Undoing Decades of Damage
It was just about a year ago that I held a teary conversation with my husband. I was feeling so tired, all the time, and I felt like there must be something I could do about it.
Back in 2004, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Once I got better control over my blood sugar through diet and exercise, I felt better. Not great, but better.
Then, in 2015, my blood pressure went through the roof. I had always enjoyed low blood pressure — in fact, I used to joke that the only time it was high enough to be normal was when I was pregnant. Suddenly it was terrifyingly high, the result of months of a high-stress job and being parked behind a desk for way too many hours every week.
I felt rotten all the time. I never felt rested, I never had any energy, I simply dragged through each day. And I was sick of it.
I learned about functional medicine online, so I looked for a functional medicine doctor. Fortunately, I found Originals Functional Medicine and Dr. Matteoli.
My husband agreed (fortunately!) that if her program worked, I’d probably save more in blood pressure and other prescriptions over the years than I would spend on the program, so I swallowed hard and signed up for the 6-month plan.
I loved that my visits were relaxed, and that Dr. Matteoli devoted her full attention to me when I was there. Other staff members were friendly and encouraging, and all of them have been consistently helpful and supportive.
The program was really hard at the beginning. I remember looking at the list of no-no foods and thinking, “what is there left that I can eat?” It required completely changing our shopping, cooking, and eating habits. And I had thought I was eating a healthy diet before!!!
By the end of the first three weeks, I was grouchy. And that’s putting it nicely!
But I persevered, and a funny thing happened during the second month. . . I started to feel a little better. Then a lot better.
Over the next couple months, I regained energy levels I had forgotten I had lost, I was sleeping better, and I was more active without even thinking about it.
At the end of four months, I saw lots of family I hadn’t seen in quite a while, and they all remarked on how different I looked. It wasn’t just the weight loss (about 25 pounds at that point), but my carriage, my demeanor, everything. I looked happy for the first time in years.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. There were a few times along the way when I didn’t feel as good, for various reasons. But the results have been measurable and so worth it.
By the end of six months, all my labs except cholesterol (which runs high in my family) were well within normal range. Since my HDL and triglycerides were excellent, no worries there. My diabetes is gone, blood pressure is normal, and inflammation is normal (down from an initial 6.2, which is off-the-charts high).
Best of all, I feel better than I have in over 20 years. And the number of prescriptions I’m taking? Zero.
Did I mention that I’m 64 years old?
I miss some of the foods that cause me inflammation, but not so much that I’m willing to overindulge and go back to feeling rotten. (And I’m doing well enough now that I can allow for an occasional splurge.)
Dr. Matteoli and everyone in her office have been nothing but encouraging, supportive, and understanding, even when I whined and complained (which I did a lot of in the beginning).
Everyone’s health challenges are different, and everyone will have a different journey. Mine was to undo many years worth of damage caused by a less than optimal diet, high stress, and chronic sleep deprivation. I’ve come a long way, and I still have more work to do.
Fortunately, I have Dr. Matteoli to help me with that, and it’s easier to face when I’m feeling so good already.
Susanna Perkins, age 64