Posts filed under ‘Simla's Story’

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Simla

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November 26, 2009 at 1:57 PM Leave a comment

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

Do you have an Invisible Illness? Welcome to the club!

Groucho Marx, comedian and actor, once said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.” The Invisible Illness “club” is like that for me. I was invited – against my will – to this club in the summer of 2006. And then, just like Mr. Marx, decided to withdraw my membership. I now live in near/full remission. [Search for “Simla’s Story” on this blog to find posts that go further into details about my life living with and healing from invisible illnesses.]

I’m posting the following “30 Things” as a contribution to highlight the start of National Chronic Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2009 TODAY, Sept 14, 2009. II Week 09 is hosting a 5-day F*R*E*E Virtual Conference with 20 fantastic speakers who are vibrant, well-versed in the art of living with invisible illness, and there to offer you and/or the ones you care about support and encouragement and entertaining, engaging information. Register and attend this conference by clicking here.

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know
by Simla Somturk Wickless of
www.enjoydelicioushealth.com

1. The illness I live with is:
Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, immunotoxicity, undifferentiated connective tissue disorder, multiple chemical sensitivity (all in remission – 95% of the time)

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:
2007

3. But I had symptoms since:
2006, and maybe even years earlier on some of the conditions but wasn’t diagnosed properly

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:
Change my career (from management consultant to health & nutrition consultant)

5. Most people assume:
That somehow I’m stronger than they are or that my medical conditions must not have been very serious because I was able to get to the point where I now live in full remission. Both are incorrect.

6. The hardest part about mornings are:
Waking up when my body is not ready to wake up – a feeling of utter and painful exhaustion.
Or if I ate gluten the day before: feeling deeply exhausted and having inflamed, painful joints and soft tissue as a result.

7. My favorite medical TV show is:
Grey’s Anatomy, because of the drama, not the medicine.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:
My laptop.

9. The hardest part about nights are:
Used to be the all-over itching caused by my drug-induced liver inflammation and excruciating nerve pain in my legs. Nowadays, occasional nerve sensitivity in my legs, or if my adrenals are off, insomnia.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins.
Down to about 10 from 45+. WOO HOOOO!

11. Regarding alternative treatments I:
Bet my life on them and I won.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:
Invisible. I’m a very private person. This way I get to choose how and where I share information about me.

13. Regarding working and career:
You must love the work you do to be truly healthy. I LOVE my work now. It feeds my health and soul. And I wouldn’t have found it had my illnesses not found me.

14. People would be surprised to know:
That I am thankful to my conditions for the strength of self, renewed life purpose, and revised priorities they brought to me.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:
I don’t have all the freedoms I used to have, if I want to live in full remission, such as eating anything I want.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:
Heal it to where, as long as I manage my triggers well by avoiding or mitigating them, I live pretty much in full remission.

17. The commercials about my illness:
Drive me nuts. Prescription medication should not be advertised on TV.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:
When I couldn’t walk, it was walking.
When I couldn’t read, it was reading.
When I couldn’t think, it was thinking.
Now, living in remission, it’s the ability to eat whatever I want, as I have to be very mindful of certain foods triggering my symptoms. I’m planning on overcoming that too.

19. It was really hard to have to give up:
Cheese and coffee and wheat, as these are some of the foods that trigger my symptoms.
I’ve regained the ability to do almost everything else that matters to me.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:
Blogging! =)

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:
I now have those days back and I am grateful for every second.

22. My illness has taught me:
That doctors are fallible, that our medical system is very broken, and that it is not designed to deal effectively with chronic, systemic conditions.
That “alternative” medical approaches are my default choices.
That the body, mind, and spirit are all connected and will all heal given half a chance.
That we are healthy when our world is healthy, and vice versa.
That healing requires you to get to know your body and and its signals, to listen to your intuition, to decide to get your health back and then follow through no matter how hard it gets or how many naysayers there are.
That real, beautiful, delicious food is fantastic medicine.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is:
But you look great! (When I was really suffering. Now it’s ok. =)

24. But I love it when people:
Are patient. When I shuffled vs walked, when I couldn’t be social… my family and true friends came through and showed it in their kind patience.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
“It’s ok to feel bad, but it’s not ok to feel bad about feeling bad.” (from my husband)

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:
You are not your illness.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:
How it can be a blessing in disguise and a huge life lesson (or several hundred).

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:
When I was bed-bound and couldn’t walk for several months, my husband surprised me by carrying me out to the car he had rented (we don’t own a car) and driving me to the beach so we could roll down the windows and I could get some fresh air and sun on my face.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:
It’s very important to me that those living with an invisible illness know and see from others’ experiences that they CAN live well and even heal fully from a chronic invisible illness.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:
Warm and fuzzy, and happy that you took the time to understand a little better. Thank you.

September 14, 2009 at 12:04 AM 5 comments

From Invisible to Invincible ™ Part I – a.k.a Healing from Fibromyalgia and Much More

I’ve been procrastinating again. I finished a book, started another one, woke up at 5am because I had half a glass of red wine last night for the first time in ages, lay awake in bed for two hours, worked out for 1.5 hours morning, chatted with a neighbor, chatted with another neighbor, made tea, made breakfast, watched a cat catch and eat a bird, doodled on some other social networking site. Now I’m writing this paragraph. Everything to keep myself from starting to write about what I really need to write about: my how-I-got-really-really-sick-and-how-I-got-well-again story.

I know part of why I don’t want to do this: I don’t want to relive it, I don’t want to focus on the negative (I never do!), as I’ll have to do when I write. But there’s something else nagging at me and I haven’t figured that one out yet.

But it’s time. And as much as I’m dragging my fingers right now, I know I’ll gain steam when I get started. So here I go!

***

3 years ago I felt like my life was over. Almost everything I had worked so hard for – my 10-year career including  a prestigious master’s degree, my fit body, my intellect – went up in proverbial smoke. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t think, remember things, or feel anything but pain all over. On the outside, I looked fine most of the time. But my body, my head, and my insides felt like they were crumbling.

Literally overnight, years of chronic stress and running on empty caught up with me, finding and seeping through the hairline cracks in my body until the built-up pressure broke down all the defenses. Up until that moment, I was a highly accomplished Type A, perfectionist, busy professional who was totally in control of her world, high heels and all.

But now, I felt invisible, like a non-entity:  I was not able to be productive and feel good about myself, I was scolded on the bus by older women because I sat up front in the ‘reserved for disabled’ seats because I couldn’t stand (hey – I looked fine!), I was a nuisance to drivers because I crossed the road so very slowly (I could barely walk because of my severe neuropathy), I barely had enough energy to brush my teeth on most days, and even if I had the energy to, I had nothing to talk about and couldn’t relate to other people because I was consumed by my pain and medical agony.

Something shifted when I hit rock bottom:  I wasn’t going to have it anymore. I wasn’t going to play by others’ rules that said “You have to be on this medicine,” “You will be pain for the rest of your life,” “You have to have this surgery,” or even “There’s nothing wrong with you.” I started playing by my own rules. And that’s when I started becoming Invincible. Even if I had to live in pain, I was going to do it on my own terms. I was going to rebuild my life.

Now I feel great, having been on the mend since about November 2008 after about two years of really hard work using my own body, mind, and spirit trio as guinea pigs, when all of a sudden ‘one step forward, two steps back’ started becoming ‘one step forward – oh, wait, look! another step forward! and another! wooo hoooooooooo!’

This is now the best I’ve ever felt, really:  high energy, high spirits, my body is strong, my skin is glowing, no symptoms (as long as I mind my triggers – more on that later), no weird stuff, no colds / flus / headaches / asthma / etc (see below), and I am at peace with my life and my world. I love my life, my  work / passion, my body, and everything this experience has taught me.

My standing diagnoses as of 3 years ago are (were?):

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    (with the Trauma being the overnight dissolution of my health at the age of 32)

These are what I’ll be writing about most of the time. But my past health history includes the following, which I may deign upon now and then as some of these may apply at some point:

  • Chronic asthma (no more asthma now)
  • IBS
  • Many food allergies (down to a very few now)
  • Chronic bronchitis (no more)
  • Pneumonia (no more – no colds anymore either)
  • Chronic tension headaches (very, very rare – maybe 2 x year vs 3 x month)
  • A gallbladder full of stones due to heavy antibiotic therapy (gone – avoided surgery – got rid of them naturally in 2 months with the help of my Naturopathic Doctor)
  • Medication-induced hepatitis and pancreatitis (liver still temperamental – hence the wine’s effect on me last night – but otherwise healed)
  • Unexplained fevers (with no other symptoms – thankfully no more)
  • A probable diagnosis of viral meningitis (yikes!)
  • An atrophied left ankle due to faulty cortisone therapy (my ankle is fully healed now)

Eeek, right? No wonder I’m an “expert patient” and can emphathize with my clients – most likely, if you’re struggling with a health issue, I’ve been there too!

The good news is that the story has a happy ending, per se. 

Okey doke. This is all I feel up to writing for today.

To be continued – stay tuned for Part II and beyond! I’ll keep digging deeper and sharing insights, tips, and more details about my healing as I go.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. I have a little bit of a backlog to get back to earlier posts, so please bear with me if you’ve reached out to me already…

Have a delicious day!

August 11, 2009 at 3:01 AM Leave a comment

Slowing Down

Remember those summer days that seemed to last forever when you were a kid? When you’d forget to eat or had not a care in the world because you were having such a great time doing other things? When you’re living your days with abandon and savoring each delicious detail, recreating this type of flow is easy. You’ll feel and be healthier, more positive, and more resilient against the ups and downs of your life.

After a super hectic year, I’ve been having a slow summer and invite you to craft one for yourself as well. Busy? You don’t need a lot of time. When you see a puppy, pet it. When you feel overwhelmed, remember that you are not THAT important – the world will go on without your deadline being met. Savor your favorite cup of tea by tearing your eyes away from the monitor and closing them for a few seconds as you take a sip. These are the details that make up your life.

As a recovering Type A and perfectionist, I am constantly monitoring and countering my natural tendencies to overthink, overwork, and overdo my workaholism (it’s hard when you love your work so much). I know many of you can relate to these tendencies, as super overachievers yourselves.

The past four weeks have produced some of my most successful counter-strategies to date =). Here are some of the ways I chose to get slow this summer. Do any of these inspire you to find your own busy-life-counter-strategies?

  • Checking email only 1-3 times a week.
  • Listening to crickets and petting puppies.
  • Not watching any TV. Definitely not watching the news.
  • Spending tons of quality time with my family and my love, Andy.
  • Watching over 20 hot air balloons pass by literally over my head, at dawn, in the midst of the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. (photo below courtesy of Andy Wickless)
My Mom and Me in Cappadocia

My Mom and Me in Cappadocia

  • Hiking through a pristinely silent valley, once home to several ancient civilizations, munching on a fresh-off-the-branch wild yellow plum. (See photo – courtesy of Andy – thanks, Andy!)
Wild golden plums. A couple made it into my happy tummy!

Wild golden plums. A couple made it into my happy tummy!

  • Taking a much needed break sitting on my bum in the middle of aforementioned hike. (See photo below. That’s me in the red hat. Also by Andy.)
Taking a break in the shade of a makeshift cafe in the middle of nowhere. Gotta love entrepreneurs.

Taking a break in the shade of a makeshift cafe in the middle of nowhere. Gotta love entrepreneurs.

  • Celebrating my brother’s farewell to bachelordom and welcoming an AWESOME new sister-in-law.
  • Taking long showers (much to the chagrin of my father).
  • Eating beautiful, lovingly and simply prepared food, slowly. (Right now: four lusciously ripe figs, with the skins on.)
  • Reconnecting with old friends over tea, walks, and more great food.
  • Meeting new soul-friends and acknowledging this uplifting connection. (“Wow! We just met but I feel like I’ve known you forever!”)
  • Buying another gorgeous Turkish carpet, after 5 hours of Turkish-style bargaining. (I didn’t say ALL slow pleasures were free!)
  • Sifting through family heirlooms and enjoying the honor of wearing my grandmother’s antique ring and watch to my brother’s wedding.
  • Marinating on new business ideas and the age-old question: What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • Being quiet with myself, by myself, for myself.
  • Getting a massage. After the sauna.
  • Reading trivial and monumental books alike.
  • Appreciating history as well as the blip that is our own lifetime.

I admit, it’s easy to slow down on vacation or during the warmer days of summer that seem to lull your body into a slower state. But how about when you get back to real life? As I mull over what shape I want my work to take this coming year, I need to keep reminding myself that my work is but one part, one slice, of my life (I said I was “recovering,” didn’t I?).

A lot of us seem to define ourselves by our work. We use words like “lazy” and “free time” to define the time that we don’t spend working. Isn’t that awful? What woke me up to this tendency in myself was when I found myself writing to-do lists consisting of the items “Brush teeth” and “Eat” when I was too ill to do much else but sleep 20+ hours a day. I felt guilty because I couldn’t DO anything, because I was “useless” and “not productive” and this was my subconscious trying to make it right. It was many months later when I realized I was doing a lot during this time – my body was working hard to heal years of stress and the self-inflicted abuse that workaholism brings, teaching me how to rest, and teaching me how to just be.

Each slice of your life should be defined on its own terms, not by what it isn’t. The way I describe this to my clients is to stop defining your life as “work” and “not-work”, and start identifying distinct slices / buckets / categories of activities that you enjoy doing and want to bring (back?) into your life. Make time for these. Without feeling guilty. Or if you do feel guilty, listen to where this is coming from and see how you can learn from that source. Later, as you wean off of the belief that work defines who you are, your life will flow better and you won’t need such distinct rules to ensure your life is fuller, richer, and deliciously healthier.

As for me, I know I want to learn yoga, take hikes more regularly, take more daytrips around the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, learn how to prepare more Turkish recipes as an homage to my heritage, host the dinner parties I keep promising to friends, and find that elusive new hobby that Andy has been telling me I need. There’s a joke in Turkish about the man who married his mistress and how that left a vacancy. Well, my current work used to be my hobby, my mistress. Now I’m married to my ex-mistress and I need a new mistress!

Suggestions, anyone?

***

© 2009 Delicious Health, Inc.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE?
You may, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

“Simla Somturk Wickless, MBA, CHC, CNE, Founder of Delicious Health, Inc., is an integrative health, nutrition, and lifestyle coach and change agent whose mission is to transform Busy Bodies into healthy Balanced Beings (TM). To learn how to increase your energy, tame your stress, and take back control of your health, register for her free monthly eZine at www.enjoydelicioushealth.com.”

August 3, 2009 at 7:50 AM 3 comments

Making Good on My Mission Statement and the Path to Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2009

When I first created this blog, I stated that part of my mission was to share my own story about healing from multiple autoimmune and other health conditions. Recently, I skimmed through my own blog and realized I hadn’t delivered on that promise. I’ve also received several requests from my followers to please get on it.

This also made me wonder why I haven’t started sharing that part of my story yet. Yeah, yeah, I’ve been busy building my practice and the last 18 months have been truly hectic, blah blah blah. The real reasons?

One reason is… I don’t know where to start. Another reason is that my perfectionist tendency to want to do it just so gets in the way of starting. And given that it’s a very complicated story (as life tends to be), I am not sure how I want to organize it in bits and bytes, as I certainly can’t write it in one sitting. (I hear my coach whispering in my ear: “Just take imperfect action!” I’m working on it, Sandy, oh believe me, I’m working on it.)

And, of course, probably the most important reason is that in writing my story, I will need to relive it. Frankly, I don’t want to. I’ve moved on, but I know my story isn’t really just about me. It’s about something much bigger; something that can help many more autoimmune sufferers (I hate that word), perhaps you, live better, live fuller, and not define themselves and their lives by the restrictions, frustrations, hopelessness, and silent agonies dictated by these types of  illness. I say autoimmune, but I’ve survived several non-autoimmune illnesses that were invisible as well, so those too shall be heralded, dissected, and presented for your benefit. Imperfectly.

I recently stumbled across an initiative called the Invisible (Chronic) Illness Awareness Week that will take place from September 14-20, 2009. I immediately jumped on as a volunteer blogger to help bring much needed attention to invisible illnesses such as autoimmune conditions. I don’t believe in coincidences. The mere fact that I had already named my upcoming Fall autoimmune program launch “From Invisible to Invincible TM: How to Take Back Control of Your Health & Live Well With An Autoimmune Condition” seemed like no mere coincidence. [More info coming soon! Email me at hello(at)enjoydelicioushealth.com for more info if you can’t wait.]

So here I go! My intention is to slowly but surely begin sharing more of my story this month, as August is a more contemplative month for me – being summer and getting slow and all. (Read more here on the importance of Slowing Down.)

I look forward to hearing from you. Please join me, post here, and share your story so that we can all learn from each other, promote more awareness about those that suffer in silence, promote compassion for dis-eases that are invisible and yet very real, and give each other support in a positive, upbeat, fun way. Deal?

August 3, 2009 at 5:35 AM Leave a comment

Simla Somturk Wickless Featured as Patient Testimonial on CPMC’s Health & Healing Clinic Website

It’s LIVE!

It’s funny to see my own picture on someone else’s website, but I’m getting used to it. Back in March 2009, I gave a speech at the CPMC Health & Healing Clinic’s annual fundraiser about my healing story. Click here for the related post.  This post has the video recording as well as the text of my speech.

Now, they have me and my story up on their website’s home page, pictures and all. The photo shoot was so much fun. There are actually two pictures that made it up, and the one with my health “team” with me in the middle is my favorite. It’s a beautiful representation of the type of protective support I had during my healing journey. CLICK HERE to see the website and read the text of the speech.

August 3, 2009 at 4:43 AM Leave a comment


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