It is hard to know where to begin my story and how I ended up with heart failure in pregnancy. It certainly wasn't something I expected and I usually had great pregnancies, vigorous births (2-8 contractions 10 minutes apart), and dream babies. If I were to compare my pregnancies, this was the most stressful and there were so many things that potentially could have contributed to developing PPCM like finding and moving house, lack of sunshine and exercise in the months preceding my pregnancy, poor diet because of moving house, social isolation and uncertainty about the future. On the surface, people thought we led a dream life, running a website development business from a quaint country town. The rent was cheap, the business was busy and growing, we had access to fresh food from the farm and raw milk and life it seemed was perfect. Six months before my PPCM pregnancy, a woman walked into our house with our landlord, the local Catholic priest for a "friendly chat". She ended up reporting us to the police for buying milk from a local farmer and claiming our children were in danger. As it turned out the local farmer had been a local councillor/mayor and convicted paedophile. Unbelievably, we end up with a knock on the door from Child Protection and all our children had to be individually interviewed. The process was never really explained, but it took a terrible toll on us emotionally. Some people in town, had their own stories to tell, which they felt to now openly share with us. One mother told of us how her daughter was molested, another of how her daughter was raped at the local school at 13, the swinger parties between local families, the drug and alcohol abuse, and theft. Suddenly our rose coloured glasses were shattered and Child Protection left us feeling terribly guilty for bringing our children into this town but no options as to where things were any better. In their words, 'our boys had no marriage prospects' if we stayed here. The thought of my children marrying some dead beat drunk, wife basher plagued me but moving was a huge task and after I found out I was pregnant, we decided to stay until after the baby was born. Unfortunately, our real estate agent upon hearing that our landlord had entered our property illegally, quit and the local priest then thought it was best to get the Catholic Church to move us on with a notice to vacate. It was the worst situation to be pregnant in. The first few months of my pregnancy I had morning sickness. I really could not cope with the smell of baked bread and it was unusual for me to feel so nauseous. I had virtually no appetite or desire to eat anything because of the nausea and the stress of having to move house. At about 3 months, the morning sickness subsided but I just lacked energy and I put it down to being older and pregnant.
We were moving house and probably the first sign of trouble was some bleeding a few days before the removalist was to come. I put it down to stress and rested and the bleeding stopped. About midway through the move I had sharp stomach pains during the night but they were gone by morning, so I figured that it was just something I had eaten. Two days later, we had completely moved out, got our bond back and I was relieved and thought finally I could relax. We got home late and during the night I had the most incredible pains in my stomach like someone was stabbing me. I didn’t sleep and by the next day I was totally exhausted. While my husband and children were exploring the new surrounds, I was stretched out on the couch with pains that came and went. I started eating dry crackers, pineapple and foods that my stomach seemed to tolerate and I even developed a desire to eat ice (a sign of iron deficiency). The week went by and I was feeling weak and had a night where I broke out in hot sweats and the next day, I felt better and thought the worst was over but ended up giving birth prematurely. It was eighth homebirth, so it seemed normal to have a baby at home and although the baby had come early, he was a good feeder and lively.
Life returned to the sort normal pattern but then when my milk came in, I felt this heaviness in my chest. I remember asking my husband if that was normal. I had more milk than usual come in and so I thought, it must be the volume of milk putting pressure on my chest. I remember feeling my heart and timing my pulse. It was around 100. I figured that I must have misread it. I remember if I fell asleep after feeding, that I would hallucinate if I feel asleep and have these weird dreams, feeling like I was in danger. I remember after feeding, that I broke out into hot sweats but I figured I was older, it was possibly hormonal and it seemed to fix itself if I ate homemade bread which we ground from our own flour. Fairly soon after the milk came in, I felt a tickling in my throat; I thought I was getting an infection and so I started gargling with apple cider vinegar. The tickle moved from my throat, to my chest and I started hearing noise in my chest. It was a strange cough, because it was irritating but never fully developed into a full blown infection. I also noticed that suddenly, I was fat around my tummy. After I had given birth, I did not have the usual flab around the tummy area but a few days out, my tummy had all filled out again. It was a dry cough, and I found it hard to sleep because of the noise in my chest. I was so tired at times, I found it hard to concentrate, difficult to talk like I was dyslexic, hot flushes, and I kept thinking I will get better, this will pass. Some days I felt stronger than others. I spent most of the day feeding and caring for the baby or just sitting quietly around. About a week after delivery, I was wearing stockings and when I took them off; my ankles had blown up and were full of fluid. I read that it could happen in pregnancy. I remember my husband asking me about it and telling him that it’s probably hormonal and if it’s not, then I could be dying. It was a joke, well so I thought. Of course, it was hard to believe the latter, since I had always been healthy. The days went by like it was one long day. At times I felt a bit dizzy but I controlled that by sitting. I coughed up pink sputum and when I had diarrhoea that worried me but it made me feel better, probably because it took fluid out of my system.
Two weeks out, I felt I had turned the corner and I had spent most of those days between the bedroom and lounge room, and being a strong spirited woman, I hated people to see me sick and I summoned every ounce of strength to speak to visitors. Anyone looking at me would have thought that I was fine. I really struggled to talk and it was as though my mind and speech had some sort of connection problem and later I understood that it was lack of oxygen to my brain that was causing this brain fog. Ironically, a woman that I had known at the old house, who was now living near me, came to visit a week after I had given birth and as it turned out she had worked as a nurse in cardiology but she didn’t notice the signs that I was in heart failure.
The house we had moved into was on an elevated position, and so I couldn’t walk outside because that would mean I would have to walk back up steps but two weeks out, I felt sure that I would be able to go out. In the whole time, I believed it was gastro that had weakened me and that if I ate and rested, I would get my strength back and it seemed like my body was recovering.
Then, the unthinkable, we woke up one morning and the baby passed away in his sleep. He was 2 weeks old. I reached over to pick him up to feed, but he did not stir. I touched his face, he did not move. He had been so happy, in the hours before, and had drunk so much milk but now his body was lifeless. Blood ran from his nose and I thought for a moment, there was hope but he was dead. His spirit was gone. It was the most traumatic experience of our lives. I could not believe it. He had fed for four hours the night before and had been up and awake at 4am in the morning. The weirdest thing was that night, I had no chest congestion and slept for a solid 5 hours and so did everyone else and no one woke up till around 9am, which was so unusual. The night was so silent. I had somehow tapped the keyboard and the television went into mute. The show that was on was the black and white version of Tarzan where the monkeys came and stole the baby, killed the father and left the sick and dying mother. I reached over and somehow spilled a glass of water and at 3am I woke with a start because I had diarrhoea. Jasher was unusually happy and chatting to himself and I put him down next to me while I ate some leftover dinner and lay down thinking that I would only be asleep 15 minutes before he would cry to be held or fed but woke up 5 hours later. I remember that morning so clearly; I felt that I had turned the corner. I was finally feeling well. There was a peaceful quiet about the house and it felt like the house was really our new home but then this reality was suddenly shattered.
I would have sat with my baby, holding him and crying and grieving his loss until I could cry no more but in our modern world, this is not done. With a heavy heart, we told our ten other children, that their baby brother was dead and they all cried, from the oldest to the youngest and a solemn silence fell upon the house. I did not know who to call but I guessed, that a local medical practice could help. The woman answered the phone. It was a Sunday and she did not know what to do and asked me to call an ambulance and I told her that the baby was dead. She told me she would call me back and hung up. The phone rang. We knew who it was. This was not how I wanted to grieve, but the business end of notifying authorities had to be done. The doctor came into our house and then the police were called to file the report. We didn’t understand the procedure or why we were separated for questioning. Time seemed to stand still and yet we were asked to remember with accuracy the smallest details and provide an accurate time line of events. It felt like we were telling a story that happened to someone else, and yet this was our reality. We spent the entire day with a dozen police at our house, who asked questions and took photos. We were asked questions over and over again. Many of the police officers were sympathetic as we shared one of the most devastating and intimately difficult times of our lives with complete strangers. The day turned to night. Jasher was to be taken from us to Melbourne. We were given a booklet from the Coroner’s Court on the process but understood little of it. I did not know at the time, that it would be the last time I would look upon my baby or hold him. I always expected to hold him one last time, to lay him in his coffin and to kiss him goodbye but that was not to be. Jasher was taken to be examined, cut open and dissected and we found out, that although legally we could object to the autopsy, it would mean going to court and the likely outcome would be that the court would order the autopsy irrespective of our wishes. Jasher was now the property of the State. He was gone and we were lost, part of us had died with him.
The cause of death was never ascertained despite the medical investigation, though failure to thrive was a factor and it was most likely because I was developing PPCM for most of my pregnancy. To this day, I cannot explain his passing and it was as though he decided it was time to leave and left. At that time, I had this feeling that he had died to save my life. I remember telling the children, that I felt that he had died to save my life and had come too early and that I was unable to carry him to term but I didn’t realize that I was in heart failure. Every part of me, wished it was me and not him. A mother is not meant to bury her baby.
When the police left, I could not sleep and suddenly my health just plummeted. I have no idea how I made burial arrangements. I remember holding my head and knowing it had to be done and I had to take care of it because no one else in the family could do it. I was holding it all together. The body had been taken to the Coroner’s Court and initial scans found nothing, so an autopsy was required. We were distraught and the thought of having our little baby cut open was horrific but after some phone calls, I realized I did not have the strength to legally oppose the autopsy and that we would be unlikely to win. I hoped the Coroner would see our grief and allow us to bury the baby but my objection noted but request denied. We reluctantly agreed to the autopsy. The pathologist doing the autopsy was a very compassionate man and when we spoke, I felt like we had known each other all our lives. It was so easy to speak to him, and we had a connection, which is hard to explain. He told me, “to treasure the 14 days, we had with Jasher” and he involved us in the process of finding answers for why Jasher had died. He comforted me as I cried out my heart, when I asked questions for which there were no answers.
The pathologist asked me questions about the birth. He was really kind and consoling and he said to me, “I don’t know why, but I just feel that you should go and see a doctor”. I told him, I didn’t want to see just anyone; I didn’t want to get the wrong diagnosis. He understood. He made phone calls and found a doctor at Werribee Hospital that he knew and gave me his number. I called him but he was reluctant for me to come down to the hospital because it was a long way from my house. I was prepared to travel if it was a good doctor. He told me to see a local doctor, and I got an appointment for Wednesday evening. We had gone out to choose the plot for the baby and I could hardly walk to the plot without collapsing and catching my breath. I walked into see the GP and imagined he would say, everything was fine and that it was the stress of grief but when I got there, he told me. “I have already got a phone call from the pathologist, and the doctor from Werribee. I’ve heard all about you.” He took my BP it was 135/111 and pulse was over 112. He wrote me a letter and sent me to local hospital. He told me to go straight away and I was admitted for hypertension and peripheral odema postpartum. I was in shock, was I that sick? I was the ultimate reluctant patient but every doctor I saw, had received a call from the pathologist, who even called to speak to me. When we spoke, I felt like I was speaking to an old friend and it was comforting to have someone care so much. The hospital never explained what I had, they gave me a working diagnosis of postpartum cardiomyopathy, talked about EF, blood pressure, protein leakage and I remember believing that it was high blood pressure that had caused my heart to balloon out and my kidneys to fail. When they admitted me, the only person that sat by me was a nurse who suggested that I go home and try taking dandelion tea because the diuretics the hospital gave leached potassium. I had never really had good experiences with medicine and I didn’t want to take anything that was going to make me dependent and sicker. I was not in a good place emotionally or mentally. I just wanted to go home and be with my family and bury my baby. I remember speaking to the registrar and all they kept saying was that I might be on medication for the rest of my life and when I asked him, what if I have another baby, he said, “I would probably die with the baby” and he never ever said I was in heart failure or that I was dying or that if I took the meds I would get better. I remember the initial EF was 35%, and my heart was only pumping out half the blood it was supposed to, and that one of my valves was leaking but no one seemed in too much of a rush and I wasn’t hooked up to any monitoring device, so I decided that I needed to go and bury the baby and signed myself out of hospital.
That night, the GP who had admitted me came to see me. He basically walked into my house and said, you need to get back to hospital or else you will die. He particularly emphasized that I would die in 2011 not some distant future date and he told us, he would be back in a few days to make sure I went back. (Later he would tell us of the story of how he ended up discovering that I had discharged myself from hospital and what freak chance thing that was) That was the first time anyone had told me that I was dying. I still had it in my head that if I got my blood pressure down, my heart would return to normal. I was simply told that I would probably be on medication for the rest of my life and to me, living with a heart that half worked was not a life and after losing a baby, I didn’t really care whether I lived or died. I remember grilling the registrar and asking him why if the medication was good, why all these patients were in this ward, ‘They are taking the medication, why are they all here?” and he really had no answers that satisfied me. If he had only explained to me that the medication would give my heart a rest, stop the immune dysfunction and give my body a chance to heal, I would have taken the medication then and there but all the doctors were reluctant to use the words death, heart attack, stroke, and they didn’t want to give me false hope of recovery, so they thought the wait and see and you may be on medication for the rest of your life was a better option. For me all I could think about was my baby and put him to rest, and thinking that I would be on medication for the rest of my life with a heart that only half worked, was not a reality I wanted and I wanted to look into alternatives. Never once, did the hospitals’ doctors tell me of any successful patients who had used the medication to heal but they wanted me to put my trust in them without giving me any hope.
I needed to bury the baby. My husband and my eldest son stayed up with me all night making sure that I didn’t sleep because every time I feel asleep I stopped breathing. I was very close to dying that night but it was something I needed to do. (I can remember taking cayenne pepper and dandelion tea that night and at the time didn’t realize that cayenne pepper thins the blood and can prevent heart attack) I was willing to risk my life to bury my son. It was a very long night and to stay awake, I finished off my GST tax statement and made sure all the bills were paid and money was in the bank accounts for day to day expenses. I took the opportunity to set our affairs in order before going to hospital. It was a sense of normality; a distraction.
The next day, we brought forward the burial and the funeral director arrived with Jasher’s body. I could not open the casket, because I was afraid that I would be so consumed with emotion, and poured out my soul in grief, that I would die of a heart attack or stroke. We took Jasher to be buried in a small graveyard in Portarlington, and travelled down small, one lane country roads to arrive there. The journey was solemn and surreal. The grave site was dug and we had brought sea shells and flowers we had gathered for him. Each child that could read, read from a verse in Isaiah. The only person that legally had to be at the burial from the Cemetery, walked over to my husband and told him after the burial, he was married to a woman whose maiden name was the same as ours. It sent shivers down my spine because the odds of that happening, of having a person that was closely related to us attend the burial as one of the Cemetery staff, was astronomical.
Was this how things were meant to be? Was Jasher meant to die to save my life? I didn't know the answer but I just learnt to accept the situation and live in the moment.
My husband dropped me off to the hospital but had to leave to get sleep after the long night watching over me. I was surprised the hospital didn’t give me meds on the spot or put me on some sort of machine on me to know I was still alive. I waited hours and just before I was to take the meds, my vision went haywire for about 30 – 45 seconds. The moment I took the meds, 1.25mg of BB, 1.25mg Ace, 40mg of frusemide and 4 magnesium tablets. I felt better straight away. I was even able to walk a few hundred metres to the café the next day. It was like a miracle. I had some vigorous discussion about the meds with the doctors because I could not tolerate more than this dose and I did not want to go home and lie in bed all day. My children had been through enough. I hardly saw the cardiologist. Everyone would say, “We’ve heard all about you” but not until I got my medical record did I realize that somewhere along the line, the arrogant registrar had written some nasty things in my report about me being a danger to my children and that I had let my baby die. It explained the behaviour of some nurses but at the time I was blissfully ignorant and thankfully so, as I would not have had the strength to defend myself against their judgements. It was bad enough having Child Protection interview us, on the third day I was in hospital and the police think that we were trying to evade them by making up a story about me being in hospital. There were some horrible judgements written in the record, I cried and cried and felt a terrible sense of betrayal.
The night nurse, Kylie came into my life and befriended me and looked after me. I was shown compassion by a number of nurses, and disdain by others but over the period of the week, my warmth to them, changed their hearts to me. When a child dies at home, DHS are called in to ensure the safety of the other children and to collect information for the police. I was not allowed the space to grief; while openly seen to be holding things together, privately I cried, while no one saw my tears. I knew that my every action was being watched and judged. Did I cry too much, that deemed me mentally unstable? Did I cry too little, that I did not care for the loss of my baby? Even I, started to judge myself. Perhaps I truly did deserve to lose Jasher.
The same registrar, would not let me go to bury my baby, who made a half-hearted apology to me when he snapped at me after I came back in and he had said something to the lines of how he couldn’t understand how a smart, articulate woman like myself couldn’t see reason and I snapped back at him, “have you ever lost a baby”. It didn’t stop him from mocking me during my stay and daring me to do laps around the hospital floor while he timed me. Twice I was given the wrong meds, I had a nurse tell me my room was a pig sty I had conflicting information from nurses and doctors and no one could agree on anything. I had a private room with a great window but it also had a faulty air duct that pumped in freezing cold air, so I hung a blanket over my bed like a tent, so that I would be sheltered enough from the cold air to get sleep. I was so cold in the room, I ended up walking to the common room to sit and it was at this stage that the nurses decided that they needed to do something about me, not being able to stay in my room and later that day someone came to fix the duct by taping a towel to the duct. It was a not perfect solution but it worked and I still had a sheet over my bed. It must have looked really odd to the doctors and nurses coming in but I did what I had to do to survive the cold. Some nurses were kind and gave me hope that I would recover and be off the medication but others would pull me aside and tell me that I had to get used to a new way of living, a medicated life. At one point during my stay, it dawned on me that none of the medical staff had ever had cardiomyopathy and only had their text books to rely on to treat patients. None of them could see inside me or how I felt and if they had never been chronically ill themselves, they would not understand all the emotions that come with it. For the week I was in hospital, I did as I was told. Kept count on my fluid levels, ate the very bland hospital food, rested and reflected. I decided it was best not to ask for too much information. I knew in my heart that God would heal me and it became too confusing to listen to so many different views. The pharmacist was the only person that made sense to me, telling me that the medication would slow my heart and give it a rest and allow it to heal and that it would get stronger over time. I was fortunate that my body responded to the medication and exercise and that I didn’t deteriorate rapidly and when I look back, it is easy to understand why so many women do not make it in time because the onset of serious symptoms often occurs when the EF has dropped to critical levels and once below a certain level, the heart functions spirals downwards very quickly.
I believe the pathologist trusted his instincts and knew that there was something wrong and because he was persistent in calling all of the doctors, no stone was left unturned and I was able to get to a place physically and emotionally where I could rest and recover. He certainly made an impression on every doctor I saw and my medical records were sent and added to the autopsy report. Unfortunately, many other women have not been so lucky and have died undiagnosed or diagnosed too late and the stories I have heard since, about the long struggles to get a diagnosis, heart attacks and strokes, made me realize just how fortunate I was to be alive. PPCM is a condition that is deadly because it is camouflaged by symptoms of pregnancy and is not well known or understood. I can still see in my medical record in the box where it asks, is this patient suffering from a life threatening illness, the box is ticked ‘no’. Medical staff need to understand PPCM is VERY life threatening and patients can die very quickly. The box should have been ticked, ‘yes’.
Everything that went on in those dark days, tested our marriage. I spent so many days walking and praying on the beach in tears. The pain was so difficult to bear and there was nothing I could do, to roll back the clock. Jasher was dead. Where did we go wrong? Every detail of my life had been dissected by the police and DHS, and their questions resonated in me, causing me to question and doubt every decision I had ever made. I had to be strong but inside me, my world was collapsing and I wondered if I would exist in this dream like state for the rest of my life. It was like being doubly cursed. My pregnancy had led to heart failure, and Jasher was dead. It seemed like my pregnancy had been for nothing but I refused to believe that Jasher was sent to injure or kill me. I did not really understand what was happening but I was told by God that he would heal me of all my sickness and disease. I held on to that promise, and sought Him with all my heart and all my soul. If we had not held on tight to the Spirit and living words of Our Heavenly Father, our life would have ended the day Jasher died. Our marriage would have ended. We would have been lost. Death does not bring life; death brings suffering. Jasher was not meant to die.
I have been pretty much on my own in the recovery and I’ve done a lot of reading. Almost all of what I have learnt about PPCM has been through the internet. When I woke up one night with blood in my stools, I found an article about a study done on 25,000 patients and how too much heart meds leads to increased risk of stroke, heart attack, etc. I decided that I was comfortable with my pulse at 60 and there was no way in the world, I was going to take more beta blocker just because the text book said to and I was also mindful that my kidneys were still not functioning normally and I did all I could to avoid stressing them more by keeping medication to a minimum. I was lucky because when I got sick with the flu, my BP dropped to very low and so did my pulse. I also knew that my cardio would not reduce my meds, so I started on a low dosage and have used other means; diet, exercise and supplements to get my baseline BP and heart rate lower and my body has made the adjustment to the lower blood pressure. Maybe I could have healed faster with a higher dosage or maybe not, but for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing, staying true to what I believed would help heal me was important to my recovery. Too often, belief is brushed aside but belief is incredibly powerful as often documented by the idea of a placebo.
I’ve read some great cardio books and natural health books and used the information to get well. I believe, if I don’t attack the root the illness, it is going to spring up in some other form. I’ve watched my father in law go through this with his health, and I just didn’t want to go on the medical merry go round. My personal belief is that pregnancy can bring out illness that is simmering in the body and if I had not got PPCM, I would have got some other chronic illness later, when it would have been harder to deal with. My baby’s life was a gift to me because he showed me a new way of living and gave me a new direction, compassion and some wonderful relationships. I miss my baby Jasher, but no matter how many scenarios I play out in my head, his death saved my life. Every other scenario ends in my death. If we had only moved earlier before I was pregnant, may be Jasher would still be alive but we will never know, how the events that transpired contributed to my heart failure and his death.
When I left hospital I could barely walk 200 metres and hills were a huge problem. I remember walking and looking over the beach behind my house and knowing that I could not go down to it because I would never be able to climb up again and my eighty year old mother in law could do it but I could not. In the first week, I ate a very simple diet, juiced a lot of celery, carrots, apples and oranges, and did not have any meat, processed food or milk because I wanted to focus all my energy on recovery. I was following one of the heart programs I found from the library. Each day I would push myself to walk further and by the end of the week, I was able to walk two kilometres and to the beach. One week out from hospital, I felt normal and went about day to day life.
Two weeks out, I had lost all my fluid and then I started adding some good quality meat and organic milk to my diet of vegetables, fruit, legumes, wholegrain bread, nuts, rice and fish. By six weeks out of hospital, at my first renal appointment, my renal function had normalized but I was still low on iron but two months after, my iron was low normal, though iron stores were still low. The renal doctor had recommended I eat meat to build my iron stores (though that turned out to be poor advice, and it hindered my recovery and my iron levels did not rise from eating meat)
I ordered the book, "The Weiss Method" by Decker Weiss and started using the diet plan, supplements and cell salts that the book recommended. I did the first 30 days without the supplements because I missed reading the protocol but then redid the 30 days with the supplements, digestive enzymes and liver cleanse. I didn't complete the diet because I found the next 30 days were quite bland and it became too difficult to manage separate diets. I also felt so much better.
The GP that admitted me retired to do other things within the medical world and his replacement had no idea and no desire to even read my file or learn anything. He started talking about valve replacements. He was clueless and patronizing. It took me 4 months to see a naturopathic GP. She prescribed vitamin D, cranberry pills and armaforce pills. I also took, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron (natural), bilberry, high quality fish oils, calcium phosphate, spirulina, and b12. My mother also contributed to buying supplements for me and that was wonderful as they are expensive.
Five months out, my first ECHO since DX, my EF is 48%. Normal is 50% but I was a bit disappointed but it gave me a reality check that I needed to be more disciplined and do more exercise during the day to build up my heart strength.
So I am almost there and although there are no clinical studies to prove it, I am convinced that it is possible to recover on low dosages of medication provided that exercise, diet and vitamin/mineral imbalances are addressed. My cardiologist says there are no clinical studies on the dosage I am on which is 1.25mg or BB and 1.25mg of Ace Inhibitor. He even once went on to say, the dosages were so low, I may as well not take them but when I discuss future weaning, he just says 'how do you think you are going to wean and I smile back and tell him that I will quarter the pills and he laughs. My cardio was very cold and uninterested in my story, and lived with the stigma of being labelled that holistic, crazy home birthing woman whose baby died at home. Every time I saw him, I was too upset to speak about all that went on in my hospital stay and how ill prepared the hospital was to deal with the emotional turmoil of a woman in grief. Walking has been a very important part of my recovery and today I need to walk further and faster in order to exercise my heart and I have spent many hours in reflection and prayer. Faith and hope is so important to recovery, especially to a grieving mother.
I have joined a few Facebook PPCM support groups, local home schooling families, made new friends and got in contact with old friends. Seven months out, my journey in my new life is just beginning. I see the whole experience as a second chance in life. It is an incredibly humbling position to face death and to need help. There are some wonderful people in this world that I have been truly blessed to meet and know and there are doctors and nurses who have a passion for health and helping people. It is unfortunate, that the ones who don’t can cause so much harm. As one GP told me, ‘don’t tar all doctors with the same brush’ and indeed he is right, there are some truly wonderful doctors who use the best of current knowledge to help patients whether that be with homeopathy, nutrition, exercise therapy and/or supplements. Keep searching until you find your answers. Pray and be at peace.
So, it’s March now and my second appointment with my naturopathic GP and the blood tests have shown that my iron levels are normal but my iron ferritin reserves are still very low. She has asked me to take iron supplements - FerroGrad C. I have done a 40 Food Sensitivity Panel, to identify any problem foods that I may be developing antibodies for. As I sat there, it dawned on me that keeping traditional diets was not about reading some book and adopting a new diet but returning to the traditional diet of one's ancestors. As people our genes and the microbes in our stomach determine what we should eat and many of strengths, talents and qualities. Learning to be true to your past, as well as your present and to forge a path forward that involves physical, emotional and spiritual balance and harmony is important to healing. As a child who came to Australia in 1976, and told to forget her native tongue and assimilate into western society, I had done as my parents had wanted and excelled at it but life has a way of bringing one full circle, and being ashamed of my heritage was to deny myself and the qualities that I inherited from my parentage. So many Chinese of the younger generation have become increasingly Westernized and lost. We look in the mirror and see the face of a stranger because we expect to see someone that looks Eurasian and we see a very Asian face starring back at us. Facing death and experiencing the death of a baby, brings life into a sharp focus. Life is a sum of experiences, relationships and knowledge and death causes one to reflect on the past; strengths and weaknesses, joys and sorrows, and beyond the medical side of EF, blood pressure, heart function is the deeply personal journey to move forward with compassion, love and strength, to live a better life and be a better person.
In Ancient Greek, the Kardia means, "the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, centre". There is also a condition called Takosubo where extreme stress causes one's heart to fail (the broken heart syndrome). The heart is an amazing organ because it has the ability to regenerate cells but it is also the organ most affected by stress (because stress causes capillaries and blood vessels to become constricted, and lack of oxygen to cells called ischemia leads to heart cell death and cardiomyopathy). Although our modern thinking likes to associate blood pressure, diet and lifestyle with heart health, the connection between the heart, mind and soul cannot be ignored. Initially, it was the heart, rather than the brain, that was considered to be the seat of mental processes and emotions such as anger, ambition, courage, valour, grief and pride. Recovering from PPCM, choosing to live stress free, to avoid negative people, to make an effort to spend quality time with family friends, and to enjoy the simple things in life, to reconnect to God and spiritual purpose, dramatically improves ones blood pressure and heart health.
March 2012 Update
My recent ECHO showed normal heart function and size. EF 50%. It was great news and strangely, I thought I would be more excited by the news but I think it was tempered by test results that showed elevated immunoglobin E that was 4 times what it should have been and my food sensitivity test results that showed that I have an immunological response to dairy, eggs, nuts and legumes. Although, I had already decided to go back to an Asian diet, the results gave me no choice. When you eat foods that cause an immunological reaction, the body produces antibodies and inflammation and these antibodies need to find a pathway and often that may come through in some form of allergic reaction like mucus in the nose, lungs, or in more severe cases appendicitis. Although the cause of PPCM is debatable, one of the factors for me was this immunological reaction to dairy that caused me to have elevated antibodies, add it to lack of sunshine, and zinc and the antibodies attacked the weakest organ, which in pregnancy was the heart (I would later discover that it was my digestive system that caused food intolerances and that by healing my digestive system through fasting for a week with water only, colonics, raw foods, green juices, kefir, kombucha and fermented foods and spring water that I was able to resolve food intolerances). Had I not got pregnant and developed PPCM, age plus an out of control immune system might have manifested itself in some other chronic illness later on that would have been more difficult to deal with and I would not have had the help to find the answers that I needed or the fetal cells in circulation that helped in the healing process. No matter how many ways I look at it, Jasher's life and his death saved my life and showed me a better way of living. I wish there was a way that both of us could have lived.
April 2012 Update
Another interesting and busy month. Life has become busier and busier and another interesting appointment with my holistic doctor. Dust allergy and dairy intolerance could also contribute to a high immunoglobin E count, so that is pretty challenging to work through. Still walking or bike riding each day but am not as vigilant on taking my BP records and a little sporadic on the supplement taking. In three months I go back for an ECHO and blood test for immunoglobin E and iron levels. so that will keep me on my toes and accountable. I am told the blood test numbers should be better but not to expect a return to normal levels, as these things take time. When I was in hospital for heart failure, I went through so many what ifs, and as the journey goes on, I have come to realize that so many things I thought caused me to have heart failure in pregnancy were not avoidable. It was years in the making and many factors that were out of my control, like zinc deficiency in the soil, that I had no idea would affect me and my family so much. Often it takes a major crisis to properly evaluate your life and see things that you would not have seen. To be truly honest with yourself, is a difficult thing to be, as it involves not only changing the way you eat and established habits but also a change in attitude, beliefs and relationships. Heart failure in Pregnancy has certainly taught me a valuable lesson in discipline and the importance of discipline in life and it has given me a deep sense of compassion for the sick, the grieving and the lost.
My husband and I started building together www.myheartsisters.com to raise PPCM Awareness and it is a fulfilment of a dream to create a site that would work with Facebook and allow the PPCM community a means to raise PPCM Awareness and support each other through storytelling, sharing and information.
June 2012 Update
Almost a year ago I was diagnosed with post-partum cardiomyopathy. and we had lost our eleventh baby. I was a woman who was very sick, confused and consumed by grief. Returning to the hospital today to receive my latest ECHO results, I was hoping that my heart was at least low normal. because I had felt that over the last few months, a lot less disciplined than I had been and the conversion to an Asian diet, came with a few unexpected consequences like hidden high salt consumption, so I actually felt that maybe I had compromised my healing. I had also been a little more sporadic on the supplement taking. To compensate a couple of weeks before the ECHO, I juiced vegetables and fruit with my champion juicer. To my surprise the results came in at 57%. So this means my heart is now not just low normal but perfectly normal. I still struggle to believe the results because I had psychologically prepared myself for 50%-52% but never expected 57%.
It was a good meeting with the cardio. Our meetings are usually brief and this time was no different but we both said what we needed to say and there was a sense of closure. He always had his doubts about the low dose of meds that I was on, but he compromised with me because it seemed to be working and both of us today, could finally say that it did work. He wanted me to stay on meds indefinitely but the compromise we agreed to was that I would stay on meds until I felt they were pushing my blood pressure too low and/or that we would re-evaluate in one years’ time. He also asked about future pregnancy and that really came from left field.
As I left, the maze of what is Geelong hospital, I can remember all the conflicting emotions I felt when I walked through the birthing wing of the hospital after losing Jasher and today I walked through it twice without those same emotions. Hospitals are places of life and death and in facing death, you learn to truly live and feel. The person that walked in to that hospital last year was a different person that walked out today. I have a new heart, a new purpose and passion for life and the ability to connect to those around me, with compassion and love. My heart healed in so many ways.
Glory to God for he truly fulfilled his promise to me, "I am the God who heals you of all your sickness and all your disease"
July 2012 Update
Reflecting on the past year was more difficult emotionally, than I anticipated. It didn't help that I was sick from a cough and chest infection that just would not clear. I finally worked out it was a side effect of the Ace Inhibitor, which can also cause anemia. My iron results came in, and my stores went backwards (The ferrograd C supplements did not work out because it caused me to have sharp stomach pains). I was devastated and stuck until I worked out what I needed to do. I found some old SMS messages my husband had sent me while I was in hospital which contained some of the plans about what food we were going to buy to eat to keep my blood pressure down and those plans changed along the way but having a plan is important, as is listening to one's body and finding out what works. I would have continued with the ACE but my body, said it was time and left me no choice but to discontinue and suddenly, not having that safety net, was a lot harder than I imagined. While on both meds, my BP was everywhere, very high at times or normal. It was very sensitive to what I ate, stress and my breathing. I needed to go back to the beginning and actually understand what I did that helped me, in order to move forward and I hope it helps others too.
Diet: Natural diet, rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, good quality low fat protein, tofu, fresh vegetable/fruit juices, homemade bread, mineral water, rice, herbs, young coconuts, coconut, olive, rice bran oil, garlic, onions, spices. Low salt. No or limited processed foods. No excitotoxins, no aspartame, no fluoride. Organic where ever possible. Eliminated dairy and eggs, nuts, legumes because they came up positive in the food sensitivity blood test.
Digestive enzymes to aid in digestion. Liver cleanse. Healthy bowels equals healthy cells and organs.
Walking: Walking several kilometres each day. (Oxygenates the body, produces essential nitrogen oxide and stimulates the body's circulation and digestive system) Progressed from a few hundred metres to several kilometres and also did bike riding and some running. Tackled hills and did several bush walks.
Yoga: Breathing, postures and meditation always brought my BP to great numbers.
Air: Lots of fresh, ocean breezes and deep breathing.
Sunshine and vitamin D supplements (vitamin D is essential to health)
High dose magnesium: eliminated palpitations. When the chemist gave me a low dose variety by mistake, I ended up in hospital with tachycardia.
Zinc: rebuilds the immune system. Zinc deficiency in the soil is widespread and the heart meds actually deplete zinc in the body, so it is important to replace but a little tricky because zinc competes with iron in the body.
CoQ10: Betablocker depletes CoQ10 and supplementation balances this out
Medication: Betablocker and Ace Inhibitor taken at the exact time each day. One in the morning and one in the evening. The occasional half water pill, if I had eaten too much salt. My dosages were so low, 1.25 mg, it probably wasn’t much more than a placebo
Vitamin C, selenium, iron (natural), bilberry (eyes), high quality fish oils, spirulina, and b12
Stress: Minimizing stress and taking a more laid back approach to life, avoiding stressful people and situations. Quitting ebay auctions, which caused my heart to race incredibly.
Celebrating life and giving thanks.
Belief: is very powerful and on the cellular level, what you think attaches to each cell in your body.
Red blood cells live for about four months, while white blood cells live on average more than a year. The entire body is thought to replace itself over the course of 7-10 years. Scientists have found fetal cells that have healed damaged organs. Giving the body, the right conditions to heal itself, and the right ingredients and it will. Unfortunately, often our body compensates for imbalances until, it can no longer compensate and then we become chronically ill and it is then harder to get the body back into balance and often people do not get the right ingredients for their body to heal.
So, as I reflect on all these small things that together have helped me to heal, I am struck with awe and at how incredible the human body is. So many things we can take for granted. The food we eat, gets transformed in our bowels to living cells and we are able to think, move, speak, breathe, and so many of our body's organs work without us thinking. We breathe air and it gives us life. We drink water and it gets absorbed and used by our bodies and excreted. Life has a power of its own, and too often we do not stop to appreciate it and breathe in life. As I face the coming year, I know there are still challenges to overcome, lessons to be learned, sorrows and joys. Death is final but life is continuous and cyclic. There is no final chapter, or place where we can say, we have arrived. We can only look back and know that certain events and people were important and pivotal to who we are today. Shalom.
It's been a busy few months. I almost don't know where to begin. In November, my blood tests came back for low iron, low calcium and low vitamin D. It was frustrating because I had felt that I had been eating well. I met a woman who had thyroid issues and we exchanged notes about what we had learnt. She told me about how dairy and wheat could clog up the small villi in the intestines and prevent food from being absorbed properly. I looked into it further and found that the wheat grown in the last 60 years has four times the gluten in it. Here we were eating stoneground organic wheat made into sourdough bread and damaging our intestines with healthy food. The milk we were drinking, was compounding the issue and causing inflammation in our bodies because of the a1 protein. An inflamed bowel allowed viruses, undigested food to pass through and led to mineral deficiencies. I believed that we were eating the best organic produce money could buy and that would protect me from illness and yet it was the wheat and dairy in particular that was so damaging. Add into the mix, lack of sunshine and stress and it was a perfect recipe for chronic illness. We had also developed an unhealthy habit in the last year or so of eating melted cheese on white bakery bread.
Going off meds, was not an easy decision and one I had to make alone because it was unfair to put the responsibility on my doctors. Though the ECHO had come back that my heart function, size and EF was normal and that I had recovered, I felt that something wasn’t right. My BP kept rising with the meds, I was dizzy, had palpitations, a cough and chest infection that would not go away. I felt like it was now or never and emotionally could not deal with continuing on medication after recovering. From there, I battled my BP with everything from eating foods rich in potassium and juicing, to doing daily bikram yoga (90 minutes of yoga in a hot room) for several weeks. I was religious with supplements and nothing really worked. My BP would go as high as 180/120 with no symptoms. I felt fantastic off meds, but my BP just would not behave itself. I was determined to find the answers and relieved that 6 months going off meds, my EF increased from 57% to 61%
I was actually half way through a water fast when I saw my cardio for the results. I had come across an article about fasting and high blood pressure and how water fasting and supervised re-feeding could lower BP to normal levels. ( http://www.vegsource.com/articles/goldhamer_high_pressure.htm ) I was hoping that a few days of fasting would have been enough that when I went to the cardio, my BP would behave itself but she read it, as 160/100. My heart though was strong and she said that the reason why my BP was low after I was diagnosed was that was my heart was weak but as I improved, my BP rose. Typically, I would have been given meds to control my BP. For me, losing Jasher and being on meds for BP was not something I could reconcile. I was now strong enough to water fast. I had read the Essene Gospel of Peace, in the first few weeks of being diagnosed and the wisdom contained in it about fasting and praying for healing had always played in my mind. I suddenly felt that everything I had done, with diet, yoga, and changing our lives as a family had lead me to the decision to water fast. I was aiming for 10 days but in the end, because of a family crisis, ended up completing 7 days of the water fast.
The theory behind water fasting, is that it gives the digestive system a rest and diverts energy to healing. The body reaches a point of ketosis where it uses fat for energy but also cleans out and burns up all the bad stuff. It was the most amazing experience. Two days into the fast, hunger ceases. My mouth had a foul taste in it with whitish paste. I had to shower often because of the smell. I could literally feel the toxins leaving me. I was exhausted and realized just how much energy goes into thinking. To help eliminate waste, I drank a litre of water with a level tablespoon of dissolved MgCl and that cleared out my bowels completely. I also had one fresh coconut water on day 2 and 3 for potassium. Each day I took my pulse, BP, and weight and by the fifth day, my BP had dropped to 137/91 and pulse 58 and when I completed the fast, my BP was 126/87 and pulse 71. Five days post water fast, and reintroducing with fresh vegetable juices, coconut water, sprouted legumes, salads and cooked vegetables, my BP is still as good as during the last day of the fast. My concentration improved and so too my clarity of mind and I needed every bit of it because I had to break the fast to travel to Melbourne for a family member who was in hospital for an obstructed and inflamed bowel. It was the first time, I had driven so far and I had an amazing amount of energy and concentration. The water fast allowed me to make the journey.
I truly believe that the digestive system is the key to healing. Fasting is a very powerful way of healing but it can be overwhelming in very sick people because detoxification is too rapid. Supplements and juicing can be a way of introducing nutrient rich food into the body but long term, the body needs to be cleared of the waste in order to function efficiently. Health is a daily thing and requires discipline. It is something that one has to seek out and own because you end up racking up debts that one day have to be paid. Fasting is one way of clearing that debt but the alternative can be operations, drugs and suffering. Alternative medicine can offer some relief but can also disguise the symptoms of underlying issues.
I hope that whoever reads my story will be blessed by it. We suffered incredible loss as a family but my life was spared. I have learnt to love more deeply and to appreciate life. I should not even be here but for the grace of God. Each day, I awake, I know the price that was paid to save my life and with all my heart, mind and soul, I will love, feel, breathe in and embrace the life that is around me with compassion and forgiveness.
So, it has been almost two years since being diagnosed with PPCM. Today is the second anniversary of Jasher's death. It sometimes feels like we are living a parallel life. So much good has come from so much tragedy. How can we reconcile the life that we are living now, without acknowledging the pain and suffering that we have gone through? Could we rewind the clock, and know and be all that we are now, without having lost all that we did.
In these last six months, I have totally eliminated all processed foods from my diet, the majority of foods that I eat are raw and the enzymes for digestion are complete and not destroyed by heat. I have adopted a plant based diet, completed a series of 3 colonics and follow up colonic while on a 7 day water fast (only filtered water was drunk) and watched as impacted black waste left my body. I have learnt to drink more water. I completed a 30 day bikram yoga challenge, and by the end of it was able to do back to back classes totalling 3 hours in 40 degree heat easily. I have discontinued supplements and instead juice celery, spinach, beetroot, apple, oranges and carrots, and kombucha. I found some wonderful goat's milk and make goat's milk yogurt and cheese. I have learnt the value of sprouts as living foods and I have planted a vegetable garden full of greens. I continue to walk and bike ride and have high energy levels. I add fresh lemon juice and cold pressed olive oil to my salads. I recognized that undigested food causes great harm to the body and without proper enzymes, and poor intestinal health caused by wheat, excitotoxins, a1 protein in dairy, processed food, gluten, the body becomes clogged up. Toxins build up, poor digestion leads to mineral deficiencies and imbalances, the liver and kidneys become sluggish and inflammation causes disease in the body. Pregnancy accelerates the process of disease, because pregnancy is a time of great change and with stress, things can go terribly wrong very quickly.
In June, I was officially discharged from my cardiologist after an ECHO that showed my heart was unchanged snd normal. I have been off medication for a year and I am feeling great. I have lost 12 kilograms, in a year and am now 57kg. I can walk in excess of 20 kilometres along a sandy beach without effort, bike ride 40 kilometres, and lead a very busy and full life. I have yet to test the limits of my fitness. I have learnt that fitness is more than having a normal EF.
Sometimes, it can seem that my updates are all about nutrition and this is because it has been a very core part of my recovery, both physical and emotional. The food that you digest, transforms into your living cells to become part of you. It is not burnt up but transformed. I don't often reflect on the very raw grief of losing a baby but more than anything his death has propelled me to seek life, not only in the food that we eat (by not consuming death) but in all the choices that we make. Life is a gift, to be treasured and embraced. In the words of a very wise and kind soul, who told me to continue to love my children, as I have always loved them, I have found unconditional love to live in this world, is to know the meaning of
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”
And to forgive unconditionally, to have compassion and understanding, to seek for the truth and test everything that I believe or was taught was true for worth. I have learnt to eat living foods and to keep death away from me. To value all life as precious and to use my life as a gift to others; to worry less and to pray more. I have learnt to love those who hate me, bless those who curse me, and to pray for those who spitefully use or persecute me. I have learnt that though there is much sorrow in this world, we have salvation and deliverance through the living words of My Heavenly Father that transforms and gives life. I have learnt that life does not come from death. Life comes from the Creator.
God promised to give me a new heart and the heart he gave, was as He promised. "I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh."
While it is impossible to separate Jasher’s death from the circumstances that led to my diagnosis and recovery. His death did not save my life. Listening and following the words of the living God, who created us, gave us life because if we had not listened and clung close to the Father, we would have lost everything. Satan comes to kill and to destroy. He uses death as a weapon against man but Our Father in Heaven, comes to give us life through his word, through the words of His Son, to give light to our eyes and joy to our hearts, that in our weakness, we are given strength, in our sorrows, we are given joy, in the shadow of death, we are given life. Through the power of prayer, we see deliverance.
I share the joys of my life, but very rarely do I speak of the suffering. Today, I remember Jasher. Allow me to cry, allow me the space without judgement to be and to feel. There is still a part of me that is missing because of Jasher’s death and one day, that part will return to me, and I will be whole.
This story and website are dedicated to our son, Jasher, who departed this realm on 10th July 2011. PPCM is a disease that brings immense suffering and is so treatable if detected early and can be so devastating if symptoms are ignored. I know that PPCM led to Jasher’s death and it would have taken my life too. The website is free for anyone to join and support. It has been a way, we have been able to grieve, for the loss of our precious little baby boy, who we carry always in our hearts.
February 2014 Update
At the end of 2013, I spoke publically about Jasher's death at a Rememberance service for people who had lost their children. A transcript of my speech is http://www.myheartsisters.com/Blog/grief-and-the-death-of-a-baby
It has been an incredibly busy seven months. My eldest completed his first year at University studying Primary education, and another child starts a Bachelor of Commerce/Law degree in 2014. Three children attended TAFE in the last semester and it was a big change for all of us to adjust to the 'school' timetable from home-schooling. Our sixteen year old son, enrolled in a Certificate 3 in Interactive Media course while continuing to home-school and was nominated for the President's Award for Most Outstanding TAFE student. He is now one of four finalists, and recently completed an interview with a panel of three distinguished judges. All our younger children continue to be home-schooled. If I were to take myself back in time to being hospital, I could never imagine the huge changes in life that would have happened, and the direction my children's lives would take and in spite of all that has happened, they have embraced strength, courage, faith, hope and love to move forward in life. I have been so incredibly supported in my journey of healing by my family and I am so grateful for each of them and their presence in my life. They are the most generous, kind and loving souls. I am truly blessed as a mother.
Prior to PPCM, I imagined creating a company large enough to employ my children. In many ways it was my strong maternal instinct to protect them from the outside world but it came at an incredible cost. I realized in hospital, that not only was it unrealistic but also unhealthy and that I had to trust and let go and allow them the space to spread their wings and fly, to learn from other people and from their own experiences. Our family is still incredibly close knit, and I know their lives ahead may not always be easy, but they have the character and foundation to overcome adversity and climb the mountains of their lives with love, wisdom, faith and hope. To see them succeed makes my heart swell with thanks giving. I cannot separate the sadness and grief of losing Jasher and going into heart failure from the blessings, changes to our lives and friendships that have come after.
I am currently 14 weeks pregnant and feeling amazing. I have increased my green vegetables substantially, and drink 2-3 green smoothies a day, and this has made an incredible difference to my energy levels. I have had no morning sickness, nausea and my appetite is excellent. I am walking or bike riding each day and even in the hot Summer have not struggled with the heat. We have been out enjoying the beach, and I have made a deliberate decision to get out into the sea water to swim and boogie board for fitness and health. I am confident of a good pregnancy and birth but am also very watchful and disciplined. I have found lots of research to support the idea that PPCM is a nutritional disease caused by acidity and imbalances in the body that leads to inflammation. I have supported a friend's 68 year old mother recover from cardiomyopathy whose EF was 20%, 9 months ago and she is now almost fully recovered at EF 48%, and power walking up hills. Her recovery has been an inspiration to me because if she can recover at her age, anyone can. I watched her throw out all the processed food, adopt a plant based diet, juice green vegetables each day, take herbs and supplements and walk. While her local cardiologists were negative about her chances of recovery, and whose only doctrine was drugs and surgery, she found a naturopathic cardiologist online to consult with and encourage her to stick with a plan of recovery that involved a combination of alternative and conventional therapies. I watched her as she was pushed to take more medication by her local doctors and her EF drop and her struggles to listen to her body instead of the local doctors and when she reduced the medication and supported her body nutritionally, I watched as her EF increased. It was an incredible rollercoaster. It caused me to reflect on my own experiences with cardiologists who despite my improvement and recovery, were always wanting me to take more medication, (just in case) but unlike my friend's mother, I mostly did my own research, listened to my own body, kept my own health records and chose my own path of healing. The advice I was given by local doctors was not always good and hindered my recovery, it was often contradictory and illogical but I had to learn that the hard way too. Much of their understanding of PPCM was based on dated and limited research that was done on women in Haiti, an impoverished country where the rates of PPCM are 1 in 300, hardly comparative to a first world country like Australia. Not one local doctor understood the significance of nutrition to reversing heart disease, despite all the research that supports plant based, natural food diets rich in minerals and vitamins or the importance of listening to a patient's feedback. On several occasions I refused to take more medication simply because the doctors wanted to follow the book, and after recovering I was left no choice but to discontinue meds without medical support because my doctors all refused to listen or believe that the medication was affecting my memory, increasing my blood pressure, and affecting my emotional state. A wise woman, said to me very early on, 'never do anything, either conventionally or in alternative medicine that you don't absolutely believe in' and I stayed true to those words and I learned to stay true to myself. I regret eating meat because I was told it would increase my iron levels. Not only did my iron levels, not increase but my EF struggled to improve on the typical meat and cooked vegetable diet. I was not true to myself to eat meat. I also learnt that natural medicine can treat the symptoms, as much as conventional medicine. Treating the symptoms of disease is useful but the effects temporary. It buys time, to deal with the underlying issues of malnutrition, poor gut health, poor elimination, and inflammation within the body. For me, the clock ran out when I recovered. My body reacted against the medication and giving up medication, and being forced to deal with the underlying issues that caused me to go into heart failure, was when complete healing began.
I truly believe in my heart that heart disease is reversible. Unfortunately, there is more money to be made through drugs and surgery, than nutrition and healthy living. I have only in recent times learnt what it takes to eat and live a healthy life and that it is a lot more involved than eating organic food. I have read widely, from medical journals to cardiology books on natural healing, and have been blessed to meet people who healed from chronic illness, doctors who understood the body's innate ability to heal and listened many testimonies of healing. I have observed and met hundreds of heart sisters, throughout the world and listened to their stories. When I was 14, I wanted to be a doctor and writer but was talked out of it by well-meaning teachers even though I always had the grades, aptitude and ability to succeed in medicine. It's ironic, how life brings one full circle.
Much of who we are is determined by our experiences, our knowledge, the people we have met, and our core beliefs. Central to who I am, has always been my relationship with a living God and from the beginning I was told by God, that the baby that was stolen from us would be returned. This pregnancy is not about having another baby to replace Jasher. It is about the return of the same baby, the same soul in a new body to this family. It is a completing a journey of healing. The spirit and the body are one; we need to look after our bodies and nourish them with the fruits and seeds of the Earth, living in harmony with all living things and embracing air, sun and water but human spirit is also as important to feed with encouraging words of life and love. From the beginning, I made a decision to choose faith over fear, life over death, hope over despair and this pregnancy represents my faith in God, my hope for the future and the triumph of life over death. Despite all of this, I know this will be the greatest challenge of my life and need to make changes accordingly in particular to how much time I spend online.
May peace that comes from Our Heavenly Father, the giver of life to all, fill your hearts and minds.
I wrote this article when I was around seven months pregnant.
It's been over two months since I gave birth to a baby boy unassisted with my husband at home. I have had many things to write but no time to do it between breastfeeding and eating. On the 27th July 2014, at 38 and a half weeks, I woke up to a contraction but I also heard a song in my mind that God had given me about Joseph and I knew that this was it. The song was by The Moody Blues, called Wildest Dreams. I got the towels prepared and woke Bruce up and told him, “You need to wake up. This isn’t a trial run”. With the next few contraction, I went to empty my bowels and the contractions were really mild, just like Braxton Hicks but I had a sense that Joseph would soon be here. I normally give birth on the toilet with one push after having a little bit of diarrhoea, which indicates to me that my bowels are empty. I wasn’t at that stage yet but I had the thought go through my mind, of what if I squatted and pushed. So with the next mild contraction, I did just that and to my surprise, out popped Joseph. He literally shot out like a bullet and gave us a cry to let us know he was alright. Bruce gave him to me and I breastfed him, till he was too tired to eat anymore and we waited for the placenta to come out. Forty five minutes the placenta came out, we rubbed down the uterus, cut the cord after all the blood had been passed from the placenta to the baby and dressed Joseph. My bleeding was okay and we sat in bed. Julian had been sleeping in the lounge room because his bed broke the day before, so he got to hold Joseph and Sharelle came to help me get cleaned up after the birth. Sometime later, I felt hungry and Sharelle got me a banana to eat and after eating the banana I had a gush of blood that filled the pad. I started to feel weak and we were 30 minutes away from a hospital and I made the call that it was safer to go in. Well so I thought. Sharelle and Estelle came in with us to watch and care for the baby and on the way I made phone calls and another friend Brigette said she would also meet us there because I was very much against my baby being vaccinated or receiving the vit K injection and wanted him protected from any well-meaning nurses or doctors.
By the time I got to hospital I felt drained but still well enough to walk into Emergency. However, before I knew it I was admitted and my clothes cut off, like I was a victim of a car accident. My bleeding had stopped by the time I got there and my blood pressure was 90/60, which was low for me. I was clearly dehydrated, possibly from being sick with a cold in the weeks prior. My lips were dry and cracked. Before I knew it, I was given 500ml of saline by IV and I felt well enough to tell the doctors that I wouldn’t be taking any bloods for religious reasons. Immediately, I was asked if I was a Jehovah Witness, to which I replied no, but that I believed blood was sacred and I wouldn’t be taking any. If I had been given the choice of being given saline or drinking water orally to hydrate, I would have chosen the later but I was told later that apparently saline IV is standard procedure for Emergency, even though I was a previous heart patient who was more likely to develop electrolyte imbalances and heart rhythm problems with saline, though death by IV saline can happen to healthy people too. I was transferred out of Emergency to another room and felt fine while talking to the Ob who wanted me to stay for observation and she thought everything was fine. However suddenly after feeding the baby, I felt like I was going into heart failure. A number of tests were quickly run and they found that I had a fatally high concentration of potassium in my blood. My immediate thought was the bananas and coconut water I had been drinking and eating towards the end of my pregnancy. So I was given bicarb to push the potassium back into my cells and a decision was made to move me to ICU. All these intravenous solutions played havoc inside me and by the time I got to ICU, my blood pressure was over 200 but it wasn’t the blood pressure that made me feel bad. My legs were tingling and I had a metallic taste in my mouth. I truly felt like I was going back into heart failure. Bruce brought me water to drink, as I had no food or water brought to me in hospital. I remember that night, asking him to post on Facebook for someone to breastfeed Joseph and to call my friend Rachel, who had a baby in January but also for people to pray for me. They brought Joseph in to see me, and the ICU doctor Troy decided to challenge me on my right as a parent to conscientiously object to Hepatitis B and vitamin K to the point where he questioned how much I had read on the subject. I wasn’t prepared to give him a 12 hour lecture on the myth of vaccination or all the ethical reasons, why I would not accept it. However, it did give me a huge rush of adrenaline. Looking at Joseph, the miracle baby I had popped out in my bedroom, I knew prayers had been answered and I too was going to make it. I suddenly felt better in my body, and that moment I turned the corner. I didn’t realize at the time that all the problems that I had were caused by the initial intravenous saline and that the doctors should have given me water orally to bring my blood pressure up slowly and my body back into balance rather than give me saline without proper consultation and not slowly like they should have. If I had accepted the blood transfusion, I am sure that would have finished me off.
I ended up spending five days in hospital, while they fiddled with blood pressure medications to try and get my blood pressure down. By some miracle of prayer my blood pressure dropped to 125/70 on the Tuesday morning and that was enough to get me out of ICU into a postnatal room and it went straight back up again to over 200. While I was in ICU, they wanted to give me many medications, “just in case”, even though I exhibited no signs of infection. In fact, I never needed to go to ICU to be hooked up to machines because everything could have been done orally but I was an experiment and it’s much easier to control a patient if they are basically tied to machines. Some things they wanted to give me were antibiotics, clexane, antacid and bloods and pain killers (even though I had no pain). I refused all of these. On the Monday, I was so tired but subject to hours of interviews by doctors. One nurse said to me that I was very popular and had never seen so many doctors get involved. It was almost like a religious crusade to convert me to become a good obedient patient and believe in them and their treatments. None of what they wanted to give me, were to address any particular need. I was feeling well enough to go home and these medications would have ruined my health, not to mention pass through to my baby. The same ICU doctor who challenged me about vaccination decided to take it upon himself to put me through a consent form of “what ifs”. What if I had a heart attack, would I be resuscitated? I answered ‘No’. Would I receive bloods? ‘No’. Would I be intubated? Etc. The form was a method of intimidation to somehow invoke fear into me and submission. At some point, I knew that they were never going to let me go if my haemoglobin didn’t rise, so I asked Bruce to go home and Sharelle made me a green juice, lemon mineral water and garlic kale with spelt noodles and my haemoglobin rose 5 points, which I thought would make them happy but it didn’t seem to. They seemed determined to find something wrong. I was also subject to an unnecessary internal examination during my stay in ICU. Not only did it achieve nothing because after the internal exam where the OB found nothing, I asked for a bed pan and passed out the blood clots that were in there due to days of sitting in a bed. When I heard the OB say, the whole reason for the internal was because the other doctors would get all excited at the sight of blood thinking it was new blood, it made me feel even more violated than I had been and after leaving ICU I broke down. I had been medically raped and when I had asked them to stop, they held me down and pushed deeper inside me.
The time I spent in Geelong hospital, the jack hammer was constantly going during the day and I was exhausted and didn’t need to be interrogated with such disrespect for my own personal views on life. I respected their position but it was not my own. At one point, I had a doctor ask me, ‘Why I didn’t trust doctors’. If I only had time for all the horror stories of medical neglect, incompetence and arrogance and the same doctor, she decided to tell me that normal patients do as they are told to do and that it was somehow my fault that some doctors found it difficult to accept that I questioned and made my own decisions. To be fair, she did apologize on behalf of the zealous ICU doctor who had taken it upon himself to verbally assault me and there were other doctors that were very kind, generous, and were happy to work with me to discuss dosages of medication and breastfeeding with medication and nurses that shared with me their knowledge on alternative health and they too felt vaccination for hepatitis B was unnecessary.
After the unnecessary internal exam, which was painful and forceful and without informed consent, I was given an ultrasound where they found a 3cm piece of placenta. I was told it was an urgent thing that I have it removed and that I could be booked into surgery the next morning and at one point the ICU doctor pulled me aside and lied to me that the ultrasound would have to be an internal one but I was so high on the idea of escaping ICU and exhausted, I didn’t care anymore. I was told there was a risk of infection. I was devastated and after days of interrogations and fear mongering, I finally broke down and signed the consent form, which an hour later I asked to be ripped up. I had come to a very low point in my stay in the hospital. I felt so distant from all my family and from God. It was a desert experience in the wilderness and I realized how vulnerable I was, that no matter how strong I thought I was, all I had to save me was God. I had just given birth unassisted to a baby at home and I was worried about a tiny bit of placenta. What was going on? Where had I got so lost? I called out on God to save me. He had sent me a friend early that day, who had given me the advice to wait on the operation. I had no sign of infection and there were so many risks of the operation from uterine rupture, infection, and death. My blood pressure was still unstable and unlike other patients, medication did not work on me. I also had a lot of support through friends and groups on Facebook. I asked myself, what did the doctors say, that was ‘true’ and decided that I was not going to put myself under the knife, just because one of the doctors was nice, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. After I left hospital, I rarely thought about the bit of placenta and it absorbed on its own without any fuss (though a midwife I knew from the local community garden, said to me, that the placenta may not have been there at all!)
I ended up discharging myself on the Thursday, against medical advice. I felt that if I had stayed one more night, I would have died from lack of sleep. I had gotten to the point, that I couldn’t sleep anymore and the solution for that from the hospital was sleeping pills, which I obviously declined. Somehow in all this mess, the social worker from the hospital, who I had never spoken to reported us to DHS and though one of the doctors I had seen was appalled by this, I was just over it all and later when I got my medical record months later, I found out that some of them had conspired to keep me in hospital because they felt that I was a danger to my baby and wanted to get DHS involved.
A few months early, in June I had received a prophecy that Joseph’s name meant “to add, to increase, to do again”. So many things were mirrored in pregnancy from the last. It was at an identical time of year. I completed my GST form on the same day. The weather on certain key days was the same. On the date of Jasher’s passing, 10th July we would normally do something to remember it but this year, I felt with his impending return it was no time for mourning and something very special happened where a piece of space junk or meteors lit up the night sky unexpectedly. I had received two songs about Joseph, “Your Wildest Dreams” and “Yellow”. In Yellow, there was a verse, “For you, I will bleed myself dry”. Child Protection coming back into our lives, post birth made me smile inside because I knew that it was just a sign from God that Joseph really was Jasher returned to us. Joseph was also the 11th son and Joseph was our 11th child. Joseph was also born on a Sunday morning, and Jasher passed away on a Sunday morning at about the same time. Joseph was born as quickly as Jasher had been taken away.
On all this reflection, after I came home, both Bruce and I were stronger and we were stronger as a family. My children pulled together to clean the house, cook and I had an inner strength that no matter what life threw at me, with God, I would overcome. I would not succumb to fear or intimidation. I would stand strong and with courage. On the Saturday, I was looking into diet plans and I came across a page by Dr. Mc Dougall basically condemning high blood pressure medication as injurious to the body and heart. It struck me that I had always said, that if I had my time again, I would not go on medication and here I was, with just that. I could talk the talk but could I walk the walk. So, I followed his diet and went off all medication, monitoring my blood pressure, pulse and weight. After 5 days, I already dropped 50 points on the blood pressure but in all the record keeping, I discovered how dehydrated I was an why salt affected my blood pressure so much. I decided to drink a concoction of orange juice, water, garlic and ginger each morning to detox and to stay I stunk, perhaps was an understatement. This was followed by herbal tea. Green juices with beetroot, lemon mineral water, spring water, raw chocolate, spelt pasta, spelt flat bread, greens, frozen berries, low salt vegan diet, fruits and nuts. Within a week out of hospital, I was walking to the shops again.
One Sunday, I had felt the calling to go out by myself to pray on the beach. It had been months since, I had been alone and I took my phone and left the baby. I prayed for a sign that everything would be okay. I knew I wasn’t in heart failure but I didn’t understand till later what had gone wrong in hospital. It was a windy, overcast day but I pushed on towards the rocks, and got a call to come home. It was then that I saw my friend, Amanda who I had not seen in months. She was the first friend I made when we moved here and was there for me with so many wise words when I was in grief. She told me, she was being treated for cancer. We both knew that moment was divinely sent. Neither of us had visited the beach in months and on the worst of days, we found ourselves alone on the beach. What were the odds? And if Bruce hadn’t called about the baby, I would have missed seeing her too. Sometimes life seems to spin out of control but you have these moments, when you pray, that are divinely sent that you know, God is with you.
For the last ten days, since just after my birthday, I have been battling a flu. I don’t think I have ever been so sick for a very long time but I take comfort that a lot of junk is being cleared out. Viruses and bacteria break down the dead cells in us and inflammation and with the support of good food, water and rest, we are renewed. Joseph has been protected with immunity from breastfeeding and is thriving.
Often with these posts, it’s all about health and something I realized in hospital, was how obsessed I had become about health after I developed heart failure in 2011. A friend wrote to me post birth and asked me if I thought I was suffering from post-traumatic stress. When I bled more than usual after giving birth, I think it triggered the trauma because I would have previously trusted my body. This led to a sequence of events that landed me unnecessarily in ICU. I walked into Geelong hospital with a blood pressure of 90/60 and walk out with a blood pressure of 210/120!! I was led to believe it was my body that failed me but it was actually the doctors who gave me saline and too fast that it almost killed me. Another heart sister who had haemorrhaged badly post birth was given no IV fluids or bloods because of the risk of electrolyte problems. This is what happens when doctors react with split second decisions and protocol rather than treating the patient as a person, with the respect that she might know more about her body than they do and wasn’t some sort of science experiment or problem they needed to solve. The very basic care of good food, good water, rest and peace were not provided to me. I was violated in hospital and even when I cried and told the doctor in charge of ICU that I was raped in hospital, she did nothing but say, “I wasn’t there”. She should have documented my complaint formally. She was complicit in breeding the culture of misogyny and arrogance that so plagues the medical establishment. I had a number of doctors come up privately to me, asking me to document and put in a formal complaint, not just about this stay but the previous hospital stay. I am still not sure if I will or not, because I don’t think much will change if I do. It is just the nature of the beast. How can one complaint improve on something so broken? So many people die every day under medical care both through negligence and through doctors prescribing medication and following protocols exactly as they were taught to do. It is no surprise that allopathic medicine is one of the leading cause of death. The Australian system which is similar to America, where “It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States”
I spoke to a doctor in ICU who came in one night telling me about how her mother had recently died and how she was not from money but had worked hard to become a doctor. I seemed to be one of those patients that polarized doctors, who either loved or hated me and all that I stood for. I wondered if doctors practiced evidence based medicine or whether it was a form of blind religion; an adherence to a code regardless of its flaws.
I had deliberately chosen not to engage in medical care for my pregnancy because my cardiologist had made it clear that if I wasn’t prepared to abort the baby, then not to bother to do any tests. I am not sure how he could be so heartless after I had lost my previous baby but apparently, I scored one of the most heartless, cardiologists and it was just bad luck that I got him. I am glad that I made that decision because the fear and intimidation would have been a source of great stress during my pregnancy. Ultimately, it is my body, my life and my choice.
Today, I have been reflecting on how mechanical life has become and how people are turning into robots without feeling, programmed to absorb information, and who no longer feel or connect from the heart. Life is not about living longer but about faith, courage, and love and trying to extend life at any cost is leading to Frankenstein medicine. Part of being human is dying. It’s about doing what is right and what you believe in, even if it means losing or risking your life. A life without passion, is not life but an existence and to live in the shadow of fear means you never live. I think many doctors go into medicine because they subconsciously fear death and want control. Ultimately a patient is responsible for their own life, through the decisions they make every day and doctors have become priests of a religion based on fear.
Joseph is now five months and I am feeling wonderful. We go out a lot as he likes being out and about and I try and walk a few kilometres a day. I eat a very balanced organic, wholefood, plant based diet and have a lot of energy even though I wake up once or twice a night to breast feed. His return has brought so much healing to me and to our family. The children delight to hold and play with him and he loves going out and smiles constantly at everyone. I have been listening to Dr. Jennifer Daniels, of http://vitalitycapsules.com/truth-files (amazing information in these radio shows) and I can’t flaw her observations and information. The knowledge she shares is bringing together everything I went through and my understanding of health in a cohesive model. She is like the missing link, the key, the primer to a huge puzzle and finally everything unlocks. She exposes the fraud of modern medicine and the abuse that goes on within its walls and the bigger picture of population and thought control.
Some of the things Dr Jennifer Daniels shared was that blood pressure went up to get blood to the brain and kidneys and that use of medication had no long term or short term benefit. She advocated a wholefood plant based vegan diet of cooking with no oils, at least one salad a day, no processed foods, takeaway or restaurant food, eating edible weeds from your garden to restore health, eating locally grown organic food, ideally growing your own food, using herbs to ensure one had 3 bowel movements a day, drinking water, use of pine oil to flush out parasites, exercise, yoga, water fasting, and staying away from doctors, medical tests, vaccination and medication. She advocates the use of natural medicines in foods like fennel seeds and garlic and goes through much data and research to prove that modern medicine does more harm than good. It is actually fats and dehydration that contribute to the narrowing of arteries and dehydration that is often the cause of heart attacks.
I realize that thoughts are incredibly powerful and fear is incredibly damaging. Fear is like a thief that sneaks into the recesses of your mind and hides there and given the opportunity invades your whole body, leading to imbalances, disease and ultimately death. While I was pregnant with Joseph I was invincible. His spirit was like a steady rock and I had been promised his return that I did not doubt but I didn’t feel like I was promised my life. When he passed away in 2011, I would have gladly given my life in his place. There was an awful lot of guilt placed on me, that somehow his death was my fault. I blamed my diet, questioned if antenatal care would have made a difference, and blamed the stress in my life. It took me to almost losing my life again to realize that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t deserve to lose a baby. It wasn’t punishment for being bad. I didn’t ask for Child Protection to enter my life or a teacher to report us to the police for buying milk from a convicted paedophile, or the Catholic Church to turn its back on us and spitefully give us a notice to vacate because they had broken the law and the local priest had entered our house illegally. All these external pressures, was the perfect storm that set a chain of events that led to me developing postpartum cardiomyopathy and losing Jasher. The devil comes only to rob, kill and destroy but there is safety in the shadow of the Almighty. A trap had been set for us, but we didn’t know it. Both my life and Jasher’s were in danger but God had a plan to save me and bring Jasher back. He gave me dreams, signs, scripture and prophecy.
In one dream, I gave birth to a baby with clothes on. Shortly, after Jasher passed away Ruthy asked me to buy a pram, “for when Jasher comes back”. I was so not ready to receive those words and I wish now I had bought that pram. I remember vividly that after Jasher passed away God telling me that He had left to save my life. At the time, I didn’t know my life was in danger but soon after I was diagnosed, God told me that Jasher was our Joseph and like Joseph in the Bible, he was alive in a different place, and just as Jacob thought his son dead and he was returned to him, so too would Joseph (Jasher) be returned to us. In my mind, I thought that meant in the next life, we would see him again but slowly God was showing me that Jasher would be returned to us in this life. Another sign we had was at the funeral for Jasher, I only wanted my family to be there and Bruce and I buried Jasher with our children, but there had to be someone from the Cemetery Trust to be present, for legal reasons. After the burial, this man from the Trust, walked over to Bruce and told him that he was married to an Andrewartha. The probability of that happening was staggering and all the Andrewartha’s in Australia are related. It was a sign to me, that even though we felt our lives spinning out of control, God was with us, He had not left us or deserted us.
A few weeks later, I felt the urge to look up in the Book of Jasher, an ancient book that the Old Testament was based off, the date that Joseph was sent off to Egypt; the date on which his father had believed that he had died. It was the tenth day of the seventh month. And Jasher had passed away on the 10.7.2011. It sent shivers down my spine. We take online orders for domain names and hosting and the day Jasher died, all the orders stopped, even though when he was alive we had an extraordinary number of orders go through.
Time passed and Joanna my seventh born, came to me and said, “You were going to call me Joseph, if I was a boy?” I had completely forgotten that I had but always wanted a boy named Joseph but due to a rental dispute we had with a corrupt real estate agent in Melbourne, we ended up calling Fair Trading to sort it out and the head of the Department was an Andrewartha, who had someone pass on to us, a copy of the family history back to 1500. It was pages long but there was a Joseph Andrewartha way back that had died prematurely and because of that, I did not want to name the next boy Joseph but that was who Jasher was; he was our Joseph.
Another time, while walking along the beach, we were stopped by the strong winds and the children decided to play up in the dunes in a part of the beach, we never go to but for some reason, felt drawn to. Up high in the scrub, they found Bruce’s skateboard ramp placed ready to be burnt. I honestly couldn’t believe that someone had stolen it from our backyard and carried it hundreds of metres up the beach and up the dunes to burn it, but we took it back home and I heard God say clearly to my heart “There is nothing stolen, that cannot be returned” and I knew that He would return Joseph to us, in this life, as impossible as that might have seemed at the time, with a heart that was not yet healed. I also received two songs for Joseph, “Yellow” and “In Your Wildest Dreams”. Interestingly, the morning I gave birth to Joseph was a Sunday and it was around the same time on a Sunday morning, that Jasher left us. God returned our baby to us at the same time, as another sign. He also shared with me that the name Joseph meant eleventh and Joseph was our eleventh baby that truly changed our lives and saved us, in so many ways. People might say that I have made this up conveniently as a way to deal with death but there were many things that I could not manufacture, things that were outside my control.
I was warned in a dream not to go back to my cardiologist. I had a dream about three dogs and one dog came and opened his mouth and swallowed my little baby that was crawling on the ground. We were away from home and had taken refuge in a house in Box Hill. The baby was really small, not even the size of a newborn but he crawled and the dog ate him. The next day, I saw my cardio who discharged me because I had weaned myself off medication and my heart was fully recovered and he said to me, that if I did not want to abort the baby in a future pregnancy there was absolutely no reason to do any tests. The dream and his words had been a sign not to engage in a medicalized pregnancy. The cardiologist I had seen in Melbourne had lied to me about referring me to someone she knew in Geelong. My GP showed me the letter she sent her and there was no referral, only a request to find a local cardiologist for me, which is how I ended back at my previous cardiologist.
I also had an interesting day in Melbourne where meters failed me three times; once a parking meter read incorrectly, an hour wrong, then I mysteriously received $20 credit on my prepaid phone, and after I showed Bruce within seconds it disappeared and somehow we managed to do hundreds of kilometres on a few dollars of petrol. It was to me a clear sign, not to take any blood pressure measurements during pregnancy but to focus on eating well, walking, juicing each day, staying unstressed, listening to my body, scaling back activities, getting sunshine, etc. I had an amazing pregnancy and I enjoyed every moment of it!
I ended up also losing trust in my “naturopathic” GP after she wanted to prescribe me antibiotics to “knock off” a possible urinary tract infection, and one of the side effects of this drug was liver failure, and she had told me it was perfectly safe. I was paying extra money to see a holistic doctor and to get prescribed drugs that even an ordinary GP would not have given out to a symptomless patient was just wrong. I kept searching deeper into holistic health and realized that many holistic doctors were not really very qualified in natural therapy. They all followed a similar protocol of unnecessary tests to tell you basically what you knew already, because all chronic illness starts in the gut and so almost everybody will test positive for food allergies and electrolyte imbalances caused by a leaky gut. The solution of endless amounts of supplements, may seem to fix things at first but never addresses the underlying issue of poor gut health, sluggish liver and kidney function due to toxicity caused by the poor gut health and dehydration. Almost all doctors practice medicine without truly understanding diet and the importance of living foods, and the use of juicing/blending vegetables and fruits to restore health, or the healing benefits that come with water fasting and the use of enemas/colonics. They practice with a mindset that treats the symptoms of disease, albeit using supplements or drugs but ultimately unless health is restored by a strict wholefoods diet with no heated oils and no sugars or refined foods, and unless the bowels move efficiently and the kidneys and liver are detoxified, and parasites flushed from the body, then use of supplements and drugs ends up leading to more imbalances.
Anyway, I digress but I got to the point where I realized that it was going to be a battle to find anyone to support my pregnancy. I was 42, had 11 previous pregnancies and with my last pregnancy ending badly in heart failure and loss of a premature baby, on paper it certainly didn’t look great and I couldn’t put the responsibility on anyone else, so I felt the doors were closing and I would birth unassisted. There was no test that would convince me to abort the baby, so I would not do any. And because I felt that stress was a major factor in developing PPCM, the stress of seeing doctors and having to convince them that I was fine, was not worth it. They had nothing they could offer me. I felt that if I needed to that I would get help. I just didn’t know, that the doctors would almost kill me with the “standard of care” because they followed a text book and were arrogant to assume that they knew what they were doing. I had a vivid dream recently, that all the doctors in the hospitals were television actors in an elaborate scam and I was trying to tell Bruce that they weren’t doctors but actors and comparing their faces to the faces on television. On reflection, this was exactly what I had experienced and even though there were many questionable things done during my stay in hospital, not one nurse or doctor dared to stand up and question or challenge another’s judgement and I could write a book on the fictious lies they made up to cover up their ignorance.
Despite all that happened, I have no regrets. It was a journey that I needed to go on. I had kept the medication in my cupboard "just in case" since I went into heart failure in 2011 despite being completely off medication and I finally got to the point where I was able to throw it all out and know that chapter of my life was over.
During my pregnancy, I had been part of a local bereavement group but I had made some comment in the group that was about a paragraph long and got a message from one of the admins of the group that somehow in that one short paragraph I was pushing my ideas on a distressed women when I was clearly comforting her and telling her my own story of how I too had signs that I was in danger. The woman never saw my post but admin was enforcing their own ideas of what constituted support, needless to say my feelings were not considered. I took it as a sign that I was to leave the bereavement group. I never really fit in there anyway and I disagreed with the culture of keeping people in a state of permanent grief by continuously going over the same old stories years later and other cultural practices that I never took part in. Anyway, I went to delete all my comments from the group and I found that in one of the questions I had posted about prenatal care in 2012, a woman had replied to me, who gave glowing reviews of Geelong Hospital and I went through her posts and she had gone into hospital three times post birth of extreme tiredness, and a few months later died of a heart attack. She had cardiomyopathy and I believe it was postpartum cardiomyopathy. The group only had about a hundred members and it struck me that she had not connected with my story of developing or recovering from postpartum cardiomyopathy. I felt sad that she had died and that we had had a passing conversation online and how meaningless it was for me to continue in this group. The hospital had failed her and yet she considered their care to be wonderful.
During my recovery, I found many stories about recovery not just from postpartum cardiomyopathy but also other chronic illness. My life intersected with many people who shared with me just what I needed at the time, whether it was a woman who had chronic fatigue sharing her experience of healing with raw foods and colonics and sharing with me her kombucha starter and showing me her kitchen with kefir, kombucha, dehydrated foods or someone telling me about how their father had a triple by-pass thirty years ago but has since never seen a doctor since and is a living testimony of vegan foods. My life intersected with many heart sisters online and it’s always wonderful to hear from a heart sister who said my story gave them hope and helped them make changes that helped them to recover.
Part of the reason for sharing my story is to provide hope to others. It is my truth as I see it today. Quoting from The Gospel of The Holy Twelve
“So it is with Truth. I am the Truth and the Way and the Life, and have given to you the Truth I have received from above. And that which is seen and received by one, is not seen and received by another. That which appeareth true to some, seemeth not true to others. They who are in the valley see not as they who are on the hill top. But to each, it is the Truth as the one mind seeth it, and for that time, till a higher Truth shall be revealed unto the same: and to the soul which receiveth higher light, shall be given more light. Wherefore condemn not others, that ye be not condemned. As ye keep the holy Law of Love, which I have given unto you, so shall the Truth be revealed more and more unto you, and the Spirit of Truth which cometh from above shall guide you, albeit through many wanderings, into all Truth, even as the fiery cloud guided the children of Israel through the wilderness.Be faithful to the light ye have, till a higher light is given to you. Seek more light, and ye shall have abundantly; rest not, till ye find. God giveth you all Truth, as a ladder with many steps, for the salvation and perfection of the soul, and the truth which seemeth to day, ye will abandon for the higher truth of the morrow. Press ye unto Perfection. Whoso keepeth the holy Law which I have given, the same shall save their souls, however differently they may see the truths which I have given. Many shall say unto me, Lord, Lord, we have been zealous for thy Truth. But I shall say unto them, Nay, but, that others may see as ye see, and none other truth beside. Faith without charity is dead. Love is the fulfilling of the Law.”
And I leave you with this verse. I have been in the valleys and I have been on the mountain tops in my life. I have experienced extreme sorrow and incredible joy. My heart has been broken and my heart has been healed, a heart of flesh given to me replacing a heart that had become hardened from the sinfulness, materialism, greed and sorrow in the world. I write not to condemn but that others may benefit from my experience and also as an offering of thanksgiving and testimony of the Eternal grace, love and faithfulness of Our Heavenly Father and Earthly Mother as revealed through the teachings of Christ Jesus and the prophets, whose desire is that we have life, in all its fullness and overcome the works of the devil, that death and fear have no power over us, that we are nourished from the Earth and our bodies transformed into the living temples of God’s love, holiness and grace.
10th July 2015
Today is the fourth anniversary of Jasher's passing. I am so grateful that the verse, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away"
All that God promised me has been fulfilled. Jasher has been returned to us and brought so much joy and healing to our household. It was like he never left us. I woke up at 4 am this morning, the time four years ago, I had put Jasher down to sleep for the last time. Four years have passed; by the end of the first year I had fully recovered, by the second I was discharged from cardiology after a year on a health journey, by the third I was almost ready to give birth to Joseph and this year I have an almost one year old, walking around. Four seasons in four years; death to new life with an autumn season laying down the foundation for Joseph's return.
My dear heart sister messaged me this morning about a dream she had about me. We are literally worlds apart but connected by the Spirit of life. In the dream we were in danger. How true, the verse "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" and so I went back to sleep and dreamed of a large mansion with many individual rooms, where we found shelter from a storm. She had been an atheist, and when I was in hospital being experimented on by the doctors last year and almost killed, many people prayed for me, but it was her reply that she was praying and that she was here with her sisters in Christ praying for me, that struck me the most. It was a miracle in my eyes and gave me hope.
The world is governed by fear and violence but we are called to peace and truth. I reflected on how this journey has shown me much evil done in the name of good because of fear; fear of the future, of death, of lack. I remember the decision I had made in the beginning, that my life would not be ruled by fear or grief and reflected on the song from Ecclesiastics we had sung at our wedding, almost 25 years ago about there being a season for all things under Heaven and how I had never expected to go through all that we had but in the midst of it all, we had grown stronger and our love deeper. I know that nothing can separate me from God's love and even in the midst of much opposition, of being tortured and interrogated in ICU, and sleep deprived which opens the door to much manipulation, God was with me. It was a spiritual dessert, away from all that grounded me but I emerged stronger in my faith. I learnt that inside me was strength, wisdom, power and love and that God's deliverance was always near. I learnt compassion for those under held under the spell of fear.
I also learnt the mystery of the verse "the life of every creature is in its blood" and how the blood when thickened, does not bring the breath of life to all parts of the body and it is at these extremities that disease and cellular death occurs. I believe cardiomyopathy happens when the heart is deprived of oxygen and then becomes impaired, leading to more oxygen deprivation and more cellular death. This is why diets that help the blood to flow, that are full of life giving fruits and vegetables and water restore the blood and its flow throughout the body. Dr Andrew Moulden discusses the theory that all disease starts with impaired blood flow due to toxins, stress, infection, diet, etc. Diet is just one factor in how blood becomes thickened and disease ravages in the body.
Time and time again, I am brought back to the wisdom of the writings of the Gospel of Peace of the Essenes. That I had been led to in the early days of my recovery.
"I tell you truly, God and his laws are not in that which you do. They are not in gluttony and in wine-bibbing, neither in riotous living, nor in lustfulness, nor in seeking after riches, nor yet in hatred of your enemies. For all these things are far from the true God and from his angels. But all these things come from the kingdom of darkness and the lord of all evils. And all these things do you carry in yourselves; and so the word and the power of God enter not into you, because all manner of evil and all manner of abominations have their dwelling in your body and your spirit. If you will that the living God's word and his power may enter you, defile not your body and your spirit; for the body is the temple of the spirit, and the spirit is the temple of God. Purify, therefore, the temple, that the Lord of the temple may dwell therein and occupy a place that is worthy of him."
For I tell you truly, evils and dangers innumerable lie in wait for the Sons of Men. Beelzebub, the prince of all devils, the source of every evil, lies in wait in the body of all the Sons of Men. He is death, the lord of every plague, and taking upon him a pleasing raiment, he tempts and entices the Sons of Men. Riches does he promise, and power, and splendid palaces, and garments of gold and silver, and a multitude of servants, all these; he promises renown and glory, fornication and lustfulness, gluttony and wine-bibbing, riotous living, and slothfulness and idle days. And he entices every one by that to which their heart is most inclined. And in the day that the Sons of Men have already become the slaves of all these vanities and abominations, then in payment thereof he snatches from the Sons of Men all those things which the Earthly Mother gave them so abundantly. He takes from them their breath, their blood, their bone, their flesh, their bowels, their eyes and their ears. And the breath of the Son of Man becomes short and stifled, full of pain and evil-smelling, like the breath of unclean beasts. And his blood becomes thick and evil-smelling, like the water of the swamps; it clots and blackens, like the night of death. And his bone becomes hard and knotted; it melts away within and breaks asunder, as a stone falling down upon a rock. And his flesh waxes fat and watery; it rots and putrefies, with scabs and boils that are an abomination.
And his bowels become full with abominable filthiness, with oozing streams of decay; and multitudes of abominable worms have their habitation there. And his eyes grow dim, till dark night enshrouds them, and his ears become stopped, like the silence of the grave. And last of all shall the erring Son of Man lose life. For he kept not the laws of his Mother, and added sin to sin. Therefore, are taken from him all the gifts of the Earthly Mother: breath, blood, bone, flesh, bowels, eyes and ears, and after all else, life, with which the Earthly Mother crowned his body.
"But if the erring Son of Man be sorry for his sins and undo them, and return again to his Earthly Mother; and if he do his Earthly Mother's laws and free himself from Satan's clutches, resisting his temptations, then does the Earthly Mother receive again her erring Son with love and sends him her angels that they may serve him. I tell you truly, when the Son of Man resists the Satan that dwells in him and does not his will, in the same hour are found the Mother's angels there, that they may serve him with all their power and free utterly the Son of Man from the power of Satan."
It is impossible to separate health and diet from the spiritual. We are body, soul and spirit. While most of our body is made of water, unlike a solution of dissolved salts, our parts are held in suspension by electric charge. We are essentially energy and the source of our life, is the Creator. When one cuts oneself, blood flows to the injury and skin regrows. If blood is not allowed to flow to the site of the injury, healing cannot happen. We are made from the earth. If we eat from that which is life giving herbs, fruits, vegetables and seeds, our health will be restored and the natural flow observed in nature will be reflected in the natural flow of blood around our body. I believe that cardiomyopathy happens when the natural flow of blood to the capillaries of the heart is disturbed and cells die, leading to impaired blood flow and possibly heart failure. C sections and operations, iv fluids, toxins in the blood and nutritional deficiencies that lead to electrolyte imbalances can all impair blood flow to the heart’s capillaries but the body, which can heal cuts, bruises, gashing wounds, and broken bones, can heal the heart and any organ provided blood flow is restored.
In January 2014, when I was just pregnant I remember feeling palpitations and lots of cravings while pregnant with Joseph. I remember meeting Janine from Running Raw Australia and speaking with her after they made the world record eating raw vegan and running a daily marathon around Australia for a year and how much greens they ate a day and went home and bought bunches of kale. I knew the only way to eat that much kale was to dehydrate them with lemon and olive oil and I was able to eat 2-3 bunches a day for a few days and the palpitations went and never came back and so did all my cravings. I continued drink juices made with greens, vegetables and fruit every day, especially beetroot.
I look back at all the people I met on this journey this last four years and how my journey has intersected with theirs and vice versa. All life is interconnected. It’s often the small decisions and words spoken, the kindness shown by a stranger and all the little things in life that show love that make the most lasting impression and change. Life is also a daily journey. We put one step ahead of another, letting gentleness, compassion and kindness guide our decisions in all things and we are transformed by God’s living word into the likeness of Christ. Life is the inner transformation through many experiences and connections and love towards God Our Father and Creator and to all living creatures.
May peace be with you and you live a life that is true to the person you were born to be in Christ Jesus, according to his true gospel of peace, healing and deliverance from all evil.
I am reminded by the sand dunes behind my house that the waves have transformed through the many tides, how many external factors have changed me. I only have to pray, seek God and hear his direction in life and though the world may be in turmoil and chaos, there is shelter in His shadow.
We are indeed marvellously and mysteriously made. The seed that grow, transforms into vegetables and fruits that we partake of, in the great bounty of the Earth’s harvest and transforms into our blood, our bones and grows new life within us.
Today is my birthday and I am forty four years old. I have so much to celebrate and give thanks for. I have learnt that it is the inner change that is often wrought with much struggle, sadness, hardship, in tears and sorrow that is where the kingdom of God is built. Heart failure was a sickness of my heart that had become hardened by the world, an outward manifestation of inner turmoil, grief and disillusionment. In this life, we must have faith, hope and love or else we end up filled with terror and worry that lead only to death and suffering.
I recently celebrated 25 years of marriage and yet it seems as though my life is just beginning.
Twenty five years ago, my husband and I were married. We were young, and in love and had absolute faith that despite all the odds, love would find a way. I know many doubted that we would last, and having children now that are the same age or older than we were when we married, I can see things through a parent's eyes. Bruce and I were from different worlds. I was the straight A student, that scored high enough to get into Medicine or Law and he was a high school dropout, who skateboarded and had gotten into various trouble with poor friend choices. How could this possibly work? "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible"
We had a deep connection from the day we met and God had physically touched him that day in Church. God had told me to trust and showed me, that love is not about what you see on the outside but the heart and believing in someone and trusting, seeing the potential underneath all the rough edges and being prepared to be open, honest, and vulnerable with each other and to change, to forgive, to dream and support each other. Through Bruce, I learnt the meaning of love and we have both changed so much, over the years.
I would never have imagined that we would have had so many beautiful children together, homeschooled for almost two decades and he would have been by my side as I popped out our babies at home, and that we would both finish University (with him topping his graduation class), start and run a website development business/consultancy together, tutored secondary and Uni students, done a tree change and sea change, run an organic food co-op, built a website that would be used by Stanford University researchers to improve maternal outcomes, and learnt so many skills, and had so many amazing experiences, helping many people throughout the world. I would never have imagined that Bruce would still be skating and we would be more in love today surrounded by the most beautiful, kindhearted and gentle souls who have their own gifts and talents. God has always been bigger than our dreams, his way higher than ours and He has led us to beautiful pastures and quiet resting places because we chose to obey his laws of love, and not succumb to doubt and fear.
But the true test of faith and a relationship isn't when things are going well but when the world comes crashing down and you face death, loss, grief, false accusation, despair, uncertainty, isolation and hardship. We have been through the worst of times that threatened to pull us apart, and through much prayer, discipline and anguish of the soul, God led us through a time of sifting and healing and returned to us, the baby we had lost and God taught us much about life and his kingdom. My heart He healed, physically, spiritually and emotionally and throughout the many difficult times in life, God led us through. I know that nothing can separate me from God, that even if I am persecuted for my faith in God, that His Spirit will never leave me and He will deliver me in times of trouble. I look forward to all the things we will do together, to watch our children grow and for an even closer walk with God and with wonder at where He will lead us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I believe that God’s plans for his creation is for good and that many deceptive words have been sown into religions that suggest that God wants to punish and kill. There is an aspect of shame and guilt that comes with PPCM, whether it’s acknowledged consciously or not and a sense of abandonment and trauma. Our experiences, and feelings can lead us to prayer and to seek God with our heart, mind and soul; to learn to surrender every part of ourselves – physical, spiritual and emotional to be transformed from within by the Spirit, rather than through external cultural and social conditioning. To listen and obey the Spirit of God in all things, great and small – to truly follow Christ and his teachings. For there is a bigger picture, and a greater plan that we serve, than ourselves; a plan to restore peace to the heavens and earth and defeat the powers of darkness. For this world was created for love, new life and joy not death, suffering and sorrow.
I have walked through the shadow of death, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” And the road that I have walked, though it has changed me, it feels like a dream in many ways. I am reminded of the verse, “Remember not former things, and look not on things of old. Behold I do new things, and now they shall spring forth, verily you shall know them: I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall glorify me, the dragons and the ostriches: because I have given waters in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, to my chosen. This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise.”
Joseph’s birth has taken me a long way from the world of PPCM. I no longer think about my heart because I know I am recovered. I continue to eat a natural wholefoods diet rich in life giving foods and water and feel healthier than I did before I developed PPCM. Most people are amazed that I have had eleven children and often think I am joking. I spent a lot of time listening to Dr Jennifer Daniels radio shows and her very radical ideas on health and also the late Dr Andrew Moulden who linked all disease to the blood. The scriptures say, “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life” and how true this is. I have been brought back time and time again to the Gospel of Peace of the Essenes and the wisdom contained in this book about what Jesus taught about health and also the Gospel of the Holy Twelve. I wish it were easier to impart my understanding to others but I know that life is a journey and we press onwards, and at some point, we are ready to receive what we couldn’t earlier. It’s like working on a maths problem, you keep on seeking the answer and looking it from different angles and then one day, the answer just comes to you through much prayer and reflection and by the power of Holy Spirit. True knowledge and wisdom comes from God. In the world, there is only confusion.