My name is Ina, and this is my story.
It all started from birth I suppose. I never experienced any major health issues, I was an extremely energetic kid, but I dreaded afternoon sleeping and eating in general. (Just for the record, 7 yo, 19 kg). Everyone thought I was super allergic to the nitrates, the skin and the seeds in vegetables and fruits, as every time I ate them – I had an immediate response in the shape of urticaria, swollen lips, eyelids, or itchy inflammatory rash.
Little that we knew, my father’s kidney stone issue/compromised ability to expel oxalates was something I inherited. (I don’t think he has much oxalobacter by default either, the only difference is – he’s never been on antibiotics, so the problem rises occasionally, but he has a normal and fulfilling life, full of sports and his diet is very good.)
It all sort of subsided for me as I grew up, but continued at the background, appearing when I least expected. My first major kidney issues started in my teenage years, when I (why the hell?!) became vegetarian. I also had plenty of fractures in those years (again no one suspected calcium in my body preferred the kidneys, not the bones). A kidney crisis from time to time used to put me in hospital. But hell really broke loose in the spring of 2012.
I had a kidney infection that was resolved by a course of an antibiotic, just for the symptoms to come back with vengeance a month later. And they never left for the next 8 years.Little that I knew, it was only about to get worse. Ever since – not a single urine or blood test, pcr, sterile, or any other revealed the presence of bacteria/virus and I have been tested for everything under the sun. What they all revealed though:
The parasitology in Sofia was the first to point out in the right direction after testing my 24h urine. The sample was clean of pathogens, yet, full of epithelial cells, traces of blood, all visible with a naked eye.
We found a fantastic microbiologist, who took my case very personally and tried everything to help. But even he said – “I dont understand, I have never seen such an abundance of epithelial cells, there must be an ongoing response, possibly an infection.”
He thought that my own body is attacking me for some mysterious reason. He was sort of right. But it wasn’t until a few years later that I joined the dots. My body was not attacking me, my body was attacking the oxalates, deeply embedded in my soft tissues. I was peeling from the inside and no one knew why. Instead, unable or incompetent or purely business oriented doctors started experimenting on me.
As no progress was ever achieved, they all resorted to referrals to other ‘specialists’, usually psychiatrists, neurologists, etc, who overmedicated me and tried to convince my family I was crazy. I think this was the rock bottom of it all. To be labeled mentally unfit, or oversensitive, OR DEPRESSED when you are peeing the skin of your own organs out while trying to protect the emotions of those you love is a tragedy.
This is when I started planning and postponing ‘an accident’, because I just could not face my father anymore, every morning, asking me if I feel any better than the day before. I am crying while writing this and no, I was not depressed. I was in pain, no matter what conventional medicine conveniently translates that into.
The symptoms were: constant kidney pain, mostly sharp, as a knife cut, sometimes dull and extensive, sometimes like electricity shocks(at my worst I was literally blacking out of pain), sometimes right kidney, sometimes left kidney, sometimes both. Pain was moving, so I felt it in my ureters and bladder and particularly – in my urethra.
It felt like this, imagine it, please: You shatter a glass bottle in small sharp pieces. You fill your shoes with them. You put them on without socks, and you live without EVER taking them off for the next 8 years of your life while everyone around you is dancing through life and questioning your sitting in the corner.
It is not unbearable, there are no words that can describe this darkest circle of hell. No actual diagnosis that explains it all was ever given, but hundreds of umbrella terms, painfully familiar (chronic, idiopathic, autoimmune, etc) were ascribed to my ever worsening condition. I lived somehow, trying everything on earth while being on a regular supply of antibiotics and painkillers.
Fast forward to May 2018.
Pain multiplied to the point of me being unable to work, function or continue on my own, so my absolute legends of parents took me home for the next 6 months, determined to solve the problem once and for all. I turned into a very sick baby, who had lost all its independence, most opportunities and a fair amount of people.
My grandfather was a very respected and renowned doctor of Sports medicine and so we were lucky (we thought at the time) that we could access the best. Without sparing any time, effort or funds, we started going from one hospital to another, from one highly recommended specialist to the next. The head of the nephrology unit in a major hospital, arrogant beyond belief, just shouted at me and my dad, a week after my last operation that I ‘should drink bicarbonate of soda and get on with my life’.
His co-worker, who performed the operation in the university hospital, said ‘I have seen this idiopathic inflammation, there is no cure for it, so cheer up, you are young, I will refer you to a neurologist.’ But after 4 very invasive operations, cutting, dilating, stretching, and unblocking previously caused by operation blocks, I was on my way out. I was on a 16 hour drip of the strongest antibiotics (for sepsis), morphine, all my veins were popping, so I had IV-s in my ankles, I was 37 kg, i could not eat and I was prescribed benzodiazepines and an anticonvulsant at that point.
This is when we found a private clinic in London which had a high success rate in treating patients like me through an experimental therapy of systemic high dose antibiotics. Their theory was of a deeply embedded stealth infection, which I am sure is the case for many, but was definitely not for me. Nevermind. We went for it as we simply didn’t have any choice left at the time. The waiting list was 4 months.
I packed my bag and flew back to the UK. For the next two years I was put on a very high dose of 2 (sometimes 3) types of antibiotics daily, indefinitely. They adapted them based on my urine epi cells count, wbc count and my symptoms, but they never really changed anything drastically, apart from giving me hope that maybe…..in the long term…..you know, maybe I will be lucky this time.
Fast Forward to June 2020.
I live in the UK, I am highly addicted to the two benzos(between 3 and (on a bad day)10 mg a day, which is the only thing that took the edge of the pain away), the anticonvulsant is gradually raised from 75mg to 600 daily, (which is a tenfold of 8 times in less than 2 years!), I am taking potent painkillers, barely touching the pain as if they are sweets, the 2 systemic hardcore antibiotics were ruining me, and in the meantime – I try everything that I found about, chinese herbs, tinctures, supplements, physio, fasting, even bloody god damn veganism for a bit (huge mistake, completely incompatible with life or my problem, specifically).
I just didn’t know enough yet. My short term memory was severely impacted, my concentration was out the window, I could not sleep/wake up without pills, I could not maintain a normal relationship, job or even a conversation, because I simply felt nothing, but pain and I hated myself for that.
I really, really wanted to live a good life and pursue my dreams, and unburden my family(emotionally) but that was not happening. So a plan had to be made. The plan was simple, if by the end of 2020 there was no improvement, I was done trying. And I want to point out – no doctor has EVER responded positively, to any of our questions about the food – health connection. None. Not one. They were more than happy to take the money though and leave me even more disabled than before meeting them and then pass me on to the next medical vulture like a piece of useless flesh.
Roughly at this point I found out about the carnivore diet, about Shawn Baker, Mikhaila Peterson, Sally Norton, Paul Saladino and so on and so on and these people saved my life and are nothing short of saints to me. I thought – ok, that is my last chance. I have to go for it and I have to go all in.
I stopped all my medications stone cold(which I do not recommend to anyone!). That put me in, well, I thought I knew what hell felt like, I was only about to find out.
It felt like dying of pain and fear every single second of every minute, of every hour, of every day for the next month. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I was shaking, puking, having nosebleeds, my heart was racing. Abstinence together with an excruciating pain because your body is full of oxalates that are chopping your insides is what hell is made of, if anyone ever wonders.
I began the carnivore diet slowly, eating lamb and bacon. Lockdowns had started, so I didn’t have to go to work and suffer in silence anymore, I could just experiment with that meat thing, feel as weak as I needed to during the adaptation period(1 month btw). I didn’t have much energy in the beginning for much more than sunbathing in the garden, free to feel unhidden pain. High-calcium foods like dairy did not do me good (and still don’t) but meat and fish were a whole different story.
I still can’t tolerate dairy and other things, but I am ok with just meat, fish, eggs and fish roe for the moment. I do experiments every few months, adding things to my diet(for example, I tried yogurt recently, as I have always loved it, but I wish I didn’t, eggs only came back to me a month ago, etc). Sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but what happened altogether is on the following list:
- I am finally sleeping.
- I am off all prescription medication.
- I have so much more energy and (please don’t laugh) joie de vivre!
- My body composition is optimal.
- Everything heals quicker (I had an old snowboard knee trauma, that healed 3 weeks into eating meat).
- I tan quickly, do not burn and I hardly fade. My skin is clear, my nails and hair are strong.
- My period is like a clock now.
About once a month, there are a few days when oxalates are leaving my body and I pee these sharp crystals, but I recover quicker and I have more breathing space between the difficult days now. Also – I am seeing the pattern of oxalate dumping, when I eat something with a high calcium content(or at least that is my case, which is something i need to work out, so I can have strong bones too).
- Pain is so much less, I can function almost completely normally and do not take any painkillers, which itself says a lot.
- My focus, concentration and memory have never been as good.
- Altogether, I feel calmer, brave and optimistic, not drained, scared and doomed anymore, because I know it is a matter of time, will and resilience.
I know it is a long process, but results really don’t lie and I am convinced that this is the right path and I am so happy more and more people are tuning in.
My mother told me that there are no failures, there are only lessons, while we were discussing the fact that despite my personal growth and the million books I have read, my professional CV suffered in the past 9 years. I suppose this is how I justify these 30% of my life. By not quitting, but finding the way out of pain and misery.
I have to think like that if I am to ever overcome the sorrow of having all this time lost to pain. To hell with everyone who is afraid, sceptical or neglecting the health tragedies that curse millions of lives. And the health benefits that the carnivore diet (plus I cannot stress enough LOW oxalate diet) has to offer. We can do better. Our minds and bodies are one.
I am not underestimating the fact that I also changed my thinking, perspectives on future, friendships, love and society. I do yoga and listen to my body and mind, without the old sense of guilt and hatred. Our bodies speak to us, we better start listening to them, before they start screaming. You can trust me, and the millions who are on their way back from that. You don’t want to go there. Give your body the fuel it desires and watch it go far.
Thank you again, for saving my life and for continuing to save other people’s lives.
I am sending you a photo of my last crisis, I am keeping them in napkins in a special reality check box now. All in our heads, right?
Kindest regards and thank you on behalf of all the people who love me, on behalf of those I am helping now(this is quite amazing, but a whole different topic) and on behalf of my healing kidneys, heart and mind. You saved me.