poor sleep

I’ll Sleep When I Am Dead: Connections Between Diet, Sleep, and Health

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My journey into discovering what it means to be well began over 60 years ago, when Coca Cola’s popularity burst on the scene back in the late 60’s early 70’s, when a McDonald’s big Mac could be purchased for 49 cents, and Wonder Bread’s claim to fame was “Helps build strong bodies 12 ways.” Instead of eating a nutritious lunch, we were snookered into believing that bologna, whose first name was Oscar and was sandwiched between two slices of white bread, a Tab soda, and a bag of Charles chips was considered a healthy meal. It was anything but healthy and it left us feeling empty, with grumbling stomachs and an unsteady blood sugar level. I lived on these types of foods for decades as my health declined. I did not learn until I was 44 years old that my poor food choices were not only affecting my health but my capacity to sleep. I never slept. When I cleaned up my diet, sleep improved. Unfortunately, the improvements were short-lived because my thyroid became overactive with onset of Graves’ disease. This too, I largely resolved with diet, supplements, and alternative therapies, as conventional medicine seemed to make me worse and all that was offered were drugs and/or surgery. Although I am not yet recovered, I am much better than I was. This is my story.

Early Childhood: Skinny, Unattractive, and Sickly

As a child, I was very thin and clumsy. Nowadays, I probably would have been considered anorexic. I did not have an appetite due to the postnasal drip running down the back of my throat like a sieve. All I could eat on our weekly trip to McDonald’s was half of a regular size hamburger with no condiments. I remember picking through my food with my fork to dig a hole, hoping somehow the food would fall into the hole and disappear, or wishing the dog was inside so that I could hand off my vegetables to him.

The food I consumed came from what is considered a SAD diet (Standard American diet). It originated from the fast-food industry, had no nutritional value whatsoever, and laid a poor foundation for what I believe was my general unwellness. I was never well as child or young adult. As a result of my poor eating habits, allergies, buck teeth, breathing problems, and fitful sleep were my constant companions. I was labeled skinny, unattractive, and sickly. The Weston A. Price Foundation would have had a field day reviewing my overall health relationships. From inadequate nutrition to underdeveloped and overcrowded dental health which then led to poor physical health. I looked like a raccoon with dark circles under my eyes. I was a mess – (spoken with a thick southern accent.)

My mother did her best by encouraging me, providing what she considered to be a balanced diet, general health, and sleep basics, but over time, my body developed poorly, and I suffered miserable allergies to everything. Allergy shots were the recommendation for all of my environmental conflicts. I was left battered and bruised and they did not even work. Eventually, to combat the allergies, they removed my tonsils. This is a barbaric answer to solving a health issue, just remove the organ. I found out much later that the tonsils are an important part of our immune system.

Young Adulthood: Bone Demineralization and Costochondritis

I managed to make it through high school unscathed except for mononucleosis and skin irritations that could be traced back to a poor diet. College brought about new challenges when it came time to eat. This was solved by the plethora of quick meals that provided little to no vitamins or minerals, and of course, my sleep habits continued to decline.

At age 27, I was diagnosed with costochondritis. This was brought about by a rigorous exercise routine at the gym, in the name of getting healthy. “Let’s Get Physical” was the song that sent everyone running to the clubs to get fit and trim, but my lack of essential nutrients caused extreme damage to my ribs. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I had two relatively healthy children, but then, they received most of the nutrients that were being ingested and I was left with zero. I was eating healthy salads, but I had no clue that my bones were breaking down.

By the time I reached age 39, I could now add osteopenia, depression, sleep deprivation and menopause to my list of infirmities. Nine medications and 75 pounds later, I would also be able to add obesity to my list. It was almost as if this deterioration had catapulted me into a rapid aging process. This makes sense, as Matthew Walker sleep expert, author, and professor at UC Berkley says, ‘the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life’.

Connecting Poor Diet to Poor Sleep and Everything Else In Between

While I was struggling with my own health issues, my son developed his own. At age 12, he confessed to me and my husband that he wasn’t sure he wanted to live anymore. Around the same time, my mother died. This was enough to send anyone over the edge, but my son needed me, so it was time to put my big girl panties on and get answers to why this was happening. I began connecting the dots. We both had depression, allergies or asthma, symptoms of ADD and the “piece-de-resistance” we didn’t sleep! Upon further investigation, I learned that we were both anxious all the time. Could the poor diet and sleep deprivation be behind our illnesses? Turns out they were.

From that point forward, I cleaned up our diet. My husband came home one day to find me chucking all the processed food into the garbage. We began drinking water instead of soda or other flavored drinks and I began to research sleep, nutrition, and energy medicine. This was now my passion. I was determined to not only repair the damage I had caused with the decades long poor diet, but to give my son the gift of healing and create a reason for him to live.

Polypharmacy Induced Vertigo: Enough is Enough

In 2003, I would unlearn everything I thought I knew about wellness. It began with trip to the ER to investigate vertigo. I was sent home with no information as to why I had vertigo other then they could do an MRI if needed. Could the very medications I was taking (9 prescriptions) be behind this malady? My nurse practitioner helped me to slowly detox from the medication I was taking for depression, and this is when I began seeing a nutritionist and using something called magnet therapy. I had read a study on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) that showed promise as a novel antidepressant treatment. It was in 1831 that Michael Faraday discovered that electrical currents can be converted into magnetic fields and vice versa. How fortuitous I was introduced to a company that was utilizing magnets as wellness tools.

The nutritionist performed what is called microscopy. His assessment was dead on. He said, ‘I bet you’re tired all the time’. He also asked if I was on a statin, to which I replied ‘yes, but that I was trying to find a better alternative’. He suggested a liver/gallbladder cleanse and whole food supplements that would support these organs. If it were not for his intervention, I doubt that I would have my gallbladder today. I’m honored and humbled to have known Ted Aloisio and learn about how “Blood Never Lies” his book and his teachings that forever changed the quality of my life.

Thyroid Storm

Another pivotal time for me was September 2017. I wound up in the emergency room. My heart felt like it was about to be launched like a projectile right out of my chest. It was skipping beats too. I had lost a lot of weight with my new focus on nutrition. I thought I was just shedding the old me that was full of emotional discord, bad nutritional habits, and unearthing the real me that was hiding inside. I was in denial. In reality, I had not been feeling well for over a year. My sleep was horrible. I was lucky if I got 5 hours a night and there was a lump on my neck which scared the living hell out of me.

Here, I was a teacher of wellness, and yet was the poster child for being unhealthy. Surprise, surprise you have a problem with your thyroid Ms. Hazelgrove. The official diagnosis was thyrotoxicosis with nodule. My heart was reacting to a hyperactive thyroid, which was being fueled by an autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease. I was immediately put on propranolol for my heart. I asked if it was going to interfere with my sleep and was told that it would not. He lied. I was already having issues the very first night with melatonin production due to the influence of this particular beta-blocker. Beta blockers reduce melatonin release.

I was getting only 2 hours of sleep, so I started Hemp oil two days later. I was not about to go back into the depths of depression because of sleep deprivation. My visit to my primary physician 21 days later was short and sweet. After reviewing my blood lab results and the ultrasound, he had his office manager call me to tell me I was toxic and needed to find an endocrinologists immediately. My T3 was 13, which was extremely high. I agreed to go on methimazole in the meantime so I could look at options, but according to the endocrinologist, I had only the one option. “What am I going to do now?’ I thought to myself. My head was spinning. I knew I had to get away and think. ‘Can’t I just heal it by eating better, sleeping more, and eliminating stress?’

I am truly blessed to have such amazing friends and one in particular had offered to let me stay at her cottage for a weekend. This was about a month into my engorged thyroid, which was now causing me dreadful bouts of diarrhea. I had to wear a diaper on my trip down there, as my bowels were now in charge of my life. I got there and unpacked. This was not an easy task because my body was running “Mach 2 with my Hair on Fire.” Since the thyroid controls metabolism and mine was hyperactive, it felt like I was exercising 24/7. Maintaining energy was a continuous struggle, like a rollercoaster going up and down multiple times a day. I was in the fight or flight mode continuously and my body was in a constant state of catabolism, in order to fuel the persistently heightened metabolism.

Limited Options from Conventional Medicine

My visits with the endocrinologists started out cordial but didn’t end well. I stayed on methimazole for three months, to see if the numbers could be brought down – which they did eventually lower, but the liver enzymes went up and the level 10 pain was unbearable. The only option I was given was nuclear medicine, which meant using radioactive iodine to destroy my thyroid and test the nodule to see if it was cancer. I was told a needle biopsy would not be accurate. I didn’t like the side effects of radioactive iodine and the fact that it increased my chances of breast cancer, which was already an inherited trait in my family. The endocrinologist didn’t want to perform any tests or protocol to see if the nodule was cancerous until these numbers were in a more manageable range and scheduled a second appointment for 5 months later – 5 months!

This was not acceptable to me and so in the meantime, I began researching, and implementing other strategies. I had a friend who owned a wellness center, and I began using sound and infrared sauna therapy. I met with a colleague who recommended a liver cleanse and supplements to help with the healing process. When I had my lab tests done in January, all the numbers looked good, but the liver enzymes were still elevated. I remember the doctor telling me that I shouldn’t stay on the methimazole very long. When I questioned if the medicine had caused the increase in the liver enzymes, she became defensive and said that she didn’t think it was the medicine. Somehow, it was my fault that I didn’t want her to perform a test using radioactive iodine to see if I had cancer, which could inevitably cause cancer down the road.

When I saw her again in February, she asked about the methimazole. I told her that because my liver enzymes were high and so, I had stopped taking it and started taking Iodoral, a high potassium-based iodine supplement. There is much research on this form of treatment. She was not happy. She said that if the nodule was cancer, then it could have now spread to my liver and that could be the reason for the high liver enzymes. She continued to deny that the liver enzymes were elevated because of the methimazole. It was at this point, I mentioned that the nodule had receded. Her response was that nodules just doesn’t disappear. She then grabbed my throat with such force that it hurt. Needless to say, she was fired.

In March, I began seeing a practitioner that specialized in thyroid issues. He recommended running blood tests to see if there were any other autoimmune issues. Sure enough, I also had the Epstein-Barr Virus. I visited another practitioner that did thermographic imaging. The tests did not show any inflammation in the breasts or the thyroid area. March, I went back to my PCP and my blood tests looked good but continued with the propranolol because my heart rate was still elevated. It was also recommended that I keep a close watch on my eyes, so my eye doctor was enlisted to get his perspective on the pressure and strain the Graves’ disease can have on the eyes. In July, I went back to the PCP. He said that I shouldn’t do so much research into nutrition, that knowledge can be dangerous and referenced the Garden of Eden.

Discovering Energy Work

While all of this was going on, I finished my certification for the Emotion Code Technique (link to a reference The Emotion Code | Energy Healing Method | Discover Healing). In August, I started to learn how to meditate and in September started breast milk protocol (Milk Therapy: Unexpected Uses for Human Breast Milk (nih.gov)) to see if I could address a mitochondrial energy reboot and the autoimmune issue. I was gifted about a month’s supply of frozen milk from someone who owned an organic farm. Since breast milk has stem cells and T cells, maybe it could help increase neutrophils and help reverse the autoimmune disease. I read a blog by the medical medium that had talked about pregnancy and thyroid issues. It begged the question, what if my last pregnancy could have been the final straw to being so nutritiously energetically depleted that there was now collateral damage. Interestingly enough, my mom wasn’t able to breast feed me. So maybe this was another missing piece to my poor health.

January 2019, I had to go back on propranolol. I continued with sound and infrared sauna therapy each week. I am forever grateful to my friend who offered this treatment. Some weeks were just hard to rally around with energy to do even the simplest of tasks. Mind you I’m still running my Wellness teaching and coaching business but on a much smaller scale. February through April I concentrated on being a grandmother, you never know how much time we have with family. Easter Sunday, I met with a practitioner to experienced Pranic healing for the first time. This was definitely the icing on the cake as far as energy work is concerned. I went home feeling better that I had felt in years, but this too was short lived. In June, I was able to get away to the beach, which always rejuvenated me. Meditation continued to also give me some peace in between the thyroid revolution I was enduring, and it gave me a chance to learn different approaches to this incredible way to connect to our inner spirit. In September, I began to learn how to incorporate medicinal cooking and more about Ayurveda herbs. In November, my friend closed her wellness center and I had to teach my class at the University of Richmond from a chair again. My daughter came through with some more of her frozen breast milk, which seemed to help somewhat, but again, I would plateau.

Searching For Healing Amid a Pandemic

The pandemic brought us all a year we will never forget. It started with a high note but then April we would all experience dare I say it the new normal. The best thing I can say about 2020 is I continued to search for healing. I figured I had tried all I could to modulate the physical, so now I would elevate the spiritual side of me. We are after all spirit mind and body why not explore how this can facilitate and streamline the healing process? I began to learn all I could about Pranic healing. Each day I would incorporate my spiritual practice of meditation and cleansing of dirty energy. This worked well with my emotion code technique of taking out the trash of old emotional baggage that doesn’t serve us and can even cause illness. I was still teaching my class and now doing online podcast educating others how to create wellness. I began doing a lot of blogging about my journey of healing encouraging others and planting seeds of hope. Being at home gave me the opportunity to also do research and take classes to learn what I could about healing the whole self; a time windfall that otherwise wouldn’t have presented itself if it weren’t for the pandemic.

Discovering Thiamine

In April of this year, the eye doctor noticed an increase in eye pressure, which he wasn’t sure if it was due to the Graves or if it could be glaucoma. When I went back in July and it was still there, I was referred to an eye specialist to investigate further.  I am now seeing more cross-eyed, and it appeared to be worsening. In October, I learned about thiamine – vitamin B1 and began taking 500-1,000 mg a day. Wow, immediately my neck felt cooler, and the headaches I had been suffering from subsided. When I saw the doctor again in November and questioned whether or not the eye problems could be related to a thiamine deficiency, he got agitated and said he was not a nutritionist. He wanted to know if I had been tested to see if I was deficient in the first place. I guess physical improvement is not a sign of progress or healing.

It was around the same time that I also learned about pyrroloquinoline quinone and added that to what I was already taking. This is what I am currently taking: Kenzen Mega Daily 4® , Kenzen Omegagreen  plus DHA®, Kenzen Immunity® (14 medicinal mushrooms), Jade GreenZymes® (Gluten Free barely grass which has SOD/Superoxide dismutase an antioxidant), Kenzen Vital Balance shake®,(® from Nikken), Lithium, Iordoral, Bilberry, Ginkgo Biloba, Resveratrol, L Carnitine, N Acetylcysteine, Siberian ginseng, Boswellia – Frankincense, Vitamin B1, Cal-mag-zinc, D3 & K2, Ubiquinol + Pyrroloquinoline quinone, Astragalus tincture, oil of oregano, tincture, Bugleweed tincture, Sarsaparilla tincture, Artichoke tincture and cod liver oil. I drink a tea everyday with elderberry, Chamomile, fennel, hibiscus, and green tea because of ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate); which inhibits cellular oxidation and prevents free radical damage to cells.

While I am not fully recovered, I am doing much better, in part because of dietary changes that have allowed me to sleep longer, and more soundly which has enabled me to achieve a parasympathetic or healing response. I am hopeful that 2022 will bring to light some interesting answers. I have an appointment with a doctor of Chinese Medicine soon and looking forward to improved health. Stay tuned to find out what happens next on my journey navigating the road less traveled.

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I am a holistic wellness teacher, lifestyle coach, corporate trainer, speaker and energy Practitioner. As an Educator I provide energetic solutions to restore and streamline the healing process. My interest in wellness started 18 years ago when looking for tools to achieve better sleep I was introduced to energy medicine. My research eventually led me to procure a teaching position where fortuitously I was able to share how to achieve a balanced approach to sleep.

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