Self-Care & Lifestyle Blog Post
How I’m Healing With Long-Haul Symptoms
It’s December 23, 2021, I’m sitting across the table from my husband and we take a bite of a delicious chocolate mousse. At the exact same moment, we look at each other with a cocked head and say…”Can you taste this?”
The answer was no. Check-please! We bee-lined it out of the restaurant and straight home to take a test and sure enough it was positive.
Over the course of the next few days, there were certainly a couple rough patches, but I had a plan to call my PCP if/when I was to test positive. Thank god she was on stand-by and was able to call in prescriptions for me. Within a few days I was feeling better – luckily.
What I wasn’t prepared for were the following weeks that ensued.
About 6 weeks after testing negative, I started experiencing very similar symptoms to what I had experienced when I had an active acute infection.
These were moments of panic, anxiety, and the only way I can explain it is like someone sitting on my chest when I’m trying to take a breath. It was very difficult to take a nice deep breath and feel like I was actually breathing and getting oxygen into my body.
If you’ve ever experienced this – it is s c a r y.
Intellectually, I knew what was happening from a biological standpoint. My body was in a horrible negative feedback loop that continued to increase my stress, anxiety and panic.
I kept thinking and saying to myself… “This is not right.. I’m not supposed to feel this way and I knew I needed to do something about it fast!”
After trying to get a hold of multiple providers and experiencing frustration because they were booked days, weeks and sometimes months in advance, I made the call to urgent care via tele-med visit and was able to be put on a prescription of prednisone for about 6-days.
This helped but didn’t completely clear up all of my symptoms. I knew my body needed more healing and so my journey continued.
What I’ve learned through this experience is that you have to be your own advocate and when traditional treatments don’t work, it’s time to think and act out of the box.
If you know someone or you’re experiencing Long Haul symptoms yourself, today’s blog is meant to inspire, encourage and empower you.
Please share this with a friend, colleague or family member. I hope by sharing my health journey and what’s working for me right now will help others.
In today’s blog, you’ll learn the top 6 things I’m focused on each day to get well.
I’m going to share the food, supplements and treatments including Hyperbaric O2 therapy that are working for me as well as other modalities I’m incorporating into my health journey.
The great thing is, these types of healing modalities don’t just work on Long Haulers, you can use them for all types of a chronic illness like cancer, diabetes, auto-immune etc…
One other note…there is no one size fits all approach for anyone. This is an “Elyse Wagner Prescription” for me. You’ll have your own and by no means is this email or blog meant to suggest or tell you what you need to be doing.
It is merely meant to inspire and share with you that there are multiple ways you can heal yourself along the journey. Please consult with your practitioner or physician on a plan for you.
In the meantime, get inspired here and remember, there’s no right or wrong healing journey – there’s only your healing journey!
The major goal for me right now is to reduce inflammation in as many ways as possible. From my food, stress, movement, and overall lifestyle.
Here’s what I’m focused on right now:
With my background in nutrition, I knew the first thing I had to do was clean up anything lingering that was causing inflammation in my body. Here’s what I did:
- Gluten free (this was simple as I’m already gluten free)
- Dairy free
- Sugar free
- Egg free – I’m highly sensitive to eggs and chicken so this needed to be out of my eating lifestyle.
- No alcohol – not even a drop or sip.
- No caffeine – huge bummer but I’m able to have one cup of coffee and the rest of the day herbal tea.
- Organic fruits/veggies
- Pasture-raised meats
- Tons of veggies and antioxidant rich foods
- Lots of smoothies
I believe in taking supplements to do just that, supplement what you’re already doing so this will change once I get back to baseline.
If you’re going to take supplements – make sure you’re taking high-quality supplements and purchase them in the correct forms so they’re more bio-available for your body. Check with your provider and/or nutritionist to support you in finding the most bioavailable forms for you.
I also encourage you to purchase your supplements from a reputable third-party that tests their supplements to make sure you’re getting exactly what is in the bottle.
Here’s my supplement line-up list that I take multiple times a day in an effort to reduce my inflammation in my body.
- Glutathione – Research suggests that supplementation with GlyNAC, a combination of glutathione precursors previously shown to reduce oxidative stress and oxidant damage and increase glutathione as well as improve health indicators such as inflammation, might be beneficial to COVID-19 patients.
- Liposomal Vitamin C
- Fish Oil – Make sure to purchase high-quality fish oil. You can do this by looking at the label on the bottle.
- Make sure the fish oil you’re choosing contains fish oil. You’ll want to look for EPA & DHA.
- Identify how much fish oil is in each capsule. This will also be on the nutrient facts label.
- The best form of fish oil is in the Free Fatty Acid (FFA). Make sure the fish oil you purchase has this form of fish oil vs. Ethyl Esters (EE).
- Check the expiration date as fish oil can go rancid.
- Curcumin – Curcumin has shown beneficial effects on the progression of inflammatory diseases due to its numerous action mechanisms: antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, antiplatelet, and cytoprotective. These and many other effects of curcumin make it a promising target in the adjuvant treatment of COVID as It is a well tolerated and natural compound. A recent study in Frontiers suggests curcumin as a potential treatment to COVID-19.
MEDITATION & GUIDED IMAGERY
Meditation and look different for everyone. For me it means listening to a guided meditation every morning and evening.
It also means keeping relaxing with calming megahertz music on. Results of a clinical study showed that music at both 432 Hz and 440 Hz significantly reduced clinical anxiety levels.
You can give a listen here. I encourage you to have it on in the background morning, noon and night. It creates a wonderful calming space.
Reading and using guided imagery (will be sharing more about this in another blog soon) before bed has been beyond helpful and soothing.
Before getting my labs, I had this intuitive hit and it went something like this… “I need oxygen.” No joke, meditating one day, I heard this voice say you need oxygen so I connected with my PCP and she agreed it would be great to find a hyperbaric chamber near me.
To date, I’ve had 3 sessions and have been able to measure my O2 Saturation which you can do with a pulse Ox monitor, and my oxygen perfusion.
Think of your Oxygen perfusion rate like a neighbor outside of your door knocking to get inside. If you open the door (think of the muscles and tissues as the door) then O2 AKA your neighbor can come on in. But, if you’re inflamed and muscles or tissues won’t let you come in, your Oxygen perfusion rate drops.
My perfusion rate at first was .02 my very first time going into the chamber. Normal or where we want it to be is 1. After my first 75 minute O2 chamber therapy, it bumped up to .12.
My second therapy was 4 days later and my 02 perfusion had stayed at .12 and afterwards had jumped to .41 which is a 35% increase.
After each therapy, my muscles feel a little tired and weak but think of it like a workout for your mitochondria. More to come on this but so far so good!
After researching a bit more on Hyperbaric for Long Haul, I came across this recent Pubmed study, Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of long COVID is showing to be a highly promising intervention.
If you’re new to Hyperbaric O2, check it out as I take you on a mini tour during my experience.
After searching high and low to see what labs could offer me more insight than the typical cytokine or inflammatory markers, I was introduced to Dr. Bruce Patterson, MD out of Stanford who is a virologist turned entrepreneur. He founded InCellDx Labs and has been spending the last two years researching this novel virus and the long-term effects it has on the body. I believe he has cracked the code for Long Haulers and what is actually happening on the body.
I had the pleasure of meeting him via zoom and he is beyond committed to this work. He has been able to create a lab panel that tests 14 inflammatory cytokine markers in the blood.
When you receive your results you get a Longhaul Index Number telling you how inflamed your body is. From there you can work with your PCP or providing practitioner to come up with a precise plan to target the inflammation and reduce it in your body.
The labs are pricey and not covered by insurance, but it is a complete panel and gives you a good idea at where you need to focus so that you don’t have to keep spinning your wheels with prescriptions or protocols that aren’t working for you. This is precision medicine.
Having this information to come up with a specific protocol has been a lifesaver and is cutting down my recovery time.
Gathering support around you is vital as you’re going through any sort of disease or illness state. If you have the support of your friends or family that’s wonderful.
If you’re looking for support, the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy can help with finding a Functional Medicine Health Coach who can support you on your health journey and meet you where you’re at.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What question do you have, insight or comment. Please share below in the comments.
Remember, you are your own best health advocate! Keep moving forward and searching for answers to help you feel the most whole and well.