Day 1: Elimination…of Fun and Evil

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I don’t really know what to expect when I go to see Doc for the first time. Although I’d been floating the idea around since a friend told me about him nine months earlier, I didn’t take action until I ended up with horrible back spasms on Christmas morning. (I won’t go into all the details as I catch you up on the first 12 weeks of going to Doc in these next six-or-so posts but, once we’re all caught up, I’ll fill in a lot of the blanks.)

Doc is trained in chiropractic medicine, applied kinesiology and nutrition. Because this treats the whole person — not just symptoms or individual organs — he has a more holistic view of body, mind and spirit, too, so working with him also includes some talk therapy. With Doc, he’ll look at pretty much everything that could impact why your body is responding to what you do in a negative way — what you eat and what you breathe and what you take and how you digest and a hundred other things.

For these reasons, in the weeks leading up to the appointment, I fill out a very long questionnaire that has many similar questions to typical patient-intake surveys, but some are new to me, like “Please list your ‘goals’ for treatment (immediate and future) and if you are also concerned with optimizing your overall health and wellbeing,” “What do you usually eat for lunch?” and “Do you have nightmares?”

I have no idea what to wear to the first appointment — I haven’t been to a chiropractor in 30 years. I didn’t have to worry: By the time I go to him, my spasms had resolved and the continued bit of back pain was less of an issue than other things he’d read about in my questionnaire which, he said, he’d read with interest.

A bit of background: I developed alopecia areata (patchy hair loss), an autoimmune condition, within 24 hours of a car accident in 1997. In the years since, it progressed through alopecia totalis (total loss of hair on the head) and alopecia universalis (loss of all hair, head and body). Now, I have maybe a couple hundred hairs on my head in a pattern known as alopecia ophiasis, all white as snow (technically, they supposedly lack any pigment and the ‘white’ is light reflecting off of it, or so I’ve read). A range of doctors have seen me since but, prior to Doc, the only one that ever tested me for anything was the first dermatologist I went to 20 years ago when it developed. She did a blood test and told me that I had borderline lupus but that there was nothing to do, really, at that time. I took it upon myself to slow my insane work schedule down, prioritize sleep and start running (none of which cured me but possibly slowed the hair loss at the time). At that point, I still had most of my hair so I could cover it up decently enough. As the years went on, though, it got progressively worse and no doctor, not one, ever tried anything — no tests for food sensitivities, allergies, nutritional deficiencies, lyme disease, metal toxicity, hormone imbalances, glandular issues…nothing.

My first appointment with Doc is an hour. We talk about the car accident, my life leading up to it, my state of mind at the time — he feels pretty certain that it wasn’t simply coincidence that the alopecia kicked in immediately after the accident and he wants to explore that. He also asks about the extent of antibiotic use in my life (only a couple of times in adulthood, but his question reminds me that I was on them extensively as an adolescent and I tell him). He goes over a few more things, like why I gave up gluten a year earlier (more on that in another post). Then, he gets to work.

I will save for another post the ins-and-outs of the testing but suffice it to say that I can understand why people would feel skeptical of the methods. I, however, decide that I will be totally open-minded to all of this. He is, after all, the first doctor in 20 years that’s willing to try anything so, as I tell him, if he’s game, so am I.

When I entered his office, I thought I was generally healthy: I had an autoimmune issue, some low-back pain, some joint pain (nothing debilitating and it comes and goes). I’m increasingly and quickly seeing my age in my face and feeling it in my body, too, I tell him, but otherwise, I think I’m doing pretty well.

He, however, has other ideas. After testing me, Doc lets me know that my digestion is a mess; I have leaky gut syndrome; my spleen, pancreas and gallbladder aren’t well; my vagus nerve isn’t functioning properly (I didn’t even know I had one); and I have a severe candida overgrowth in my gut. He also thinks that I have some emotional trauma around the accident that isn’t resolved and we are going to work on that, too.

With that, for the next several weeks I will be on a strict elimination diet. No sugar, no yeast, no gluten; no fermented foods, no soy, no nightshades; no dairy, no caffeine, no coffee of any kind including decaf; no eggs; no booze. No life.

All I have to look forward to are animal proteins (organic and grass-fed, whenever possible), green veggies, a bit of rice, some beans, healthy oils (coconut and olive) and avocados. He allows the protein shake that I love with almond milk, but only one per day and only as a snack, not a meal replacement. He also puts me on supplements that included melia, morinda and digestive enzymes. I can have tea, but only herbal, organic decaf.

Well, then…

{Photo credit: MADE WITH LOVE BY RYAN MCGUIRE, http://www.gratisography}

{Note: These are my own experiences with applied kinesiology, which clearly aren’t meant as medical advice for anyone else. But I know a lot of friends and family members are grappling with a huge variety of autoimmune issues and other ailments, so I’m happy to share my experiences.}


  1. I’m so sorry for your struggle. You sound so level-headed and strong through it all. Your doc sounds like my chiro. Happy Healing! You will get through this! ❤


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