WITH ECZEMA, ASTHMA AND ALLERGIES AS A KID, I had never had perfect health.
But as a teenager, I learnt that even seemingly unrelated health issues would improve the fitter I became. In my twenties, I learnt that my asthma, allergies and eczema could be managed well by removing certain foods that acted as triggers. In my thirties, I learnt that a poor environment can destroy one's health categorically.
And in my forties, I'm learning to heal chronic diseases that at one point I believed were 'just me'.
"My immune system ran my body like a police state jumping on anything and everything with little or no provocation. I was bright red, my chronic inflammation proclaiming itself for everyone to see."
In 2003 I became a personal trainer (PT) and began formally learning about nutrition as a part of my early studies.
By tinkering with my diet I began experiencing improvements in chronic illnesses that up to that point I had thought were just me. For years doctors had told me that I had 'bad lungs', 'bad skin' and allergies. The treatments for these extended only as far as symptoms relief—which when it comes to asthma can be life-saving—steroid inhalers and creams, antihistamine drugs etc can be applied like sticking plasters. What was causing these common problems?
Well, that's all one big mystery.
In late 2004, after moving to Dubai, UAE, I had the most horrible experience with vertigo and dizziness that persisted even after turning my guts inside out. These episodes continued with reduced hearing, tinnitus and an annoying fluctuating pressure in my right ear. In 2004/05 an ENT diagnosed my condition as Meniere's disease. To my horror, the consultant ear doctor told me the illness was degenerative and incurable. Ushering me out with a shrug and a concerned raising of his eyebrows I was left to discover what Meniere's would mean to me.
Little did I know what was in store for me so many years later.
Using dietary changes, I began to unravel things. I discovered that certain foods acted as triggers and explained why I was most likely to take a puff on my inhaler shortly after a meal or why I could keep myself up at night scratching, and bleeding onto my sheets after certain foods or drinks in the evening. The same was true with Meniere's. By tracking my diet and symptoms triggers began revealing themselves. Some were obvious, some were hidden to proclaim themselves only after a certain level of accumulation.
By 2006 I was no longer dealing with dizziness or vertigo, things had settled to tinnitus and hearing loss on my right side.
Life continued back in the UK and with the exception of some unsightly and frustrating skin issues things were well and I was super-fit by any standard. In 2011 I decided to stop self-learning and take a part-time bachelor's degree in nutrition while working full-time as a personal trainer (PT). I graduated in 2018 from the University of West London and since then have been working as a full-time registered clinical nutritionist from my home in Southern Germany. But, this last decade (2012 to 2022) has been a hell of a rollercoaster ride.
Meniere's is an invisible illness and like a conjured evil spirit it came back to haunt me.
In 2012, seemingly out of nowhere, I began feeling dizzy. Despite a seven-year absence, I knew immediately what it was. After a few minutes the dizziness passed, but a few hours later vertigo hit me like a steam train. I found myself face down on a pavement in Clapham, south London, throwing up and not feeling a jot better for it. My housemate rescued me from a circle of concerned onlookers. It was my environment that had reawakened this unholy spirit, but I didn't learn this for a few years to come.
A strict diet got me on top of things within weeks, but any lapse meant the onslaught began again. I went in circles like this for years.
For some reason, more foods were becoming triggers and my diet was becoming harder and harder to manage. My immune system ran my body like a police state jumping on anything and everything with little or no provocation. I was bright red, my chronic inflammation proclaiming itself for everyone to see. It took years for me to discover that my environment had become toxic.
My bedroom was mouldy.
When I discovered a large plant pot sized circle of carpet that had been eaten through by mould I gasped and immediately had an attack. Later that same day I took a carpet knife and sliced a ragged circle out before replacing the whole thing. For the first time, my health began to improve without having to go to extreme lengths. Unfortunately, that was not the end of my problems. It could have been had I known then what I do now, but I had to go through years of hell to learn those lessons. As mentioned, Meniere's is an invisible illness which means during good times life can feel normal pretty quickly.
Alopecia Universalis is the polar opposite of invisible.
It's also something that I'm yet to square with and so, I'll come back to it another day. But you should know that the Meniere's is no longer triggered by anything as far as I can tell, short of eating sugar each day for a few weeks. Or that always used to bring it on. I'm not willing to find out, but suffice it to say the foods that used to trigger dizziness, vertigo or some of the other thorns that Meniere's bristles with have ceased to be triggers. This is because I've addressed the causative problems, finally.
I'll fill in the puzzle in other blogs. If you'd like help either as an individual or in groups with Meniere's or some other hard-to-treat autoimmune issue, get in touch or at least stay in touch by signing up for my newsletter.
Thanks for reading.