4 Month Waiting List for TCM Practitioner

One of my biggest problems with blogging – if not my biggest problem – is that I start writing posts and then I never post them. The reason this is such a big problem is they are dated… It’s not like a recipe or a DIY, where I can just keep saving it for another day. Almost everything I write is like a journal entry; I talk about ‘yesterday’ or ‘this morning’ etc… Well, I don’t just want to chuck those because I do think many of them have good information in them and they usually also give background to future posts. Therefore, I will just start publishing them with prefaces… Like the date of when I started writing it 😉 So, I have done that with the post below…

18 January, 2017. Yesterday marked six whole years since I had bilateral knee replacement surgery (both knees at the same time). I’m amazed at all that I have been able to do since having this surgery. It has literally changed my life! I’ve run a 5k, skied, traveled the world, hiked, biked and most importantly chased after my toddler. I am so very grateful for modern medical technology!

Yesterday was also an important day because I visited (yet another) practitioner. I feel like this guy is my last resort. I was on the waiting list for this traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor for FOUR months. My friend recommended him to me, as he has helped her and so many others with their autoimmune diseases. I am excited and hopeful. I had a nice, short appointment where he looked at my tongue, felt my pulse, asked some questions and then prescribed me £600 (yikes!) worth of herbs; all of which will be delivered today!

He recommended that I read two books:

  1. 10% Human, by Alanna Collen
  2. The Diet Myth, by Tim Spector

The thing is, we got talking about nutrition and how in TCM raw foods are not viewed as healing foods. We also talked about Paleo and why we don’t need to be eating this way (our gut microbiome has evolved with agriculture, etc). I explained to him that I feel better when I am eating mostly primal (paleo + raw/high-quality dairy). I am also currently on a ketogenic diet and am feeling the best I’ve felt in a while, so I don’t really want to eat another way right now. As a student of naturopathic nutrition, I am always conflicted with the hundreds of different dietary views, especially since there is usually always science behind each view. I see people do well on all different diets; from raw to paleo and everything in between. This just confirms, once again, that there is no one-size-fits-all diet. One thing that does fit all, though, is REAL FOOD. Regardless of veggies, meat, fish, fruit, etc., it should ALWAYS be real. And this is where the doctor and I agreed.

Besides diet, I am dealing with a much bigger confliction… I am currently still breastfeeding William and if he had it his way, he would live on breastmilk alone. We’ve had a very difficult time with him eating solids – pickiest eater EVER – and so it’s been very easy to keep giving him the boob. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for extended breastfeeding; my plan has always been to breastfeed until William is two. However, after my appointment yesterday, I am thinking it might be time to start seriously weaning. In the past couple of weeks I’ve managed to get him down to just bedtime and middle-of-the-night feeds, but I need to cut these back as well. My reasoning is this: 1. I cannot take the most powerful herbs for my condition whilst breastfeeding, so the road is a much slower and longer one, if I continue to breastfeed. 2. I would like to have another baby and not too far down the road. My period has still not returned and this tells me that I’m still producing quite a lot of milk. If I do get pregnant whilst breastfeeding, this would mean another two to three years of not being able to try the powerful herbs. The questions I keep asking myself are, “Am I being selfish?” “Will forced weaning affect William psychologically later in life?” “Is it unfair to William?” “Is it ME who wants to continue breastfeeding?” “Can I manage with two young children in my current state?” I have many more questions running through my head, but I think you can get the idea…

I begin the “slower” path today and I am quite excited to see results. If you’ve read my last health post, you know that I have been trying Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). Quick update: I don’t think it works for me. Doctors say it should start working within five months, but the only thing that has made me feel better recently is changing my diet. Anyway, I hope to keep a better journal about this new journey. Chinese Medicine has been working for thousands of years… Why not finally give it a REAL try??

P.S. Obviously, if you read my last post, you know I have stopped breastfeeding, but it was all part of the thought process at the time of initially writing this, so I left all that brain-chatter in here.

XO, Taelor

How NOT to wean your baby

I started writing this post over a month ago, so it has turned into a bit of a two-day diary entry. Mostly just my ramblings about my feelings and experience with weaning…

1 March, 2017. William is 20 months in eight days. He still breastfeeds and if he had it his way, it would be around the clock. I purposely stopped expressing milk back in September (when I went back to school) so that my milk would naturally dry up on its own… It didn’t slow down much. A month ago, I decided to completely stop nursing during the day… Because of this, my breasts were very full by the time bed time came around. I know there is not much nutritional value in breastmilk for a child over one year old, but I just can’t help but think that there is a reason why my body is still producing milk for William. I’m struggling to wean him, even though it will give me the chance to tackle my health full-on. I don’t consider myself a selfless person, but for the first time that I can recall, I am struggling to be selfish with this. This mother-child breastfeeding connection amazes me and ours is incredibly strong. William is at an age where he can be so frustrating, yet when he comes over to me and lifts my shirt for milk (he uses sign language), I completely melt and the boy can do no wrong… I don’t like the thought of losing our bond. Perhaps this is why it is so difficult for me to wean? Perhaps it is more difficult for me than it is for him? I have always wanted to nurse my babies until they naturally wean themselves and it’s just not going as planned. Technically, this choice is mine, but I also want to take care of my health before my next pregnancy and sadly, I cannot be on the strongest herbs whilst breastfeeding. I think another part of it is that with my next baby, hopefully there will not be the need for herbs nor medications that I must stop breastfeeding for and that too makes me sad because I feel like I am cutting William short. I think another part of it is the reality that my “baby” is growing and I’m not ready for him to no longer be my baby. I love everything about breastfeeding. I love that for him, it heals all wounds; it puts him to sleep, it calms his fears, it soothes him and in a matter of minutes, it completely turns off a bad attitude. I’m supposed to have him weaned in four weeks and I can tell you right now – I am definitely going to miss it!!

5 April, 2017. William has been off the boob for six days, but who’s counting?! It hasn’t been easy for either one of us, but I know I am doing the right thing for my health. He asks (signs) for milk every single day. Our last week of breastfeeding was quite intense and I feel that is the reason why it was so difficult to stop when we did. William had his last feed in the late afternoon last Thursday (30 March). I had been lazy and gave him the breast freely over the weekend prior because we were traveling and I knew our time was quickly coming to an end. Well, this was not the best way to go about weaning… And then… Tuesday morning, (around 1:30am), he woke up with a high temperature. I did what I have always done in this situation – brought him to my bed and gave him the boob. Around 7:00am, he woke up again with a fever and again, I gave him the boob. Right as he was drifting off again (7:20am), he started seizing and it completely scared the life out of me. I dialed ‘999’ and requested an ambulance. Long story short, all is well and in hindsight, I thought it was a common febrile convulsion, but in the moment, it was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced! Because of the calm of breastfeeding, I nursed him on demand all day. This was not the best idea for weaning, especially since I knew I had to stop by Thursday evening. But I am so thankful I could nurse him through this period, as it is incredibly comforting for him. On Wednesday, I went back to only one feed and then Thursday he had it once in the morning and once in the late afternoon (last feed was more so for me than for him). And just like that, it came to an end. I felt like a bit of my identity was missing and I still do! I am surprised at how difficult it was for me to stop – it still is difficult for me. I love(d) our feeding cuddles. I miss them. He still cuddles me, but they’re not for as long. I really feel my ‘baby’ is growing up so quickly since we’ve stopped the breastfeeding. It may sound strange, but I find comfort (and I think he does too) in him looking for my breasts. He puts his hands up and down my shirt and has a feel around, gives me a big smile and sometimes even a giggle or a nose-dive. I am holding on to these moments for as long as I can, because just like breastfeeding, they will too-soon be gone!

5 things that have helped us with weaning:

  1. Don’t let your child see you naked during the transition. It’s just cruel during this time; they see it, they want it!
  2. Upon waking, either have a bottle or breakfast ready for them.
  3. Have someone besides the mother put them down for bed at night.
  4. If child wakes in the night, have someone besides the mother comfort them and put them back to sleep.
  5. Drink peppermint or sage tea and rub peppermint or sage essential oil on breasts (helps dry up supply) P.S. I am still lactating, 10 days later… Kind of annoying!

Has anyone else found it difficult to wean? What has helped you?

XO, Taelor

Pressure Cooker Chicken + Broth 

This recipe creates juicy, tender chicken and the best bone broth EVER. For real. Even my toddler loves it; as well as all those who would never try bone broth. Converts. All of them.

So many of you have asked about my recipe that I knew I had to share!

I make this bomb recipe once a week (minimum). I talk about it a bunch on all my social media outlets. It’s really good. So good that I actually crave it and my little boy gets excited just at the site of the container! (How many of you want your kids to be excited about healthy foods you make for them?)

I’ve been making broth for years, but it wasn’t until this past summer when I was doing the GAPS diet for a school assignment that I came up with this recipe. I was inspired by both Dr. Natasha (author of GAPS) and my French classmate, who can make even dirt taste good – No joke.This no-fail version is for a pressure cooker – specifically an Instant Pot (IP) – but it can easily be cooked in a slow cooker or on the stove top… It just takes a bajillion hours longer.

Ingredients:

1 organic, pasture-raised whole chicken*

3-4 TBSP (or more) Grass-fed, organic ghee or butter

3 medium-sized organic onions, chopped

6 cloves organic garlic, peeled

1-2 tsp Sea Salt (optional) (Real Salt is my personal fav)

1-2 litres filtered water, or enough to cover the chicken

Since I make mine in my Instant Pot, I am going to give those exact instructions. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions! It took me far too long to get up close and personal with my IP and I wish I had realised from day one how ridiculously easy it is to use.

  1. Gather all ingredients
  2. Press “sauté” button (some pots don’t have a sauté button. Your meat/chicken button will work as well)
  3. Add butter/ghee
  4. Toss in the onions and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until translucent (or nearly there)**.
  5. Turn off the IP
  6. Place entire chicken on top of the onions
  7. Toss in the garlic, sprinkle with salt and cover the entire chicken in filtered water
  8. Lock the lid in place and make sure it is sealed!
  9. Press the “poultry” button (or set for 15-18 mins on other electric pressure cookers).
  10. Walk away for at least an hour. Go do whatever your heart desires. This is usually when I take William on a walk or I make other food because once I’m in the kitchen, it’s difficult to get me out! (The longer it sits, the better the flavour!)
  11. After you’ve done whatever for the past hour, go check on your IP and see if it has naturally released yet. If not, leave it be. Trust me. I’ve opened it too soon and the chicken was not as tender. (one thing about chicken, when you let it rest, the meat relaxes and pulls apart)
  12. Once the pressure has released on its own, turn it off, open it up and allow it to cool for about another 30 mins.
  13. Grab some tongs and a strainer and get to work with this pot of goodness:
  14. Separate the chicken from the bones and skin, strain the broth and save the bones for another batch of broth. If you want to keep the onions with the broth, they are delicious and you can even blend them into it so there are no chunky bits.

*Organic chickens tend to be smaller than conventional, but still keep in mind the size, as you want it to fit!

**If the onions begin sticking to the bottom of the pot, add more butter or a teeny bit of water

One of my favourite ways to eat this is placing about a 1/2 cup of chicken in a mug, then filling it up with broth. Add any spices you like. Drink. Enjoy. Feel yourself heal.

I use this broth as a base for many recipes, including William’s favourite daily meal.

I’m positive that even the most reluctant bone broth adoptee will be a raving fan and healthier after trying this recipe.

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William and me enjoying our bone broths!

New Protocol (part I)

William is napping. If he sleeps as long as he should, I’ve got about another hour. Fingers crossed.

I’ve been meaning to track my progress with this new protocol of mine from day one, but like many great ideas, I didn’t follow through. Better late than never, I suppose.

Putting myself 100% ‘out there’ is very difficult for me. Writing about my RA is easy to filter… I find it difficult to talk about the bad days or worse, the crazy days. I feel like in order to best write about my new protocol, I’ve got to talk about the crazy, because it is one of the side effects. That and acne (ugh!).

Anyway… Enbrel pretty much stopped working for me a few months ago, so I started weaning myself off of it. I had been off for about three weeks, when I had a massive flare. I’m talking newly-diagnosed-type flare. Mega pain. Uber stiff. Didn’t want to get out of bed. Couldn’t really lift my toddler. Could hardly take care of myself. No extended family around to take the little man. No mom around to make me meals. There really are no words to explain this type of flare. No bueno! So, what did I do?! I did nothing for one day – the crunchy mama in me was going to wait this one out. I told myself that naproxen and sleep would do the trick. Wrong! Day two, I threw in the towel; I injected Enbrel, took oxycodone and began a five-day prednisone stint. I also called a functional medicine doctor who had been in the back of my head for a few months. Oh, and by the way, my diet, exercise and supplement schedule were spot on – really no room for improvement (even my nutritionist and homeopath said so).

Back to this doctor… Luckily, she could see me the next day. Booked. Why did I choose her? She is the only doctor I was able to find who prescribes low dose naltrexone (LDN) in London. Down side is she’s not recognised by NHS nor does she accept insurance. Fortunately, William can wear 12 month clothing for a while longer and mama can pay for her meds.

I’ve been wanting to try LDN for many years now. I remember chatting about it with my doctor in San Francisco (that would have been at least three years ago.) None of my rheumatologists had ever heard of it. I found out about it through both Dr. Mercola’s (Just one of his many articles here) and Chris Kresser’s (here) websites.

I went to my doctor appointment, excited and ready for some answers. She took a case history and told me her patients are seeing great success with LDN. Yay – even more excited! We talked more about my health history as well as my life/current lifestyle and she came to the conclusion that I suffer from adrenal fatigue and that stress is why I am flaring. Boo – how the heck do I fix this?! Funny thing is, my homeopath, a few weeks earlier mentioned we needed to start working on supporting my adrenals and my body’s detoxification capabilities. AND, just a couple of days before seeing this doctor, I emailed back and forth with my homeopath and she also mentioned my flare-up being caused by stress. Coincidence? I think not. If there ever was a sign, this must be it.

New doctor explained to me that being stressed and inflamed keeps the body in a constant state of fight-or-flight mode, with high levels of cortisol. The problem is, this is a silent killer. Seriously, we can’t constantly be in this mode forever… we die. This is the reason some serial marathoners collapse even when thought of as “in perfect health.” Back to my point –  Time to take action!! She went on to explain how the master hormone pregnenolone, which is used to make all steroid hormones, is not being converted into anything besides cortisol, therefore unbalancing the rest of my hormones, therefore keeping me inflamed, therefore my body never healing from chronic illness, despite perfect diet, exercise and supplement schedule. Here is a short and sweet article that explains this “pregnenolone steal.”

A 40 minute consultation for LDN ended up being an hour. I walked out of her office about £475 poorer (William is definitely still fitting into 12 month clothing), prescriptions for pregnenolone, LDN and propranolol (for occasional anxiety). I also left with a bottle of Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder. You know what else I left with?? A whole lot of hope!

As it turns out, my hour of William napping is up and I haven’t even told you my crazy yet!  I guess I’ll just have to keep at this…

XO

Taelor

Conversation re: TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY

I have been asked quite a bit about my experience and advice on total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. However, I never thought to just put the information out there without being asked. Well, I was asked again about it the other day and since Facebook keeps conversations, I’m able to do a simple copy/paste and share it with you! Please let me know if you have additional questions – I am more than willing to share all that I know, through my personal experience, about TKR surgery.

MEG: hi taelor! My name is Meg and I follow you on Instagram. I have rheumatoid arthritis like you, and I would really love your advice. I have been told by an orthopedic specialist that my knee, my right knee is that of a 70 year old. He wants me to wait 10 years to have the knee replacement surgery. But my quality of life is really suffering. I’m 24 and I can’t do the things I want to do. I know you have had both knees replaced, and I would love your advice. Any advice you can give me. Thanks Meg.

TAELOR: Hi Meg! Thanks for reaching out. Funny enough, I was told pretty much the opposite about when to have mine replaced; doctors said sooner rather than later and I was the one holding off! I don’t know your physical limitations, but I’ll tell you what mine were at the time: I had tried stem cell therapy in both knees and there was NO sign of improvement (huge waste of money). Both knees were bent for years and I struggled to walk, but my pride was too great for a wheelchair. After the stem cell therapy, it was nearly impossible to get around without a cane. My range of motion was about 30 degrees – It was difficult for me to sit in tighter areas like the back of a vehicle. I could not get down onto the ground or back up again without a couch/chair to assist myself. I started to develop callouses on my feet, where I was putting a lot of pressure. I also started getting varicose veins behind my knees (at 24!?) from them being bent for so long. I was constantly turning down invitations because I just was not physically capable of many things. It also started affecting my confidence… I cried and cried when I went to the doctor who ended up performing the surgeries – he insisted we do it ASAP and I was so sad to be so young and have to get them replaced. So, at 25, I had both knees replaced at once. About six months post-opp, I was becoming myself again. 9 months later, I walked down the aisle to marry my best friend. A year later, I skied for the first time in about 6-7 years. I still have many limitations, but my arms are my biggest issue now. My quality of life is vastly different from pre-opp; I have never looked back and to be honest, I wish I had done it sooner! So, I guess if I were you, I would take a look at the pros and cons and figure out what would be best for you. My only con was that I would have to get them replaced again and now that I’ve been through it, I think the recovery will be easier next time around. I hope this helps and I’m more than happy to answer any other questions! xTaelor

MEG: My doctor said i need the surgery but he’s concerned about me having to potentially replace it 2 times in my life and the complications that come with it, like infections. I’m so much not afraid of this, I’m afraid of not living life to its fullest. You said it took about 6 months to get better after surgery. Is that because you had them both at same time. I love to know how your recovery went. Thanks again. I can’t fully extend my leg or fold it. I feel like most days im walking with shattered glass in my knee. On a good day I’m at a pain level of 3 with limited function, on bad days it hard to get of the couch. I fell once of a swing and I couldn’t get up. My brother had to pull me up. I’m so miserable and a bit angry at myself for letting it get this far.

TAELOR: It’s not your fault that it’s progressed so much – it’s just how these diseases work, unfortunately. I will most likely have to have mine replaced two more times, but I am also hopeful that there will be amazing advances in medicine and technology by the time I come ’round to my next surgeries. I’ve gotten an infection in one of them and while it totally sucked and set me back, it wasn’t the end of the world and I was back to skiing that winter (surgery in Oct). Depending on how bad the infection is, they’ll give antibiotics (no matter what) and then if surgery is needed (I needed it) they will either go in and clean it out, basically with a power washer (this was me) and replace the plastic, or they will do an entire replacement – metal and plastic. For me, this was about two nights in the hospital and a PICC line for six weeks of daily antibiotics. Everyone’s recovery is different and you definitely get results from how much work you do or don’t put in. At first, it was so painful to do the physical therapy; I didn’t give it my all. So, this resulted in going back into the hospital about 7 weeks later for MUA (manipulation under anesthesia) of both knees; I was given an epidural, and my knees were manually forced to bend and straighten more. I also stayed in the hospital for about 3 days. After that, I started pushing myself more. I had physical therapy twice a week, ate very clean, did pilates and also used oxygen therapy (hyperbaric oxygen chamber). I would say my absolute full recovery was about a year, but after about six months, I was feeling good and able to walk unassisted. I would imagine that just having one knee would make recovery much easier. One thing I tell everyone who is looking into knee replacement surgery is to start preparing now – no matter when you have the surgery. Start strengthening the muscles around the joint. Swim, lift weights, do pilates, get massages (rolf method is amazing), try acupuncture and work on decreasing inflammation. Had I known about bone broth back then, I would imagine my recovery would have been even better. We live and we learn, right?? x

MEG: You really opened my eyes to how hard I will have to work after surgery. I now know that this won’t be a quick fix and I’ll have to work really hard. I’ll be starting physical therapy soon. I’m hoping to build my quad muscle up and see if it will help with mobility.

TAELOR: It is a lot of work, but it’s doable and it’s so worth it!! I don’t know what you do for work, but I would save up all your sick/vacation time because you will most likely be taking off a MINIMUM of two weeks, if not much more. I am not sure how much recovery time one knee is, but I was in the hospital for 5 days and then in a rehabilitation center for another 7. I’ve heard that one knee is often just a night or two at the hospital, but I can’t say for sure. xx

So, there you have it – a typical conversation about TKR surgery. I hope this answers questions others may have and if there’s more you’d like to know, please let me know!

TKR day2TKR 18 weeks

XO, Taelor

Keepin’ it Real

My RA has been at a bit of a standstill lately – has not gotten better, but has not gotten worse. It’s just been okay and that is NOT good enough for me! I refuse to settle for mediocrity, especially when it comes to my health and quality of life.

Like every other day, I woke up this morning with arthritic pain, but today I had additional pain in the muscles of my legs, which set me off for a slow-moving day. I don’t necessarily think about my pain every day – it’s just there and that’s that. However, when I notice I’m moving slower and it affects my productivity, I’ve got to admit that it puts me in a bit of a melancholy mood and my emotions seem to turn up a notch… or three.

I had a rheum appt this afternoon, which I preconceived as a waste of time (I’ve been getting nowhere with this new hospital) and when I went to check in, I saw on the board that they were delayed an hour with appointments. With my mood being where it was at the time, this was the last straw. I was so frustrated, I nearly walked out. Fortunately, my husband called right at that moment and instead of making a stupid, irrational decision, I got out some tears and frustration to him instead; he cheered me up, as he always does. After his consoling words, I decided to just be really blunt with my doctor – what could I possibly have to lose at this point? Nothing. Long story short, my doctor ended up seeing me before having to wait an hour… After a loooong discussion and FINALLY feeling as though I’d been listened to, he put in an expedited order for Enbrel. In the meantime, we decided that I would go on a tapered dosage of prednisone for 4 weeks. I am feeling good about this decision and hopeful that it brings relief while Enbrel is being approved. I’m so glad that I threw out the “nice card” during my appointment because I finally made progress with my new doctor and IT FEELS SO GOOD!! At the end of my appointment, he commended me for how well I deal and live with RA, especially with the addition of being pregnant. Nothing like a doctor taking notice in the little things… Always makes for a better day and a skip to my arthritic step 🙂 I left feeling in charge of my health once again.

I have another appointment in a few weeks and I’m hoping for progress on the Enbrel front. When I do receive Enbrel and if it doesn’t give me the relief it once gave me, we will visit other options for post pregnancy.

In the meantime, I’m going to pick up my prednisone and start taking that along with continuing to eat nourishing, real foods. I’ve also booked an appointment with a naturopath and herbalist to see what other options are out there for me. I believe the body will heal, if given the appropriate tools – it’s just a journey to find out what those tools are. Every person’s body affected by RA or any other autoimmune disease manifests it differently; there is no one-size-fits-all protocol. If there were, we’d call that a cure 😉

fighting inflammation
Fighting Inflammation!

XO / Taelor

disappointment is inevitable, misery is optional

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There are many churches in the southern U.S. and I passed quite a few while on a recent trip there. Many of these churches have signs outside with different sayings, each trying to change lives and/or perhaps just trying to get more people to worship at their church. I enjoy reading all the different signs and usually forget what they say. One evening, there was a sign with a quote I have never heard before, yet I cannot seem to get it out of my mind, “disappointment is inevitable, misery is optional.” I have already thought of many different situations in my life where this can be applied. My interpretation of this quote is something like this – disappointment is unavoidable; we do not and cannot control other people’s actions and I think everything and every person who does not live up to our standards/expectations can end up disappointing us. Sometimes our bodies disappoint us with health problems. Both friends and family sometimes disappoint us. Education can be disappointing. Politicians can especially be disappointing. The fact is – life is full of disappointment!! How we choose for it to affect us is OUR choice; it is 100% in our power to choose how we live with that disappointment. Having arthritis is a total disappoint to my body. I can choose to be miserable, constantly complain and be a complete drag to be around OR I can look on the bright side and say, “hey, I’ve learned so much through this disease! I’ve learned better eating habits. I’ve learned the importance of exercise. I’ve gained some patience. I feel I’m kinder to others.” The list goes on and on. Regardless of what life throws my way – it is my reaction that ultimately matters. Act, don’t react and remember that misery is a choice you make yourself – no one else can make you miserable.