If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

The first thing I need to do after this long hiatus from blogging, is thank all my loyal friends, supporters, and blog followers. I haven’t posted any updates in over 2 months, and there is a reason why, which I will delve into in this blog post. I just checked my stats on my blog, which tells you how many people are reading your blog daily, and I am astonished to find out that every day since my last blog post people have still been visiting my blog. It  means the world to me to know that I still have my loyal supporters, even when I have been absent on my blog.

Now the reason why I have not blogged as of late, is because I went off my vegan diet about 6 weeks ago. It was a very long and emotionally tiring week for me leading up to my decision to end my vegan diet. My best friends can attest to how conflicted I was about making that decision. Many things contributed to my decision to stop my vegan diet. What initially triggered it was my Rheumatologist telling me I was on the verge of becoming anemic, and deficient in a list of other things. I mean, I definitely started to notice it a few weeks prior, but I just thought it would pass. My fatigue was worse than normal, and I was extremely light headed and weak all the time. I also noticed I was losing a lot more of my hair. Since I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus, I would say the amount of hair I had has decreased by about half. So seeing even more hair loss than usual was an immediate red flag. I tried to take iron supplements and increase my spinach and kale intake, but it just didn’t make a significant difference (being that my own body attacks the little amount of red blood cells I had, was also not helping); plus iron supplements are extremely hard to digest and left me feeling constipated. With my Lupus, blood count has always been a struggle for me, I just felt like I did not need anything else contributing to any sort of deficiencies.

I was tired of being restricted from all the foods I used to love so much. I was tired of going to restaurants or social places worried about whether or not I would be able to eat anything there. I was tired of getting weird looks and being judged by people when I told them I was vegan. Throughout my journey as a vegan, I have received a lot of negative responses from people when they heard I was vegan. They would automatically criticize me and assume that I was doing it for superficial reasons, or so that I could be “hip” and say I was vegan. It astonished me how quickly people were to judge me and what they thought my intentions were. I never gave those people the time of day and just chose to ignore their ignorance. It just amazes me how people get so riled up about such topics, when it has nothing to do with them. How does someone feel that they should have an opinion on the food that I choose or choose not to consume?

It came to the point where I realized that I just wasn’t happy being vegan anymore. I felt deprived. I wasn’t my usual happy and positive self, I was tired, worn down and just going through life. I realized veganism was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and so I decided to stop. I wanted and needed to find a happy medium. I think I naturally eat quite healthy already, I mean I have at least one veggie packed smoothie and a salad everyday. Vegetables still are and have always been my favourite food group, but now it is just a matter of adding certain proteins to help me get back to feeling good and energized.

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Since going off my vegan diet, I have been eating a lot of eggs, fish, and chicken occasionally. I had pork and beef once or twice and I felt ill almost immediately; those meats I definitely plan on refraining from. I have gained back the 5-7 pounds that I lost when going on my vegan diet, but I feel much stronger now. I lost a lot of muscle mass while on my vegan diet, almost all my muscle. I also never had the energy to do any physical activity, I use to love practicing Bikram yoga, going to the gym, and running, but the idea of working out made me feel weak. My muscles, or lack of, in my legs were tired from just walking up a flight of stairs. I felt depleted of my energy after any moderate activity. Since going back to a regular diet, I have been back at yoga, practicing 3-4 times a week. I feel fantastic. I feel strong, limber, energized, and like I actually have core muscles again. Do I miss being 5-7 pounds lighter?? Honestly….no. I missed my curves and being able to fit my clothes perfectly. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little extra cushion! 🙂

The reason why it has taken me so long to write this blog post, is because I was worried about how my supporters would react. I was viewing my decision to stop veganism as me being a failure. I did not want it to seem like I was giving up. I eventually came to terms with my decision and can now see what this whole journey was really about for me.

It was the first time I had ever taken my disease into my own hands. I never questioned my doctors and the drugs they would prescribe me. I never thought about alternative medicine or changing my lifestyle, I would just say “yes” to everything. Now I have a very open communication with all my doctors; they understand that I do not want to be on these medications and if there are alternatives to things, that I would rather go that route. They provide me with more detail and information on things I use to never think twice about, like how certain drugs may affect me in the future etc.

This journey has pushed me to open up about my health. My family and friends know more about my health then I have ever shared in the last 9 years. I feel empowered that I was finally able to let my wall down and know that I am not weak for showing my vulnerable side.

I started a meditation practice 5 months ago and it is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Looking at new things I can do for myself to de-stress internally was something I always said I was “too busy” to do. My daily meditation practice has really provided me with internal peace, calmness, and tranquility. Waking up every morning knowing the first thing I am going to do is meditate, focus my energy, and cultivate peace and happiness is something I cherish now and look forward to.

This whole journey has led me to my new calling and what I am pursuing in school now, naturopathy. I want to help people find that balance between Western and Eastern medicine, and that it doesn’t have to be black or white. That people with chronic diseases can have the best of both worlds, they just have to educate themselves and want to take control of their health. I want to help people realize that they can have a strong influence on their well being, and that when you feel that something is wrong, often times there are ways that you can contribute to your recovery. The easy thing to do is go see a doctor and get a prescription. The hard part is making lifestyle and diet changes and staying committed to them; the upside is that these changes will last a lifetime.

I am happy with the decision I have made to end my vegan diet, and I feel like such a winner after this whole experience. I live with no regrets, and this last year has been an incredibly remarkable and challenging journey. I have learned more about myself in this last year, than I have in the last 5 years combined. It is an experience I will always look back on and say, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that.” I have taken so much more from this experience than I had ever anticipated, and I am grateful for everything I endured, because it has brought me to where I am now, feeling refocused, peaceful, and enlightened.

I will continue to write about my life with Lupus, although I am unsure as to when I will be experimenting with natural medicine again. All I can promise you is that I promise to continuing sharing real, raw stories and experiences that I think someone out there, going through something similar may benefit from hearing.

Much love,

Chauf

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11 thoughts on “If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

  1. Glad you’re back and are feeling really “well” about where you’ve been and where you’re headed. When we have these awful diseases, we’ll try just about anything. You tried a new diet and found out, on your own, that it wasn’t for you, although many people do enjoy a vegan diet. I would not be one of them. I have a feeding tube, anyway. I think I’m getting closer to finally getting my official Lupus diagnosis. I have a new rheumatologist that I’ve only seen twice and will see again in June. I look forward to following your blog. Take care. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much for your support. Yes you are absolutely right, I still support Veganism, it just isn’t for me.

      Oh wow. What symptoms are you displaying or experiencing that is leading to your diagnosis? I just read your latest post, you my dear, are a real trooper. You are absolutely right in the way that mental illness needs to be defined and viewed as. People automatically have a negative stigma associated with mental illness when they don’t have any clue what it is. It is really quite sad. I look forward to following you on your journey.

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      1. Yep, to each her own when it comes to what diet is best for you! I don’t know why some people have to be so critical about someone else’s diet. It sounded like a very healthy diet to me. I would never be able to do it because, Of course I have a feeding tube, but I am a very picky eater and don’t like too many things that are supposed to be good for me.
        I have several, invisible, chronic illnesses and with each disease, the only common denominator with every one is Lupus! I have so many of the symptoms. I’ve had some of the lab work come back pointing in that direction, but 90 days later that same lab work was “normal” range. Like my doctor said, I need to get in for lab work on a day that I’m having a major flare and maybe she can catch it. As I’m sure you know, there is no real definitive test for Lupus. I was told by my first hematologist, to go to a rheumatologist and be considered for a serilogically negative Lupus. I do have so many signs and symptoms that point right to it, from my hair to my nails, to my entire body, actually. I’m also finding some really good blogs about Lupus and I find myself saying, “yep, that’s me.” I look forward to following you on your journey. It’s so nice, although bittersweet, to have so many blogs about Lupus. I’m really gathering a lot of helpful information for my next visit with my rheumatologist. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Inspirational, you are. I look forward to talking with you some more. Hope your day is a good one! xx 🙂 Tammy

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      2. I can’t imagine having a feeding tube is easy by any means. As long as what you are eating makes you happy and works for you 🙂

        Lupus is such a diverse disease. No two cases of Lupus are the same, and it’s hard to pinpoint. It wasn’t until 4-5 years after my first signs that I was actually diagnosed during a flare. During flares is usually the most accurate time they could be doing testing for you for a possible diagnosis.

        Yes it is such a great community. I have to find more online communities to follow as well for advice and insight.

        Thank you for sharing your story with me! We can all inspire each other in so many ways. Happy Easter Tammy!

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  2. The feeding tube can be a real pain, but it keeps me alive. Every time I try to eat something by mouth, I get so distended and uncomfortable. Oh well, could be worse, right? 🙂 There are so many blogs right here. I can’t even get to them all. Yes, inspiring is GOOD and that is exactly what I’m trying to do. I’m not always okay and I can still inspire someone that reads my blog and knows where I’ve been and what I’ve been through, and where I hope to be, some day. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had to do! I hope you had a decent day, better yet, a great day! xx 🙂 Tammy

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    1. Tammy, so sorry for the late response! I thought I had responded to all your messages! 😦

      I would agree 100% with you Tammy, it is not easy putting yourself out there for others to judge. It is freeing though I find and extremely empowering. I know that we can help people by sharing our story and we are blessed to have something worthy of being shared. I hope you have a great day Tammy xo 🙂

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      1. No worries, girlfriend. I’ve not been around here for awhile. Been busy being sick, 2 of my 4 kids graduated from college this year! Yikes! Just saying that really makes me feel very old, however proud, I might add! One nurse and one Psychology major! I take that back, make that very, very proud! It took a lot out of me. They both graduated within 5 days. It took a lot out of me, but I made it. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but it did take it’s toll on me physically. I’ve been trying to write, but can’t come up with anything decent to write. I’ve been writing and shredding, writing and shredding, and repeat. I’ll keep trying, but I think I’m going to post a song for now, until I can write something half way decent. Now that things have calmed down around here, I may be able to get this accomplished. So, tell me how have you been doing? You feeling okay? I apologize for my late response. I’ll spend awhile replying to every message before I write anything else. I need to let my followers know that I’m still very much alive! I agree with you as finding what we do here to be very empowering. To even help one person is amazing, but to help hundreds, thousands, is indescribable, but very satisfying. I don’t want to leave this earth without living up to my full potential, whatever that may look like. Hope to hear from you soon. xxx 🙂 Peace! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great day.

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      2. Wow that is incredible Tammy!!! Congratulations, you should be such a proud momma!!! 😀

        You know I used to do that…write then toss it, and keep writing till I thought it was something worth sharing. Then I started turning my filter off, and just writing from the heart and not over thinking it. I promise there will be at least one person you can touch with your words, whether you think they are important enough to share. You would be amazed.

        I’m going to respond to your other comment so I’m not sounding too repetitive!

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  3. I am a very proud momma! 2 down, 2 to go………..LORD!!!!! 🙂 Well, I find I do some of my best writing when I’m not doing so well. I wrote a post yesterday when I was in a rage! LOL 🙂 It happens when you have to live and suffer every single day of your life. It’s not something you ever really get used to, even though we may be heard saying, “oh, I’m used to it.” You know how it is being so sick all the time, emotions all over the place. I sound like some kind of lunatic or something, sometimes. One day writing about how proud I am and preaching about setting goals and doing your best to do them and then the next thing I’m writing is that I can’t take this shit anymore. LOL LOL just the way it is and I suppose anyone else that is going through anything even remotely close to what I go through each and every day would understand. If not, so be it!!! I finally went to see the 2nd surgeon about my hip, and there’s no way out of it, I must have a total hip replacement on July 7th. Now, I am no spring chicken, but I’m not that damn old! I have avascular necrosis in my left hip, most likely to get my right hip in the very near future! No one knows why part of my hip is dead, due to lack of blood flow to that part of my hip. All I know is that I have no choice and I’m terrified. I’ve had 13 surgeries, but for some reason this one is really scaring me. Sigh………………………breathe, Tammy, breathe……………………practice what I preach!!!! LOL 🙂 Not feeling well at all. Now, my fingernails are just falling off for no reason. I see my rheumatologist next week. That’s about all I can write, right now. I’m losing steam. Hope you’re doing “okay,” and that your kidneys aren’t acting up, still. Please let me know how you are getting along. xxxx hang in there, girlfriend!

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    1. I’m so sorry I didn’t reply sooner Tammy, I haven’t been on my blog for a while and didn’t see your comment. I really hope your surgery went as well as it could have and that you are on a good path to recovery. I’m sorry you’ve had to undergo so many. Please let me know how it went. How did your appointment go with your Rheumatologist? Any explanation as to why your nails would be falling off???

      I completely understand, as much as we say we are “used” to it, everyday brings upon us a new day of challenges and triumphs with the same problems. Some days we are strong and feel like we can take on our crazy lives, and others we feel completely beat down by our own thoughts. It is a constant battle, but one that I can only say for myself has really changed me for the better I believe. It has really taught me so much about strength, resilience, perseverance, determination, and appreciation. The best way to learn these attributes is by experiencing them first hand. We can only take it day by day and listen to our minds and bodies. I hope my two cents helped a little…..it’s hard to get yourself out of that rut sometimes and I find sometimes others can help me help myself.

      I hope to hear from you soon Tammy! xoxo

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      1. I’m still alive! Not sure if that’s good or bad. LOL My surgery went okay, I was in the hospital for a week and then came home and had a home health nurse, OT, and PT coming out to my house until last Friday. I kept trying to tell my nurse that I was worried that I had a bad infection around my feeding tube and she kept saying it was okay, nothing to worry about. Well the very next morning at about 5:00 a.m. I had to go to the ER it was draining green pus, blood, clear fluid and I had a low grade fever. Good thing I went because they cultured it and got me out of the ER in record time, 45 minutes. They put me back in a room at the very back, away from everyone else, and with a door, instead of curtains. I was given 2 Bactrim pills and a prescription to get the rest and I was on my way. No IV, nothing! I just got the preliminary results of the culture and I have Klebsiella Bacterial infection around my feeding tube. I’m trying not to worry about it, but it’s one of the “Super Bugs.” I pray it doesn’t get into my bloodstream or lungs. That would be some serious trouble.
        Yes, and thank you. Your two cents always helps me a lot. I couldn’t have said that better. I’ve been off WP for awhile and can’t seem to write anything worth posting, so I posted a song so everyone would know I didn’t croak!
        My rhuematologist just kind of looked at my fingers and didn’t say much. Since I now have osteoporosis, she wanted me to do the IV infusion of Reclast every 18 months. I didn’t really want to do that and I expressed my concern to my doctor and she understood. There are so many really bad side affects and once that’s put into your body, you are stuck with it for 18 months. With my luck, I would be the one to have all the bad side affects, so I talked to my primary care doctor about it because she was asking me if I had started those treatments, yet. I told her why and she didn’t want to put me on the pills for Ostoporosis because of my digestive problems, but there is one liquid medication that I can put into my feeding tube once a week or once a month, can’t remember. I was told not to start it til this hip is completely healed.
        So, how have you been doing. What have you been up to, while we were both away! I hope you are doing well, my friend. Hope to hear from you soon. xxxxx Tammy

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