I had the privilege to interview Gina Carlson and document her story. Stories like hers fuel my passion for why health is so much more than health—it fuels all of life.
Forty Days to Transformed Health:
By Gina Carlson
There are so many aspects to life. And in so many ways, we were very blessed. We were thankful for our children, for my husband’s job, and our families. But our family’s health was holding us back from ENJOYING the blessings in life. Life before Shaklee was unhealthy. And, though we might not have been able to articulate that at the time, health is so much more than health.
There was me: I was struggling with Rheumatoid Arthritis and autoimmune issues. I was taking medications but still felt unhealthy. And it isn’t easy being a mom when you’re not feeling your best.
But my own health issues were barely on my radar…
I have four children. Braeden was the healthy, easy one. Yet he was on Miralax daily for digestive issues. A five-year-old with hemorrhoids.
The twins, two years younger than Braedan, were born prematurely and struggled with their health since birth. Their lungs had not fully developed. For their entire life, they were on nebulizers every day. We spent every year in and out of the hospital. Especially in winter, October-March. Every year we would have 2-3 hospitalizations for pneumonia.
This was hard on our life. It was hard to have sick children—always, but Christmas break was a brutal picture of how these health challenges were more than just health challenges.
During our Christmas breaks, we could never do anything. My husband is a teacher. Breaks should have allowed us to go places and to be together making memories. It wasn’t. Their immunes systems were too low.
We spent most of Christmas break in hospitals or at home on treatments. The nebulizer treatments were required every 2-3 hour–even through the night. Plus there were two of them. My husband and I were exhausted. Even when we were home, we were not functional to go anywhere. We had never gone anywhere for Christmas Day. We had always pictured this season of our year and of our life with children being a lot different.
Then there was Kate. When she was 4, I began to notice signs of premature puberty. Her was developing body odor, hair growth, etc. I talked to her pediatrician and we began keeping an eye on these symptoms.
After teachers began to notice and mention these issues, we went back to the doctor. Her body wasn’t releasing the prepubescent hormones. So, puberty was beginning.
At that point, she was diagnosed with adrenal system disorder, autoimmune disorder, and hyperthyroidism.
All of these issues were interrelated—but I didn’t really understand that at the time.
Initially, with Kate’s age and the disease, it was a waiting game. She had to go for blood work and x-rays once a month. As it went on, 2014, when she was 6, it started to get to where they thought within a year she would start her period. And starting her period that young would mean infertility. That reality weighed very heavy on my heart. At that point, we started to have to go weekly for blood appointments.
On top of the challenge of those heavy realities, and the scheduling of all these appointments, daily life was difficult as well. Imagine the hormones of a 16-year-old with the 6-year-old ability to regulate it.
And it wasn’t just all Kate’s appointments, but mine and the twins as well. Our life was consumed with our medical appointment schedule.
Then began the transition of 2015…
There was a point where I thought, there has to be something more I can do for them. I couldn’t just listen to the doctors just tell me to wait and see. It felt like we were in the movie Groundhog Day, over and over again. It felt like we would never get out of this hole we were in.
We were stuck in every part of life. My husband and I used to be involved in sports and activities and now we couldn’t do anything. And with Kate, there was SO much on the line.
We had to do more.
As a parent, as a mom, you always want to protect your kids, and you want to know you are doing the best for your kids. I always wanted to listen to our doctors, but I began to wonder if there was more I was missing.
I began researching like crazy—looking at natural things that people were doing. I thought, “We CANNOT be so helpless in our health! We have to DO something for our family.” We started making small changes to attempt to be more natural. We began trying supplements, non-toxic cleaners, probiotics … but we were not all in.
My research for Kate’s health lead me to read input from other parents who had gone before me. One of the moms on a blog mentioned Shaklee. I thought, my friend Kristen does something with that stuff. My husband said we should connect with her—and I did. And, I am so very thankful I did!
It was January of 2016—we had created a New Year’s Resolution for our family—to try new things and begin to get our life back.
We began simple by putting the kids on Incredivites Multi Vitamin (or Kate on VitaLea), Nutirferon (immunity), Optiflora Probiotic and Mighty Smarts DHA.
We started to see definite results. The twins had not needed their nebulizers in a week. That was the first time that had happened.
But at that point, Kate’s blood work had not moved.
We saw enough change to make a decision. We decided we would go ALL IN. We would change our diet, add in exercise for our fitness, and change to all non-toxic cleaners. Lent is huge for our family. This was going to be our change for Lent. Maybe not giving something up, but this was us showing what we could DO to show God we value our bodies.
The transition was hard for the kids—we got rid of all the processed foods and fruit snacks and stuff that wasn’t healthy. But they got excited that this was something they could collaborate on and to help us make the healthy food list. They were excited to do this for God.
That is when life began to change—not just health, but LIFE…
We began to see major differences—we added in full Shaklee supplement regimens for all of us. We saw HUGE differences when we changed to Shaklee cleaners and laundry detergent. Everyone felt better. But it was so much more than feeling–Kate’s white blood cell count stabilizing. Twins didn’t have to refill their prescription’s. Our LIFE was starting to change.
We were consistent. We were committed. That made the difference
Erik saw the biggest changes in ME. He saw that I felt in control and it made me more peaceful. He saw that when momma was happy, everyone was happy. He saw the dynamic of our home change and that meant the most to him. We were able to get out and do things. We were having fun and being a family.
But, honestly, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. This wasn’t real, I thought, and it wasn’t going to last.
But it only got better—
At the end of April Kate had a doctor’s appointment and it was the first time her blood hormone levels had moved in the direction where they were balancing towards normal. The FIRST time. So the doctor said, “You don’t have to come back for three months.” (At lent we had also put her on B-Complex and SRC). Three months? We had been going WEEKLY.
We had been wishing we could get a dog. But that was never an option. The twins allergies and health had always kept that fun family pet out the picture—but with the improvements we asked the doctor. He said they were not showing any signs of allergies anymore.
We were able to get a DOG. Something we never thought we would be able to do, but something we had always pictured as a part of our life.
While I was at peace and so grateful, the Lent season ended and school was out. The summer is when I was really waiting for the shoe to drop–with the seasons changing. But it never did.
The kids got sick but it wasn’t like it was before. It was not debilitating. There were not hospital visits.
Fast forward to the end of July, we went back for Kate’s appointment. The doctor said her white blood cell was normal functioning—which meant Kate was no longer considered auto immune. Her hormone levels retracted back to where they were when she was younger. She was considered stabilized. Thyroid disease no longer showing up.
Her white blood cell count had gone up, which meant her body was able to stop fighting itself and fight the things that were fighting against her. Her body was finally able to regulate herself naturally.
The doctors didn’t have an answer and they were not interested in why. They said come back in six months. Was this really happening??
We did the math A LOT. This was a BIG investment to go ALL IN with supplements for everyone, shakes every day, better food. But we knew it would be the long-term best INVESTMENT for our family.
In 2015 we spent $13,000 in medical bills, even with good insurance. In 2016, that number was $4,000.
Even though we purchased so many nutrients, we saved significant amounts. And we GAINED our life back.
This is the FIRST Halloween we ALL got to go somewhere. It was surreal, as dramatic as that sounds, and I was scared something was going to go wrong.
Thanksgiving – we always had it at our house because the kids were too sick to have anyone over to go anywhere. We just plan on everyone being sick and so no relatives come. But we had a lot of our family over because no one was sick. It was one of the kids’ favorite days. There was just so much more to be thankful for—that we got to be with our family, that they were healthy enough to enjoy it. We went around the table, sharing what we were thankful for and Kate said she was thankful for alfalfa because it made her feel better. My kids were so aware that what we did made a difference in their lives. Kate seems to be even more aware of it than us, she wasn’t having blood draws every week. She reminds us of the reality of our changes.
Then came Christmas break:
It was the best. There were so many things I would see people doing every year on facebook and I would want to do that, but we never could. Those kind of things were not an option for us—until now.
We packed our Christmas break with everything we ever wanted to do. We went to every Christmas thing that anyone, anywhere did. I thought I might be pushing it taking them to all those germy places but it was ok.
We did Navy Pier, the Arboretum, the zoo—all the things I saw people doing that we never got to do, as a whole family.
Christmas Day we were able to be with the kids and no one being sick. We were not in the ER on Christmas Eve. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it was to us.
The kids kept thinking it was a vacation. It was unreal to them too and amazing that they got to spend time together and experience all of this. If we ever did stuff before, it was never as a whole family. One parent would take the healthy kids one place and the other parent stayed home with the sick kids.
And then, if that wasn’t enough to overwhelm my heart, over break, we had Kate’s next appointment. Right before she went back to school, we went in to go over her blood work. Everything was at a normal level for her age. NORMAL. There was no physical symptoms of these major issues that we had been dealing with for years. They told us there was no reason to continue to monitor her levels. It was kind of scary to consider that. They were done with regular appointments. Done.
The doctor even asked to see what we were taking. She had never seen this before. It’s a congenital disease that once it’s activated, it isn’t reversed. The doctor was not understanding how this happened. But she realized that Kate’s system was to function properly once we began giving her the tools and nutrients she needed. It wasn’t magic, it was that her body was giving her body the ability to function the way her body was meant to.
It felt so powerful, that we could do this for her.
As a mom, I feel proud, I took the risk of doing what I thought was right even though many didn’t agree. I am glad I trusted my gut and questioned what the doctors were telling me. I have taken control of our family dynamic and not just a part of what is happening to us.
As we go into Lent this year, I feel very excited about refocusing our family on it and setting the foundation for the kids to think about life that way. I am more excited that they get to have this foundation that I didn’t have growing up. I get excited that they get to have this frame of mind, and knowing how to take care of our bodies and having to power to make the choices that our good everyday and that we get to do this as a family. They get the time frame of lent to learn about making those choices (in the rest of the year we are a little more flexible at parties etc). We are empowered by knowing what we can do for ourselves. And it excites me to see their energy for it.
If I could if could give one encouragement to moms who feel helpless, it would be to better educate themselves about what is out there. Knowledge is power and understanding your children’s health gives you the opportunity understand how to change. And know you are doing the best you can.
So, now that we have this major piece in order—we have our health back—now we can more fully enjoy all the blessing that have ALWAYS been there—our children, our careers, our families and our friends.