I’m not sure if it is because I spent almost my whole childhood in hospitals or because as an adult I’m doing pretty good with holistic approaches and diets, but the truth is, I am not a fan of doctors. And don’t get me wrong, I had one of the most amazing Pediatric Asthma & Allergy Doctor as a kid. It makes me really proud to have been his patient for so many years and watching him now being a respected doctor and researcher in his field in Sweden. A shout-out to my dear doctor Magnus Wickman, whom I remember kindly.
I was born with all kinds of problems. I was allergic to almost everything, which naturally made my childhood very isolated. I was even allergic to my mother’s breast milk! I couldn’t ingest milk; I couldn’t eat eggs, chicken, or nuts. I couldn’t be around pets, grass, pollen or dust. I did love this last allergy a lot though; I would never have to dust or vacuum my room because I could have an Asthma attack. This is all different today of course, the only allergy left is to pets (and some humans…)
One of many things that I love about Swedish culture is that it’s such an educated society in regards to basic health conditions, or let’s call it “health etiquette”. When I studied at the University of Stockholm, the main library had study rooms for students with Asthma & Allergy. See, even special scents or smells can set off an allergic reaction, so these rooms were specially cleaned and set at a perfect A/C level, the air almost felt clinically clean. If your child is invited to a birthday party, moms or dads will always call you in advance to ask if there is anything that your son or daughter is allergic to, or if there is any special need that they can assist with. Quite recently, my friend Maria shared a really cute and adorable story with me. Maria had a cat, “Mysan,” (which by the way translates to “Snuggles” in Swedish) and I am of course very allergic to cats, or any pets with hair for that matter. When Maria would use to come over on playdates, her mother Annika, had her shower and dress with newly washed clothes. She made her dress quickly right after the shower to later run out of the house so no hairs would get attached to her, so it wouldn’t affect me. I almost died of sweetness when I heard of this because I really didn’t know all this back when we were sandbox buddies.
I’ve always medicated my Asthma with two basic inhalators, a stronger one both morning and night every day of my life, and the second one is more of an emergency inhalator that opens my bronchioles instantly (isn’t that cool!) But about 7 years ago I read a book that opened up my eyes to Veganism for the first time ever. The book was called “Skinny Bitch,” which I thought was a novel at first, but boy was I surprised. It was written in such a sarcastic, fun, and in-your-face way, that I kept on going. Like I said, it was my first interaction with Veganism, which changed my life completely in regards to nutrition and health. I became vegan for 2 years exactly and it had a huge impact on my Asthma. From being medicated daily to not at all, today I only have the emergency inhalator in my purse at all times just in case, but rarely use.
I realized that it’s really a vicious cycle. The stronger medicine (corticoid) made my immune system very weak, therefore I was far more exposed to getting sick all the time, which made me go to the hospital and be treated with more medicine. Poor little me and my mother, I feel like we lived at the hospital a lot.
Today I don’t take any pills at all. No Asthma medicine (expect the emergency one if needed), no contraceptives, Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen, NOTHING! When I get a cold, I kill it with veggie drinks plus an extra shot of ginger root. Most importantly I don’t get sick at all because of the nutritional change in my life, 7 years ago. Overall I do not ingest dairy with the exception of occasional pizza (cheese). I substituted milk with hazelnut or almond milk, substituted butter with coconut butter; I do not drink sodas whatsoever, I try to keep everything that I eat as clean as possible without colorants or chemical preservatives. It is basically all about reading the nutritional fact. I don’t like a long list of unpronounced content; I like shorter lists with simple ingredients that I am familiar with.
It’s definitely harder in the U.S, where a strong “pill-popping culture” is a business, and the food industry is so overwhelmingly large that it is harder for an efficient regulation and supervision to take place. But I see it as a challenge. I feel like I win the “food game” every time I find a trusted new brand, or when I discover a dangerous ingredient in the “organic, light, or low carb” disguises.
Now going back to my disliking of doctors, I just really find it to be unrealistic that a doctor will pin point your sickness or disease with a million different diseases and symptoms out there, most of the time very similar amongst them too. I mean seriously, just analyze a doctor’s visit. They ask you questions that you can answer yourself. What have you been eating? Are you sleeping? Where is it hurting? This is how they get your symptoms, which you can really just figure out yourself. If they still don’t know what you have, they will arrange a blood test or a lab test, which doesn’t necessarily tell you what you have either because they have to know what they are testing you for. When it’s about other than emergencies, I think there is so much research that can be done online before you even go to a doctor. My advice: Read a lot and educate yourself with a lot of different sources.
Now, why on earth am I rambling about this? Well, because I think something is going on with my body which has a somewhat lengthy background to it, and is now expressing itself more and more. I’m about to set up an appointment with a doctor to get tested for that specific suspicion that I have because if I go in just because, believe me, it’s hopeless.
Stay tuned and stay healthy, but most importantly, listen to your body.
Miss Natalia Silva