. A dietician advised me to try and manage my diet but I knew I couldn’t do it alone. 8 years ago the same Dr T hospitalised me and used that time to “reset” my embattled digestive system by only allowing me nutritional shakes three times a day for 2 weeks. Upon release I was to slowly re-introduce foods and monitor how they affected me.
Upon release I had a huge glass of wine and cigarette. Suffice to say I thought this time round I should get some professional, nutritionist help.
Enter the incredible Anna Marsh who was recommended by a friend.
The first time I spoke to Anna she was very clear that she wasn’t used to dealing with someone with this kind of complex, systemic condition and really managed my expectations. I said if i could get a 15% reduction in day to day pain I’d consider it a success. What’s happened is far greater than that.
Anna began by stripping my diet down to about 12 ingredients – all poached – for around 6 weeks. The announcement that my diet would consist mainly of bone broth, sauerkraut, eggs and poached salmon for the foreseeable future was met with some concern from those closest to me;
…but MGM was amazing, he was determined to find a way to make the bland, poached foods as interesting as possible and he uncomplainingly cooked separate meals for us for months. Positive affirmations (conning myself?) like the one on my fridge above helped too!
After a few weeks I began very gradually reintroducing foods one by one, noting how they made me feel etc. I initially found this really stressful – I have about one week out of every four where I feel quite well so it was tricky to determine whether I was just feeling shitty or whether it was the newly introduced broccoli for example. Having just one week a month as a control meant the re-introduction of foods was slow to say the least. With Anna’s help I listened to my body for the first time, I discovered a love of black coffee, sauerkraut, kombucha, bone broth, DIM, spinach juice, turmeric and many other wonderful ingredients (still not chicken livers though. Never chicken livers).
Through Anna I had incredibly focused and detailed tests done on my gut and hormones, I had fantastic emotional support and most importantly learned to feel empowered about what I was doing. With the amazing support at home from MGM I felt brave enough to go it alone after a few months and have been ever since.
It’s been 12 months now and my diet is wide ranging although there are obviously things I won’t eat again (or ever – see chicken livers above). The most significant and unexpected thing for me has been the fact that I now no longer take painkillers. Within two months of working with Anna I had one whole day without painkillers. For the first time in over 6 years.
This doesn’t mean I am not in any pain. My pain has reduced considerably – massively – but even beyond that has been the mental shift I’ve experienced. As I said before starting this work I was in a really bad place. I felt so hopeless that taking 8-12 pills a day felt like the only option I had to get through even a “normal” pain day. Bad pain days were just about being unconscious as much as possible.
Now I feel empowered and like an active participant in what’s happening to my body and in my healing. Don’t get me wrong – I have tried to manage my pain before – in the last 15 years I’ve tried almost everything you can think of (including unwittingly joining a cult – story for another time..) but I have never felt like I wasn’t fighting a battle with myself – me against this body of mine that rebels and hurts. The things I was trying to use to cure myself were really just weapons to numb and to silence my body in ways that only ever caused more damage.
I’m not done, I have a long way to go but vitally over the last year I’ve realised that my body and I are on the same side. I understand so much now about my gut, my hormones, autoimmunity and my disease, how my body works, the nourishment it needs and how to be a bit nicer to myself.