Patient Stories - Dr Natasha Andreadis

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Patient Stories

They said things could not be turned around for the better.

My name is Carl and I’m an……

Well not quite, but I used to have an addiction to sugar. My story below shares how I changed my life for the better, and maybe even saved my own life.

Guys don’t usually share stories, unless it is about sport, women, money or partying. I was one of those guys. Then I realised, at some point you need to sit back and realise what is happening to your body. Unfortunately, it often takes a health scare to achieve this.

I have had my fair share of health problems since I was three months old. Let’s get something straight from the beginning – I don’t have cancer, have the use of all my limbs and I’m not terminally ill. So I have nothing to complain about. I have had several operations though, arthritis since I was a teenager, metal in my body, bone sections dying in my knees, almost lost my leg, blood issues…..the list goes on. If you believe in reincarnation, then I’m coming back as a King.

What affected me most though was being diagnosed with chronic asthma to the point my parents were told I had two months to live and to prepare for my death. Obviously I lived to tell the tale and my parents were very thankful I had private health cover, otherwise they would still be working with 10 mortgages.

It’s not just the breathing problems that affected me, as I suffered from several types of allergies and skin irritations. I remember as a child the doctor’s using fifteen allergy needles to test what I was allergic too. It’s a terrible thing, as my arm blew up and I had to have further injections to calm me. Even lying on carpet set me off from dust.

Apparently I was allergic to bee stings too. I was on holiday in QLD as a child and stepped on a bunch of bees at the park. Next stop, the emergency room.

Despite this, I have always played sports or been very active since I was 6 years old. I wasn’t going to let this stop me. As a teenager, I did ok at running and Rugby, making the Australian U/16s squad. Unfortunately my Osteoarthritis Dissecans (lack of blood flow to the knees) kicked in, and I had five operations in succession with one resulting in such a bad infection, I was a few hours from my leg being amputated and only saved by a long line drip to my heart with powerful antibiotics. The anaesthetic also affected my asthma in a bad way. I had three more operations from sport, so the body these days wished I had of played chess.

Into my 20’s and my asthma ramped up another level. I was told by the orthopaedic surgeons (yes I had two) that I could not run anymore, or use my leg in a lateral or impact/contact manner. So I took up swimming to try and manage the asthma. That didn’t last long – I have respect for those that choose to stare at a black line for hours at a time at 5am. So the exercise stopped and the asthma got worse. I was taken to ER with a lung capacity of a 93 year old and pumped full of steroids. I was referred to Sydney’s leading respiratory physician and had numerous testing at RPA. They discovered that I had rather severe blockages. But I was proud at the fact I broke their machine though and beat the highest score during testing!

This is when the trouble started.

Unfortunately the doctors put me on a high level of daily steroids. The side effects were not nice. Always thirsty, pimples on my back, yellow teeth, high levels of testosterone, poor sleeping pattern and as I most recently discovered, fertility issues.

To try and help the asthma, I took up cycling (no impact on the knees). I started competing at a state level and joined a team. This was hard work – riding 500kms per week, travelling interstate and working full time. I remember burning 5,500 calories one Saturday after a race and coming home to eat a whole cake.

At this point you may be thinking why am I telling you this? Well it all relates to what comes next.

After having more blood tests, it showed my body was now deficient in other areas, which lead to a craving in sugar – i.e. the cake eating. Cyclists are known to eat large levels of carbs, and this mainly has gluten and sugar. So this was my main diet. And I loved a few beers too. After one race, I collapsed. Lucky for me a respiratory physician was at the event. More steroids.

I then married my beautiful wife in 2009. Unfortunately I never met her mother though, as she passed away a few years before we met with a rare case of cancer. Jane’s mum essentially rotted away for 2 years with the chemo, to the point she began losing her skin and needed daily salt baths. For those that have lost someone close, you know what it’s like. Everyday there is always a small reminder. I note Jane’s father has had nine (yes, nine) near death experiences in his life. So Jade has had constant stress in her life.

Soon after we married, we wanted to start a family. Jane has a missing void in her heart and I believe that will be filled with a child – by starting a new family. Jane is the most loving person and I can see that she needs to pass this love on to a baby. I’m ready too. Don’t ask how I know. I just do. It’s just been a long time trying.

Then we were told it couldn’t happen because of the damage to my little swimmers from all of the above. When I say “told”, the IVF specialist at the time said we had less than 1% chance. My swimmers weren’t swimming. They were more floating at best, with most drowning from the weight of two heads or no tails. When I received my first test results, it was a complete failure. An “F” on a report card if you like. During my whole life, I had been so competitive and generally had success, so this hit hard. I don’t handle second place well, let alone last.

Jane and I made the decision to make changes. Jane quit her marketing job and started studying Nutritional Medicine. This was her calling – a distinction average. I was lucky enough to involuntarily put my hand up as the guinea pig for Jane’s studies. And you can guess what went first – sugar, gluten, beers, caffeine and fun. All the small pleasures in life gone (or so I thought at the time).

I went to a Naturopath with my blood tests to boost the levels where I was deficient – and there were several. I had more tablets than the Essendon football team. I was given a detox mixture and began coughing up a whole bunch or green and yellow stuff for six weeks. I later discovered it is called the “healing process” and was the lining on my stomach from all the medication and crap that entered my body over the years. It has just been sitting there making me worse.

So the skin rashes stopped and I was feeling much better. I found out my body cannot absorb vitamin B naturally and when the new healthy supplements I was taking started to work, I felt like a light was switched on for the first time in my body. I was pumped with energy and Jade said the house has never looked so clean.

So I decided to take it a step further and quit the asthma medication at the same time. I should clarify – I stopped the steroids. I still take medication to increase the low oxygen levels in my blood though. The first two days were like caffeine withdrawals on steroids (pun intended). I felt weird and short of breath. With the help of acupuncture, a strict diet and enough exercise to keep the lungs ticking over without being too strenuous, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have never used them again. What happened to the severe blockages? I don’t really know. My uneducated guess is that I removed the inflammatory food groups. I believe some doctors focus on treating the bronchial side of asthma (blockages) with medication, rather than focusing on the inflammation side that causes the blockage in the first place. You know the saying, prevention is better than cure.

My mother recently saw my old respiratory physician (you think I’m bad….go read her medical history). She told him I was off the medication. I was told he was insulted and intrigued at the same time.

So you can probably guess where this is heading. My swimmers started…..well….swimming. They aren’t at the Ian Thorpe level, but I often refer to them as a one legged dog doing doggy paddle (visualise that) and they may even make it to the end of the pool one day.

Now I’m not against medicine and I’m not living in Bryon Bay hugging trees all day. I see merits in both. If I have a dangerous accident and need drugs – I’m all for it, as a celery juice won’t help much.

But what I have learnt is the fact that the body needs nutrients to support a healthy environment. It does not like toxins – from steroids down to a chicken Subway. Yes guys, Subway is bad. I’m not a saint, so I run an 80:20 rule – 80% non-processed, healthy foods, and then 20% to keep a few pleasures to stop me ending up like American Psycho. These days, such pleasures are gluten free natural chips and yes, it satisfies the cravings.

If you know me, I don’t like being told what to do. Just ask Jane. I am a decision maker and stop at nothing to get what I want. At first, I thought this whole natural eating thing was someone trying to start a trend to get rich. Then Jane explained it to me in the best way – “If it was around before 1950 – eat it”. This actually made a lot of sense and how I view food now.

So the only sugar I have now is via a nice bottle of red on the weekend (20% rule remember). I still eat my gluten free pizzas from proper Italian restaurants. I replaced my chocolate and cakes with natural yoghourt, honey and raw organic cacao powder mixed together- seriously, try it.

And, I’m back running my dogs (or my fur babies as Jane calls them – yes I know, we need children). It appears the natural food has significantly reduced the inflammation in my joints, as well as my lungs.

So there it is. Proof life can be turned around for the better, after being told by people that said it never would.

Fingers crossed I will soon have a new one on the way. But probably more important first, the father will be happier and still around to see the child grow up.

Thanks for listening.

‘Ode to my period’ by Georgia

“Most women are horrified when I say I love my period. It’s that time of month I feel most brave in all my vulnerabilities. I love the way they make me feel – earthy, feminine and connected. I’m in tune with my emotions my thoughts. With all its moody erratic behaviours it comforts me, it holds me. Each month reborn. My period is ME and I dread the day I no longer have them in my life.”

Ode to my period

I love my period
I love the cramps
I love the moods
I love the blood
I am untouchable
I am mother
I am earth
I am finally for a moment ME
I breathe

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  • RPAH Medical Centre
    Suite 318
    100 Carillon Avenue
    Newtown, NSW 2042
    Ph: (02) 9519-9707 Fax: (02) 8088-8005
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