This is me about 2 ½ years old, vibrant and full of life. I’ve been told there wasn’t much that slowed me down. Eager to play and run free, I started walking at 9 months old. My mother wasn’t too thrilled, but it proved to be a blessing later.
Within a year I became a victim of the polio epidemics of the 1950’s. Paralysis overtook my body from just below my jaw to my feet. I lost the ability to breathe. For 2 months my life depended on the technology of the time, an iron lung.
Once I could maintain breath on my own, I was sent to a rehabilitative children’s home for almost 2 years. Unable to take advantage of the available assistive devices (braces, canes, wheelchairs) the therapists worked to help me learn to sit up, use my arms and walk. It was a long recovery. I was a shadow of that vibrant 2 year old. Between the ages of 11 and 12, rehabilitative surgeries improved my ability to walk and use my arms. In spite of my gimpy strut, I did what I could to keep up with my peers. The usual paths of education, marriage and children followed.
Age 35 brought devastating news. I was told I had post-polio syndrome. Many survivors found themselves losing the strength recovered after the acute stages of the disease. Doctors and researchers have never been sure why or how this process happens. The likelihood I’d become wheelchair bound was very real. Once I was emotionally able to grasp this reality, I determined to remain as independent as possible.
Eventually, my body couldn’t keep up with the stress and demands. My early 40’s brought prescriptions for an antidepressant and thyroid medication. My weight soared 45 pounds in a matter of months. Clueless and trusting of the medical world, I followed the advice given me. The answer to all that ailed me was at the pharmacy. To compound matters, I broke my leg. As I entered my 5th decade of life I found myself on 12 daily medications.
In 2003, a clinical nutritionist encouraged me to begin the process of discontinuing most of these medicines. I learned there were answers other than in prescription medications. Some of the pills I was taking were harming my health and longevity.
"Indpendence came at a cost"
The efforts I made to maintain my independence came at a cost. Early in 2006, a pinched sciatic nerve kept me from sleeping for nearly six weeks. This introduced a new problem into my life- pain medication. I’d always had an aversion to pain pills, but there was no choice. The prescription pad appeared again.
The treatment to relieve the pinched nerve was successful. However, the switch to a different pain medication was disastrous and ended in narcotic withdrawal. The next 3 months of my life were insane. A year later, my clinical nutritionist informed me he read a study stating it could be 3 years before my brain recovered from this debacle. My resolve to get the remaining prescription meds out my life became much stronger. I knew I’d always have to use thyroid medication, but the others had to go.
"My weight burgeoned to nearly 200 pounds"
Finally, I was taking steps to be a self-directed and informed patient. However, being prescribed the wrong thyroid medication for over 20 years was taking a toll on my body. My weight burgeoned to nearly 200 pounds, a burden for my 5 foot frame. My vitality was slipping away. I was losing my mobility, my ability to think, and my enthusiasm for life. I could no longer get around my home without the aid of a scooter. I persevered, but with little joy. I was at rock bottom.
"I was at rock bottom."
2016 brought changes as I began to think through some of my issues. With the encouragement of a medical friend I dropped all gluten and milk. I felt a bit better, but I found my reason for living in gluten free treats! Bring on the brownies, cookies and pastas!
In September, a Facebook friend was posting pictures of her meals and began reporting her weight loss. At my rope’s end, I called her to find out what she was doing to produce such dramatic results. I educated myself and dove in. Enter the ketogenic way of eating.
"Enter the Ketogenic way of living"
I had grand ideas I was going to be as thin as I was 25 years ago. My weight changed slowly. Instead, the inflammation that made my life miserable decreased dramatically. My ability to move and be active increased. Losing weight was no longer my focus. Feeling great and having my joy back meant everything to me.
Currently, I’ve said goodbye to 66 pounds. I went from contemplating size 24 clothing to wearing size 12. For the first time in decades, I can get a regular sized bath towel wrapped around myself with room to spare. I laugh when I realize I may need to make my 4th change to smaller underwear!
My journey has been exciting as I recover my vitality and zest for life. The scooter I became dependent upon to get around my home is parked in my living room. My stamina has skyrocketed! My cognitive capacities have improved significantly.
I don’t know what the future will hold for me. I’ve had a life-long neuro degenerative disorder. But, all who know me are amazed at the recovery I’ve had doing keto.