Good morning and happy Sunday!
Today I’m excited to introduce you to Christina Morgan of Uncaged Health. I met Christina through the Mineral Mavens group, which Kristin of Sassy Holistics talked about in last week’s interview. Both of these ladies have been integral in my healing journey so far, and Christina is the one who encouraged me to get tested for chronic Lyme disease and co-infections after four years of seeing dozens of doctors.
Her story is SO similar to mine in dealing with Lyme (and the same amount of co-infections, which two Lyme specialists told me are the most they had ever seen on testing), POTS, histamine challenges, exhausted adrenals, and other symptoms. I am so grateful to her for guiding me to this testing, and I’ll be starting nine months of intensive treatment tomorrow!Christina is from Northwest Arkansas and is studying to be a Doctor of Traditional Naturopathy. She enjoys making tinctures, ferments, kombucha, and having other hippie health adventures in her free time. She loves self-care and spending time with her husband and their three wild and crazy fur kids.
Allie: Tell me a bit about your health and wellness journey.Christina: My journey began in 2012, when I fainted twice in the middle of the night. I then became bedridden with a slew of symptoms, including chest pain, heart palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, head rushes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, heat intolerance, stress intolerance, light sensitivity, tachycardia, and on and on. I began seeing doctors and specialists, and naively thought that if they could just diagnose me, they could fix me. In the next couple of years, I saw over 30 practitioners. I was diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), but they could not find an underlying cause. I was also diagnosed with “moderate EDS” (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), but I agreed with the geneticist that it did not seem to be the primary cause of what was going on. I was put on several medications, some of which helped to a degree. I exhausted the traditional medical system, with almost every relevant test and specialist that exists. I was still not very functional, with driving and other activities being very limited, and with daily symptoms continuing.During that time, I never accepted this as my fate. I always believed that one day, I would find the cause, and I would beat this thing.
In 2015, after a period of pushing myself too hard with intense daily exercise, stress at work, and too much caffeine, I “crashed” again. I made my third trip to the ER due to a blood pressure of 190/110 and generally feeling like my body was shutting down, and was told it was “just POTS” with instructions to increase my salt intake, and I was sent home.
I had found an ND (Naturopathic Doctor) shortly before this incident in order to try to continue my search for my “underlying cause.” I told them that I wanted to be tested for Lyme (via the proper testing, as I had learned that false negatives are rampant with Lyme). I then got what I had been searching for — the test result came back positive.
During this bedridden time (again), I spent hours and hours on the internet doing research, and scouring Facebook group discussions. I began to learn so much about the mechanics of what was going on in my body. I learned that most of my debilitating symptoms were attributed to adrenal dysfunction (despite being tested for that in 2013). I focused on healing my adrenals, liver, gut, and balancing minerals and hormones. I found a great ND who does bodywork (acupressure, lymph drainage, etc). After getting my body to a state where I could handle the stress of some “die-off” (toxin release), I began slowly working on killing Lyme pathogens via the Buhner Protocol (an herbal protocol developed by herbalist Stephen Buhner). I then learned I had Bartonella, Babesia, and Ehrlichia “co-infections,” which need to be addressed via additional targeted herbs, so I added those to my protocol.
Now, I am over halfway through my protocol, and have only 2 symptoms remaining from my original list of over 50 (the remaining symptoms being fatigue and vestibular imbalance), both of which continue to slowly improve.
A little over a year ago, I realized that I had found my passion. I love learning about the body, its ability to heal, and helping others find their root cause of dysfunction and help guide them. So, I started classes to become a Naturopathic Doctor.
If I had to pick one thing that this journey has taught me, it is that the body wants to be well, and we often underestimate its ability to heal.
A: What is ONE thing you think everyone should be doing for his/her health?
C: Eat more real foods. Anytime I help someone with their healing journey, my first recommendation is to work on diet and gut health. Our foods these days are already depleted of nutrients due to deficient soil, and to compound that, we are also a generation raised on processed, food-like items that are devoid of the nutrients we need to thrive and heal. Eating real foods shouldn’t be thought of as a diet or punishment. It is a way of eating and a path to healing. We need to realize that we are worth taking the time and effort necessary to make changes needed for our optimal health.
A: Do you have a quote or motto you try to live by?
C: “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and “Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.”
I was always a go-go-go type of person before I got sick. I was a workaholic, had a hard time saying no, and did not take much time for myself to just relax and “be.”
Another lesson this adventure has taught me is that the fast paced way of life is usually not sustainable. We are meant to take time to be quiet, listen, reflect, learn, relax, and rebuild. We must start doing that, and then give to others out of that place, instead of giving and giving when we are already exhausted and depleted.
It’s not fair to us, and it’s not fair to others. It sets us up for illness, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction in life. This change requires us to let go of our perfectionism, and to realize that sometimes “ok” is good enough.
We also need to re-prioritize. On your deathbed, you aren’t going to wish you had spent more hours at the office grinding away on spreadsheets. And, we have to learn how to say “no” and not over commit or over extend ourselves. Being sick has changed my mindset, and I am grateful for that. My hope is that others will heed my advice and make changes in their lives in order to take better care of themselves, without having to learn the hard way.
A: Tell me about a big WIN you’ve had in your health/self-care journey.
C: I could not do much of anything for over a year, even grocery shopping was a big deal. My family planned a Christmas vacation to Costa Rica six months prior, which would include 3 flights each way, as well as a lot of driving and ferrying the day after/before flying, as well as hot temperatures and daily activity.
I was nervous to make such a commitment, but I took a leap of faith. I was able to go with my family on this trip without causing any setbacks in my healing, and I had a lot of fun and gained some needed self confidence in my ability to adapt and in my body. During the vacation, I made sure to listen to my body as much as possible. That meant staying back during some group activities in order to rest and be quiet. Part of self-care is listening to your body, and not apologizing for doing what you need to do.
A: How do you practice self-care? And WHY?
C: Saying “no” is a big way in which I practice self-care, as you may have already realized. I’m an overachiever, so, for me, self care is more about what I’m not doing vs. what I am doing. Every night, I put my to-do list down, even if I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to that day, and I take some time for myself. I brew a cup of herbal tea, and read a book in bed or watch a funny show on Netflix (laughter is medicine).
A: What would be your ideal self-care routine, if you had the time for it daily? (A morning or evening routine, for example)
C: Here is what I would do on a perfect “self care” day. In the morning, I would first think of a few things I was grateful for, prior to getting out of bed. I would then do some light stretching or exercise. Next, I would make a good breakfast – I am a smoothie fanatic, or I would make eggs with homemade sausage, sautéed greens, an orange, and homemade sauerkraut. After that, I would get some morning sunlight to help set my circadian rhythm.
Later, I would spend time reading outdoors while getting mid-day sunlight for natural vitamin D. This would also be a good time to read aloud my positive affirmations.
At night, I would go for a relaxing walk, then before bed do some reflexology on feet and hands (a type of massage on pressure points), then have my tea-and-funny-show-time.
A: What are your three favorite SHORT self-care techniques a reader could try, if he/she only had 5-20 minutes?
C: Take a short walk to unwind, with your phone left at home. Use this as a time to clear your mind, and be without our typical constant distractions and interruptions.
Brew some tea or grab a kombucha and sit outside for a few minutes, again without devices.
Some stretching and reflexology can help rejuvenate the mind and body in a very short period of time.
A: What are your three favorite LONGER self-care practices? (say, if you had an hour or two of free-time to dedicate?)
C: A hot, relaxing bath is a great way to take care of yourself and release stress. Again, without your phone.
Take a class that you may enjoy, such as learning a new hobby, or joining a book club.
Sit outside and read a good book or write in a journal.
A: Anything else wellness/self-care related I didn’t ask that you’d like to share here?
C: My advice, especially to those with tendencies toward perfectionism and need for constant accomplishment and marking things off to-do lists is this: Don’t push yourself too hard. Part of defining “too hard” is learning to listen to your body. Say no, and don’t feel that you need to apologize for that. Ask for help from others, and again, no apologies necessary. Practice being in the present moment.
I am also really starting to love the idea of minimalism, which may include going through your items and keeping only what you need or makes you happy. Donate or sell the rest. This gives the mind less to keep track of, it is mentally freeing, and it is also physically less to clean and keep up with. Simplify your life overall. This may be simple things like taking fewer hours at work if possible, or even downsizing your house.
Another important practice I have learned is this: Pay attention to your inner dialogue. Cut off any negative thoughts, and replace them with positive thoughts – whether it be a thought of something you are grateful for, or a positive affirmation about yourself. After working on this purposefully for a couple of months, new and positive thought patterns are created, which affect your whole body and life overall.
I just found out about this amazing FREE Immune Defense Summit coming up, with speakers on cancer, autoimmune disease, thyroid, lyme disease, EMFs, chronic infections, candida, and more. Click the photo below to sign up for free… I’m excited to learn from these experts!
Inerested in a free self-care assessment quiz? Click the photo below to download your self-care kit now.