Warning: pictures of gross rashes in this post.
In December of 2009, I came dangerously close to Death’s door. A mix of poor health habits, stress, and even a dose of soul loss (aka, broken heart) created a perfect storm in my body. I broke out all over in itchy oozing rashes that eventually became seriously infected. It was an absolute nightmare.
The rashes themselves actually first appeared in the summer of 2008. At first I thought I had chiggers or something. I had little itchy blisters on my legs and feet. Most of them cleared up in about 6 weeks, but there was one on my wrist that didn’t fully heal for months.
The following summer in 2009, the blisters came back. Most of them healed up again but there were a few on my right leg that just weren’t healing and started to appear infected. My mom was getting concerned and so we went to a doctor (GASP! We almost never went to the doctor because we never needed to) and the doctor had no idea what it was. She just prescribed me a round of antibiotics and sent me on my way.
The rashes began to clear up after taking the antibiotics and I knew it was time to get healthy. I started taking vitamins and tried to eat healthier foods.
But it was too little too late.
A month or so later the rashes came back… with a VENGEANCE. It was Thanksgiving and my fiance had flown in and it only took a few days before my body started breaking down. I started breaking out all over. The only parts of my body spared were the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet. I itched everywhere, constantly. Sticky yellow pus oozed out from my sores and my clothes would stick to me because of it. I wasn’t sleeping because I itched. I was going crazy. And then my right leg and foot began to swell up.
Believe it or not, these are the “nice” pictures… the others are too gross to share:
The idea of a systemic candida infection came up and that’s when I embarrassingly admited that I’d been dealing with a vaginal yeast infection… for three years. THREE YEARS, you guys. I let that go untreated for three years. Talk about being disconnected from your body!!! I’d had yeast infections two times before and each cleared up with a round of those over the counter suppository treatments. When it eventually came back the third time, I thought, What’s the use? I knew the medication was merely masking a symptom and not treating the root cause. But I was so bodily unaware and numb that I didn’t even try to diagnose the underlying cause, not by myself or a medical professional. I think in some ways I was so obsessed with all things spiritual, etc., that I just completely lost touch with my body and it’s needs.
I don’t know what to think about the whole candida thing anymore and kinda don’t even care. But to continue my story, I exhibited most of the symptoms that had been associated with an overgrowth of the candida bacteria. We figured I had a systemic case of it. And at least back then, one of the biggest treatments for this was a no-carb, sugar-free diet. Candida thrives on sugars and so you basically starve out the bacteria by avoiding all types of sugar. Going carb-free is a pretty sucky diet all the way around (looking at you Adkins people…) but it’s absolute hell for people like me who hated vegetables and lived on a massive diet of wheat. Making such a drastic diet change was incredibly difficult because I hated vegetables and even almost threw up eating a piece of raw carrot (the idea of hating vegetables is now so foreign to me). Because my diet choices were suddenly so limited and I struggled to eat the allowed foods, I didn’t eat nearly enough and rapidly lost weight.
A ridiculous video of me attempting to play a Christmas carol. My lips were covered in blisters so it was hard to sing and laugh. You can see just how skinny I was:
Since it was obvious the antibiotics didn’t actually help the first time and made things worse in the long run, I wasn’t so keen on taking them again. I tried all sorts of so-called natural antibiotics, and maybe they helped some but it simply wasn’t enough. Once my leg swelled up, it was getting pretty serious. I was sick and exhausted and my family was arguing about what needed to happen and I finally moaned out, “I WANT DRUUUUUGGGSSSS.” We went to see a doctor who was a friend of ours and he diagnosed me with Impetigo (and I think Staph? I don’t remember) and prescribed two weeks worth of two different antibiotics. I was under no delusion these drugs would completely cure me but I knew something needed to curb this infection fast. I also started ignoring my diet protocol because I was starving. I began to improve but made sure to keep up with all the other natural remedies to support my immune system and hopefully recolonize my gut with good bacteria. I also slowly began to eat vegetables as much as I could tolerate.
It’s hard to really describe what I was going through. I can tell you the symptoms and show you pictures, but I can’t fully explain just how dark I felt inside. A couple nights there when it was really bad I felt I was dying, and I almost didn’t care. I was in so much pain. It was so utterly overwhelming that I was close to welcoming death just to escape the pain. Looking back now, I think I actually was close to death. That infection was serious and I definitely heard the voice of Death calling out for me. I finally made the right call on getting antibiotics just in time.
Truthfully, I’m having an overwhelming time writing this post. It’s been a long time since I’ve really revisited this whole experience. I’ve become so much more in tune with myself and with my body in the last two years and I’ve cleared out so much junk, that right now I look back at this experience and suddenly have space to feel myself again. For those of you who have experienced trauma, you know how you disassociate from those parts of yourself because the trauma is simply too much to bear in the moment. I was experiencing so much pain on so many levels that in some ways I became numb to it. I feel so bad for that 20 year old who did not experience that point of stillness in the storm that has become so common to me now. She didn’t have that. She had yet to find that solace deep within her, to center and ground herself into- she just disassociated instead. And right now I’m having to feel this pain all over again, to feel what she could not quite let herself feel because it was too much… and I now welcome it with open arms. I now feel it to heal it. It’s not so much the pain I’m feeling, but reconnecting with that lost part of me. And I can now do this with courage and grace because I know it’s not the end. I know I survive. I know that my body is safe and it’s doing everything it can to keep ME safe and alive. I never appreciated my body back then, but I see now how hard my body fought for health and I’m so thankful that my life force kept surging ahead when my body was under assault and I was going out of my mind. God, the Creator, the creative life force, was still able to flow in me despite being so terribly constricted, and I can’t be anything but thankful and stand in awe of life itself. Going over all this again is truly healing for my soul, I am crying with relief.
And so, to continue the story…
My best friend/sister in law was getting married and I was in her wedding. I recovered enough to make it up to Maine for her wedding and spend the Christmas holiday with my fiance and soon to be in-laws. After being in a long distance relationship and having so many bad feelings about going back home, I decided to stay in Maine with my fiance to heal. I was a wreck. I basically cut and ran from my life in Virginia that had become unbearably stressful. I was so exhausted, I needed rest.
I wrote the following song one evening, the first song I composed in Maine:
The antibiotics cleared up the infection and the rahses on my face and torso, but I still had rashes on my arms and legs that wouldn’t go away. They continued with little improvement for almost three months.
During that time I finally learned to eat and enjoy many different vegetables and eventually went back to the carb-free diet. I noticed that when I ate too many carbs (one too many bites of potatoes, for example) my rashes would start itching terribly, so I avoided carbs as much as possible. Finally after about three months I realized that my yeast infection had cleared, my headaches had stopped, and various other symptoms had vanished. We decided I could slowly start reintroducing carbs.
At this time I went to Texas to visit my brother and experienced a sudden flush of good health. I suspect it was the warm weather and finally moving around (I had restricted my movement because too much would cause my rashes to start itching like crazy… probably had something to do with circulation). I walked around an outdoor track and was astonished to discover how much energy I had. I had dealt with chronic low energy for years, and now I wasn’t tired at all. I had a ferocious appetite and started stuffing myself with a wide range of healthy foods, including LOTS of carbs… and no bad effects! Best of all, my rashes actually started to clear up!
Suddenly, I was high on life. My body felt like it had been released from years of oppression and I felt amazing. I could go on long walks and not feel tired but energized instead. I thought, Hallelujah, I’m completely cured! I’m healed!
I only wish it could have been that simple.
I got married a few months later and officially moved to Maine. In the last 9 years I’ve had many ups and downs. I’ve never dealt with anything serious again like my systemic outbreak, but I’ve dealt with recurring rashes and a whole host of obnoxious and restricting health issues over the years. I currently have a minor rash on my left hand thats been here a few months. Sometimes I find myself complaining about it but remember that it used to be far worse!
In a desperate attempt to find deeper healing, I have studied and tried out all sorts of different “alternative” treatments. And here is where my health and spiritual journeys begin to merge…
Tomorrow I will share about the beginnings of my “awakening”.