Having Choices Was My Greatest Gift

MaryDuggan_hands on hip

By Mary Duggan

It’s days before my big birthday and I would rather be otherwise occupied than explaining a recent blog. But okay, let’s try this again. And I will leave out the elegant metaphor or was it an analogy? Whatever it was, I still think it was spot on (as everyone seems to be saying lately) if we are ever going to figure out what keeps people from reclaiming their precious health.

The point I was trying to make is this: did anyone involved in your medical care make clear to you that you have choices? Did anyone say there are two ways to look at your __________? Here you have to insert the type of auto-immune disease you have been diagnosed with because there are so many. A big part of the conversation is why so many and a big part of the answer is the inflammation that links these conditions. But first, about choices.

I know in my case the docs made clear there were no real options or choices. I have found in years of discussions with other folks suffering from these myriad disorders that they were not presented choices either. And there’s the rub. Okay? Sorry but I will not allow you to take away my English Literature degree altogether. And I will argue with you that having a choice in the manner of your medical care is such a gift. Many medical maladies are permanent and irreversible and tragic – autoimmune disease isn’t.

Mostly docs tell us that we can treat our particular malady with pharmaceuticals (and in my case radioactive iodine and more) along with pain management. You will manage and you will suffer and you might or might not improve. Or as one female doc said, “You are a very sick lady and you are going to be a very sick lady for a long long time. You need to make sure you have excellent insurance, because you are going to need it.” Okay? I have heard essentially the same story from so many others and for so many years. I said, no thanks to the prescribed treatment. I wanted another choice. Fortunately I found one. A marvelous one that has made restoration of my health a reality. Well, at least restoration of my thyroid health so that I can move on to all the other challenges I face. But at least I have control over a major kingpin – the thyroid.

So pardon me if I go absolutely crazy when I tell folks that many of these diseased states are FULLY REVERSIBLE and instead of saying- really and how – they begin to defend their limitations, their doc, their choices – when in fact they’ve never been presented with choices. I have not been frustrated with this phenomenon for a few weeks. I have struggled with this anomaly within the human psyche for years. I think many physicians have as well. I have come to the conclusion that I shared in a previous blog that people actually and mistakenly fall in love with their disease. I think of the adage that my professor at the Naturopathic College use to repeat over and over: DEFEND YOUR LIMITATIONS AND THEY BECOME YOUR LIMITATIONS.

Why do we so often do this? Well gosh the billion dollar pharmaceutical ad campaigns where disease is romanticized and distorted might just have something to do with it. Ad campaigns outlawed in most civilized countries. But that’s another blog altogether.

I know encouraging folks to rethink the paradigm that defines a very important part of their life is tricky. I knew there would be hate mail following the aforementioned blog and there was. Vitriol and distortion is never fun but I don’t do the work I do to gain popularity. My sisters and I have established this forum to challenge what is accepted and to face our collective un-wellness with humor, grace, wisdom and information. I thank God for the folks who rattled my cage over the years and challenged me to go for real recovery. To reverse your disease you might just have to turn your accepted notions of medicine and illness and love and friendship and life itself on its head. Thank God there was lots of stand up and cheer response as well to that recent blog or I don’t know that I would want to continue with this UNPAID labor.

So for convenience sake, I will address just a bit of the hate mail collectively.

  • It’s well established fact that some docs are in bed with the pharmaceutical industry. Calling me a “whore” is factually untrue, okay. Sheesh, get a grip.
  • And no, I do not receive any payment for encouraging you to read Scammell’s book, or any of the other numerous books I talk about in our blog. Though I like the idea and maybe I should pursue it.
  • My compassion or lack thereof should be left to the Dalai Lama or Jesus or someone highly qualified to determine. Not here and most certainly not by folks who do not even know me. I think the man who turned me on to the knowledge of mycoplasmic infection having a huge role to play in the auto-immune diseases that were wracking me and my family was acting in the truest definition of compassion. He eased SOOOOO much suffering to those of us in my family suffering with Ankylosing Spondylitis, Arthritis, COPD, Advanced Lupus, Chronic Fatigue, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Krohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Fibromyalgia and my little old Graves Disease and Traumatic Brain Injury. Those of us, that is, who were willing to listen and read and challenge the accepted medical protocals. Translation: we changed doctors repeatedly until we found ones committed to our full recovery. And yes, I come from a large family with LOTS of health challenges. And no our friend with the clarion call did not cushion the blow, or concern himself in any way with artificial sympathy or compassion. He told it like it is. See, I do know more than a bit of what I speak.
  • And you know the marriage analogy that I just can’t let go of; well, it still serves this discussion. Because just like a healthy and loving marriage, once you choose to reverse the course and commit your energy and resources and spirit you are going to have to work like hell to make it work. And you are going to need a brilliant and compassionate physician to guide you through, in fact you might need a team of them. You are going to need that loving spouse and those understanding friends as you say no to disease and yes to recovery by being willing to:
    • balance your hormones
    • regulate your thyroid function
    • cleanse all parasites
    • heal your leaky gut
    • switch to a non-inflammatory diet
    • clear your candida
    • eliminate or heal toxic relationships
    • address spinal subluxations
    • okay, that’s a good enough scratching of the surface on The Road Back.

A special note here to the gal who claimed the viciousness of my blog could lead to widespread suicide among the hopeless victims of auto-immune diseases. No, I am not kidding, I really have had to take all of this in. I actually understand where you are coming from. I agree that the traditional approach to these wretched health conditions can leave one so lost and in so much pain and so hopeless and depressed that at times suicide looks desirable. LADY, THAT IS WHY I TAKE THE TIME TO DO WHAT I DO. I KNOW THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS DISCUSSION. I HAVE SEEN AND FELT FIRST-HAND THE DEADLY CONSEQUENCES OF NOT GETTING THE NECESSARY INFORMATION TO REVERSE AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASE – NOT MANAGE IT. Damn, and there I go screaming again! And just when I was trying not to by using elegant prose and analogy instead. Oh well.

PS: To the mother of six, I say God Bless You. I am one of eleven. But, I ache for all the couples who were never told that gluten sensitivities and thyroid malfunction are oftentimes at the root of the widespread infertility among women suffering with auto-immune diseases. With my ice cold heart, that is, I do ache for them.

PSS: And oh yeah, kudos on your participation in animal welfare. You will be delighted to know that the book I am hawking, and for which I receive no money, if purchased through our link on Amazon, generates a donation to a Veterinary Charity to provide services to sick animals whose owners can’t afford to pay.

And now, photos of some of my treasured rescued pets, just because they LOWER MY BLOOD PRESSURE. Maybe if you knew me better you would judge me less harshly and then wouldn’t we all be so much better off? Here is tiny window into my world.

c-dog vestibular w:seamus

We all slept on the floor with our dog Ceiliedgh, including his dear friend Seamus the cat, because we thought we were losing her that night. Thank God, just Vestibular Disease and we had her to love a bit longer.


Ten days after we lost Seamus, we lost his dear friend Joey to a return of her breast cancer.

chester in ivy

Chester, my service dog, loves to take long cool naps in the dark damp recesses of our shade garden.

peeps on back porch floor

Little Peeps was just as wiped out by Seamus’ death as I was. He’d always been a bit of a stinker; but he has really come through for me in this first painful year without Seamus. I never could have imagined the comfort he would provide.

And now I end this post with a photo of my favorite gluten-free pizza because what the hey, it’s my blog. So here’s to peaches, macadamia nuts, and goat cheese pizza with a drizzle of hazelnut oil and agave nectar. Just four more days until my 60th birthday and I think I will request this for my special menu for the day, even if I have to make it myself. You see, I want to think about nothing right now but celebrating my life and all the possibilities it holds for many more decades. I look forward to sharing the ups and downs, the victories, the defeats, and the deliciousness of it all with all of you. Namaste.

Gluten-free fruit and goat cheese pizza

I went through a phase last summer with my family that I called “Concept Pizzas.” Peach and cheese and macadamia was a big hit. But the GRAND PRIZE WINNER was roasted red pepper sauce topped with chopped dates, chopped chipotle infused bacon and a lacy topping of Manchego cheese. OMG!



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