What do you do when you have an ailment? Do you turn to a health professional first? Try Dr. Google? Home remedies?
For months now I've been struggling with my eye health. I've been a contact lens wearer since high school and haven't had any problems, but this May I got what I thought was pink eye - red eyes, semi-glued shut in the morning, which became a reoccurring infection for me. I would treat with drops, it would clear, and then 1-2 weeks later it would come back. No one else in my household got it - and with pink eye being hyper contagious I started thinking maybe it wasn't really pink eye. I had gone to the eye doctor initially who confirmed, yup you have pink eye which she explained is really any eye irritation that causes your eyes to become red/pink, and had taken that for what it was.
Moms are the worst at taking care of themselves....
When it kept happening I started to diagnose my lifestyle, I thought I was having this eye problem because of lack of sleep and having to wake up 1 -4 times a night...some of the hidden benefits of being a Mom ;) It was always the WORST when I got a terrible night sleep. As a Mom I think that we are often slow to react to things going on with ourselves, even someone like me who is in-tune with my health and how lifestyle can impact it- and it took me finally scheduling my annual well visit/physical and a mention to my new doctor about my eyes for me to take the next step. She referred me to an ophthalmologist and I made an appointment, fed up with the never ending cycle of my eyes being red, swollen, and reoccurring pink eye.
Diagnosed me with Ocular rosacea which I had never heard of. I felt relieved that it was something because now I had a better starting point. This condition had caused the blood vessels in my eyes and lids to swell, blocking the natural oil glands that help to lubricate your eye. So every time I blink it was like running your windshield wipers on a dry windshield. And adding the contact lens to this mix was like throwing leaves on the dry windshield. Ouch. I had to stop wearing contacts completely and the standard of care was steroids + an antibiotic - which I declined for personal reasons. Instead I could try a less invasive approach, supplementing with Flax Seed Oil, no more contacts, avoid fans/air blowing on my eyes and see what happens after a few months and then decide if I'm ready to do the steroid/antibiotic combo.
You want me to wear glasses forever?
Eight weeks later my eyes were better than when I was wearing contacts and I haven't gotten another resurgence of my pink eye symptoms, but I've only worn my contacts twice for a few hours only to complete two sprint triathlons where I didn't want to mess with trying to put my glasses on between swimming and biking and running. I started asking around to others that are in the health/nutrition coaching field - have you ever heard of ocular rosecea? Most people said no. Then I got a lead to check out a link to candida - not something I've every had a problem with in the past, and figured that doing a cleanse/candida diet protocol couldn't hurt, so I started the protocol outlined by Dr. Axe here starting with the broth cleanse and then shifting after 2 days to a Whole 30 type approach - really focusing on cutting out all sugar, not having any grains or potatoes, and trying a few of the supplement suggestions like the p'darco tea. I started noticing a difference about a week (7 days) in and was able to wear my contacts for a few hours a couple of days - but didn't push it! I was amazed at how much I had let sugar in particular creep into my regular diet and aside from being hungry all the time that it felt good to make the changes and reset things.
What has all this taught me?
So ironically the health coach in me was very slow to go to food as a potential root cause for something that has been bothering me and impacting my life daily for months! This experience has reminded to me to ask more questions, challenge my beliefs, and do some of the hard work to see if it makes a difference - and to keep doing research and finding alternatives where it makes sense. I will go back to the ophthalmologist when I think I'm healed to confirm that he agrees - and if not, will discuss more options.
Do you have an underlying health condition that is nagging - take control of your health and take the next step to make a change.