I’ve always hated this word. Hearing the word “detox” around the Internet usually means someone is talking about and/or trying to sell shakes or juices, pills or oils…seems like someone somewhere is always detoxing from something!  Look, I’m not saying it’s not real – I know our livers are supposed to do it for us, but I guess sometimes it could use a little help. What I’m not on board with is spending hundreds of dollars (or even close to a hundred!) to achieve this.

What really got me thinking about detoxing was a plethora of events lately: researching epilepsy and seizures, a bad seizure morning with Eli, research on silica supplementation and finally, realizing that I can’t really ignore the symptoms that are rampant within my own body. I’ve been exhibiting symptoms of an autoimmune issue for well over a year now. It probably started before then, but I really started to take notice in October of 2015. It started with a full body rash.

We had moved to North Dakota in August of 2015. The climate here is very dry compared to Iowa, and I chalked up my skin issues to the really dry weather. The biggest problem was the rash didn’t get better, the dry skin didn’t really disappear and I was scratching my legs to the point of bleeding in my sleep. I cut out gluten, which seemed to help a little. But then other symptoms started to show up:

Bleeding scalp sores/ulcers ** thinning hair ** Bouts of EXTREME fatigue and tiredness ** Tender and inflamed joints, especially fingers, elbows, shoulders and jaw ** Raynaud’s Phenomenon (fingers and toes turning white/blue and going completely numb for a period of time) ** ulcers in my nose and mouth  ** Lack of a real appetite…eating only because I knew I was supposed to ** Insomnia ** Poor sleep quality when I did sleep ** Weight gain, especially around the midsection ** Mood swings ** Headaches (not normal ones… Migraines) ** Total body aches and pains ** Constipation, followed by bouts of diarrhea ** Bloating immediately after eating ** Extremely dry skin **

One of the “better” episodes this past week…at least it was only two fingers this time.

I really didn’t know what to think…the symptoms would appear only to disappear. In March of 2016, I decided to take the gluten free thing a bit further and eat Primal. I cut out sugar, grains and most really delicious carbohydrates (lol!). In April, I took it one step further and decided to follow a ketogenic lifestyle…very low carb…in hopes to heal my body. It worked and didn’t work. I lost some body fat which was very pleasing, but the symptoms never really disappeared. During the summer and early autum of 2016, things seemed better, so I stopped thinking of autoimmune issues. Given that I have family history, I know better…I need to keep an eye on these symptoms.

January and February 2017 – I noticed things were worse…I was feeling worse. I struggled to find energy to move during the day. I struggled to find motivation for things that typically I loved doing. Just moving myself HURT…my body hurt. I hardly had any energy for my workouts. Most mornings it was a struggle to even get out of bed. This wasn’t the usual “Oh, I should have gone to bed earlier last night” feeling…this was more of “how the hell am I going to survive today awake and upright, taking care of everyone and doing what needs to be done?” sort of feeling.  That may sound dramatic but if you’ve ever experienced that sort of absolutely crushing fatigue for any amount of time, you know EXACTLY what I mean. I checked and double checked my diet; I tweaked macros; I eased up on the strength training; I added more training; I ate more/less complex carbs…more/less protein…more/less healthy fats…; NOTHING helped this time. Final straw – I decided to completely cut out my guilty pleasure and get rid of wine (sad….). We’ll see if that actually helps (hopefully it’s not the wine!).

So March 2017. Wine free, more strict Primal eating (more ketogenic than in the previous two months), back to my usual workouts and adding a few variables that were not part of my lifestyle before: silica supplementation in water and a diatomaceous earth “detox”. I’m not going to spend tons of time explaining DE in this blog post…we’ll see how things go and if it actually makes a difference, I’ll take the time to write it out. There is SO much information on the Internet about DE detox and silica supplementation.  Both are supposed to be fabulous for heavy metal detoxing, which is something I worry about with Eli. Did the vaccines that we did allow him to get end up affecting him neurologically? Could a heavy metal “detox” help him as well? Is this even a problem?

A reputable website lists the following symptoms as a reason to use a DE detox regimen:

  • Food Cravings
  • Inflammation
  • Restless Sleeping
  • Poor Focus
  • Fatigue
  • Skin Rashes or Outbreaks
  • Constipation, Diarrhea, Bloating, Gas, or Other Indigestion Problems
  • Mood Swings
  • Headaches
  • Weight Gain
  • Body Odor or Bad Breath
  • Allergies
  • Aches and Pains

SO – today is March 8th…8 days into my cleansing month, lol! I started silica supplementation last week Thursday, and started DE on Monday the 6th. Obviously, it’s much too early to say “Yes” or “No” but I want to keep track publicly. After all, if my journey can help someone else to help them self earlier than I did, my difficulties will be worth it!

Until the next time….


Weeks 3&4 – Eli

I got a little behind with blogging. Studying and making Christmas presents will do that to you!

So where are we at with Eli? I’ve seen some huge improvements. I haven’t seen  any of the longer, partial type seizures in two weeks, and Eli said he hasn’t experienced any of them. That in itself gives me hope. He’s still having the absence seizures but the ones I’ve witnessed have been very short…maybe 3-5 seconds. It’s basically been a month and we just adjusted dosage a little so I think it’s just a matter of patience and waiting now.



Sun Dogs

“Sun dogs… are an atmospheric phenomenon that consists of a pair of bright spots on either horizontal side on the Sun…Sun dogs are a member of a large family of halos, created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. Sun dogs typically appear as two subtly colored patches of light to the left and right of the Sun…” (Wikipedia)
This afternoon, the kids and I saw this phenomenon…it was much more beautiful than the first time I’d seen it. I wish I had an awesome camera so I could have gotten a good picture. I’m guessing it was more spectacular this time because of the super cold air temperature! The rainbows on each side of the sun were so wide, so bright and SO long.
I asked Eli if he remembered the first time we’d seen them. I had to tell him the story again (he was only 5 at the time). It was EXACTLY two years after we’d lost Jonah. Memories hit hard sometimes, but I’m really glad we experienced this again today. That day it took the sweet innocence of my five year old to help me see the light in the darkness.


This has become such a huge part of my life that I felt it only appropriate to do a post about it!

When we lived in Iowa, I made my own water kefir. I never really cared for the taste of store bought kombucha but I really enjoyed water kefir that I had bought from a local health food store. When I realized how simple it was, I was hooked. When we moved, I didn’t bring my grains because it was a two day trip and I wasn’t even sure what to expect from the water or conditions in North Dakota. Once we settled in here, I bought new grains and started over. To my dismay, it just didn’t go as well as it had previously.

Pretty quickly,  I became obsessed with store bought kombucha…no lie, it was an obsession! It was a very expensive obsession…almost $4 a bottle! I knew if I wanted to continue drinking kombucha for the health benefits and my own happiness, I was going to need to brew my own. It seemed like such a daunting ordeal. I couldn’t find any where close by that sold kombucha SCOBYs (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) and I knew better than to buy a dehydrated one. I asked on the city Facebook swap page but no one seemed to have a SCOBY to spare. I really didn’t want one shipped USPS because, well, our postal service has issues. I decided I only had one real option: grow my own. I found some fantastic instructions online, bought a bottle of unflavored organic kombucha, and away we went. I wish I had a picture of the beginning…basically you have a jar with some stringy kombucha. If you’ve ever drank one from the store, you know what I mean…there are floaties that nobody really wants to drink 🙂

Here is a picture from about 10 days into the growth: Tiny, thin and just starting to get a good surface on it.10days

At 3 weeks, I was ready to brew my first batch”3weeks3weeks2

So that brings me to today. The first picture, from 10 days, was on August 24th. I began brewing two weeks later. Today, I started my 7th batch, and put batch #6 into carbonation/flavoring stage. I always enjoy doing this so today I photo documented my creating. Enjoy!

This is the batch that was done with its first fermentation, ready to go into bottles for flavoring and carbonation (sometimes called second fermentation online. My husband the beer brewer has informed me on more than one occasion that this term is not really correct!)img_20161202_094650

Below is a picture of the SCOBY I grew…the mother. Tiny SCOBYs or babies grow under her each time you brew. It’s actually really cool! Look how much bigger she is NOW compared to when I started!img_20161202_094754

Next up,  what do you do with the babies until you need them? They get to hang out in a SCOBY hotel. After separating a baby from the mother today, I have 4 backups. They just get fresh sweet tea every time I brew and hang out in the cupboard.img_20161202_094852

Now I’ve got all the fermented tea in the plastic jug, and fresh sweet tea in the fermenting jar. Notice the huge color difference? Same tea both time (black tea)…one fresh, one fermented.img_20161202_095123

Time to get the mother SCOBY into the fresh tea and let her get to workimg_20161202_095130

All set. Cloth cover on to allow oxygen to get in, but keep cat fur and any potential critters out!img_20161202_095327

This is how they’ll hang out for the next, oh, 3 weeks probably. Then I’ll test the pH level and probably start it on the second phase. When it gets cold in here, I have a long rice sock that I warm up to keep them cozy.img_20161202_095437

Now to create Kombucha goodness. I’ve been keeping track of my process in here:img_20161202_104038img_20161202_100319

My last batch turned out so delicious that I decided to do the same thing for this batch: cranberry ginger raspberry and lemon.img_20161202_101114

Ginger sliced and lemons juicedimg_20161202_101925

Ready to put all this goodness into the bottlesimg_20161202_101953

Ginger slices and raspberries in…the cranberry and lemon juice went straight into the pitcher of teaimg_20161202_102453

Bottles filled and capped…img_20161202_102949

…fully dressed with their date-stamped bow ties…img_20161202_103030

…and in their own hotel for the next 7-10 days. I like to keep them under the sink for  a couple reasons. First, if the pressure builds up too much and one explodes, the mess is more or less contained. Second, the temperature down there stays a bit warmer and I find it carbonates faster than when I used to keep it elsewhere. I’m impatient when it comes to my kombucha! After 7 days, I’ll check one. Usually they need to stay under the sink for 10 days before I’ve reached the carbonation level that I prefer.img_20161202_103143

So there you have it! How about you? Do you brew your own kombucha? What are your favorite flavor combinations? I always prefer the more sour blends but I’m sure there are great ideas out there! Next blog post NEEDS to be about my journey back to school to become a certified aromatherapist…it’s been an exciting start already!

Week 2 – Eli

We seemed to take two steps forward and one step back. Eli had another of those longer seizures on Monday morning. It was in the morning again…seems to be the time of day that is toughest on him. He was sitting on the couch after getting ready for school and I looked over to see a strange look on his face. I asked him if he was okay and he said “I don’t know…” and then he was out of it again. On a positive note, it wasn’t as long as the two previous ones I witnessed. Disheartening for me, but I know these things take time. I really think we need to make further adjustments to his diet. He was doing so well when I had him gluten-free and minimal grains. His diet is by no means terrible, and the large majority of his meals are homemade. There are two areas where I think it suffers in regards to his health: one, breakfast. He is a very carb-loving type breakfast person. Give the boy waffles, oatmeal or pancakes and he’s happy. The big problem there is that he isn’t getting much protein or fat, both of which are important for brain function but particularly the good fats! I wish I could get him to like eggs. Second area is lunch, specifically the school lunches I pack for him. He would be happy taking PBJ sandwiches and turkey roll-ups on tortillas every day. Again, these are carb heavy and grain heavy, both of which tend to be negatives for epileptics. I need to find some different breakfast and lunch recipes for him, and I really hope we can try some new things. I don’t want to get too restrictive with his diet because that is when he started to resist me in the past.

We’ve also decided to try adjusting his dosage amount a little. We started with the most conservative dosage amount, and he hasn’t experienced anything worse or side effects. It hasn’t even been two full weeks so I’m not too discouraged. The mom in me really wants to see him have relief from this.

Week 1 – Eli

So, as mentioned in my background post, we are in week 1 of trying something new and different with Eli. November 8th was a big day in the United States, but for me it was a bigger and better day in North Dakota. No, nothing to do with the presidential election in this case. North Dakota voters voted to allow medical marijuana as treatment. Huge. This is such a fantastic thing for so many people. I’ve read many medical journal articles that show exactly how this is beneficial for so many different ailments. One such ailment that it has shown promising results with is epilepsy, from childhood absence epilepsy to other forms involving Grand Mal seizures. Huge. Enormous. Possible game changer.

Adam did some research online and found a place where we could order Charlotte’s Web, which is a medical marijuana supplement. This is one that I researched when we first got Eli’s epilepsy diagnosis. Unfortunately at that time, we lived in Iowa which did not allow for the use of this supplement. Now, thanks to the voters in my state, we can legally try this with Eli.

Order one placed. High hopes all around. While we waited for the shipment, we were able to gain access to a the Realm of Caring website with dosing instructions based on many different factors, research articles, forums…so much information! I became completely engulfed in the chemistry parts, probably because I’m deep into the chemistry part of essential oils in my certification course right now. I couldn’t help but notice that there are chemical components in medical marijuana oil that match components of certain essential oils. These components have been shown to have calming effects neurologically, particularly the sesquiterpene beta-caryophyllene. Hmmm…if only I’d been a chemistry nerd back in 2013 maybe I could have made better sense of some things with oils! Copaiba is particularly high in this component…usually 50% or more! But there are others such as Melissa, black pepper, clove, and ylang ylang oils that have significant levels of this component. Interesting to me is how now that I have better knowledge from a renowned aromatherapy certification course, this all makes much better sense. Chemistry is so cool.

Our first bottle arrived the 18th, the day after Eli’s tenth birthday. We started his first dose after school. As much as I wanted the heavens to part and have God himself say “Eli is now seizure free!”, I knew it was time to wait and watch. Saturday was his first day of two doses. Then Sunday…and Monday. We’re on Tuesday. Call me crazy but my kid is waking up now looking much more rested (absence seizures can happen during the person’s sleep cycle as well). Saturday afternoon was his birthday party with his friends…six crazy boys running around with all sorts of excitement and enthusiastic animation. Usually this is the sort of situation when we notice an increase in seizures. I saw ONE seizure Saturday…before his party. Sunday I saw one seizure. ONE. Monday he was at school during the day but I didn’t see any when he came home.

Call me crazy. It’s okay because I feel a little crazy thinking about it.Too early to say for sure but I’m more hopeful now than I have ever been about this possible solution for Eli.

Background – Eli

Eli was diagnosed with childhood absence epilepsy in 2013, when he was 6.5 years old. His symptoms had been around for longer than that…at least a year, but I didn’t know that it was something as serious as a seizure. If it hadn’t been for a friend on Facebook describing her own son’s seizures and diagnosis, I would have never even thought of it. If  you’re unfamiliar with this type of seizure activity, don’t worry…so was I! It manifests itself as what appears to be the person “spacing out”…Eli will kind of stare off into space for several moments, and then after will just be completely normal again, with the exception of not having heard anything during the seizure. He doesn’t fall on the ground, there is no violent shaking, and again, within moments he’s back to his normal self. We thought Eli was just daydreaming or ignoring us.(I kick myself a little every time I think about this…)

Eli went to several doctors appointments, had a sleep-deprived EEG, an MRI that required dye injection, and trips to see a neurologist. We learned that USUALLY children will outgrow this form of epilepsy when they hit puberty, but that occasionally the absence epilepsy will develop into a more severe form of epilepsy. We learned that there were a handful of medications that are approved for the treatment of childhood absence epilepsy, that many don’t really work that well, and that the side effects are often severe and more prevalent than relief from the medication.It might work, it might not…but he would most likely have side effects. I asked about not medicating him. His neurologist was honest: that was totally an option. If Eli was able to lead a fairly normal life without meds, and wasn’t in danger of getting hurt…he would be a good candidate for just pushing through until puberty to see if the disease would disappear.  We made the decision to let our 6.5 year old tough it out until puberty.

That isn’t the end, though. I became the person who then researched everything. I was willing to try everything in my power to make his quality of life better during this time. I read about how certain vitamins and minerals could support his system. Probiotics should help to heal his gut, which could help. I’d already been using essential oils for many years and tried to find out if there were any that I could use to support Eli. I read about changing our diet, which was our first round of the Whole 30 elimination diet. After that, we tried Paleo for a while, but Eli was missing some foods so much that I didn’t force him to stick to that. Nothing we were doing completely eliminated Eli’s seizures but many helped to markedly decrease the number he experienced. Lack of sleep and stress are huge triggers for his seizures, so we set a bed time that USUALLY gets followed. He has good and bad days. For a while, the good outnumbered the bad. As he got older, it seemed to bother him more that he had these seizures. It wasn’t because he felt different…he was bothered because he just was tired of having them. That’s a tough thing to hear as a mom.

This autumn, we noticed something different. His seizures had decreased significantly and when he did have them, they were much shorter. This is good, right? Yes. Also, no. The “no” comes in the form a different type of seizure activity. Eli was just “not here” for about 15 minutes. I could talk to him, he would look at me and respond with one-word answers that sometimes didn’t make sense. He was unable to hold a conversation. After what was a terrible and long 15 minutes for me, he was COMPLETELY back to normal. What in the world? The first time it happened, I figured he was really tired. The second time it happened, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. The second episode, Eli explained what it was like from his end: his thighs tingled (he had mentioned this to me before the episode), he could see and hear me talking to him but he felt like he couldn’t answer me. It was kind of like a tunnel, but not really. He was completely aware of the entire thing, he just couldn’t talk to me. Back to research…was it something worse like simple partial seizures or even complex partial seizures?  What would this mean for him? Sure, he was having less absence seizures but was he trading those for less frequent, worse seizures? ugh.

That’s where the background ends. We are currently in the first week of trying a different, natural approach to help my buddy.