What Happened to Me:
In January 2016 I was diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome after suffering a massive central disc herniation at L5-S1. This is a rare syndrome caused by compression of the cauda equina which is the horse tail of nerves connected to the spinal cord in the lumbar spine. Prior to this event I suffered 2 years of severe back pain and headaches after being misdiagnosed and undergoing a very unnecessary spinal tap and subsequent blood patch for a CSF leak in 2014. Prior to this the only time I ever went to a Doctor was for a yearly check-up.
During this time I experienced a decline in my neurologic function from the waist down until I ultimately woke up one morning paralyzed from the waist down, unable to move my feet or legs and with complete loss of bladder control. I was also in suicidal level pain. Rather than go to the hospital network I was dealing with for 2 years, I had a friend drive me to another hospital Emergency Dept where I underwent an Emergency MRI, my first one and was transported to a state of the art spine center for emergency neurosurgery to decompress my cauda equina.
After surgery my pain and chronic 2 year headache was gone. I was left barely able to walk, my legs very weak and with right foot drop. I was unable to feel most of my right leg and right foot. My injury was incomplete and a combination of sensory and motor dysfunction. Although my neurosurgeon and the spine center were amazing and restored my faith in the Medical system, there was little research about Cauda Equina Syndrome, and they were not quite sure what to do with me.
Having a background in healthcare myself (I am a nurse and a pharmacist), I took massive drastic action because I had nothing to lose by trying. The first of which was getting myself discharged from the spine center with home services and this is where my experiment began.
My Full Recovery 2.5 years later:
After reading PubMed daily and over 500 papers and books during my 2 year recovery, I started implementing the science I was reading. I started a ketogenic diet 80/15/5, hydrating with a gallon of water a day so my discs were getting the raw materials they needed to heal via diffusion during restorative sleep. The next thing I did was start training everyday with the rehab exercises to correct my gait, muscle imbalances and build my endurance. Everyday I spent time visualizing my nerves regenerating and using what I learned about epigenetics from Bruce Lipton. I kept my mindset strong and positive at all times in a state of unwavering faith and determination.
The strange thing I noticed myself doing was intuitively gravitating towards eating a more meat based diet. The past 5 months my carbs have reduced dramatically and I have more carnivore days. I truly believe providing my nerves with an alternative fuel source in the form of ketones is the reason they recovered and for the full recovery I was fortunate to have. I also believe this way of eating generated the stem cells in my body I needed to repair L5-S1. My injury was a peripheral nerve injury which is more forgiving than a spinal cord injury. There is no way anyone can tell me that nerves can not regenerate or recover. It is possible and it is a slow process.
The final result of my recovery experiment:
- Pain Free
- Medication Free
- 20 pound maintained fat loss and overhaul of body composition.
- Increased flexibility
- Complete resolution of right foot drop
- Complete return of motor and sensory function in my legs and feet minus 2 toes on my right foot (still have hope) and my saddle.
- Complete return of bladder and resolution of saddle anesthesia.
- Correction of gait and able to walk normal
- Ran a 5k in under 35 minutes
- Able to train like Arnold in the gym with weights again
- More endurance in training
- Return to my full-time pharmacy job
- As a side benefit cured from PCOS, eczema resolved and glowing wrinkle free skin.
- A spine that my neurosurgeon said looks better than the general population
- Resolution of hypertrophy and inflammation at L5-S1 facet joint
- Improved glute and core strength resulting in increased lumbar spine stabilization.
- In the best shape of my life at 40 years old
I shared my story in the hope it will add value and be of help to someone dealing with a neurological condition. Don’t be afraid to empower yourself and work outside the healthcare system to find your cure. Thank you Dr Baker for the knowledge you have shared on your platforms and for your role in my continued recovery and health transformation.