Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Muscle Test and Relieve Allergy Symptoms

I have been planning this video blog for awhile now. I actually intended to post it much earlier, but circumstances would not allow for it. So here we are at my blog's 100th post, and I am entirely veering away from my usual style. 

If you are new here, know that my blog is not a health blog. Usually, it resembles a diary. Lately, I write almost exclusively about my journey to healing and what God is teaching me along the way. If you are interested in learning more about my illness, I suggest reading here, here and here

Making the videos was not easy. When we first began, I had difficulty keeping myself from giggling idiotically. Then, I made several frustrating mistakes. In some cuts, I plague the camera with nervous tics and verbal dyslexia. It was a mess! My attempts to order my thoughts and overcome my nervousness make my manner come across as cold and aloof. Oh, well! These were the best takes recorded before I ran out of patience and energy. The first video covers the topic of muscle testing and the second covers BioSET treatments. I hope the information, if not my sparkling on-camera personality (HA!), helps and blesses you and your families.

Disclaimer: This information is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical care, especially during cases of emergency. Practitioners trained in the BioSET system can be located throughout the country. I highly recommend locating a practitioner near you!
Acknowledgments: Dr. Ellen Cutler, Dr. Carolyne Yakaboski and Dr. Melisa Kuehn. Dr. Yakaboski of West Monroe, Louisiana will be teaching a BioSET class coming soon! Please comment if you would like to receive more information concerning the class!

Special thanks goes to my husband, Brandon Keaster (aka Superman), who filmed the video, held my notes and performed the muscle testing and BioSET treatments.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I Could Only Think of Eggs

I was unwell when I woke this morning. I had obviously caught my kids' cold, but I wasn't surprised. I catch every illness that enters our home these days. I moved slowly. I read Jesus Calling and pondered Psalm 90. At almost 11:00, I was ready for a light breakfast. I ate runny, scrambled eggs--organic, pastured eggs the Lord had so sweetly provided for me last week--and drank a cup of hot, rich chicken broth so my body could spend its energy on healing the cold rather than digesting the food. I took the supplements I continue to tolerate--cod liver oil, Vitamin D3 and my digestive enzyme. I scaled down my plans for the day, and decided to spend some time out in the sun. I was making good choices.....until I took a bite of the coconut-based brownie I made yesterday. 

I dressed Sara and the two of us joined the boys, both of whom were outside. Brandon was finishing his work on the porch he mostly built last weekend and Micah was "helping." I plopped down in the canvas chair almost doubling over from the stabbing pain directly below my sternum. I could tell that I would not get away with the slightest indiscretion on this day, a realization that should have directed me back indoors.

I tried to enjoy the breeze and the red glow the sun cast about my children's heads, but my intense stomach pain and discomfort from the cold prevented me. As the kids played and Brandon worked--measuring, sawing and drilling--an eerie feeling crept upon me. My head grew thick and my stomach tossed with nausea. My chest tightened and my limbs filled with lead. Drunk though I was, I saw the flecks of wood thrown by the saw and carried off by the wind, I remembered that the wood was treated (meaning the wood was toxic), and the Holy Spirit spoke within--Get inside.

Somehow, I managed to get myself and the kids in the house. I immediately turned on Mickey Mouse for the kiddos, and fell onto the couch. I felt so strange. I tried to monitor my own breathing, my only requirement was that it must continue. My body was just so heavy and wrong, and it almost seemed that my soul lifted out of it and hovered above the scene, waiting to see what would happen. I lost all sense of time. At one point, I thought, "Is this what dying feels like?" I never once thought I would actually die, but the question prompted me to croak to Micah--"Tell Daddy that I need his help."

Brandon made his way inside not knowing how poorly I was doing. I told him that I needed BioSet. He helped me up from the couch, and suddenly I was sputtering, choking and wheezing. I hobbled into the kitchen, leaning on him for support. Once there, he realized to make the BioSet treatment most effective, he needed to take a saliva sample with a cotton swab.....which we keep in the bathroom. He propped me upon the kitchen counter and walked away. My chest burned and ached. I struggled for breath, and was as drunk as a skunk from toxic exposure. My legs gave way. I hit the kitchen floor with a thud. I was only vaguely aware of the pain in my hip, shoulder and head from the fall. Brandon was suddenly by my side again with my inhaler. I cried involuntarily as I struggled to get a puff.

I never lost consciousness, but my awareness faded in and out. I heard words like "hospital," "Mama is sick, Baby," and "can you come over." I surrendered myself to whatever fate Brandon deemed necessary. I heard Sara crying, and knew she cried because she knew something was wrong with me. She always knows. I knew when he gave me the Acute Rescue (a.k.a. magic potion) drops. I was able to cooperate when he swabbed my mouth and rolled me over onto my stomach to perform BioSet. Otherwise, I could only lie there, sprawled out in the middle of my small kitchen floor, thinking of eggs--

Recently, my Papaw began bringing me some pastured eggs from a farmer friend of his. I have been eating eggs all along (except for those first few weeks when I couldn't eat anything), but these eggs are different. They taste better, are richer in color. I crave them at all meals and always feel better after eating them. So, I am eating a lot of them. I ran out while Papaw was in the hospital last week. His friend and supplier is a little odd and often drunk, so I couldn't just go get the eggs myself. Before leaving for Baton Rouge on Thursday, I packed a couple of empty egg cartons to take along. Dad asked me why I was bringing them. I told him that I was out of pastured eggs and if we saw some along the way, I would like to stop.

I have made the trip to Baton Rouge several times, and have never seen anyone selling eggs along the way, something I would have noticed because I look for such things. However, I knew that my body needed those eggs. I knew that God knew my body needed the eggs. Therefore, I believed it was quite possible, even likely, that I would find some.

I looked for a road sign the entire trip, and did not find one. After that, I honestly forgot about it. I went to my appointments, both of which were very beneficial. When I finished my massage, Dad was paying for something and a couple walked in carrying large grocery bags. Babette, my masseuse, swept back into the lobby. She greeted the couple and taking the bags from them, asked me if I would like to buy some eggs.

"They are fresh, organic and pastured and they come from happy chickens!" she smiled. My dad's face was priceless. He laughed out loud. I smiled and told her I had two empty cartons in the car and would love to buy some.

In childlike faith, I had packed those cartons, fully believing that God could provide the eggs my body so desired. And He did. It was as simple as that. And that was all I could think of as I drifted in and out of conscious thought.

But you must see that I wasn't really thinking of eggs. I was thinking of God's faithfulness. 

He has promised to supply all my needs in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). On Thursday, He saw that I needed pastured eggs. He provided them. And He did it in a clever way so that His signature could clearly be seen. Many months ago, He gave me a much-needed promise that I would live through this hell so that I would continue to fight my way through it without giving up. Before I was born, he chose Brandon to be my husband because He knew I needed a Superman to save my sickly butt time and again, a man who had the strength to live this life without losing his mind or his love for me.

As Sara Groves sings in one of my favorite songs, "God has been faithful. He will be again."

After Acute Rescue drops, a couple of puffs on the inhaler and two rounds of BioSet, I dramatically improved. After a sinus rinse, a detox bath and fresh clothes, I stopped re-poisoning myself which is always a plus. I have improved a little more throughout the day. I am still occasionally wheezing and suffering from swelling and sinus pressure. I am hurt from my fall to the kitchen floor, and I feel toxic. But I am alive. Thanks to God and Superman.

This verse from Psalm 90 kept coming to me today--"Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us; the years in which we have seen evil." (v. 15)

This life I currently live is a life of affliction, but God is going to do me one better than make me glad for as many days as I have suffered. One day, the breath I take will be my last. Even if I suffer every day until then, my suffering will all be swallowed up by never-ending gladness, by the joy of His abiding presence, never to be remembered again. Until then, I will feed on His faithfulness every moment, something I did quite literally this evening as I ate three of my delicious, nutritious, pastured eggs for dinner.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tears in the Kitchen (A Health Update)

Something has felt "off" for the last several weeks, a fact to which I alluded in my last post. I did not know what was wrong, and I did not know why it went wrong so I chose to ignore it, hoping I was mistaken. As usual, ignoring what my body was saying was a dumb move. I forced it to take a firm tone. When I ignored the firm tone, my body decided to yell. On Monday, after weeks of little, daily reactions, I suffered a severe allergic reaction to the supplements recommended by Dr. Cave to treat my MTHFR gene--all of them. The folic acid, the methylating powder and the B vitamins have all been rejected entirely.

While I could allow myself to be discouraged by this seemingly unfortunate turn of events, I am actually encouraged. In this, God has offered me very clear redirection on my health journey. Clarity is a valuable gift to the foggy of brain.

 I have noticed during the past few months that while some of my symptoms have improved (i.e. I can eat more than three foods now), others have spiraled out of control. For example, I get sick every time I leave my home. And sometimes I get sick staying at home. The world in which I live is full of substances that pose a threat to me. That burning pile of yard trash you drive by probably doesn't bother you, but it leaves me feeling like someone has me in a choke-hold. Birthday parties and clothes shopping are about equally dangerous. Both have put me in respiratory distress. No more dry-cleaning clothes or Styrofoam cups for me. I can't even visit my sister in her new home because the new building materials emit strong toxins that make me wish for death....and probably have the power to deliver it. I wish I was being dramatic. A healthy body does not notice these things. My body wails, laments and gnashes its teeth at them. Every time I leave my home, I am taking a risk. The risk isn't a question of whether or not I will get sick. Rather, it is a question of how sick I will get. Most of the time, the risks aren't worth taking, and I am increasingly earning the title of "Stay at Home Mom."

Something isn't right. It doesn't only have to do with my supplements. I just look at my body's rejection of them as the tool the Lord used to reveal another bend in the road.

Last weekend, the Lord propelled me into action when He introduced me to a new friend.  Caroline and I met on Facebook. (You can meet Caroline here.) She lives in a different part of the country, and is almost a decade younger than myself, but our symptoms are very similar. The main difference is that hers are worse. She is completely homebound and is currently able to eat only three foods. Sound familiar? She began GAPS about three years ago. Soon after, she began having some problems very much like the ones I am experiencing now.

We both still believe the GAPS diet to be a great healing tool. I will continue to follow most of the tenants of the diet. However, we are fighting multiple battles, and GAPS alone cannot win the war.

After chatting with Caroline and discussing my supplement problem with my natural doctor (who is currently taking a class on MTHFR/DNA snips), I feel that the Lord is leading me to look deeper into both the autoimmune and genetic natures of my illness. I just received my new DNA test kit in the mail. This new test will offer me more comprehensive results than the blood test ordered by Dr. Cave in October. From there, Dr. Yakaboski and I will have a phone consult with a genetic specialist. The three of us will discuss my results and formulate a new treatment plan. The consult will take place in a few weeks after I have received the new DNA results. I have also downloaded a free ebook by Dr. Connors, Caroline's doctor. The book discusses types of autoimmune-based illness and how to treat them. Dr. Connors also offers phone consultations to people who cannot travel to his clinic in Minnesota.

In the meantime, I am recovering from poisoning myself and trying to limit further poison exposure. I have seen Dr. Yakaboski twice this week to get relief. I hope that after today's colonic, BioSet and BEST treatments, I will soon experience a change for the better. I have no idea how I will do without being able to address my methylation problems for several weeks, but I will leave that in the hands of my Faithful God.

This God of mine has thoroughly earned my trust by proving Himself ready and able to help time and time again. Yesterday, He provided a friend to help me with my children and chores. Last night, He was there for me again. I was in the recliner, feeling as if I weighed 500 pounds and had lived 100 years. I was unsure if I was even going to be able to peel myself away from the chair to get my baby out of her crib.

But He reminded me, "My grace is sufficient for you." I stood.

I had vegetables to prep, broth to jar and a chicken to debone. I could not do it. He whispered, "My grace is sufficient."I began to chop, jar and debone.

It was too hard. I hurt too much. "My grace is sufficient, My Child."

I cried. I cried because it was hard and because God enabled me to do it anyway. "Sufficient. I AM enough. I will help you. I promise."

Tears of grace fell in my kitchen last night, and I knew. No matter how hard the rest of this healing journey may be, there will be enough grace--enough GOD--to bring me through.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Top Five Reasons I Love Being Sick

No, I have not become a masochist.

In most ways, I loathe being sick. I despise pain, discomforts, social alienation, fatigue, and dietary restrictions, but my sickness is so much more than the sum of my symptoms. I have been thrust into an alien world. Now that I am no longer suffocating in an atmosphere my fragile lungs are not accustomed to, I find that I don't mind this strange, sometimes desolate planet so much. In fact, I can find things that I truly like about it. While I will never stop looking for a way to get back home, I have found a way to be happy here. Much of my happiness comes from this little list of blessings I could have only received in a place of long-term suffering:

1) The People

The book, Embracing Obscurity, mentions a "secret society" of sufferers. Initiation is hell, but there is a hidden sweetness to be found in all the bitterness of membership. In my earliest days of suffering, this community enveloped me as if I had been there forever. These people know. They understand. They have held me up. They always know exactly what to say and not say. It is comforting to look into an eye and find the same altered light I feel in my own, to hear another voice with inflections of pain and peace trying to find the right balance. The people here have taught me how to give comfort and receive it, the latter actually being the harder of the two. There is much more to learn. In most of the cases I have encountered, the people of the Suffering Planet grieve with those who grieve and rejoice with those who overcome, a rare, precious commodity these days. Sufferers, who are usually social outcasts, have become some of my favorite people. I am proud to be counted among them.

Without being sick, this kind of sick, I never would have met my fabulous team of natural/integrative doctors--Dr. Stephanie Cave, Dr. Melisa Kuehn, and Dr. Carolyne Yakaboski--because I would still think alternative medicine is all very "woo-woo!"I adore each one, but my favorite (and I can write this because none of them read my blog) is my local Natural Doctor, Dr. Yakaboski. Each doctor has her own pool of knowledge, making each one valuable and necessary to me. What is special about Dr. Yakaboski is that she sees me regularly, listens carefully to me and is taking time to learn about my peculiarities. I'm not saying that I'm the reason she is taking a class on genetic mutations, but I know my case at least offered her a nudge. And I'm beginning to think the information she is currently learning is the key to my healing.

While my illness has created distance in most of my longer-established friendships (not because of any person's fault--that is just what chronic illness does), I have made new friendships, none of which would exist without this illness. Some of them like Jenny, Caroline and Jennifer are or have been sick themselves. Oddly, not one of these ladies lives close by. Others like Emily Wheat and Emilea Talton, God just ushered in to help me along.

2) Personal Growth

When I married 8 1/2 years ago, I was a terrible cook who had never shown much interest in the kitchen. I could scramble eggs, make awesome cinnamon toast and kill perfectly decent food on the George Foreman grill. (If you own this appliance, please do your part to stop the murder of innocent food. Divorce George. Fat is your friend.) While mistakes occasionally still happen, I consistently deliver a good meal made from scratch night after night, and most of the recipes are Melissa Keaster originals. When you can't eat out and people can't cook for you, your only choice is to cook or starve. Thereby, I get lots of practice, and practice has made me quite competent. I'm even tweaking an original "real food" cookie bar recipe.

 I get a huge kick out of making a pretty wide range of yummy food for my family. I am proud of the accomplishment that was born out of very real struggle. It is hard work--both the planning and the preparing! Cooking a different meal every night without a repeat over the course of the week using only 30ish foods while battling pain and fatigue is a real challenge! I suppose it's a good thing that I've always liked challenges.

In addition to learning to cook, I have learned to nourish. Many of my preconceived ideas about health food have been shattered, and I am watching my family benefit from what I have learned. I have discovered that I love feeding people good food. Right now, I have a very real ministry of feeding three eaters in addition to myself, but I dream of a quiet, thriving ministry of feeding and visiting sick people and shut-ins once I am well.

3) Helping Others

I have learned so much information since losing my health. I have an infinite amount more to learn, but I am helping family, friends and strangers alike with the little I already know. I have shown several people how to muscle test for allergies to foods before trying them. If my friends want a natural remedy for some kind of ailment, I either know the remedy or know how to find it. Brandon, the kids and other friends and family who haven't minded being my guinea pigs have benefited from BioSet treatments.

Mostly, I am thankful that I am able to help my immediate people. Brandon has Crohn's disease. While he complains of his weight loss from time to time, he looks great and feels even better. My children both struggle with my genetic mutation and Gut and Psychology Syndrome. I will even go as far as to say that I think I am going to save Sara from becoming autistic. Some of you may think I'm talking crazy, but I have been doing lots of reading and have personally witnessed or experienced the truth of the information. I love that I am in the unique position to see that my kids are sick and need my help while they are still young. Soon, I will be healthy enough to put the necessary energy into getting them better. What an undeniable gift!

4) Spiritual Growth

I have learned to view this new life as a grand adventure. I may rarely leave my home, but no two days are the same. Each one begins brimming with promise. I never know who will walk through my door, who will call, who I will meet, what my children and husband will need, or what God will speak to me on any given day.

I am finally learning a little about the ministry of intercessory prayer. It is truly a labor of the soul. As Christians, we are nourished by the Word of God and we sweat by the work of prayer. Sometimes, this ministry is painful for me because my suffering has made me more compassionate. Friend, if you share a burden of your soul with me, know that I feel a little of its weight. If something has wounded you, I bleed a little, too. I feel your injustice almost as if it were my own. Tears for your sorrow stain the side of my bed. I have been asking the Lord to teach me how to pray for years. It is harder than I had anticipated, but it is work worth doing.

I see people. I am finally looking others in the eye, observing either light or shadow. I want to know hearts. I have time for souls. I want to know how I can meet the needs of body, soul and spirit. This is especially true for my immediate people--Brandon, Micah and Sara. They are my focus now, as it should be.

The most important lesson I'm learning is contentment. Contentment is a difficult and victorious classroom. I can be happy when I'm hungry, when I'm tired, when I hurt, when I'm lonely, when I'm sick, when I'm scared and when my feelings have been hurt if I look to God for joy. I don't do this perfectly or anywhere close, but I am learning. If I live to old age, I hope to say with the Apostle Paul, "I have learned to be content in all things."

5) GOD

Spurgeon's Morning by Morning reads thus on February 12--

"Here is a blessed proportion. The Ruler of providence bears a pair of scales--in this side He puts His people's trials, and in that He puts their consolations. When the scale of trial is nearly empty, you will always find the scale of consolation in nearly the same condition. When the scale of trial is full, you will find the scale of consolation just as heavy. When the black clouds gather most, the light is more brightly revealed to us....Another reason why we are often most happy in our troubles is this--then we have the closest dealings with God. When the purse is bursting with gold, we try to do without so much prayer. But take our food away, and we want our God.....Troubled believer, do not fret over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty mercies." [2 Corinthians 1:5]

Upon the stillness of my sickbed, I have often heard the voice of God. I feel His embrace when I ache. I know what the shadow of His wings is like. The sweetness there is so intense that sometimes I feel that I don't want to get well because I want to stay there forever. I have to shake myself, pry myself away, reminding myself that He is not calling me to enter into His rest just yet. I have to toil a little longer, and there is much joy to be found in my toil.

 More than anything, I love the nearness of Christ in my suffering. If you do not know Him today, Fellow or Future Sufferer, I hope you will. As John Piper writes at the end of His poem, "Job"--"Unkindly has He kindly shown me God." The price has been high, but seeing God is everything to me. It is the treasure for which I would sell everything I possess. Take my health, and give me Jesus!

I am certain that healing is in God's plan for me. He has told me over and over that I will get well. Currently, some of my symptoms are getting worse. Some days I feel that I am making a downward turn. But I trust His word to me. I believe Him. I will continue to believe Him if I temporarily take a turn for the worse. And I will never resent this place I'm in. I hate it, but I love it. Because God is with me, it is a fine place to be.