"You have no immune system." Those are the words I heard from the doctor as I sat in his office for the third sinus infection I had in less than one year. As he wrote a prescription for yet another antibiotic he continued to lament about my lack of immune system as if it was simply a fact of life. I walked out of that office feeling a bit hopeless. I was 48 and being told I didn't have a basic biological defense my body needed survive. How did I get here, I wondered? Well, let's talk about that.
The first time I remember having a sinus infection was not long after I started college. I remember being so sick I didn't leave my dorm room for several days. Finally after days of misery I went to see the campus doctor who informed me I had springtime allergies. He loaded me up with lots of antihistamines, cough syrup, and an antibiotic. Looking back at 19 year old me I know that lack of sleep, self imposed stress, and a horrible diet of whatever greasy food was available at 1 a.m. contributed to my body not being able to fight off the infection. Get lots of rest, eat lots of veggies and drink lots of water was not the advice offered however. Take these pills and you will feel better was the advice offered, and it worked. That experience is what would set the foundation for the next almost 30 years of my life.
I will skip 30 years worth of basically the same story to say that 3-4 or sometimes even 5 times a year I would play out the same scenario in a doctor's office and every single time I was given an antibiotic to treat the symptoms. I was never told "drink water, eat vegetables, get lots of rest". In all fairness, I never asked the question, "What can I do to prevent this?", and the advice was never offered. The antibiotics always worked and I moved on believing that I was an otherwise healthy person. I thought life was good and I thought if my worst ailment was a stuffy head a few times a year, I was much luckier than other people who had way worse issues.
Thousands of pills and almost 30 years later, here I was sitting in my doctor's office learning that I had no immune system. What no doctor ever told me was that every time I had taken an antibiotic a part of my microbiome had been destroyed. He didn't tell me that gradually over the years, the strength and duration of the antibiotics had to gradually be increased because with each prescription my body learned how to resist it. He didn't tell me that very soon this was going to come back to haunt me in a very big and very scary way, but that's a blog for another day.
I wish I could say I walked out of the office that day, changed my ways and never had to take another antibiotic again, but that isn't the case. What I can say is that I walked out of that office with a new perspective. I knew that I didn't want to live the rest of my life being sick all the time and being vulnerable to every little sickness that came along. That day is when I started to realize that while doctors are very smart and are definitely the people I want there in an emergency, they don't know me and they don't know my body. I realized that day that I'm the only one that lives in this body and it's my job to make sure it is at it's best. That was the beginning of my journey to wellness and better health.
Now at the age of 51, what I can share is that I haven't been on an antibiotic in two and a half years, and have healed my immune system. I plan to share my journey, what I discovered and what I did along the way. If you are new on this path to wellness and are where I was, just combing the internet trying to gain information , know you are not alone. If you are further along in your journey, your wisdom is welcomed! My hope is to build a community of support here at BetterhealthbyBeth where you can find answers along your own personal journey to wellness. I am by no means a health expert (yet - but stay tuned for more on that topic!) but have walked the path you are on and am here to lend support and share my journey .
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