Liz: Thanks for sharing your powerful recovery story with our readers. What is your reason for telling your story?
Katie: You’re welcome. My reason for sharing isn’t to give anyone answers, but for people to know that it’s possible to have a full recovery from fibromyalgia, CFS/ME, endometriosis, and autoimmune issues. I feel compelled to share what I wish someone would have shared with me.
Liz: What was your life like prior to getting ill?
Katie: Prior to getting fibromyalgia, CFS/ME, and endometriosis, I was working hard on my Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. I had moved to NYC and had amazing personal and career experiences. I enjoyed going out with friends, working, and school.
Liz: Can you tell us a little about your onset?
Katie: I had a gradual onset. As a traveling therapist in Manhattan, I began to have difficulty walking and severe pain. Doctors were unsure of the trigger or what was happening to me. Prior to the onset, I had experienced chronic candida infections as a child. Over the years, I had several exposures to vaccines that have lab manufactured forms of candida in them. I was on antibiotics for 6 months. I also experienced an extremely stressful situation of being a full-time caregiver to my college roommate who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, who had both suicidal and homicidal tendencies. I lived in constant fear my last year of grad school.
Between underlying infections, environmental toxins, a poor standard American diet, and high stress, I was the perfect storm for chronic health issues.
Over time, without any real medical intervention, I declined. After two years of clinging to the life I once knew, trying to work, and pushing myself so hard, I eventually declined to being primarily bedridden for the next two years.
Liz: What was your experience looking for medical answers in the beginning?
Katie: I was told over and over again that I would never heal by the majority of doctors. What else was I to think? I had never heard of anyone recovering from these conditions, other than having a week or two of feeling better here and there.
For years, I was hopeless.
Yet, I felt compelled to continue to research scientific journals, search for answers, trying different therapies, etc.
Liz: Did you find any therapies that helped you heal?
Katie: People always want a simple answer for how I healed. Anyone who has been sick for years, spent thousands, and tried many things knows there’s no simple answer.
Liz: Been there. Exactly. Can you share some of the highlights?
Katie: Sure. For years, I treated underlying infections with an Integrative Nurse Prctioner. She targeted EBV and Candida primarily. This helped, but didn’t fully heal me.
Another level of healing that was profound was seeing my Immunologist, MD to be tested for many underlying factors that can cause CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia.
My doctor found that I have a metabolic myopathy called Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome 11.
This wasn’t easy to find. He did many tests that came back normal or unusual, but inconclusive. It was genetic testing that found it. This was not covered by my insurance, but by the grace of God, the company made a mistake and had to absorb the costs (thousands). I began the mito cocktail and thankfully could tolerate it and began to recover quickly from CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia (not the case for everyone).
My endometriosis also ultimately resolved without surgery (I believe BP-157 injections helped to heal my uterus).
Liz: Beyond this medical intervention, what else supported your recovery?
Katie: I believe that medical treatments, supplements, therapies, etc. only took me so far in my healing process. I believe that God is really the one who healed me fully. He completed what science and any amount of my hard work failed to do.
For me to fully heal, I had to reclaim my identity and also surrender control to God.
Liz: Can you explain your identity shift?
Katie: As I began to heal, I came upon an unexpected challenge. I was afraid to be well. I had grown so accustomed to my new identity or “my new normal,” as some put it, that it actually was hindering my ability to be well.
I worked with a specialist who retrains the brain using neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnosis, and Time Line Therapy.
I was able to heal my medical trauma, and create my new identity as a fully healthy woman.
Years of medical abuse (since childhood) had taught me to be helpless, dependent, and hopeless. I had been told that I was lying about my health, since I was a six year old kid (since doctors could not find the problems). I had also been told I had incurable conditions. I had to retrain my beliefs that healing truly was possible and push past the limitations that had been put mentally on me. I had to forgive doctors for causing me harm. I had to forgive the people in my life who did not believe me. There was a lot to this process, but ultimately it set me free and I believe began a cascade of healing also on a physical level.
Liz: How did God play a role in your healing journey?
Katie: My story is overwhelmingly touched by God. He led me to every doctor (even when I didn’t want to go or try one more treatment), led me to the “Food as Medicine” documentary (literally popped on my screen one day), helped us financially get through, etc. I believe that my healing happened at its core on a spiritual level with Jesus, before it ever resonated out to my physical body. I know that sounds wild. Believe me, it was!
I was not a huge believer, but I was open and God patiently never gave up trying to teach me that he was for me and could do anything. This was its own battle. A spiritual battle, because I fought surrendering for a long time.
I finally found healing and true freedom in my surrender.
Liz: I really resonate with this. Trying hard to fight it at first, then putting my faith in doctors to save me, then trying to control it myself…. that helped at first. But to fully heal, a part of me had to surrender.
Katie: It’s so fascinating how control plays a role in healing. Right before I got well, I went through a major healing crisis. I met a reiki healer at that time who had completely recovered from Fibromyalgia. She told me the minute that she stopped trying so hard, was the minute she began to heal. I was shocked by this and really listened.
It’s exhausting going to doctor after doctor’s appointment, following an intense regiment, worrying, etc. It’s definitely the hardest I’ve ever worked, but was it all to my benefit?
There is a fine line in my opinion of working hard but also letting healing happen.
Liz: You mentioned a Food is Medicine documentary. How did diet support your recovery?
Eventually, I developed such gut health issues that I had to do an elimination diet (extremely challenging, but if done right the first time it doesn’t have to be repeated). That process gave me clear feedback of what works best for my body as I slowly added things back in. The biggest offenders for me to this day are gluten, dairy, and sugar.
For me a Paleo or Autoimmune Paleo diet helps my body heal rapidly by maximizing the nutrients that I need.
I learned it is very common for people with mitochondrial issues to find a Paleo diet helpful. My diet is rich in vegetables, protein, and healthy fats (and zero manufactured ingredients).
Through trial and error (and comprehensive genetic testing which confirmed detox impairment), I learned my body does not tolerate synthetic chemicals well including pesticides, herbicides, added hormones antibiotics, MSG, or fake sugar. I removed it all.
I now eat organic except for the ewg.org “clean 15” of fruits and veggies, which I buy conventional. I also removed all hormone disrupting, immune system toxic, and carcinogens from my personal care products. My husband and I found an affordable whole house water filtration (aquasana) unit to remove heavy metals, fluoride, and chlorine in drinking and bathing water.
Liz: I actually used to have their shower filter, nice. How long have you been recovered and what is life like now?
Katie: I’ve had no symptoms or medications for almost 2 years – it will be 2 years in August 2020. I have even had thyroid nodules vanish and have recovered from an autoimmune disease that used to come and go (my blood work has shown no antibodies are present).
I do take supplements, have a daily movement routine, relaxation practice, a strong faith in God’s ability to heal and perform miracles, a relationship with a living God, and continue to live a toxin-free lifestyle. All of these things I’m sure maintain my well-being.
I’m now 30 weeks pregnant, with no symptoms of fibromyalgia or CFS/ME or endometriosis.
Liz: Congratulations Katie, I am so happy for you! What is your “dream” for people with fibromyalgia or CFS/ME?
I would like to see people who are severely suffering fully recover, or at least have major life changing relief. I know it’s possible with thorough diagnostics and targeted treatments to address whatever is metabolically wrong on a cellular level that prohibits someone from fighting an underlying infection. I have spoken about this in length with my Immunologist. The research in metabolic diseases, genetics, and underlying infections continues to grow, and I’m hoping to see even more investment and advances in these fields.
Liz: What is one final takeaway you want people to know?
Katie: Anything is possible. Just because answers haven’t been found or provided yet, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. It is scary to hope to be better. It is scary to fail over and over again. It is painful to want to be so well and feel so far away from it. I hope that my story doesn’t discourage people more, but in fact brings people closer to hope. Many people saw me as a lost cause, but they were wrong.
Healing is possible!
Katie is currently trying to make it through Coronavirus like everyone else, while in her third trimester of pregnancy. Her mission is to share her CFS/ME, fibromyalgia, and endometriosis recovery story to let others know it’s possible to heal. Her current passion is helping others recovering from chronic illness find healthy personal care products like the ones she uses. You can learn more about her story on her site Healing Faithfully. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.
Update July 16: Katie recently shared her powerful story on Raelan Agle’s wonderful YouTube channel. Watch below!