In part 1 and part 2 of Samantha’s recovery diary, she shared what her recovery goals are and how far she had come after two months of training with DNRS. When starting the program, Samantha had disabling symptoms associated with Mast Cell Activation Disorder, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, Lyme Disease and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her sensitivities had become so severe that she had spent the 2 years living in a camper on her boyfriend’s driveway, and more than 8 years struggling with these severe health challenges.
Before beginning DNRS, Samantha described herself as living “like the boy in the bubble.”
In her own words (lightly edited for length and clarity) here is the third and final part of Samantha’s recovery diary.
Revisiting Recovery Goals
I started this program like most of you, with the intention of getting back into society and living a normal life again.
MY BIGGEST GOALS WHEN I SIGNED UP FOR THE PROGRAM:
- To move out of the tiny camper in my boyfriend’s driveway where I’ve been for just shy of 2 years after needing to move out of his home and abandon my things (now stored in his garage)
- To be able to buy items like clothing, general living necessities, and other items in the world without crippling symptoms
- Bring more foods back into my diet that I used to love
- To fall asleep without scary symptoms
- To be able to buy a mattress since I had to remove the one in the camper leaving me sleeping on cushions intended for a couch.
- To be able to wear makeup or use hair products again (haven’t been able to in 2 years)
- To be able to go back into my boyfriend’s home or go near my old things again
- To get vaccinated so I can socialize without fear and so I can be maskless around my boyfriend
- To be able to get back to running my business that I love, as a portrait photographer
Week 13 Update: I Feel REBORN And I’m Ready For This New Life!
The week before I started this program I was fairly certain I was not going to survive.
I took this photo of myself (below) just days before I found DNRS. I’m wearing a sports bra because I was down to only ONE shirt I could wear, so I tried to only wear it when I absolutely had to so I didn’t have to wash it so frequently.
I don’t really know why I took that photo. I felt hopeless and scared, and being a photographer I suppose I wanted to document it. I NEVER thought I’d share it with anyone. I haven’t even shown Randy my boyfriend yet and he’s my best friend and biggest supporter. The amazing thing is, I don’t even recognize that woman now. And, I certainly don’t feel anything remotely close to that state anymore, but I’m glad I took it because I can see HOW far I’ve come.
I used to be allergic to EVERYTHING, even half my “bed” was covered in garbage bags (see photo below) and the camper was getting smaller and smaller because I kept “contaminating” new areas.
My life was incredibly limiting, and worsening by the day. The last two blog posts I’ve made, I’ve written a lot about my miraculous recovery, and things keep getting better! Don’t get me wrong, I still have symptoms and my brain is still trying to sort all this out, and that can be uncomfortable at times. But I would take those symptoms and uncomfortableness 1000 times over the life I had been living.
I can now spend HOURS in the house that was part of my “perfect storm.” I have slowly moved some items that I couldn’t even go near, into the camper. I’ve used incremental training, baby steps, to get to this point.
I definitely overtrained last weekend though when I had pizza, cookies, AND ice cream. I felt not-so-hot for a couple of days but I kept up with my rounds and I wasn’t scared or upset. Once I felt better I had a small portion of ice cream as incremental training and have been fine and enjoying the process.
The one thing I have noticed is that every day is SO DIFFERENT. If I don’t feel like I’m having the best day, I know there’s a good chance I will feel awesome the next day. So, I try not to get irritated if things aren’t going how I want them to. I remember that squiggly line of progress… eventually it will straighten out and stay that way!
I took the photo below today! I’m a photographer, that’s been my profession for 11 years. Up until about a month ago I hadn’t worked in months. Now that I’m getting back to work, my creative juices have been flowing and it’s exciting again!
Last night the idea for this image just sort of came to me. I write my proclamation 10 times “I am healthy, I am strong, I am limitless” nearly every day (I’ve only forgotten a few times). I have saved a lot of the papers, so I decided to create a portrait with them. Randy went to the studio with me, and I set up all the lights and guided him on how to take it for me. It was really special.
The best part about this photo is that the shirt I am wearing is from the house I had to flee. The ring and bracelet are from my items stored in the garage from the PREVIOUS house I had to flee. I wanted to make a portrait that expressed how I feel NOW, that included reminders of this process, and included some of my wins. The fact that I can wear any of those items is a true miracle. I had severe reactions to them just 3 months ago!
Lastly, a few other big wins:
- I went to the “weekly happy hour” that Randy always goes to on Friday nights. I could never go before because it was too risky and also they would burn a fire which I couldn’t be near. I am happy to say that they had a big fire and I had no reactions. I also had pizza, ice cream and cookies that weekend.
- I have incorporated other items into the camper, things like my favorite mug I thought I had to give up, a really cool tweed jacket, a dessert dish, jewelry, and a favorite t-shirt. It took a while for my brain to be okay with these items but I am having NO reactions to any of it now.
- I am no longer allergic to dogs!! The allergist tested me TWICE!! Woohoo!!
It has become comical when I have symptoms now, especially now that I know I can stand in the basement which was the scariest thing I could fathom going near. I feel like any reactions I have now are like a toddler testing me. Often it’s for something that I KNOW I have no issues with, so I laugh at the symptom, and usually within minutes it goes away.
I am for the first time in 8 years confident that I will never go through anything like this again because at the first signs of limbic system impairment I will know what to do and can shut it down. I’m so grateful for that. I feel like a HUMAN again, a human with a future, and the future looks so bright.
Happy training everyone, I hope you have many joyous moments this week!
You can revisit the other two parts of Samantha’s recovery diary by clicking the links below: