“Not all storms come to disrupt your life; some come to clear your path." —Author Unknown
Young children sometimes develop the most outrageous aspirations. They want to be the first person to live on Mars. Be the first to drive a flying car. Their only limitation is how big and boldly they can think. My aspirations were a lot closer to the ground, and definitely a lot closer to home.
Family. It’s always been my core identity. Growing up the second oldest in a family of eight, I come by this honestly. As our family grew, so did the amazing memories I had of special times. Playing and laughing with my brothers and sisters, family meals, and special trips were great. Birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmases were fantastic. But there was something special about time with my dad.
My dad was so involved in everything we did. He was just always there for each of us in his own special way. My greatest memories are of him coaching me in baseball. He had amazing patience. His way of teaching me to become better and to strive for excellence taught me who I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to be an awesome Dad and husband.
I was confident I’d eventually be the family man I dreamed of becoming. There would only be a few bumps, right?
There were mountains, not bumps! At 28, I got Epstein-Barr virus. It really knocked me down. The fatigue was debilitating. My swollen glands and sore throat felt unbearable. After three months, I thought that I was done with being ill and on the road to being myself. I had no concept of what I would need to crawl through over the next several years.
Over the next year or so, I started to develop some nagging problems that gradually became worse. I picked up sensitivities to foods that had always been fine for me before. My joints started to ache. For the first time in my life, I began having seasonal allergies. These issues kept progressing. The allergies became impossible to ignore and so did the joint pain.
The Lightning Strike
Like many people when the market crashed in 2008, my life took a dramatic turn. Not only was I not sure what to do next, but the stress of losing my current life direction also heightened my health problems. Headaches and terrible fatigue plagued me. The arthritic pain I kept trying to brush off as “getting older” was now severe. Brain fog had me forgetting the simplest of words. Digestive problems started to develop and get worse. It became impossible for me to exercise since it would take me a week to recover from one workout. I was losing myself in these snowballing symptoms.
My wife and children were experiencing their own problems as well. I hated watching them struggle with allergies and eczema. My daughter had awful asthma and chronic coughing. She was always waking up in the middle of the night coughing and having trouble breathing. I would have done anything to take their pain away.
That was it, I realized. I had a new path. I decided to go back to school for chiropractic. I wanted to focus on the internal mechanisms of why we get sick. More importantly, what could make us well? So I focused on taking classes on functional medicine to learn the causation of disease. I needed to change these health challenges that were ruling our lives.
Sleeping in School
As determined as I was about this new endeavor, I still desperately struggled with my physical health. I couldn’t stay awake in class. Even after sleeping all night, I could easily fall asleep in my first class of the day. I’d strive to stay awake all day and push through as best I could. My classmates thought it was hilarious and started a Facebook page about me. They snapped pictures of me asleep and posted them. I could see the humor in it for sure. But it wasn’t what I wanted to be known for — it was something I wanted to overcome! I was coping, but not conquering.
The First Thief of My Identity
During my time in chiropractic school, I attended a conference. One of the speakers spoke about Lyme disease and all the coinfections that came along with it. He started listing typical symptoms. All I could think is that sounds like me!
I started to talk with this doctor and eventually spent some time in his clinic. We did some tests, and sure enough, I had chronic Lyme disease and babesia. I was excited, thinking I had finally found the root to what had stolen my health.
Over the next four years, I treated myself for chronic Lyme disease and babesia. I had some success. I got rid of the arthritic symptoms and the brain fog began to lift.
But a thief I hadn’t yet identified still robbed my health. The headaches, low back pain, and tremendous fatigue were as bad as ever. The brain fog wasn’t completely gone. Working out was still impossible. I needed these lingering problems to change. I wasn’t able to be the dad and spouse I wanted to be.
The Second Thief of My Identity
As I graduated from school, I met a doctor named Matt Buckley. I shared my struggles with him. He flat-out said I had parasites. He also explained I was on a roller coaster with my health because I hadn’t taken care of the parasites.
As I looked more into this idea, I realized he was right. I poured over research studies that all pointed to the same fact: parasites can carry Lyme bacteria inside them. So every time I tried to treat the Lyme, I became reinfected as the parasites spewed it out again. I was treating Lyme in the wrong order. Kill the parasites — the source of Lyme — and then take care of any leftover Lyme bacteria.
Over the next year, I aggressively treated myself for parasites. With several products and some medication, my identity began to return. The headaches eased up and so did the back pain. Parasite cleanses definitely helped! But I couldn’t completely get back to being me. Why couldn’t I conquer this?
The Final Thief of My Identity
Fatigue was still enemy #1. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of trudging through my day at work, collapsing at home for a few hours, then getting up to eat and put the kids to bed. I’d crawl into bed only to repeat the same routine the next day. My body just could not repair itself. I was existing, not living.
One day as I came home from work, the entirety of what was being stolen from me became abundantly clear. My next-door neighbor was playing baseball with my son. As the ball cracked against the bat, something also cracked in my spirit. I just missed my son’s first time hitting a baseball. All the memories with my dad flooded my mind.
I was a failure as a father. I was far from being who I had always dreamed of being. Why wasn’t that me pitching him the ball? What was it going to take for that to be me?
That crack in my spirit ignited a spark in me. I was going to do whatever it took to be that dad and husband I had dreamed of as a kid. I worked to change my mindset that had eroded away with each year I had been sick. My mind had fallen into a thinking pattern that lacked hope and focused on surviving, not thriving.
I used the binders to address the last thief — heavy metals and toxins. This was the last piece of the puzzle on why my body just could not repair itself. I realized I had been exposed to arsenic through well water when my health had taken a turn for the worse. Addressing this not only removed the toxins poisoning me, but gave my body what it needed to rebuild.
In three months, I was full of energy and back to working out. Not only that, treating my family had gotten rid of their allergies, asthma, and eczema. Everything had finally come together.
Taking Back My Identity
There was no greater feeling than taking back my identity as my energy and health returned. We started to take trips and create memories together as a family.
After one camping trip, my wife asked my son what his favorite part was. He said, “Just spending time with my dad!”
I realized how incredibly important I am to my kids. To be there to guide, support, and teach them. To just be that ever-present influence like my dad was for me. My wife and children had been such amazing supports for me over the years, and now I could be that for them.
Take Back YOUR Identity
The storms in my life that led me to this point weren’t just to make me a stronger person. It did that, of course, but it also led to what I feel is my calling or purpose in life.
Every day I see people who are in the same situation I was in. I’m here to lead them on a journey back to health — back to who they were meant to be. No one deserves for their life to be stripped away by chronic illness.
Take a moment and think about what you always felt you were meant to be in life. Whatever it is, it’s not too late. I was getting close to 50 when I finally got my energy and life back. I have more energy now than when I was in my 30’s.
What’s stolen your health? It’s time to fight back and win the battle of who you were meant to be instead of surviving. It’s time to take back your identity.