"Your greatest wealth is your health"
My chronic illness journey in a nutshell
If you asked family or friends what defines me, you might hear "family, soccer, coffee, reading and yoga".
If you asked me that same question, I would tell you my chronic illness. Suffering from a chronic illness dominates your day-to-day life and is often invisible to those who see you.
While going through puberty at eleven years old, I began to experience a slew of symptoms that would dictate how I lived my life for the next two decades. Pain, fatigue, insomnia, tender points, morning stiffness, memory and concentration issues, to name a few, started to dominate my life. My doctor thought it was just growing pains and after pressuring him, he sent me for a multitude of tests with numerous specialists. It was a long journey but after two years of seeing doctors and undergoing tests, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, scoliosis, depression and anxiety. Although not the best news, at least I had a diagnosis.
For me, living with chronic illness meant that symptoms changed by the minute, the hour, the day and the week, as if I were constantly getting on and off of a rollercoaster. Chronic illness changes you, it changes your life, your plans, your ambitions, your relationships, it changes EVERYTHING. The only constant with chronic illness is change. Over the past twenty-one years I have seen both conventional and unconventional healthcare practitioners, including; naturopaths, osteopaths, physiotherapists, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, pain specialists, rheumatologists, psychologists, counsellors, family doctor's, and athletic therapists. Each practitioner prescribed a treatment plan and often medication or supplements.
The one medication that did help was a muscle relaxant prescribed to me by a rheumatologist. This enabled me to sleep for the first time in two years but yet I still suffered from constant pain, fatigue, and had difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. None of the medications I tried helped me deal with the root of the problem in order to reduce the symptoms relating to my fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or fatigue.
Throughout the years, I continued to try to lead a normal life - I played competitive soccer (through pain and fatigue) until twenty-eight when my symptoms became intolerable. I graduated university and worked in a corporate environment for eight years. The stress, the pain, and the emotional/physical fatigue of commuting and working at a computer all day took its toll. Ultimately I knew I had to make a change.
Even though I read books and researched about fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain in my teens and twenties, I found little success in managing my illness. Finally, in my late twenties, after shifting my research focus to more holistic methods, I discovered how to begin healing the body naturally. The book centred on feeding your body from the inside out through lifestyle and diet changes, including nutrition, exercise, mindset, and stress management. I put these principles into practice and within weeks I began to notice numerous positive changes to my body and mind. I was better able to manage my illness and decrease the majority of my symptoms. No one single ‘plan’ worked for me: it was trial and error and I had to adjust my diet, exercise, sleep, and stress levels to what worked for my illness and my body. I began to understand the many intricacies and effects that holistic health and nutrition could have on the body and my passion was ignited. It was then that I decided to attend the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN).
Holistic health and nutrition has greatly helped me manage my (many) chronic conditions by getting to the root problems of my illnesses, and has allowed me to take back my life to the extent I never thought possible. I want to help you take back your life. I want to help you on your path to lifelong wellness. I believe that everyone suffering with a chronic illness can better manage his or her symptoms by following the principles of holistic nutrition.
It’s with this desire that I started Chronically Healthy Nutrition, because I believe everyone, including those with chronic illnesses, deserves prolonged health and wellness.
Alexis Tanner, RHN, HBA
- Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), Canadian School of Natural Nutrition
- Honours Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, McMaster University