quick disclaimer: all the stuff i write about in my adrenal blog posts are relative to my own personal experience and recommendations. what was recommended to and worked for me may not work for you, so please proceed with caution and enlist the help of a naturopathic or functional doctor in your area for the best + safest results!
i think it's safe to say that everyone knows that running your own business takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears.. and time, patience and hard work - among many other things. being raised by a single mom, i always knew that hard work was going to be part of the game of life. yes, juggling all the tasks of owning a business alone is tough, but it's even harder when you feel like poop. all. the. time.
for the last two years, sS has gone through some major growth - and growing pains. a major buildout and relocation. running a busy clinic. employee management (hiring, training, firing, repeat). (trying to) write and finish the acne book. reformulating and rebranding products, and getting them ready for distribution. doing most (if not all) the company's blogging, instagramming, facebooking, marketing, bookkeeping, buying, receptioning, networking. working with a business coach. etc etc etc. lots to keep me busy.
the best part of all this though, is that over these last two years, we've been able to help over 500 clients get and stay clear. if we go all the way back to when i opened sS in 2008, the total numbers would likely reach close to 1500.
it was only at this past new years' dinner at bar agricole did i realize, after talking with an entrepreneur who was sat next to me at the bar, all that really was on my plate. he asked, "how was your year?" "to be honest," i said, "2014 was the year of 'what did i get myself into'. i'm working really hard, and not only my mind but my body, is stressed out - it's very hard to keep motivated, managing this all alone, and i kind of really wish i could just run away."
i described all the projects i had been working on for sS and he simply said: "it makes total sense that you are overwhelmed. you aren't running just one business. you are actually running four. the clinic. formulating and retailing products. writing a book, and distribution of products, let alone trying to open new locations."
that was a total a-ha moment.
this epiphany helped to alleviate a lot of my mental stress, for sure. i still had to DO the work, but knowing that as a single person, i could only do so much, really helped me get through the winter of 2014/2015.
physically though, i was not doing great. especially for having given up a lot of the recreational wining and dining (which was my vice) that was the 'play hard' to my 'work hard.' i felt way too tired ALL THE TIME, for someone my age (32), who was eating high quality + healthy food and living a relatively healthy, yet busy, lifestyle. i actually felt like i had more energy when i was eating dinner late into the night, with friends and cocktails. but now, i felt that my nervous system was very sensitive, and that my adrenals were taxed. something benign like a loud motorcycle running past me would literally rattle my nerves, leaving me feeling like i was crashing hard after a (very long) adrenaline rush that one might get after almost getting into a car accident, or some other situation where my life was in danger.
i felt weak, and had no energy to be active. the lack of exercise, coupled with my daily driving commute, helped me gain 30 pounds in the last year. after a full night's of solid, uninterrupted sleep, i'd wake up exhausted. i had learned to just push through it, and tried seeing a functional chiropractor, got weekly acupuncture for over a year, worked with a nutritionist, got regular massages, meditated, etc etc and after all that - i was still tired, both physically and mentally. finally, after being fed up with being both fat and tired, regular headaches and a long-term dose of low-level depression, i finally decided to step my game up and see dr. laura figoski to get control of my life back.
to be honest, i had seen laura over a year ago and at the time, was not 100% dedicated to her treatment plan. in retrospect, i think i was just not ready. this probably was because i had just gone through a similar process with a nutritionist, while at the same time relocating sS to mission and 21st.
though i was under an incredible amount of physical and mental stress, i was really strict with her protocol and actually felt much much worse on it. this nutritionist had me do some bloodwork (which, to her credit, definitely revealed some important things) which she tried to interpret for me - she'd identified some adrenal imbalances (it was a little low), abnormally high iron levels in my blood and borderline type 2 diabetes blood sugar levels. after a solid 6+ weeks of compliance, i was still feeling much worse on her protocol than before it, so i consulted laura for a second opinion.
dr. fig was able to give me a bigger picture of what the bloodwork was saying (that perhaps this was all due to a poorly functioning liver), and had me take a blood test which ruled out hemachromotosis (a genetic defect in which the blood stores abnormally high amounts of iron, which can cause lethargy, and also be lethal). laura put me on a liver supplement and, with regular psychotherapy and bodywork, i started feeling a bit better. i was still tired, but i just continued to push through. i wasn't as exhausted as i was during that month of the move, so i was content with where i was at.
i had much work to do, and felt ok-ish enough to keep pushing through. at this point, kate (a former office manager) had quit, so there was no one else to run the show but i, and i felt i didn't have the time for self-care. so a year passed by, and then june 2015 rolls around. i'm still exhausted, and, after realizing i only had 2 pairs of stretch pants i could comfortably wear because of the extra 30 pounds i'd gained in the last year, i finally decided to see dr. laura again. i knew i had to exercise, but i was too tired to do it. plus, i just felt like something was wrong - but i didn't know what. and neither did conventional medicine: an email to kaiser about adrenal fatigue yielded a response of "adrenal fatigue is being thrown around a lot these days."
at a women's entrepreneur brunch, i met a colleague who lost weight, had vastly improved her digestion, and gained a ton of energy from taking the alcat food allergy test. she said that by avoiding gluten and oregano, she felt a million times better. i knew dr. fig administered this test, so i booked an appointment with her to get this done.
when i got to see dr. fig, we talked about my symptoms, and i was hopeful that figuring out the maybe 1-3 foods i was reactive to, would solve all my problems. (yeah right! so silly. geez.). she explained that taking a more holistic snapshot of what my body's systems were doing would be more informative than just zeroing in on food sensitivities. so, she suggested i take 3 different types of tests, instead of the 1 mondo food allergy test - for about the same cost. the tests i ended up taking were: adrenal (saliva), gut/intestinal (stool), and food allergy (blood).
taking just the food test alone would have been only 1 part of the puzzle (like switching to acne-safe products but still drinking milk by the gallon) - and as we know, all the body systems work together, and also affect each other if one system is imbalanced.
it would take several weeks for all the test results to come back, and i figured, the time would pass anyway. i would be busy with work, training our newest esthetician, liesse. i had a couple of trips planned, and could eat and drink everything with abandon before i got the test results back that said i couldn't. :)
fyi: the tests, all combined, cost about $600 out of pocket; though an HSA or FSA would likely cover it).
so july 6, 2015, came doomsday. this was the day laura revealed to me the results of the tests i had taken a month prior, and what our plan of action would be. dun dun DUN!!!! stay tuned for the next episode of my journey, working through my adrenal fatigue, with a naturopath.
next up: the testing process, reveal of my test results, and my action plan + dietary guidelines/restrictions!