Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I am startled. What if magic is not the ability to create an illusion but to solidly change the makeup of black top hats, scarves, and white rabbits? If it could do those things, could it not also change the makeup of myself? Back to being startled, I have never felt better. Ever. Bold, I know. I have never in my life felt congruence between my mental, spiritual and physical health; until now. So what am I doing with all of this positive energy, you ask. I am thinking.

Until a month ago; I saw doctors for 10 years who tried to treat my symptoms as if they were the problem. I was put under many a knife to remove what was causing the annoying symptoms: complete head congestion, immense pressure behind the eyes, etc... The symptoms were caused by the swelling of the lining in my sinuses. Conventional medicine thinks to remove the tissue, so it can no longer swell. Alternative and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) seek to find out why the tissue is swelling. Though, I no longer have any turbinate mucosal tissue left in the sinus cavities, and most of the sinuses are completely eradicated, I believe that whatever was causing the swelling is still present. I am sure that it is manifesting itself in other ways. Ways in which I am not yet sure of. This is very intriguing to me.

I am beginning to think that Empty Nose Syndrome is not really permanent; it is simply my body's new reaction to the same problem I have had for over 10 years. It is only now that new symptoms must present themselves, because the old ways are no longer possible. I am learning to listen to my body, I am having symptoms because there is something deeper that is not congruent. Through TCM I am experiencing resolution. I am seeing immediate results. If I happen to forget my evening supplements I feel the effects in the morning. I am more allergic, irritable, agitated; maybe I am attempting to place blame on something other than a bad nights sleep. Yet I don't really believe that.

This brings up another thought that I have been considering. How much of my belief in this regimen is helping me? I don't think I have ever wanted something to work more than I want this to. I have never wanted to be healthier than I do now. On a cellular level, am I able to manipulate my body into believing it is healthy? Is this the core belief surrounding the placebo effect? This brings us full circle to the early reference of magic. In a society ruled by pharmaceutical sales and doctors trying to keep up with it all; it is my experience that what I am getting out of this is nothing short of magic. My transformation, my health, this is all happening since I changed focus to be proactive as opposed to reactive in regards to my health. I will tell you that if you are suffering from this please do not settle for another diagnosis. Listen to what your body is telling you and seek out the answers. I believe relief is entirely possible and not at a great physical, emotional or financial expense.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I am now on Day 10 of my regimen. I would give myself a 95%. It is harder in some areas and not as hard in others. This system of health maintenance calls for a lot of preplanning. I have realized that I am not very good at this. Though, I am quickly having to learn how to think ahead. Which is probably not a bad thing. The supplements are the easiest. I expected that I would have a bit of a hard time with them. I found that taking pills 5 times a day is not as taxing as I had considered. I will maintain that the diet is the hardest part.

In order to uphold my end of the bargain it is necessary to stay on top of my nutrition. The positives that I am gaining I can pretty much fully attribute to my diet. I find myself waking up naturally at 6:30am every morning. I actually have found delight in waking up this way, which in itself is excellent. I now have enough time to leisurely get ready for work, take the pups out, eat breakfast (something I have not done consistently for years) I am also finding that I am not in a position to be lazy about what I eat. Therefore careful planning goes into what food I will put in my body. I know I am focusing a lot on the food factor; but to me that is the most involved part of this path. There are hard parts and there are moments that I have caught myself bending the rules in the smallest ways. For example, I am not to have vinegar. Vinegar is found in ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressings, most sauces, etc... When I have a Boca burger, or a regular burger I find myself using just a small side of mustard. I don't know if this is really messing things up, but it is hard to eat a bare burger. The specific vegetables that I cannot have, such as lettuce (any leafy green), tomato, onion are the hardest part. I miss these veggies. I do only have 32 days left of this though. I just hope that the overall effect becomes greater and greater.

The most important part though is that I am in much less pain, the drainage has diminished greatly and the swelling is certainly less. I will continue to eat like a severe Atkins freak if I am able to maintain this kind of relief. Even not having alcohol isn't that bad. I have also found ways to eat in restaurants and not look entirely bizarre for my eating habits. I had a pretty large concern that I would lose some serious weight with this plan. I may have lost one or two pounds however, I seem to be balancing right now. This makes me very happy.

This is all I have to report as of now. I see Dr. Leff next week. I am sure I will have some fun acupuncture stories to report. Tata

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Deliberate Compassion

acupuncture delight
acupuncture delight,
originally uploaded by etakadnama.
At the urging of a good friend I made an appointment at a center for alternative medicine. I hoped for answers and relief. I expected, keeping in step with today's conventional medicine, a swift consultation ending with the usual, "Well, I will look this over and give you a call back for an appointment in a few weeks." What I received was absolute attention and deliberate compassion. I want to discuss the tests and the results; but first I think the emphasis should not bypass a doctor who is willing to take time out for a patient. I called yesterday morning to schedule an appointment. I was easily accommodated with an appointment late yesterday afternoon. There was not one point where I felt that I was taking up this doctor’s time. I felt that his full attention was directed at me, his patient. Is this what alternative medicine is about? I understand that the treatment is not mainstream, but I have never worked in unison with a doctor before. I have never wanted to be on the same team as my doctor, until now.

I was called back into the office, and we had a conversation in regards to why I was there; I filled him in on the ENS, as well as the auto-immune issues that I have. We discussed my allergies and talked about my cholesterol levels. The doctor’s technique was a combination of Traditional Chinese Medicine, i.e. 5 element theory, acupuncture, etc... and western medicine as well. I spent 5 weeks in China studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, and have a strong belief in the way parts of the body are connected. Admittedly, I had never applied these thoughts to my life. I am fascinated by this kind of medicine that treats the problem as opposed to fixing the symptoms.

At this point he measured currents going through different parts of my body. This gave him the information he needed to see which systems were working too hard, which ones were okay, and which ones were "burned out". My stomach and small intestine were the systems with the most interest. Not surprisingly, the lung and small intestine are linked as are the sinuses and the stomach. WOW!! It was that simple. Granted, correcting these systems will take a lot of dedication, but for the first time I really feel as if there is something to attain. This was only after the first test.

We then moved to the muscle testing. The whole kinesiology thing really blows my mind; the ability to apply pressure to a muscle and to fight it, or in this case my inability to fight it gave him the answers he needed to find the correct supplements for me to take. He also used this testing for the acupuncture points. I have included a picture of me with needles sticking out of my face. Virtually painless. It was amazing.

Now though, is the tough part. There is a lot of responsibility that I must take in order to treat the problems that all of this testing revealed. My diet has to completely change. I am not to have any of the following: carbs, dairy, any sugars, alcohol, leafy greens, nuts, seafood, fruit. Okay, so all of that hurts, A LOT. Though it is temporary, I think 6-8 weeks. In addition there are a lot of supplements that have been added to my regimen as well. Now only time will tell.

When I first found the forum on Empty Nose Syndrome something inside of me broke. I felt so tired of fighting and the idea of embarking on a life long battle with pain, pressure and infection could not have weighed more heavily on my mind. To believe that all systems are connected, and what caused my sinus problems could potentially be found and fixed has changed my complete outlook of the future. I needed a change of perspective, looks like I got it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Today comes quickly after yesterday's news. Some mornings are easier than others. This was not one of those mornings. I called a friend, and she held my hand from 800 miles away. I spoke to her of ideas and plans that I am making to not become a victim of my nose. I get stuck on the fact that this is permanent. Permanent. I will never be able to regain a complete sense of smell. My favorite foods will remain a tad dull. These things are not devestating; they are just sad to me. I have a tendency to dwell on the negative right now. This needs to change. I need to change.

Though it is this challenge I have chosen to focus on; it is not the lone health issue that I am facing. From my ENT's (ear nose and throat doctor) mouth these words were spoken, "I don't know why you are here worrying about your nose, when you should be worrying about your heart." He continued, "Your nose is not the real concern here, it is your heart."

It is hard to write about one's own shortcomings in a public forum. In a world where people strive to appear perfect, I am yelling that I am not. I am constantly catching myself apologizing for my imperfections, for my humanity. Silly, this not taking care of myself thing. Even now I down play the seriousness. Even now, when it is just I and this keyboard do I minimize my importance. Though this may seem irrelevant I am begging to differ. In today's conventional medicine, great measures are taken to seperate mind from physical health. I am not in control of my body's illnesses. I am to believe these illnesses will manifest themselves no matter what I think or believe; no matter how much negative energy I put into myself, there would be no difference if they instead were positive affirmations I was whispering to my psyche. Why is this the standard?

I am looking for answers. I am also working on not being as apologetic for my existence. I think it is time to cut myself a little slack.


Thursday, July 27, 2006


My history.A timeline if you will:

At 14 I was diagnosed with asthma
At 16 after an exceptionally long hospitalization for my asthma, the subject of sinus surgery was brought up as a way to control my asthma symptoms. That summer I had my first sinus endoscopic surgery, thinking it would be my last (casual foreshadowing)
At 17 I have my 2nd surgery hoping that they would fix what they hadn't been able to the first time.
At 20 I began to understand the deep correlation between my asthma/allergies and sinus problems.
At 22 it was time for me to find a new ENT (otoloryngologist) to perform the next surgery. I was not aware that I should be playing devils advocate and researching long term effects of these procedures. I found a new doctor to perform my third surgery, same procedure.
At 25 I had my fourth sinus surgery. Many things went wrong. The 45 minute procedure turned into a 5 hour ordeal. I lost over 2 litres of blood, my orbital wall was pierced, I had an asthma attack in the recovery room, I had to be intibated and then I coded.

I obviously woke up and got better because I am telling of my journey. Though it is getting harder everyday.

I am now 26. During the last surgery before things took a turn for the worse two stents were placed in my frontal sinuses to assist in the drainage process. One was taken out prematurely by the doctor who preformed the surgery. He decided to keep the other stent in. I ended up leaving that doctor for multiple reasons. When I did leave I took the second stent with me.

I knew that I would have to find a new surgeon. The pain and pressure was and still is overwhelming. I sought out a new surgeon. He seemed very qualified to do the job; though he had a great deal of patients. I felt that given my history I needed specialized attention. I wanted a doctor who would be able to seperate me from the masses. I did not feel as if this was the case.

I decided, with the assistance of my family, that I would look into Mayo Clinic. I had an appointment there today. I received answers, many of which I wish I could erase. I do not want to be discouraged. But it is hard not to be. My doctor told me today that he will not operate on me. There is nothing left to operate on. I have what is called Empty Nose Syndrome. The research is not comforting. I have found a community which people will listen and understand, yet I find them as discouraged, if not more so than I. One man actually posted a suicide note on the site because the ENS(empty nose syndrome) became too miserable to live with. Though he is an extreme, all the messages seem the same: nothing but misery.

I am a fighter, and I would prefer to choose my battles, but it is apparent that this one chose me. I am researching a great deal of alternative methods of healing, but also I am searching for alternatvice causes of this disease. And above all, I am searching for answers.

The Snortal Portal is dedicated to those who suffer from, well, the snortal portal. It is also dedicated to the people who choose to tolerate people like me. Thank you all for visiting. I will be updating my treatments as well as any new findings I feel are important and helpful.

Love and Light,
Amanda Kate