My Personal Journey to Wellness and Starting Infinity Wellness Center
by Dr. Tenesha Wards
My exposure to natural healing started at a young age. My mom took me in for adjustments as a baby for ear aches and colic, but it was too soon then to know that I wanted to be a doctor. My mom tells a story about me at age 3, and a little bird. I kept an injured baby bird in a shoe box and nursed it’s broken wing back to health and let if fly off. My mom knew before I did that I’d end up in the medical field.
At age 8 or 9 my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This was traumatic for me to witness when, at one point, half his body was paralyzed and he was bed ridden. I loved and cared for him at his bedside and fought my mother, hard, when she forced me to go to school. After years of pain and suffering he had all the mercury fillings removed from his mouth with the advice of a holistic minded doctor. He was able to recover, function, and regain his enthusiasm for life. But nope, I only played doctor at this point and didn’t quite get my calling…yet.
At age 15, I became extremely sick. I woke up one morning unable to move any joint in my body. My joints literally would not bend. I had a red, feverish rash covering most of my skin. And I hurt, everywhere. The pain was intense. I cried, a lot. Overnight I went from the natural fearlessness of a 15-year-old girl active in sports and cheerleading, to a deeply frightened teenager experiencing intense pain. And truly thinking I may not live.
I remember my mother taking me to the doctor through the back door of the clinic, I was immediately quarantined because of the red feverish rash that covered most of my body. Doctors ran test after test with no avail. No one could figure out the source of the rash, swollen joints, and pain. Doctor after doctor, test after test, no one knew what was wrong with me. Pumped full of drugs and steroids, I only gained weight and got worse. My fears and parents’ fears escalated. One day I finally surrendered and told my mom “take me home, I’m going to die.”
Looking back, I crossed a bridge that day. I didn’t know it then, but I found the power that comes from acknowledging and naming a deep fear and letting others help you move through it. After that, my mom moved past her own fear and stepped up the research herself to find an answer. Her insistence that I be tested for Lyme disease, rare and unheard of in Michigan in the 90s, is what saved my life. Witnessing my mother transforming her fear into action has forever made her my hero, inspiration and rock.
I slowly started to get better on my own. I could function to an extent and bend the joints in my hands after running them under warm water each morning. We finally found a holistic minded doctor who is similar to my practice today. It took years of vitamins, herbs, detoxes, cleansing, and ultimately major gut repair. Like major gut healing to get to the healthy state I am in today – energy back, pain gone and living a life full of vitality again! As long as I take care of myself and my immune system, I am able to stay in good health.
I was able to catch back up in school form missing so much, graduate on time and the journey began. For grad school I moved across the country from Michigan to Texas to start the Graduate program at Texas Chiropractic College. I also completed certifications in Acupuncture, Applied Kinesiology, Activator Technique and became an Applied Clinical Nutritionist in hopes to gain more knowledge to help me find the “unknown cause” of my patient’s pain.
My Second Breakdown
My second breakdown happened after the birth of my daughter. At thirty-six years old we decided to get pregnant, knowing that Lyme can be transmitted from mother to child, I traveled all over the country working with the top Lyme Disease MDs to learn exactly what to do to ensure I did not spread this to a child. Thankfully, I ended up in Dr. Marty Ross’ office in Seattle, Washington. With his guidance, I was able to conceive and carry our daughter and I am forever grateful. But it was at a price.
At this point I was living life free of any Lyme Symptoms – unless, I neglected my body. If I ate too much sugar or processed foods, stayed up too late, had increased stress, then I would feel just a bit more tired than the people around me. I have since learned this may actually be due to my poor ability to detox and genetics, but at the time I believed it was only Lyme. I was on, and had been for decades, a maintenance dose of anti-bacterial herbs and living life with tons of energy. Dr. Ross ran labs, and Lyme showed up positive. It was still in my system and I was not taking a chance. Many women at this point may choose to adopt or have a surrogate carry a child, but I chose to carry with his guidance.
We both knew the herbs I was on, the ones that kept my Lyme Disease suppressed for over 20 years, cause miscarriages and I would need to go off them. You see, in my experience with Lyme, clinically and personally, if you’ve had the germ in your body for longer than a year untreated – it starts to act like a virus. In the fashion of if you keep your immune system up, it stays dormant (similar to a cold sore) and you have zero symptoms. But the moment you get sick, get too stressed, eat poorly, it may rear its ugly head. Please know, this is only based on my experience and clinical research.
With my history, I took no chances and decided to move to antibiotics in order to prevent placental transmission. I felt great making the transition from herbs to antibiotics. I carried to full term, had a drug free delivery, and nursed her for a full year. I was in a state of bliss! People commented on how amazing motherhood looked on me. All was great – until I transitioned off the antibiotics when she turned one. That’s when, like a house infested with termites, it all came crashing down.
I was expanding my practice with two new associate doctors, building out a new clinic, juggling a full patient load and chasing a toddler. As a chef, my husband worked many nights and weekends, and it wore on me. I could barely make it through my days. My husband and nanny took over most of the child care. I was irritable, angry, gaining weight, and fatigued to the point that some days it hurt to lift my head. Like almost every woman who walks in our doors, I was burned out!!
I convinced myself I was just “mom tired.” Or, “I will pull out of it when XYZ project was over.” I was in complete denial that I was sick. My denial almost cost me my marriage. I was difficult to be around. How could I, someone who helped people get well, be sick, again?? I was superwoman, juggling all the balls, spinning all the plates with grace and ease. That was how people saw me. That was how I saw myself. The shame was real. Not even my closest friends or family knew I was struggling. I covered it up at the office only to come home cranky and mean to my family, and then I would crash.
Finally, I strategically ran tests on myself. Thankfully, The Lyme had not flared up. But the prolonged antibiotics wiped out my good gut flora, despite the copious amounts of gut repair I took while on them. I was also suffering from Epstein Barr Virus, and Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s Disease. In other words, my immune system was gone, I had a virus that causes debilitating fatigue, and my body thought my thyroid, my own thyroid, was public enemy #1 and was attacking it!
Slowly, through rebuilding my immune system, gut repair, and lowering inflammation, I fully recovered. Through that experience, I created an online program to help women all over the world going through the same. The Energy Recovery System. This program is designed to help women who are not local to Austin or do not have access to this kind of care, get their lives back without the use of drugs or surgery.
My only regret (maybe) is nursing as long as I did. Forty weeks on antibiotics to carry a baby is tough enough on the body, but adding another year while I nursed was probably what caused the breakdown. However, London is healthy, shows no signs of Lyme Disease, and thriving, so it was all worth it.
If I were to advise another mother with a chronic illness, I might say nurse 3 months tops. But us mama’s can be stubborn, and will sacrifice ourselves for those babies any day of the week! Today I am happy, healthy, and once again symptom free. Is the Lyme cured? I don’t know. I do know that it does not show up in my labs, I am not on any antibacterial herbs, and I feel amazing.
From my mom’s example of leaving no stone unturned and the inspiration born out of my painful experiences, I now passionately work closely with clients all over the world to uncover the source of their illness, empathize with their pain and frustration, and then stay the course to help them heal.
I daily count myself blessed to be able to use my experience to help others move through their fears, pain, and fatigue, to also heal.
In practice today, I strive to find the core root cause of a patient’s symptoms. I went undiagnosed as a young girl for a long time, long enough to have caused serious complications with my health. It was unsettling and frustrating to not understand why I was sick. It’s important to me to address the cause and to educate my patients as much as possible to empower them to take control of their health and return their vitality!