My Ugly Rosacea Face Rash is Making Me a Better Person

My Ugly Rosacea Face Rash is Making Me A Better Person

I’ve always been confident about my looks, my health, and my ability to get what I want. Then I got The Face Rash. For over a year now, I have had this splotchy red rashy thing across the inside of my cheeks, my nose, forehead and chin. And I’m so grateful. Here’s why…

What I learned from My Face Rash

We’ve all heard the phrase “learn from your mistakes”. Our adversities in life can be our biggest teachers – whether they are mistakes, unexpected hardships, ill-fortune, loss or disease. However, it’s up to us to look for the lessons in these things, after we are done with the crying and cursing and self-pitying, of course. 🙂

Well, that exactly how it is with The Face Rash. For months it stressed me to no end – not knowing where it came from or what was wrong with my health, hating the way I looked, not being able to get rid of it, and feeling a failure as a health coach. But gradually I started to notice the lessons. And now, wow, what life-changing lessons they have been!

Here’s what The Face Rash has taught me:

Let go of control and go with the flow

You may be surprised about this lesson, but it’s probably the most important one for me and has changed my life the most.

As usual, whenever I have symptoms of ill health, I immediately look to my Primal 6, and #1 is thoughts. So the first person I went to see about my rash was my intuitive healer. Yes, I have an intuitive healer! This wonderful woman has taught me so much about the power of our thoughts on our health, so I went to her for a session.

I noticed a definite theme in what she said. “Left brain is controlling/dominating; the right brain is screaming to be heard…” “masculine side is taking over; you are weighed down by feeling you have to be strong for everyone else” “lack of trust in the universe, the system, etc. – feel like you have to control it”.

Around the same time, Kaiya (then 3), started having uncharacteristic angry outbursts and constant power struggles with me. My faithful parenting book suggested that children who engage in power struggles learn to battle for control from having a controlling parent. Umm, that would be me.

Then the clincher was a friend telling me that in a Louise Hay’s book she was reading, she learned that skin problems have to do with trying to control everything in your life too much. Ok, ok, I got it.

I started meditating, envisioning that every breath out of me was “letting go of control” and every breath in was “going with the flow”. I wrote the word FLOW everywhere. I made an effort to stop micro-managing my household and my family; to ask more for other’s ideas and input; to admit that I didn’t have all the answers; to accept flaws in my family; to stop over-scheduling life.

Kaiya’s power struggles disappeared as she didn’t have anyone to struggle against. Brad and I communicated better. Even my relationship with my mum flourished. I became more relaxed. And things always seemed to work out better when I didn’t try so hard to make it what I thought I wanted.

Did the rash go away? No.

Did my relationships, my family, my attitude and my life improve? Yes!

Thanks Face Rash.

Letting go of some vanity is so freeing

My whole life people have complimented me on my skin, and I have never worn makeup (except mascara and occasional lipstick). As The Rash got redder and flaky and bumpy, even people I didn’t know asked me, “What’s that on your face?”

I pretended like it didn’t bother me, telling myself, “Well at least I’m not single and don’t go out socialising much.” But normally I would be excited for the occasional party, and instead I started dreading them because of my face rash. Instead of jumping into pictures, I always offered to be the picture taker. I stared at my rash in the bathroom mirror several times a day. And I stared too long at everyone else’s clear, beautiful skin.

But then I remembered how freeing it was as a backpacker to wear frumpy clothes, no mascara and never style my hair. I reflected on the times when bad hair days, extra body weight, fashion and pimples stressed me out unnecessarily. Vanity is really just a mind-set, so I decided to change mine.

I decided to stop the chore of plucking my unruly eyebrows, and even stopped washing my hair for about 4 months (but that’s another story, coming soon). I got more comfortable with just being me, unvarnished, rash and all.

I also realised that as long as I was with friends that I was really comfortable with, I never thought about the rash, so why not spend more time with those people, than with people I felt I had to impress?

Did the rash go away? No.

Did I learn to let go of some of my lifetime of vanity programming? Yes!

Thanks Face Rash.

Health is a journey, not a destination

A chronic rash was especially surprising to me and those who know me, because I’m a health coach and health is my passion. I have  “figured out” all the secrets to optimum health and therefore should be in perfect health for the rest of my life. Right? Nope.

After 6 years of living Primally and feeling and looking the best I have in my life, here comes The Rash. Ok, I must be slacking on one or two of my Primal 6. So I work on them all year and still have the rash. Hmm, I think…

How can I be a role model for good health when I can’t figure out my own health?

However, over time, I realise that health is not something we arrive it. It is a fluid, ever-changing part of our lives that is so complex and holistic in nature, that to aim to “achieve” it is like aiming for perfection. What a revelation! In life, the goal is not to be perfect, but to be constantly growing and evolving. And so it is with health.

My health journey over the year also taught me so much about all the amazing health practitioners there are out there. I’ve consulted an iridologist, a homeopath, an intuitive healer, an applied kinesiologist and chiropractor, a nutritionist, a naturopath, a food intolerance test, a colonic hydrotherapist, a general practice doctor, and a functional medicine doctor. I learned from books, videos and articles all about fungus, gluten, digestion, gut disorders, food intolerances, parasites, rashes, automimmune diseases, and diagnostic testing.

Has the rash gone away? No.

Have I been on an informative and enlightening health journey that will also help me be a better health coach? Yes.

Thanks Face Rash.

Some hurts take years to heal

This last lesson is one that I had already been learning through my sessions with the aforementioned amazing intuitive healer. It’s incredible to learn how emotional pain can stay in the subconscious mind for decades, causing physical pain and illness long after your conscious mind has forgotten the experience.

Well, I’m now learning more about how physical damage can take years to heal, too.  Does time heal all wounds? Maybe not on it’s own, but it’s definitely a key component of the healing process.

If I had been in a rush to clear up this rash, I would have gone to a dermatologist and just put some cream on it. I would have covered it with make up.

And then I would have never found out that I have a very leaky gut (READ: damaged small intestine wall), a dientamoeba parasite the lab finally found, and a high intolerance to gluten.

I am treating the parasite now, but my poor gut still has a lot of healing to do. And it’s going to take time. But what’s another year of nurturing and learning about my body and myself?

Is the rash gone yet? No.

Have I learned the sources of my body’s imbalances and how to begin healing the damage? Yes.

Thanks Face Rash.

Rash UPDATE End of December 2013:

After taking antibiotics for the parasite, not only did I test negative for the parasite, but my ugly rosacea face rash completely cleared up from my whole face. Almostly instantly! Was the parasite the cause of my rash? Or does Rosacea just respond well to antibiotics? Hmmm…

I could look back and say it would have been nice to have just tested for parasites in the beginning, but then I wouldn’t have learned all I did. And after so long with that rash, I can’t stop marveling at how nice I look without it. I’d forgotten what I’d looked like before, and now I really appreciate my nice skin.

I’m now working on healing the damage to my intestines. Here’s how I’m healing my leaky gut and how you can heal yourself of most anything.

Rash UPDATE December 2014:

We have been traveling around the world for 7 months, and my gut healing protocol got left somewhere along the way, as I delved into all the amazing foods of the world. It wasn’t until the 5th month, after 4 weeks in Mexico eating lots of corn (one of my gut irritants), that The Rash came back. Boo! Its looking pretty red and inflamed.

My first thought was that the parasite must be back. I started looking into parasites again and learned so much more! I realised that parasites are always present within us, and it’s only when our guts are out of balance that they start to flourish and cause problems. Instead of eliminating parasites, my aim should be to keep my gut, health and body in balance!

I’ve decided to wear a little light make up to cover The Rash, which helps me feel way less stressed about, as I know stress contributes to my digestive issues! And I’m turning my focus to balancing, rather than curing.

Rash UPDATE January 2017:

I’ve written a second article about what’s happened with The Rash over the last 2 years. You won’t want to miss it, as there’s been Big changes and Big learnings! And wait til you see my face pictures. Hope it may help you with your own Rash.

My Ugly Rosacea Face Rash – Learnings Part 2

 

Please feel free to comment below with any questions! I do this to help others and that includes you. xo

I Have a Parasite Called Dientamoeba Fragilis

I Have a Parasite Called Dientamoeba Fragilis

This may shock you if you think that a primal mama like me is too healthy for a parasite. For me it’s a bit exciting because it finally helps to explain the excess weight loss and facial rash I’ve had for a year. It’s time to tell you all about what a strange year it has been… Histopath lab test positive result for Dientamoeba Fragilis parasite

It started with a rash

Well, really, I had plenty of digestive issues before the rash, but I had gotten quite used to the bloating, gas and occassional cramping and constipation, that I thought it was just a result of certain foods not agreeing with me. I could never seem to pinpoint which food it was though, and the bloating was getting more frequent. Then the dry pink rash spread across my cheeks. This splotchy, blemished and flaky rash developed on the inside of my cheeks near my nose. My forehead was also covered in blemishes for months, which later moved to the chin, along with some dry flakiness and pimples around the edge of my face near the hair line. Occasionally my lips get inflamed and seriously cracked around the edges. The rash sometimes looks much better and other times gets really inflamed, dry and red, though I can’t pinpoint what sets it off. My own research tells me the rash is called Rosacea, but giving it a name doesn’t help, as no one has officially determined what causes Rosacea.

I wrote about all the things that ugly rosacea rash taught me about life and myself.

Then I started getting way too skinny

I currently weigh 48 kg (105 lbs.), and can see bones protuding from me everywhere. After developing a primal diet and lifestyle, my weight didn’t fluctuate for 6 years. Even living 80/20, with the occassional ice creams, samosas and beers, I remained a healthy 55 kg (121 lbs). I only knew my weight because I donate blood regularly and they weigh you, but suddenly my clothes were falling off me and I could see my breastbones and shoulder blades sticking out in pictures. Then I saw the numbers on the scale decreasing…

Searching for the cause

Are you wondering why I don’t just get some cream to clear up my rash? Well if I did that, I would look better, but I wouldn’t know the cause of the rash, and if that cause was still damaging my insides. The rash is the main signal from my body that all is still not well. Despite my very hearty primal diet of organic meat, fruit and vegetables, I can not seem to gain back my weight. This is with no intense exercise. So for over a year, I have been fine-tuning my Primal 6, seeing many different health practitioners, taking herbs, vitamins and supplements, trying different anti-fungal protocols, and testing for and eliminating intolerance foods. None of these things eliminated the rash, stopped the weight loss, or gave indication of the cause. Yes, I am learning so much about health and myself from all of it…but I’ll get to that later.

Blood tests don’t tell much…

So far my blood tests were all pretty ‘normal’, except for high probability of celiac disease. However, I hadn’t been eating gluten for a long time (except on occassion). Though I knew that my prior gluten-filled diet had surely caused intestinal damage (and I will tell you lots more about that later too), there was something else going on. I heavily researched all of the integrative medicine doctors in Sydney and chose one with extensive experience in digestive diseases and functional diagnostic medicine. Functional diagnostics is a growing field of modern medicine which uses detailed lab work to identify the specific malfunctions in the body (causes), then a holistic approach to begin healing (rather than just treating symptoms).

I have a parasite!

After collecting numerous samples of my poo, it turns out I have a parasite living in my bowel. It’s called Dientamoeba Fragilis, and it may have been living in me, with little to no symptoms, for years. Yes, years! It is a common parasite that causes digestive distress and other health issues for many people but is dismissed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and rarely tested for. This parasite, along with gluten, has been suppressing my levels of  intestinal flora (good bacteria) and damaging my intestinal lining. The Center for Digestive Diseases says:

“Dientamoeba fragilis (D. fragilis) and Blastocystis hominis (B. hominis) are parasites which can at times infect the human digestive tract. Many of those infected are asymptomatic carriers. These parasites can, however, be associated with a range of gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhoea/constipation, mushy stools, abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas and pain. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, weight-loss, chronic fatigue, depression, low-grade fever, bloody stools and anal itching. D. fragilis has also been implicated in some cases of indeterminate colitis. Many patients may suffer for years before proper diagnosis is made and are often misdiagnosed as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).”

Was it something in the water?

Where I got the parasite is anyone’s guess. It is commonly transmitted in bad water, fecal matter and possibly via threadworms (pinworms), all of which I have been around at some point. Especially plenty of fecal matter in the last few years, being the mother of a 4-year-old. 🙂 Many people think you only get parasites from developing countries, but interestingly, parasites like Dientamoeba are very common in the U.S. and Australia. Personally, I travelled extensively in third-world countries, but it wasn’t until I arrived in Sydney, Australia in 2001 that I got Giardia from the tap water. But again, there’s no telling where I got the parasite, and maybe it really doesn’t matter.

Killing the parasite with drugs

Unfortunately, I was told that this parasite is extremely difficult to treat effectively through natural methods of eradication, which would have been my preference. The use of antibiotics is gut-damaging in itself, and we aim to only use them as a very last resort, which I talked about in my antibiotics article. However, the good news is that The Center for Digestive Diseases recommends a very pure antibiotic called Secnidazole (which I had to special order from a compounding chemist) which, in conjuction with another antibiotic Doxycycline, should eradicate this sucker from my gut in 10 days. I might feel terrible for a week as the parasite dies-off, but I am optimistic about my health steadily improving afterwards. I will keep you posted!

If you suspect you have a parasite

It’s best to learn as much as you can about them from experts. Paul Chek in particular is a wealth of knowledge on the subject. We highly recommend purchasing this his program called Healing Fungal and Parasite Infections“.

Even better, find a good integrative medicine doctor who uses functional diagnostics and proper testing, so you can get to the bottom of your own personal health issues. However, any doctor can refer you for the tests.

Just make sure you ask for the right test… A run-of-the-mill stool sample is not sufficient for detecting certain parasites, as the parasite doesn’t show up in every poo AND dies off easy if the poo is not preserved. For the test, you must collect poo samples from three days and keep in jars with a special liquid preservative. Your doctor will give you a testing kit and/or refer you to a pathologist (we used Histopath in Australia) to send your samples. In Australia, this test is bulk-billed through Medicare – FREE!

Angela of Natureglow had a very similar experience this year, and there are numerous helpful comments below this great article on her experience with D. Fragilis.

Resources and more information on Dientamoeba Fragilis:

Center for Disease Control – Dientamoeba FAQs
Center for Digestive Diseases – Parasites Emedicine – D. Fragilis Parasite Overview
‘Parasites Linked to Sewage Fertiliser as Stomach Bug Grips Sydney’ – The Daily Telegraph
A Gut-Full of Parasites – My Experience with Dientamoeba Fragilis
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene – Detection & Transmission of Dientamoeba Fragilis

My Parasite UPDATE:

After 10 days of taking the antibiotics, I waited one month for full parasite ‘evacuation’ from my body, then did the parasite stool sample test again…and tested NEGATIVE for Dientamoeba Fragilis. AND while I was still taking the antibiotics to get rid of the parasite, the ugly rosacea rash on my face completely disappeared! So phase one of my healing finished – parasite eliminated – I am now onto phase two, which is healing my leaky gut.

 UPDATE #2: Just over 1 year later

During 7 months of overseas travel, I got pretty lazy with my gut healing protocol and primal diet. By the 6th month, a smaller version of the face rash was back, and the bloating and other random symptoms have returned. Is the D. Fragilis back?

For now, I’m not sure that matters. What matters is that my body is telling me to get back to my primal ways which nourish and heal my body! My perspective on parasites is changing, in part due to an amazing visit we had with Dr. Amin, a parasitologist in Scottsdale, AZ, U.S.A. Here’s everything we learned about parasites, and what we are taking for our parasites now:

Parasites 101 – my sequel to this article!

Have you ever had a parasite or suspect you may have one?

Antibiotics & Our Kids – Helping or Harming?

Antibiotics and Our Kids - Helping or Harming?

If you thought we were a family of perfect health all the time, all our lives, I hate to burst your bubble. Truth is, we are humans, living in a very un-primal world. Especially in the first 25 years of our lives, Brad and I had our share of junk food, processed food, late nights, alcohol, tap water, illness, antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs.

Antibiotics and Our Kids - Helping or Hurting?

With our daughter Kaiya, however, we feel we’ve had a chance to get it right from the beginning. We get such proud parent feelings from having a child who at 4 years old loves organic meat and veggies, gets to bed early and sleeps well, drinks nothing but water (and primal shakes!), is a nature lover, keeps a happiness journal, and has hardly ever been sick.

So we were in for a big lesson recently, when Kaiya got a staff infection that required antibiotics.  The only time she had ever been to the doctor was when she was 1 year old and had conjunctivitis in her eye, which healed with time, and eye drops of my breast milk.

Our good health, and faith in the body healing itself are the main reasons for our lack of doctor visits. Yes, we also have an aversion to drugs and doctors that love prescribing them, but understand that medical drugs have a purpose too.

Antibiotics are a problem when overused, and sadly, antibiotic overuse is rampant, with doctors prescribing them for everything, including viral infections which heal on their own with time and care.

At 4 years old, this was Kaiya’s second time to a doctor. Some nasty looking yellow crusts had slowly been growing on the corners of her mouth over the week, and though it wasn’t bothering her or making her sick, it got so bad-looking that a friend suggested we go to the doctor. As soon as the doctor looked at Kaiya, she knew that the golden crusts were a staff infection called Impetigo, which is highly contagious and treated easily with antibiotics. Two minutes later, we had a prescription in our hand and were off to the chemist (pharmacist, for my fellow Americans). It all happened so fast that I didn’t even think to ask any more questions.

What’s in the pink drink?

It wasn’t until the chemist put the bottle of bubblegum-pink liquid on the counter that I started to back pedal.

“Why is it pink?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. All the kids ones are pink,” the chemist answered.

Hmm. “Well, what’s in it? How does it get pink and liquid? What else is in it besides the antibiotic?” I pressed.

“Why? Does your daughter have any allergies? It’s liquid because we add distilled water to the powder,” the chemist replied.

“No allergies,” I said. “We just like to know what we are ingesting.”

“Hmm, I don’t know what’s in the powder,” the chemist said. “I guess I could try to print off a copy of the drug fact sheet for you.”

The chemist’s puzzled reaction made it clear to me that no one had ever asked these questions before. She and her colleagues seemed to think I was a bit strange, but they graciously printed me off some information.

Ibilex (powder for oral suspension)
– Cephalexin (monohydrate): this is the drug, which has a long list of rare side effects
– Sucrose: this is sugar
– Imitation guarana flavour: artificial flavouring
– Powder for reconstitution: what powder?
– Gluten-free: so is cocaine…

Despite the weird ingredient list that didn’t seem complete anyway, I shrugged and got on with the dosages. The smell of the pink medicine took me back to my childhood, and Kaiya found it so delicious, she couldn’t wait for medicine time every day. Her mouth crusts cleared up after several days, and the contagious infection forced us to stay home together all week, which gave us lots of much-needed nurturing time together.

Antibiotics kill the bad…and the good

However, I still didn’t like the fact that Kaiya was taking antibiotics, knowing that the good bacteria in her digestive system were facing a mass genocide. I had been learning from my research that it only takes a couple rounds of antibiotics to initiate leaky gut syndrome (intestinal permeability) from the dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria), and was feeling a bit guilty for not looking into other options to clear the infection.

We gave Kaiya plenty of InLiven Probiotics, homemade kefir, and kombucha from our farmer’s market. She learned that the medicine kills the bad bugs, but also the good bugs, so we have to get some more good bugs in our tummy with these probiotics and fermented foods.

Are there alternatives to antibiotics?

As I was telling my mummy mentor friend about this, she told me that she, too, had a staff infection. And the infection cleared up completely with herbs from her homeopath! So I could have given herbs to Kaiya instead of antibiotics! No proud mummy feelings now. 🙁

I realised that though I know a lot about health, I don’t know a lot about sickness.

I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to do anything but follow the doctor’s orders to medicate, even though there are alternatives that carry much less risk to the whole body.

What I can do now, however, is learn from my experience. Now, I will be prepared with some knowledge and resources that give us options when Kaiya is sick or has an infection. I will visit the homeopath while we are healthy, so I will know what to do if we are sick.

My friend suggested that with something like an infection, it’s a good idea to visit the doctor first to find out what it is, then visit the homeopath to get some herbs for it. Because doctors know sickness. That is what they are trained for: knowing all about different types of illness, how to identify the illness, and how to treat it with medication. We are very grateful for modern medicine and doctors that can get us out of pain, injury and illness when the body can’t heal itself, or drugs are the only way.

However, when our immune system is simply a bit low, we have a viral infection, or our injuries are minor, we first go back to our Primal 6 and help the body heal itself. And with some illnesses and bacterial infections, homeopathics and natural remedies can be marvelous healers, without killing off our gut flora and encouraging further disease. Here’s an example of avoiding antibiotics from Whole New Mom, who treated her child’s ear infection, fever and pain without using antibiotics.

Just as with health, sickness is about balance and intuition. Gather knowledge, have resources, know your options. Our children’s health depends on it.

 

Have you ever found a way to avoid giving your kids antibiotics when they were sick?