End of Summer

So, the fall semester starts tomorrow. For those of you keeping score at home, I have two semesters left and in the spring I will graduate with my Masters in Counseling, take the National Counseling Exam, and begin the 3,000 hours of supervised internship that I need in order to be fully licensed. It will have taken about three years of graduate school to get to graduation, and I'm not sure how many more to get my 3,000 hours. I have a few irons in the fire for my post-graduate internship but haven't heard back yet. I started seeing clients at my PRE-grad internship in May, and it was the most validating and hardest semester of this program thus far. I was born to do this work, and I genuinely believe that my clients are the bravest people I've ever met.

Tomorrow will be a day of firsts, I guess. First day of the semester and first day of my new eating program.  As I write this, I am enjoying the most perfect, beautiful cup of coffee.

And I kind of want to weep a few desperate tears into it because it will be my last one for 30 days. Starting tomorrow, I begin this ridiculously restrictive elimination diet and I am committing to 30 days of it because, wow, something has to change. I have been in a lot of pain. I haven't been able to get on the mat in months because my joints are so tender.

Back in January, I started noticing that I was losing strength in my arms and that my joints were starting to hurt at odd times. I didn't pay too much attention to it so my body raised its voice, as it does whenever I ignore it. (Yeah, I don't know how many times I'll have to repeat that lesson either.) I practiced some self-compassion and started just doing leg workouts and some pushups but I stayed off the mat, especially when my lower left back, a place of weakness after a car accident in 2015, started to become so inflamed that on some days, I couldn't sit for longer than 20 minutes at a time.

Right about that time I had the six-month check-up with my radiologist and I mentioned that I felt like I was in some kind of auto-immune flare-up and he said that he had definitely observed a link between cancer treatment and auto-immune disorders. So, I started researching the link between the two and I found that there is a HUGE link but no one had even mentioned it to me. (Don't get me started...) After I read THIS article everything made sense.

The Paleo Mom is Sarah Ballentyne, who has a Ph.D. in Medical Biophysics and who has struggled with autoimmune disorders since she was a child. She has the science to back up anything you want to challenge her on --which I really love. (And hate.  You know.) Her blog posts are cited with references at the bottom.  And the proof of her plan is in the thousands of people who have increased their quality of life by managing their diets. In addition to this diet, I am seeing a Functional Medicine doctor who is doing a lot of testing to try to figure out what's going on with my body on a cellular level. (This testing is requiring me to store things in my refrigerator that I don't want to think about, much less package for shipment. But I think we've established that dignity isn't actually an option in my life.)

So, anyway, I'm adopting the Autoimmune Protocol for the next 30 days.

Parts of it will be easy for me because I'm mostly vegan and I've already given up dairy and gluten and grains. But wow, giving up nuts and seeds will be hard. Not to mention bell pepper! Or, um, WINE.

I'm committing to it in front of all of you lovely people because you guys keep me accountable. It's a really hard elimination diet --I keep accidentally eating or drinking something I'm supposed to stay away from, so I think the key is just to do all of my cooking myself and to plan, plan, plan in order not to get caught out starving with nothing pre-made. I'll keep you posted and I'd LOVE company if this sounds like something you need to do.  Note that I didn't say WANT to do.  Because, frankly, I wouldn't do this is I wasn't desperate.  I can't live with this level of pain. It's affecting my daily functioning and joy and, given that life is pretty great right now, I am committed to doing everything in my power to get back to joy.

Goodbye, summer. Welcome back, discipline and self-care. We've got this.


Bethany said…
Good luck! DH and I are going to try and transition to mostly vegan once we get settled in our new home. It is going to be a struggle for me as I am a bit picky when it comes to vegetables.
Shaatzie said…
It has been months since I've seen one of your posts! Is it me, and I have just been missing them, or haven't you been posting for some time. Welcome, back Friend.

I pray that this Paleo diet works for you and that health is restored. You have taken one tough life test to come to all of your knowledge from life experience and I am sure that sharing that with your clients in the coming years will benefit the world
and yourself.

Blessings on your way to health. The"yes" foods include enough good stuff to thrive on, and I will follow your progress and see if that could also benefit me...I have a tricky back problem arising and any diet that would help will be welcome.

tanita✿davis said…
Good luck, friend! I know this is hard - and I truly hope it's not an autoimmune flare-up because it sounds a lot like mine, all that hideous joint pain and inability to move. I just started back to exercising after a three month hiatus, so as you go through the tough times and the food junk, know that you're not alone. You'll get there.

Be well. ♥
Unknown said…
Jane Brody recently had a column on the paleo diet in the NYT-- if I find it I will send it to you. I do value her advice.
Unknown said…
Sorry-- mom ( not so unknown).
Rosie Cepeda said…
Hi Barb,

Congratulations on getting through grad. school and moving into counseling, I've always loved that profession too! Best wishes on your diet, it does sound intriguing to hear more about it. My daughter and hubby also have some autoimmune things going on so I'll be sharing this with them too!