I’m a “group leader” for this year’s Nutritional Therapy Association. Similar to a Teacher’s Assistant, but there are a handful of us. We get to take the class again without doing the work or get graded, but have extra responsibilities for helping the students learn the material. We had our first class weekend this past weekend, and met Friday through Sunday, from 8am-6pm. It’s a long weekend, especially when you’re not used to being indoors or stationary for so long, but I always come out of it re-inspired to be learning and feeling more confident after helping wide eyed new students. However, this Sunday I had the most unique excuse ever for not making class. A few minutes before class started on Sunday I texted my friend from class: “Tell John I am in shock and not coming to class today. While I was outside waiting for you a man with a sledgehammer came and tried to hit me.”
I waited for my friend to pick me up outside so that I could make a phone call without waking my husband up. It was of course a normal Sunday morning in a lot of ways. I was feeling exhausted from the two full days of class that just passed, but was still looking forward to another full day of NTP learning. Standing in the fresh air I already felt more refreshed and a couple of friendly people passed my house every now and again, walking their dogs with a cup of coffee in hand. I left a voicemail with my Naturopath asking about the amount of Iodine in my Thyroid Complex supplement. The last couple of weeks on the elimination diet I’ve continued to feel quite tired, and I wondered if the Iodine could be contributing towards it. As I hung up, I heard the sound of shattering glass. I looked in the direction it was coming from and saw a man walking up my block swinging a sledge hammer into each car window he passed. He was methodological in his walk and with each swing he took. My house is in the middle of the block and he was at the end of my block- so about 4 homes down. My first reaction was that I was confused, and I thought to myself how strange and wrong it was for someone to be doing such a thing, but I was not immediately fearful. After his second strong and deliberate swing with his sledgehammer into the next car window, he noticed me standing less than 100 yards away. When his eyes locked with mine my whole body felt the immediate need to escape- never before have I felt such a dramatic switch into fight or flight. The man sped up his pace and deliberately walked towards me, continuing to swing his sledgehammer, but this time in my direction. My intuition told me not to run, as that would likely just provoke him. I reached into my bag to find my house key but it felt like forever until I had the right key in hand because they were shaking so hard. The only thoughts I can remember at this point were when I told myself to stay calm and just get inside my house as quickly as possible. The 20 steps from where I was up to my door felt like an eternity. The man continued to yell profanities at the top of his lungs as he swung the hammer behind me. Car alarms were going off like crazy but there wasn’t a single soul around other than the two of us. I walked with every ounce of efficiency I could find and only looked back once- when I got to the top of the stairs on my porch and he was just about to walk up them. He was about two feet away at that point and I knew that I had one chance to get in my front door. Our bottom lock is usually finicky and I clearly remembered that when I left the house ten minutes prior, I had only locked that lock since my husband was at home in bed. I slipped the key into the lock and it miraculously fit perfectly the first time. I truly believe that there would not have been a second chance anyway. I opened the door, slammed it shut, locked both locks, and heard a loud Wap- his sledgehammer hitting the door. From this time on it is more of a blur. My (deaf) dog was next to me in a milli second barking and growling profusely at the clear scent of danger on the other side of the door. I was screaming to wake up my husband, telling him to call 911, there’s a man with a sledgehammer trying to get in our house, and not to open the door. The realization of just how fragile my front door was in that moment was a clear reminder of how important my life is.
The rest of the story is a fuzzy mess. I was on the phone with 911 as my husband looked out the window to see that the man decided to continue up the street, jumping on top of cars and breaking more windows, all the while shouting angrily. My husband ran into our basement to grab a bat then opened our front door to watch for the police, thinking the man was still up the road. Unfortunately he had come back onto our porch during the 15 seconds my husband was grabbing the bat. When he opened the door, the man took a swing at my husband- my husband moved just in time and the man’s hammer hit our door instead. The man was startled and fell backwards down our porch stairs and onto the ground- this is when my husband took advantage of his situation and jumped on top of him to hold the man down. The rest was easy- neighbors ran outside and a crowd gathered around as my husband effortlessly held down the cracked out man, who was alternating between screaming paranoia’s and trying to fight my husband off him, to offering up his needles and labeling this all as “just a cry for help”.
The week after the incident I felt many things, the overriding feeling being anxiety. I’m usually such an easy going person, so the constant feeling of anxiety feels unnatural and unsettling to me. There were a couple times when I got so overwhelmed at the thought of the incident that I got sick. Brian took the next day off work which was helpful for me not to be home alone, but the rest of the week I went in between feeling powerful and grateful for making it out safely, and illogical surges of fear when trying to relax in my own home. The first few days I had a hard time allowing myself to be upset so often. But I am now feeling better at allowing the process to go naturally and am giving myself permission to feel every stage of it. My Traditional Medicines tea has become a staple in my house during the elimination diet, and never before this week have I put much notice into the little memo’s attached to the tea bag. The morning after the incident my tea bag told me ‘Smile’. It reminded me to look at the silver linings. The next few mornings my tea bags told me “Be yourself”, “Just be”, and “Relax”- all quite fitting reminders as well. Today, exactly a week after the incident, my tea bag tells me to “Renew”. I’m ready to renew my sense of security in my home. Luckily, it’s a wonderful time of the year to be at home. We have the fireplace blazing every night, our beautiful tree shining and too many gifts overfilling the tree reminding me of our good fortune and love in our lives. It was a random incident that I was unfortunately involved in, and I remind myself that if I hadn’t served as an accidental decoy, the man probably would have come across somebody else instead of me at some point- and perhaps they wouldn’t have been so lucky. It all ended up being okay, and for that I am so grateful.
Ironically, an important part of healing leaky gut is stress management and getting good quality sleep. It hasn’t been a particularly good week for either of those for me, but I’m doing my best. My naturopath prescribed me something to help me sleep and I’ve been surrounding myself with good friends and family, exercising only when I want to and at very low intensity, and of course eating lots of nourishing foods. (It’s not to say I haven’t had some slip ups- I’ve given into temptations a couple times so have technically started to wean myself off the RepairVite diet a week early. I added back in nuts, a small amount of sweets in the form of raw honey and fruit, and decaf coffee within the past two days, mostly out of being overwhelmed and frustrated at maintaining the strict diet during the busiest part of the holiday season. I figured these were the least bad of things to “cheat” on, so while I was disappointed in myself at first, I’m trying not to worry too much about it.) I’ve also started to focus on being extra good to my poor adrenals more so than usual. During the Fight of Flight mode that I experienced both during the actual incident and for days after, my adrenals were producing lots of cortisol in an attempt to manage the stress. High cortisol does many things to the body, including keeping blood glucose levels elevated and retaining sodium which is needed for high blood pressure, all for the purpose of your body prioritizing the energy needed to fight or flight. Because of the constant state of stress my body has been in, I haven’t been digesting my food as best as possible (you need to “rest and digest”), and I definitely have not been sleeping well. The demand from your adrenals to release cortisol too often stresses and eventually weakens them. I need strong adrenals for many reasons, a big one being that the health of the adrenals are usually always connected to the health of the thyroid. During the past year I’ve had many healthy changes to my diet and lifestyle, and I’ve almost entirely eliminated hormonal problems from my life. I went from spending at least one day out of the month on bed rest from PMS to not even knowing it’s happening unless I pay really close attention. And since I would also like to prevent endocrine problems in the future, it’s another reason to be mindful of my adrenals!
So for now, a new goal to support the health of my adrenals. I’m eating more often to avoid blood sugar crashes and meals are primarily fat and protein to keep me satiated. I’m eating good quality sea salt to nourish my adrenal glands. I’ve already (almost entirely) eliminated refined foods, sugar, and caffeine. I’m trying to slow down, do less, be still and be more mindful. Most importantly, I’m trying to focus on the important and joyful parts of the holiday season rather than the many little stressors that can add up to a big one. I remind myself how thankful I am for the health & many blessings myself and my family have. I threw a holiday get together with good friends last night, but remained stress free about the entire thing. I asked friends to bring a dish, did minimal set up, made and shopped for gifts that I really only wanted to, and let friends help clean up when they offered to. So thank you to my wonderful family and friends for being supportive and loving. As weight loss coach Jonny Bowden said, “Gratitude is incompatible with anger and stress. Practice using your under-utilized ‘right brain’ and spread some love. Focusing on what you’re grateful for- even for five minutes a day- has the added benefit of being one of the best stress-reduction techniques on the planet.” Happy Holidays everyone!