When I first visited Andrea in March 2012, I felt desperate. I hadn’t slept properly, without sleeping tablets, in over 8 years, my diet was becoming increasingly restricted as I reacted to more and more foods, I had very little energy and I felt permanently anxious. I was also suffering from regular stomach cramps, abdominal bloating and irregular bowel movements but numerous tests including a colonoscopy, showed that there was ‘nothing wrong with me’ so I had basically been told to go home and stop complaining.
For the last 5 years, I had also experienced a bout of flu every Christmas which had resulted in the majority of my Christmas dinners left uneaten – a tragedy for a foodie like me! – and I had regular episodes where I felt exhausted to the point of being in pain which could leave me bed-bound for several days.
I was taking medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol even though I wasn’t overweight and worked out regularly at the gym and I was also taking HRT following a hysterectomy two years previously. The doctor had been finding it difficult to control my hormone levels so by the time I met with Andrea, I was taking the highest level of HRT possible following a referral to the menopause clinic at the QE hospital.
Work-wise, I am a full time senior manager in the Civil Service responsible for a team of 40 which, at times, can be very stressful and demanding.
During our first meeting, Andrea said ‘Wow, you’re complicated’ and then asked me to prioritise which of my issues I wanted to address first; straight away I answered ‘sleep’.
At that time, I was constantly tired and just felt ill all the time, so I was really desperate to start getting some sleep. I had been taking sleeping tablets on an occasional basis to make sure that I managed at least one night’s sleep per week, but my doctor had started saying, understandably, that he was reticent to continue prescribing those tablets as they are addictive.
Andrea then had a look at the diet diary that I had completed and talked about my apparent intolerance to gluten which I had self-diagnosed by way of trial and error. After hearing my symptoms, Andrea agreed that it was a strong possibility that I was intolerant and that I should continue to refrain from eating gluten whilst at the same time making suggestions to changes in my diet to which I readily agreed. Andrea also recommended a number of supplements which I was happy to start taking, one of which was hydrochloric acid as tests showed that my stomach acid was very low. I also agreed to undertake some stool tests – a really joyful thought!!
A couple of weeks later after completing the tests, I attended for my second visit and Andrea said that she had received my results but she was really shocked by what they showed. Firstly, it transpired that I wasn’t intolerant or allergic to any food stuffs so all the symptoms that I had been experiencing when eating gluten, clearly had to be as a result of something totally different.
As she took me through my results, Andrea smiled and said ‘ By the time I’ve finished, you will be able to eat anything and you’ll be sleeping every night.’ You can only imagine how close I came to crying at that point!
The next tests I underwent were spit (saliva) tests and the results confirmed Andrea’s suspicions that I was suffering from adrenal-fatigue following years of poor quality sleep and years of a disrupted digestive system – I had suffered from projectile vomiting from the day I was born; a total joy for my poor mother!
So began a regime of relaxation – which for a mad sports enthusiast like me was easier said than done – and also a change in diet to reduce my sugar, alcohol and meat intake. I was also tasked with looking at ways to reduce my overall stress levels.
Over the coming weeks, I bought a vegetarian cook book and my husband (cos I don’t!) started to cook foods that we’d never even heard of let alone be able to pronounce! I also started listening to my body more and only exercised when I felt like it and then far more gently than previously. To reduce stress levels, I started spending more time in prayer and meditation which I found incredibly helpful.
Slowly, I started to sleep better – not every night and not necessarily all night, but even a few hours felt like a major result.
My saliva tests also showed that I was at high risk of contrcting breast cancer, so I started to reduce my HRT levels which wasn’t easy, but I knew imperative.
I also discovered that as I continued to take the hydrochloric acid tablets, I was able to digest more and more foods including ordinary bread, which, after months of eating gluten-free bread, was like manna from heaven!
Six weeks later, I went back to see Andrea and as soon as she saw me, she knew how well I was feeling. By then, I was sleeping every night without fail, could eat anything that I wanted to – but was sticking to my healthy eating plan – and could barely remember the symptoms with which I had originally presented.
Andrea was totally delighted and after a good chat, she discharged me!
I now feel normal! I have more energy than I know what to do with and am enjoying all foods whilst keeping to the basic principles as Andrea advised – I found out to my cost recently what too much divergence from those rules can cause – one adrenal crash later and I’m back on track!
I still continue to boost my acid levels by taking daily doses of cider vinegar, but other than that I manage my life by diet. My doctor has also recently reduced my blood pressure medication as I was starting to experience dizzy spells as my readings had fallen so low! I’m really hoping to reduce my medication further in the future, but only time will tell on that. I am also confident that this year will result in the full consumption of a (very healthy!) Christmas dinner.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to Andrea. When I first saw her, I felt that the only way that I would be able to cope with my future was to resign from my job, which I love, and to stay at home full time because I just felt that I wasn’t performing well as result of feeling constantly totally exhausted and I seemed unable to cope with even minor levels of stress. As a result of her time, dedication and perseverance however, I now feel 10 years younger and am looking forward to what the future might bring both professionally and personally.