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Sponges

Well, I promised you I’d write about detoxing this month, but I think first I need to say a few words about toxins.

A toxin basically is a poison or something that is harmful. You cannot begin to imagine how many toxins are in our environment today. And many of them are hidden or unpredictable. Just last week I found out that the “natural” coconut oil I’ve been using is processed using petroleum products. No wonder I always seemed to react to it! I also read recently that certain kinds of baby formula have an ingredient that is the same one used in rocket fuel! If that doesn’t scare you, I’m not sure anything will.
(I got that information from ewg.org – an excellent resource for learning more about what toxins are around you.)

There are toxins in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the buildings we live and work in, and in almost every product we use on our bodies.
The worst part about all this is that our bodies are not made of metal or plastic. They are more like sponges. We can’t walk around thinking we have an indestructible shield around us. We are, in fact, absorbing every toxin we encounter into our bodies.

Thankfully, God created our bodies with a built-in detoxing function – the lymphatic system. However, the level of toxins in our environment is so much higher than it was even 20 years ago, that it’s becoming next to impossible for our bodies to keep up. More toxins are coming in than the body can filter out. Picture yourself as a sponge, soaking up toxins all day long until you’re dripping wet. Your body works hard to wring out a little water at a time, but at the end of the day, you’re still dripping. That’s when health problems begin to show up.

For a concrete example, let me give you a short list of some of the things I have detoxed in the last 9 months. (We’ve determined these things through symptoms like the taste in my mouth, smell of my sweat, etc. as well as through muscle testing.)

So far I’ve detoxed:
lead, mercury, copper, aluminum, silver, cadmium, asphalt, formaldehyde, acetone, epoxy, paint thinner, phenol, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, pesticide, herbicide, 5 kinds of antibiotics, at least 5 other medications, childhood vaccinations, crude oil and petoleum produts, smoke, perfume, lotion, shampoo, castille soap, propane, natural gas….
The list could go on, but I think you get the idea.

If you eat it, drink it, breathe it, wear it, or put it on your skin, it becomes part of you. Then your body has to work extra hard to get it OUT.

Maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all this. I HOPE so! Until you realize how toxic your body probably is, you won’t be able to help it.

The first step is simple. Sit down with a piece of paper and pen. Think through your day from start to finish and write down as many things you can think of that you encounter each day that are toxic, or harmful, to your body. Remember, if it’s not something God created, you can be pretty sure it’s toxic. (And even some “natural” products have hidden toxins.)

Next, mark those things on your list that you can give up, avoid or replace with a natural alternative. — If this part seems too hard, just think about the money you’ll save by giving up certain products. =) (You can also read my “Fragrance-Free Challenge post from January for more info on household toxins and natural replacements.)

Finally, prepare your mind for action! It’s time to start a detoxing program. Consdering that there are SO many toxins you won’t be able to avoid, your body needs all the helpl it can get.
Next time I’ll write about how to get started detoxing.

Thanks for reading, my dear “spongy” friend. May you have a “dry” day today. =)
God bless.

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Kudos to Non-Toxic Woman

Every person who suffers with E.I. really needs a dedicated caregiver. I am so blessed to have the best caregiver in the world – my mom. (She’s known in the super-hero world as “Non-Toxic Woman.”) =)

She has given up so much for me.
-She washes her hands & hair wtih baking soda so she can stay “fragrance-free.”
-She always gets a shower after going anywhere so I don’t have to risk reacting to some smell or toxin she might have encountered.
-She does all the grocery shopping, cooking, laundry…you name it. Not an easy task, especially lately when she’s had to wash all the dishes by hand (because I’ve been reacting to the dishwasher) and wash some of my laundry multiple times (to get all the toxins out that I’ve been detoxing).

Anyway, these are just a few of the things Non-Toxic Woman does for me, to help keep my environment as safe and toxin-free as possible.

I just wanted to give her big kudos this week for adding to all of that, the willingness to help someone else – one of our friends with E.I. needed us last week. In spite of all the things she has on her plate, Non-Toxic Woman was there! She really is a super-hero! (especially to me)

Non-Toxic Woman – I know I probably don’t say it enough, so here it is one more time:
THANK YOU!
You are the wind beneath my wings.
=)

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My Soapbox

The nice thing about a blog is that it gives me a place to really get on my “soapbox,” when otherwise I wouldn’t be able to. So here goes. =)

At this point in my life, almost more than anything else, there are 2 things that frustrate me and break my heart at the same time.

#1 – People whose health is declining, but for some reason they pay no attention or think their health problems will somehow take care of themselves. Their bodies continue to deteriorate, but they do nothing because they are either clueless or in denial.
(Lest you think I’m being harsh, let me just say that I used to be one of these people – until my health COMPLETELY collapsed, and I was forced to pay attention to my body’s needs. I don’t ever want to see someone I care about go through the same thing.)

#2 – People whose health has already collapsed (like me, like others with E.I.), but all the doctors they’ve been to have been little or no help, and they’re left with little or no hope of ever getting well.
(I’ve been in this place too, and let me tell you it’s NOT pleasant.)

If you are reading this and you are not 99% satisfied with your health and pysical functionability (I’m not sure 100% is possible on this fallen earth), then you are included in group #1.
What I’d like to say to you is – STOP! Right now. Be stil for a moment and listen to your body. What is it saying?
If you’re tired a lot, have aches and pains, difficulty concentrating, etc. – please hear this: it’s your body trying to tell you that something is wrong. If you ignore the messages your body is sending you, just keep going and hope it will somehow take care of itself, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Everything that happens in your body has a CAUSE. I’m convinced that if more doctors were genuine detectives, we’d have a lot fewer sick people. Unfortunately, most of them just treat symptoms. They don’t take the time to dig long enough to find the cause.
For example – one of my worst problems for years has been low or no adrenal function. When one doctor first noticed it, he said ‘let’s put you on this drug which makes the same thing your adrenal gland makes (cortisol) and then your adrenal gland can rest and you’ll recover.’
I don’t think so.
I’m still on that drug 7 years later and my adrenal function is worse now than it was when I started!
What he should have done was asked, WHY is your adrenal function low? Maybe it’s because your body is overly toxic, thus making the adrenals work harder. Or maybe it’s because there’s a virus settled in your adrenal gland so it can’t do it’s normal function. (These are the conclusions I have come to after years, and with the help of a doctor who did finally diagnose me with a virus in my adrenal gland.)

There is a CAUSE for every ache, pain, symptom, and malfunction in your body. What can you do?
1) Write down every problem, complaint, or symptom you have.
2) Pray over that list. Ask God to show you what the cause is. It could be something you’re eating (sugar is a known inflamatory, preservatives are toxic chemcials, etc.), or something in your environment (fresh paint, mercury detnal fillings, etc.), or an unhealthy habit (not enough sleep, not enough water, etc.), or even something else.
3) Then ask God to lead you to the answers that you need to help restore your health in HIS timing.

If you fit in group #1, please listen to me before it’s too late (and you end up in group #2). – It’s time to take responsibility for your own health, your own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit living in YOU! Please don’t be clueless, and please don’t live in denial. Please take better care of your body than you do of your car. =)

Now, for those people in group #2 – I feel your pain, my heart aches for you. But please hear this: There IS HOPE! I know what it’s like to think no one would ever figure out what was wrong with me or how to treat my health problems effectively. But God, in His mercy, has brought me some answers at last!
This month I’ll be sharing information about the things that are helping me, what I call the 4 D’s:
-detoxify
-debug
-desensitize
-destress

No matter how hopeless you feel, there are answers out there. There are Christian doctors, researchers, and health care providers who are working to spread information and provide treatments that work. So please don’t give up!
You can do the same things I suggested for group #1:
1) Make a list of your problems (or at least the most pressing ones).
2) Pray over the list asking God to lead you to the underlying causes.
3) Keep asking Him to lead you to the answers you need.

I really hope to see many people in group #1 finding answers, working hard for their bodies, and seeing their health improved. And I long to see those in group #2 finding the help they need and being delivered from the agony of life with E.I.
I pray by God’s grace, that I will see these things happening soon.
(Then I can find a new ‘soapbox.’) =)

Thank you for listening.
I’m stepping down now. =)

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Toxic Life

Here’s a little glimpse of what it’s like to live a ‘toxic life.’ And yes, these all come from personal experience…believe it or not.

You know you’re detoxing…

– when you drink a gallon of water a day and still feel thirsty

– when you cry and the tears burn your face and eyes (my mom always says crying is good because it gets the toxins out)

– when your mom coughs or sneezes when she’s around you

– when your sweat smells like perfume (or pesticide, or whatever your detoxing)

– when your hair feels like straw no matter how often you wash it with baking soda

– when unsweetened chocolate tastes really good to you (apparently organic, dark chocolate is good for the liver)

– when you have a recurring dream about pulling a sticky substance out of your teeth and gums

– when a detox bath is the highlight of your day (hot water and minerals, or epson salts, etc.)

– when you actually look forward to going to physical therapy

– when you start adding “de” to all your words – desensitize, destress, declutter, debrief, defocus…. (well, maybe I’m not that far gone, yet…) =)

Yep, it’s a toxic life.

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2010 “Fragrance-Free” Challenge!

(Ok, so technically this is a “fragrance-less” Challenge, since “fragrance-free” is next to impossible. Still, every little bit helps, so I hope you’ll take the Challenge!)

The new year is here! Time when people make resolutions, set goals, etc. In that spirit of examination and change, I’m daring ALL of you out there to consider my “Fragrance-Free” Challenge.

Fragrances (a.k.a. chemicals/toxins) are everywhere in our environment now. We’ve become desensitized to the point where we can’t even smell natural scents anymore. (Some products even contain chemicals which harm the nerves in the nose, thus damaging your sense of smell.) No doubt about it, it’s time to De-Fragrance!

Some benefits of participating in this Challenge are:
1) You’ll gain a better understanding of what life is like for people with E.I. and hopefully increase in empathy and compassion for them.
2) You’ll become more aware of just how “fragrantly complicated” your life is and possibly find ways to simply – as well as to SAVE money! (who doesn’t want to do that these days?)
3) You’ll help reduce the amount of toxins in our environment by using less of them personally.

So now that you see the wonderful benefits, get ready! There are 3 different levels of this Challenge: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Pick the one that best works for you, but be BRAVE! =) Trying something different isn’t easy, but can be very rewarding.

Beginner – Set aside 3 days in a row when you will not use ANY of the following products:
1) perfume/cologne
2) fabric softener (liquid or dryer sheets)
3) scented candles, plug-ins, sprays, or air fresheners

If you add up how much money you spend on these products alone, you’ll find you could save a LOT by simply not using them anymore. You’ll also be kind to any people around you who may have sensitivies or allergies to these ‘fragrant’ chemicals.

Intermediate – Set aside 4 days in a row when you will not use ANY of the following products:
1) the three things listed above – perfume/cologne, fabric softener, scented candles, etc.
2) hairspray, body spray, and scented lotions
3) hand sanitizer or clorox wipes
4) lysol or pledge type sprays, windex, or other strong chemical cleaners
(in place of these cleaning supplies you can use baking soda or Heinz vinegar–NOTE: other brands of vinegar may be made with petroleum products, thus making them toxic. Heinz is recognized as natural and safe.)

You’ll be surprised not only at how many products in your hosue are “fragrant” but also loaded with chemicals and thus toxic to the body. Changing your household products to natural and safe alternatives will save money and help protect your family’s health.

Advanced – Set aside 5 days in a row when you will make the following changes:
1) Do not use ANY of the things listed above – #1-4 of the Intermediate Challenge
2) Use baking soda to wash hands, dishes, and laundry instead of liquid or scented soaps (yes, baking soda is safe for washing machines and dishwashers)
3) Use baking soda or a natural kind of deoderant (you can find them at any health food store) instead of your normal brand, and use baking soda or a natural substitue (such as Magic Botanicals) instead of your normal shampoo and conditioner.

If you’re brave enough to take this Challenge, then you’ll be close to experiencing what my life is like on a daily basis. Once you start to pay attention you’ll be shocked by just how many everyday products are filled with chemical fragrances and toxic substances.

I hope you’ll be brave enough to take this Challenge!
For all those who do – please let me know how it goes and what you learn from the experience. And thank you for being willing to step into my world in this way.

May 2010 be a year of greater health, less toxins, and more joy in Jesus!
God bless,
-Joanna

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No Holidays

Yesterday was Christmas day 2009 – and I had a really bad day. I felt even worse than usual. I got sick every time my mom came in the room with me. (We think I was reacting to a herb she’s been taking. Go figure.) I had a “Christmas dinner” of turkey and peas (mixed with a few tears). It didn’t settle in my stomach very well.
I was reminded once again that for people with Environmental Illness, there are no holidays.
Most people look forward to the holidays as a break from their normal routine, time to be with family & friends, maybe doing special things like caroling, playing games, etc. Well, with E.I. there is no break from the ‘normal routine’ of being sick. This disease (like most diseases) never takes a day off. Being with family and friends is usually not an option unless they “de-fragrance” themselves radically (which isn’t easy to do, let me tell you). And special activities take more energy than we, as E.I’s usually have.
I’d like to say that after 5 years of this, I’m used to it and it doesn’t bother me. But that wouldn’t be true. I miss all the ‘normal’ Christmas activities, traditions, and fellowship. For some reason, the holidays are a like a slap in the face for someone with E.I. It’s just another reminder that life as it used to be is gone, at least for now. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to start dreading holidays, simply becuase they remind of us all we’ve lost, all we miss.
Well, I imagine you’re good and depressed for me now. =) I just wanted to share the reality of what it’s like.
On the bright side, even during the difficult holidays, God’s kindness is unfailing. (Ps. 18:50) In the middle of my very bad day yesterday, God sent me a Christmas text message from a friend, a cheering-up phone call from a friend with E.I., and a mom whose smile never ceases to brighten my day.
I think I’m learning that the secret to managing the holidays for those of us with E.I. (in addition to changing my expectations), is to focus on celebrating them in my heart, with or without all the wonderful things that usually accompany them.
If you know someone with E.I. remember that something as small as a text message, email or phone call, could make a big difference in helping them see God’s kindness instead of focusing on all they’re missing.
And may we all learn to be thankful every day that Jesus caame to earth as Immanuel – God WITH us!

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Environmental Illness – The Invisible Epidemic

“Environmental Illness” (E.I.) is a term my mom and I started to hear almost 2 years ago. Before that, we had a lot of different diagnoses of what was wrong with me, but not one umbrella term. Then we found out about E.I.

E.I. includes things like Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, severe allergies, Multiple Chemical Sensivitiy (MCS), Electromagnetic Sensivity, Asthma, etc.

Environmental Illness basically means what it sounds like. If you have E.I. you’re sick because of problems/causes in your environment. Some of those causes are normal allergens such as molds, pollens, dust, etc. Other causes are “common” toxins like pesticides, formaldahyde (which is in practically everything these days), petroleum products (including plastics, gasoline, natural gas, etc.), fragrance products (shampoo, fabric softener, perfume, etc.), preservatives in foods, electricity, and much more.

Because toxins are flooding our environment everywhere now, more people are being affected by them and ending up with E.I. (even if they don’t know there’s a name for what’s wrong with them). That’s why I call E.I. the “invisible epidemic.” According to some studies hundreds of thousands (perhaps as many as 700,000) people are living with E.I. right now in our country. It is incredible to me that so many could be suffering from this disease and yet the majority of people have never heard of it, have no idea what it is or what to do about it.

I can tell you that living with E.I. is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. Praise God that He has recently led me to some answers that seem to be helping. But there are so many people out there suffering, with no help, no hope of getting better, and little or no support from family and friends. I hope through this blog to raise awareness and possibly make a difference for those people.

Thank you to everyone who has been my support! I hope you’ll continue to learn about E.I. and be a blessing to those who are suffering.

I’m also open to questions or suggestions about what I should post. Let me know your thoughts. =)

Until next time, take care.
-Joanna

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my new blog! I hope you’ll find it enjoyable and informative.

This blog is all about my life with Environmental Illness. I’ll be including things like –
*”E.I Adventures” – unusual stories of what it’s like to live with this disease.
*”Toxin of the Week” – information about different chemicals and toxins to watch out for.
*”What I’m doing…” – information about ideas and treatment that actually help me.
*”Kudos to Non-Toxic Woman” – my mom’s adventures and sacrifices in taking care of me.

If you have any suggestions for things you’d like me to include, just let me know.
Ok, that’s all for now. Hope you’re having a healthy weekend!

God bless,
-Joanna