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Pursuing Health in the Face of Hopelessness with Melissa Johnson

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Hey friends. Today I am with Melissa Johnson, who is actually one of my clients and also one of my friends and we're gonna be discussing some of her health journey and the steps that she took to find answers.

Hey Melissa, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing a little bit of your health journey. And I just wanna start out and kind of dig right into it with the questions 'cause you have so much to share. The first question is, what was your experience with doctors and how they addressed your symptoms when you first started dealing with this health issue?

Well, in the beginning, some of the doctors were. It's hard to explain. My experience varied from empathetic to comical and even what I considered a literal hell, and I'm just being honest. I don't know how else to express it. The more doctors I saw, the worse I seemed to get. The more faith I put into the medical and pharmaceutical industry the worst my condition became. Some of the doctors were very empathetic and they tried to help the best that they could. They offered me blanket, but could never focus on the issues that were leading to their blanket diagnosis, and I just simply refused. If I challenged 'em because my blood work didn't match what they were trying to diagnose me with, then I had one tell me that I needed a mental rest.

Oh my goodness. Well, that's what, that's what everybody wants to hear, right?

One told me that I needed to see a psychologist. I even had a medical doctor tell me that I just needed to push away from the table that people in Ethiopia didn't look like me.


So it was a very difficult journey because you go to these peoples for help and instead of them helping you, they're criticizing you or they make it about the way you look.

Well, you know, I had gained this particular doctor, I had gained 60 pounds in a three week period.

My goodness.

I was going to him to get help to find out, because you don't just gain 60 pounds in three weeks unless you're sitting, you know, somewhere eating a whole cake at a or something. There was something like...

I don't even know if you could do it with that being intentional.

But it was a very difficult journey with, but I did meet, um, healthcare providers that did try. They might have exhausted their means, but they did try.

Do you think some of that was just that well-intentioned, like they wanted to help but maybe didn't have the time to invest in digging for the answers and I guess kind of cookbook medicines, what I call it, where you didn't fit the bill of the diagnoses, but they try to kind of put it in that box because really that they're limited to that kind of toolbox.

Do you feel like that was kind of part of it? Not with. The rude doctor who had no idea, apparently, I don't know what was up with that, but anyway.

I think so. I think with every individual, they have their own journey. So what they are taught is what they believe, and many of them do not color outside the line. So when you approach them and you have an issue, they match your issue with the issues inside that box, and that's where they want to place you and because each of us are individuals, we eat various foods, we are exposed to different environmental factors. We all have different genes, the different ages, different sizes. There's so many variances and variables involved. The blanket doesn't cover it. You can't take one diagnosis and apply it to multiple people when it's just because the symptoms are similar. They're following what they have been taught and trained to do. It's textbook. Doctoring and they don't migrate outside those lines.

And I think that approach, you know, works for about the estimated 20% of people have good results from that kind of approach. But there's a whole other 80% where we're very individualistic and it just doesn't work. And so I guess sometimes when the resources are exhausted instead of digging for more, it's like, I'm sorry, that's all we have. And that's okay because it pushed you to go outside of the limits of just conventional medicine and that really led to being part of your healing. So sometimes it's good that people only have certain tools to work with, and when those tools aren't effective, that we have the permission to go outside of that and find other tools for our toolbox, because I think that oftentimes is frowned upon.

But really we need people on our team, not necessarily one person that's. The heroine of the story, but somebody that says, Hey, I'm honest enough to tell you. I don't have the answer, but...


I'm willing to help you find it, or to help you find connections to people that do have the answer. And I know in the office a lot that I'm a point of reference for people.

I don't have all the answers. I'm an investigator and I wanna try to dig for the answers, but sometimes that's outside of my spectrum. And I have to say, you know what? I do have this contact and we can work together and help people connect the dots. So how did you start to find answers when you weren't able to find them through the regular conventional medicine methods? I mean, how did you finally start addressing your health concerns and, and what did that look like in your day-to-day life?

It was just a complete accident. I had just returned from a trip to the Mayo Clinic where I spent two weeks with my best friend trying to figure out what was going on. Did not come back with clear answers. Came back with more blankets and I had a routine mole patrol with a dermatologist, and I was, I was still so sick and went in. While she was doing her mole patrol, she made an observation and inquired about it and it's horrible that I say this, but at that point in time, I was completely fed up with doctors.

My attitude, I had lost faith completely in the system. I was just very bland with her, kind of rude. She wanted to take a biop and I told her to go right ahead, but it wouldn't really make any difference. They were all alike anyway. It's not like she was gonna help me. And so she takes this information and she says, I'll call you. And I'm thinking, sure you will. But she did call me the very next morning, it was supposed to be a two week wait, and she called me immediately the next morning. It was very early before the office even opened, so it was on her time. She asked me to meet her at the office and I said, I don't have an appointment.

And she said, they know that I'm expecting you. I need to speak with you. And she said, I think I have an idea of what's going on and why, why you're having some of the issues you're having. So I met with her and that's what really started my true journey. It was when she gave me that diagnosis, I came home and my mind was blown.

I sat down and I started just taking the various notes that I, where had gone to other doctors and, and the, the doctors from the Mayo and, and I started looking at them and I looked in depth. If I didn't know what a word was, I Googled it. I worked in the medical field, so I had a little bit of an advantage, but I did, I had to Google a few things because I had no idea.

So I just started adding a few things together and it started my journey because research doesn't cost you anything. It's just very important to keep notes and files of every healthcare provider that you see, because even though the verbiage may not make sense at first, once you pinpoint something where you can create a self-care plan, everything will start making more and more sense.

One thing that you address will lead you to another in your journey, so you have to start somewhere. I was very fortunate that that one diagnosis gave me what I needed to get up and go. Kind of led and then the cascade started happening where it started to make a little bit of sense of connecting the pieces or you know, where the puzzle was coming together.

So what do you feel was the turning point for you? Like you were kind of disappointed with a lot of the treatment that you had received, and then you kept searching and going, but you had to do this all on your own pretty much. I mean, you were just trying to connect this and say, Hey, can you help with this and that. But was there a point where you thought, I'm gonna get better. I'm not gonna settle for this. I'm actually gonna get better. Was there a time in that whole thing where you could look back and say, this did it for me?

Part of my journey is really what turned me around, that actually happened when I was at the Mayo. I had finally just reached a point where my money was exhausted, my health continued to deteriorate. I had no answers. Again, I had lost faith in the medical community, the pharmaceutical industry, and people. I was getting close to losing faith in myself. I had already addressed it with my husband and my daughter, and told them that we needed to start preparing for the worst.

Because I was not getting better and that I was not gonna get the help, I was ready to just toss in the towel. At that point in time. I was tired of fighting it. During the plan to go to the Mayo, I had a family member that was supposed to go with me and she bailed on me. At the very last, I was in a panic because we had not made other arrangements and I was talking to my best friend and she said, you know what, I'll go with you. And her husband was very supportive and he said, I don't care how long it takes, you take care of her. So that, you know, it made me do a double take because you know that this was my best friend, which she was more like a sister to me, or she always has been.

But anyway, we went on this trip and it was excruciating, the testing, the horrible things. And of course, you know, me and her both, we were exhausted. And one evening I was just, I was so frustrated and things were just, I wasn't getting answers again. I was just getting blankets. There was even other patients at the Mayo that were trying to provide me support against the doctors because they felt like the doctors there were not providing me with the proper care.

It was a very strange event. But anyway, my best friend, she looked at me this one particular evening. We were both completely exhausted and I was so frustrated, and she said, when your whole situation is exhausting. You are exhausting. And I remember, I just looked at her because it was, that's when I took a step back and I looked, and I, you know, she was here with me.

She was willing to take these steps with me and go on this journey with me. I wasn't making things any easier for her either. So she told me, she said, you need to remember who you are and why you're here and who you serve. And we prayed together. And not a dadgum thing happened, not a thing. We finished up there.

We had a wonderful time while we were there as well. I mean, it was very excruciating, but we had a wonderful time. We flew home and because they had wanted to keep me another week, and I refused because I was done with a battery of tests. We came home. It was the very next day. Now, keep in mind.

We prayed before we left, the very next day after I came back was when I saw the dermatologist.


So that's when everything did start happening. And there was one doctor at the Mayo Clinic who did, outreach to me as well and provided me just another tidbit of information. Turned out another area that I needed to address again.

That's where my journey initially began, and I just started taking everything and putting it together. I started researching and reading and treating. Trying to figure it out.

Before we close out, Melissa, I wanted to know, because I know there are people listening that don't need the details of your story, but they relate to the fact that it's so hard when there's something wrong and no one's listening.

And even worse, people are listening and they don't know what to do with you. So for those people, do you have any advice that you would give to anyone who's struggling with real health issues and they're just not finding the answers.

I have a a little bit of advice on that. Give yourself grace, first of all, because you're gonna make mistakes. You need to start small and focus on one thing because when you try to treat multiple things at one time, if something isn't working, you're not even gonna know what it is. That's a big thing. One thing may help, one issue, one of two issues that you have, but it could make one of 'em worse. So you have to start small.

Do not focus on how you look. That's a big thing, because that will come. Later, after your health is improved. Don't let yourself become fueled by ego, pride, vanity, and wanting to be or look a certain way, because that's how society has defined pretty or what is acceptable. That's ridiculous, and it doesn't play well with your health.

You have to love yourself enough to take the journey to relearn how to live and love life. And love yourself and laugh with everyone around you. Also, no one size fits all. We are all individuals with different eating habits, likes, dislikes, we're exposed to different environmental factors. We do not share the same genes.

And just because one thing works for one person does not mean it will work for someone else. You don't discount it. Just bear in mind that some issues may mimic other issues, so you can have two different folks with the same symptoms, even factors. But it may be unrelated issues where the treatment for one might worsen the other.

And finally, give the folks that love you enough to stick around with you through your journey to better health a lot more grace. They love you enough to take the journey with you, and they don't have to. This journey is only about you. So when you find people that are willing to stick it out with you and they love you enough to lift you and stand beside you and even are brutally honest with you. Remember where that's coming from. It's coming from love.

Well, thank you so much for sharing that and a friend of mine told me yesterday. She said, you will make time for your health when you realize that you're worth it. And I think a lot of it is that we have to realize that as women, we have to take care of ourselves.

And oftentimes we neglect that because we have so many other people to take care of. But if we really wanna care for those people that love us, that we need to be able to offer grace to, we have to make time to care for ourselves and find the answers. And it's so important. And as women, I think we're not very good at that sometimes, but if we could see it as not selfish, but actually the best way we can care for others, then it changes the ability to do it a whole lot.

Well, thank you so much for sharing some of your journey to healing with us. I hope, and I believe that your story will help others that are trying to find the answers, that they can be their own health advocate and that you never stop looking. So to keep searching until we find the answers that we need for our healing.

It is a journey, you said, handle one thing at a time. And I think that was so valuable that, you know, we look at our health and we feel like, well, I've got all these things wrong, and I know in practice a lot of clients are overwhelmed and I'm overwhelmed sometimes when you're looking at someone's health story and you're like, where do we start? Oh my goodness. There's so many things and we're tempted to go down the rabbit hole and try to start doing a whole thing at one time. When I think what you said is the key is that one thing at a time you didn't get to where you were overnight and we're foolish to think that we can get out of that in the same amount of time. So it's amazing that the body can heal quickly and thankfully more quickly than it gets into a, a mess, but basically that we are gracious to ourselves to allow us that time to heal. Any last words, Melissa, before we close out? Or do you feel like you've said it all?

Well, I feel like that I said it all. Be your own best friend and be an advocate. If you don't like what someone says, it does not resonate with you. Like it is not gonna work for you. You have that option. Look for someone else because there's someone out there, and when you find the right person, you'll know.

But don't give up on your health.

That is awesome advice and really the heart of this podcast, and why I started it was I wanted women to know that they're not alone, that there's other people that have the same struggles, and really to have a place where you can be heard and not just have somebody listen and, and go ahead and make their mind up, but really be heard and to just never, never stop looking.


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