One of the major lessons I have learnt in this process of fixing myself is to be wary of the story you tell yourself about yourself.
I’m thinking about health in particular, but it probably applies more generally too. Because you (and everyone around you) end up labelling yourself, putting everything down to what the doctors have said, you’re not open to alternative ways of interpreting your experiences. Be cautious. Question, double question, and notice.
Looking back over my life, I can now connect all the little physical problems and put them in a new context. With the insights I’ve had in recent years, I can untangle my many problems, separating the complex knot so I can see more clearly where the threads come from.
Turns out it’s mainly just one thread, because what I’m left with is a unified theory that explains everything, from heavy ballet legs to ‘puppy fat’ to migraines to dislocated ankle to “inner ear virus” to ‘MS’ symptoms.
So what did happen to me?
It all comes down to a blocked lymphatic system* due to fungal overgrowth within my pelvis and abdomen.
Where I’ve had problems maps so perfectly onto the anatomy of the lymphatic system. Things I’ve done to attack fungus, as well as things that help fungus proliferate (sugar, heat, and hormones), make a massive difference. Working very hard to clear the system has made [is making – not quite fixed yet!] the problems go away.
Be kind rewind
I think the fungal overgrowth started in puberty, which for me kicked in rather early: I was only 9 years old when I began gaining that ‘puppy fat’ (lymphedema?), 10 when my PE teacher suggested I start wearing a bra, and 11 when menstruation started. Before that I’d been an active kid, from what I remember. Dancing was my thing.
My periods were heavy and painful for the first few years, including lots of heavy dragging aches in the groin area and inner thigh. I was chunky, with very inelegant legs in ballet (which I’d been doing since I was a toddler) and cross country running (aka torture). My thighs were so fat they bled when they rubbed together in the summer. My poor legs just had no liveliness any more.
(I think maybe fungus-carrying lymph started collecting in my neck at that age too. Taking my cycling proficiency test when I was 11, I was unable to move my head because of a mysterious stiff neck I’d woken up with one morning.)
Then one summer when I was 14 or 15, all that weight just disappeared. It’s like the fungus became sort of dormant for some reason. Then for several years, I was free! No major problems until I dislocated my ankle when I was 23, caused by (I now think) those weak inner thighs and squidgy ligaments at the ankle joint.
After that, well, just a catalogue of troubles: I was walking shakily, then there was the MS diagnosis, around this time I started on the mini pill (and that fungus in me loves female hormones!), then there was the “inner ear virus” (lymph had already started re-routing into my back, shoulders, neck and head), then I began taking Avonex, which just compounded everything.
A body of two halves?
After stripping off all those old layers of paper, I’ve discovered two main cracks, two epicentres that were the root of problems as my body struggled to compensate for the damage. But dividing myself into top and bottom isn’t so simple.
There are the significant troubles in my upper-body – blocked head, stiff neck, disrupted vision, compacted spine, grinding hunched shoulders, weak arms and hands, coldness, yadder, yadder… These were all a result of the re-routing of lymph due to a fungal blockage somewhere in the middle of me. In the past 6 months, since I unblocked it, it’s all been slowly draining away like dirty dishwater after the sludge in the plughole has been cleared.
It’s this discovery that seems to be so unusual, and surely of wider importance. I can’t find anything online about it. It’s only as it drains that I’m realising which problems have been caused by (fungus-containing) accumulated lymph in the back, spine, shoulders, neck and head.
I’m sure my spinal cord has been affected, along with cranial nerves, and probably even my brain. So what wasn’t a neurological problem did give me neurological symptoms. Stiffness in my neck/upper spine affects the use of my arms and hands, making writing (or any kind of hand-based activity) difficult. It’s so frustrating! My vision can go really bright and grainy, depending on how I’ve been holding my head. It undoubtedly impacts on my ability to walk (you should see me trying to walk back to my room after I’ve been preparing dinner and having my head down and forward for half an hour!).
Then there have also been the waist-down problems: a gunged-up pelvic cavity that stopped peripheral nerves working and blocked the lymph channels so waste couldn’t drain from the legs. And so much gunk in the pelvis also affects the upper body as fungus-laden lymph is transported right up to the collarbone before it gets deposited into the blood for disposal. I have spent a lot of time and effort clearing this.
And of course what else is down there at the bottom of you in the pelvic bowl? Bladder, urethra, rectum, uterus, vagina, pelvic floor. All this sensitive and intimate stuff that’s gone wrong and made my life hell.
Where did it come from?
I think this was passed on to me from my mum. She suffers from movement troubles particularly, and they’re just too similar to what I’ve had. However, no-one’s ever recognised, suggested or tested for invasive fungal overgrowth nor blocked lymph, so like me her disability’s just got imperceptibly worse and worse, new problems heaped on top of old ones and nothing looked at holistically. If I hadn’t realised what was wrong and worked so hard to fix it, I believe I’d have ended up like her. So I guess I should be grateful for…
How could a simple trip in the street have caused such a collapse in my physical health? Everything must have been so delicately balanced.
It was that exact moment that set me going in a different direction and led me to this path of revolution and discovery. It was just a stupid fall on the pavement, but it disproportionately shook me up. I started walking very hesitantly, I became a highly strung, tearful and anxious wreck (it was bizarre, a total before and after personality change).
The physical damage was nothing at first but grew over the years, only now getting better. A big seam of weakness and searing pain (fungus/accumulated lymph?) in my left hip is being one of the last things to heal.
The fall was also the beginning of damage to my needing to wee reflex. It slowly got worse; it’s slowly getting better. I can’t wait till this is fixed (not long, I hope, though I’m still battling the fungus).
So falling on my face (literally) turned out to be the catalyst that tipped my life upside down, the spark that set off the chain of events that led me to where I am now. And so we come full circle in the story.
NEXT: Moving on
*The lymphatic system is a widespread network of really fine vessels that transport the lymph fluid. Lymph fluid carries waste from your cells and other nasties that aren’t good for the body – bacteria and viruses and the like. It’s a part of your immune system. Your in-built waste disposal mechanism and a constantly flowing stream, redistributing fluid around the body. Lymph is drawn up in the channels from your lower body, through filtering lymph nodes in the pelvis, in a kind of upside-down Y shape. All vessels, carrying lymph from the legs and including lymph from the digestive system that’s picked up fat, flow into a chamber just under your diaphragm, where just one vessel – the thoracic duct – takes it up through the chest to meet the left subclavian vein underneath your collarbone. Here, the waste (and nutritious fat) is deposited into the bloodstream for processing. Lymph from your upper body on the right side feeds into the right subclavian vein.