It was in 1997 when I was 27-years-old that my health first started to decline. I was an upbeat, energetic, extreme athlete up to that point in time. It wasn’t until a falling-out with my father which caused so much stress in my life that my health began to decline.
It started out with headaches and moved on to depression. I became debilitated, so much so, that I could not even make a trip to the grocery store, it was too overwhelming. I tried to muster up enough energy just to go into work and make it back home. This was during my pre-healthcare days; I did not know anything about health. I was eating McDonalds 2 to 3 times per day and would order the fish sandwich when I felt like eating “healthy”. I saw specialist after specialist for my headaches, brain fog, fatigue, and my depression. I spent tens of thousands of dollars seeking help. No one could help me.
I met a chiropractor, Dr. Robert Norett, as I was seeking help with some shoulder pain. He was the first person to teach me about health. I was inspired by his knowledge and was led to pursue a higher education at a chiropractic college. Chiropractic school was a struggle; I still battled headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and depression. I intended to practice as a traditional chiropractor and apply some nutrition and nutritional education with my patients. As I got into practice, I began to realize the need my patients had for nutrition was much greater than I had anticipated. My office began to fill with patients that could not find help in the traditional medical world, to the point I did not have the time to see my traditional chiropractic patients anymore.
The education I got in chiropractic school, and the seminars I had attended, was not enough to meet the needs of the chronically ill patients I was seeing. This led me to further my education in nutrition. Along the way in my pursuit to further my knowledge I met Dr. Datis Kharrazian. After hearing him speak for the first time I knew this was the man I wanted to mentor me. He was a busy doctor and did not have time to take me on as an understudy; this was not acceptable to me as he had knowledge I wanted to gain.
Due to my headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and depression, it was difficult to learn new information. I had to limit the number of patients I saw in a day because by noon my brain was spent. At one of the seminars I attended by Dr. Kharrazian he called me up so he could demonstrate a neurological examine. After the demonstration, he grabbed me and said, “I want to see you in my office next week”.
After a thorough exam and blood workup, Dr. Kharrazian discovered that I had autoimmunity, a gluten intolerance, and intestinal permeability. Dr. Kharrazian gave me some recommendations that changed my life. My headaches diminished, the brain fog dissipated, and the depression faded away. I could now focus more and learn new information at a faster rate and retain the information. I began following Dr. Kharrazian all over the country and learned from his every word. I followed him around so much he was either going to get a restraining order on me or he was going to bring me onboard. In 2007, he asked me to teach his seminars.
Now, with the knowledge that I have autoimmunity and a propensity for intestinal permeability, slowly, over many years, I would gain my health back. But what does that really mean? That means, I must carefully manage my health to maintain my heath. I did not suddenly get to some magical place that I no longer had to be careful with what I do. Working too many hours, stress, not eating right, lack of sleep, sickness, emotions, chemicals in my environment, and not keeping up with my supplements all impacted my ability to maintain good health.
Recently, I moved my office to Simi Valley from Woodland Hills to lessen my commute. I made this choice because it gives me a better quality of life and a better quality of life equals better health. The office buildout and move caused an increase of stress in my life. I began to sleep worse, due to lack of time I did not eat as well- even my supplements fell to the wayside. So, what happened? I flared up my autoimmunity. I began to have brain fog, I broke out in rashes all over my body, I developed severe bloating, gained 15 pounds and I was sick almost the entire month of January. See, it happens to me too.
It happens to all of us, sometimes life just gets to us and we get off track. So, what am I doing about it? I am now on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet as well as taking supplements to heal and dampen inflammation in my digestive tract. I am also on supplements to regulate my immune system. It’s been a week that I have been back on track and my bloating is gone, I have lost 6 pounds (inflammation weight), I’m sleeping better, I am thinking clearer and I have a lot more energy.
Autoimmunity is something we have for a lifetime. It’s not something we get over. It takes good decisions and careful management to maintain a healthy life with autoimmunity. Flare ups and derailment are a part of our life. The goal is to reduce the intensity of flare ups and lengthen the duration between them, while shortening the time in them. Derailments are going to happen, they just are. The important thing is getting back on track as soon as possible.
Mark Flannery, D.C., M.S., B.S.
Fellow of the American Association of Integrative Medicine
Diplomate of the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition
Diplomate of the College of Clinical Nutrition
Scientific Speaker, Apex Energetics
Certified Nutrition Specialist