Editor’s Note: This is the true story of Jackie C. Her case history was first introduced in a book authored by her physician, Robert S. Ivker, D.O.
When I was 52 years old, I felt and looked so much older. I averaged about four sinus infections each year. My sinus condition had become progressively worse with infections becoming more frequent, of longer duration, and greater severity. It was a major undertaking to walk around the block. My husband would go with me because he wasn’t sure that I would make it back home without assistance, even though I stopped several times to catch my breath and used my inhaler.
My problem was not obesity, but chronic sinusitis (from my teenage years) and asthma (from the early 80’s). My sinus problems heightened my asthma, and the only way to combat this was to increase the strength of my medications, which included Ventolin, Azmacort, Intal, Beconase AQ and numerous antibiotics. I had sought help from various specialists; such as, allergists; ear, nose, and throat doctors; and neurologists. Two sinus surgeries had given me temporary relief, which was certainly welcome at the time, but they were definitely not long-term solutions. The only long-term effect was a decreased sense of smell.
My headaches were frequent and often severe. I had constant mucus draining in the back of my throat, which gave me a perpetual sore throat and often affected my speech. I was taking antibiotics every three or four months and becoming allergic to everything. I couldn’t clean our home because of my allergic reaction to dust. I couldn’t sit next to someone wearing perfume or be in a room where smokers might be present. I was constantly fatigued, even though I slept 12 to 16 hours each night. I was frightened when I’d wake up with numb hands, arms, and/or legs. There were times after my work day when I would literally crawl upstairs to bed and pray for the weekends when I could sleep longer. I often blamed my fuzzy thinking, poor performance, and graying hair on just “getting older.” During this time I was extremely depressed. It wasn’t a life worth living. My husband’s brother, a physician, had advised him to be prepared for the worst possible outcome.
My primary physician was concerned when everything he tried did not work. He finally sent me to National Jewish Hospital (a center for the treatment of asthma and respiratory disease) in Denver. Following their program as an out-patient had enabled me to continue working as a school office manager. However, one afternoon while observing patients pull their oxygen tanks to their appointments at National Jewish, I became angry. I realized that this was my destiny if I continued under the same program. I was determined to do something to change that outcome. I told my physician that I wanted to read everything I could because I was going to find a way to get well. He agreed that I should read and become knowledgeable about asthma, but I could tell, from the look he exchanged with his nurse, he thought I was not being realistic or practical about changing my condition. They had informed me that the asthma generally gets progressively worse for their patients who also suffer from sinus problems.
I started reading numerous books and articles and began following a diet recommended in Dr. Berger’s Immune Power Diet to test for allergies. A friend recommended that I read Sinus Survival by Robert S. Ivker, D.O. I couldn’t believe how much he knew “about me,” and I was pleased to learn that he was in Colorado, where I lived.
I became a patient with Dr. Ivker in May of 1992. He recommended that I continue with Dr. Berger’s test diet, although he predicted this would reveal that I had numerous allergies. (At the end of the test diet, the results proved I was allergic to everything I ate, except soy.) I was equally surprised to hear Dr. Ivker say that he could take me off all my medications and cure my sinus and asthma problems. It was almost too good to be true, and I wondered how this could be possible when so many physicians had told me the opposite.
Dr. Ivker placed me on the physical aspect of his program first including environmental changes, such as using a negative-ion generator. He also prescribed the candida treatment, nasal irrigation, and a saline nasal spray. This gave me immediate, positive improvement. I was also instructed to reduce the anti-inflammatory, taper off the nasal spray; and begin a very gradual exercise program with brisk walking, a stationary bike, or swimming.
One month later my energy level had increased from a “2” to a “5;” (10 is optimal), and I had lost 15 pounds. I also had stopped the nasal corticosteroid spray. I noticed a difference in my breathing using the ion generator and was told I looked much better. I was given new instructions regarding medications, exercise, and affirmations.
Two months later my energy level was about a “7”, my sinus infection was completely gone, I had lost another 5 pounds (down to my ideal body weight, and I had increased my exercise sessions. When I had an occasional bad day, I was beginning to become more aware of the effects of stress on physical symptoms. At this point I did not have to use the ventilator as often. I maintained most vitamins/herbs but reduced vitamin C and garlic and started a goal/affirmation list.
For a number of months I did not go to see Dr. Ivker. I had not completed the assignment of the goal/affirmation list. I had been gradually going off the diet and letting go of the irrigation and the saline spray. I got a bad cold that became a sinus infection and my asthma got worse. I decided not to take an antibiotic and had been recovering for almost three months when I went in to see Dr. Ivker. I still had occasional drainage in my throat, my energy level was about a “7” on most days, and I had maintained the low dose of both of two medications. I told Dr. Ivker that I now had a clear goal – I had registered to “Ride the Rockies” in late June. (This is a 1-week bike ride throughout the mountains of Colorado. It covers a distance in excess of 400 miles with a total elevation gain of close to 15,000 feet.) Just to finish this ride is a monumental achievement for anyone, but especially for me, considering I was barely able to walk around the block one year earlier.
I had begun training for the ride, but it was a poorly defined program. I confessed that I had not kept up with my affirmations nor had I ever done a listening exercise with my husband. The doctor felt that I still had candida, although not nearly as severe a case as when I first came in. He recommended the full candida treatment program, helped me create several affirmations regarding my goals, set up an exercise training regimen, and prescribed two medications.
A month later I was feeling much better. The sinusitis was gone, my energy level was better, but I couldn’t maintain the exercise program. My application to “Ride the Rockies” had not been accepted and I was disappointed. But I had taken that step and made the commitment, I feel that this was helpful in my healing process. I was no longer taking my asthma inhalers to work and only used them morning and night. I spoke to Dr. Ivker about a recent trip home to visit my parents and how stressed I felt. My mother is manic-depressive, was extremely controlling as I was growing up, and I felt as if I “grew up without a mother.” Together we revised and refined my list of affirmations and discussed anger release techniques. I learned the importance of taking control of my life and making myself top priority.
By the next session, I was completely off all asthma medications (this shocked my family physician) and riding my bike regularly. I was much more in touch with my anger and actively worked on releasing it by hitting pillows against the bed. I was enjoying the affirmations.
Several weeks later I had minor foot surgery and had pulmonary function tests done just prior to the surgery, which were perfectly normal. After my surgery, I told Dr. Ivker how I was making a lot of progress with my relationship with my parents, my boss (a very controlling person), my son, and my husband.
When I went to the doctor in February 1994, I was happy to tell him that I had not had a cold or been sick for a full year. I had remained off all asthma medications, was taking daily maintenance vitamins, minerals, and supplements, and was maintaining a healthy diet, although not a strict candida diet. I sent in another application to Ride the Rockies and needed his help to set up a training program.
As a result of the treatment I received under the care of Dr. Ivker, my life improved in so many ways. I actually participated in “Ride the Rockies.” Since then I have ridden in three more “Ride the Rockies” tours with family and friends.
When I started the sinus survival program, on a scale of 1 to 10, I was about a 2 or 3. Today I am in the 8 to 10 range, still taking vitamins and herbs, still working on my diet, and doing my exercises. My husband and I are making plans for our retirement which include traveling, reading, riding our bikes, visiting our children, and enjoying this beautiful world. As Dr. Ivker predicted, I no longer need to take medications for sinusitis or asthma, or for any other illnesses.
Sinus or asthma survival is not a “quick fix,” it takes commitment, dedication, time, and communication. Searching and preparing a variety of foods different from our “normal” menu, accepting that I had anger, realizing that this is a life change (not just for a day, week, or month), all required blind faith in Dr. Ivker’s vast accumulation of knowledge and experience. If you are starting this program, you may struggle and wonder “Why bother, it’s not worth it.” Try to remember that “you are doing the best you can” and that this program is about nourishing the entire being, the mind, the body, and the spirit. Let me assure that it is worth the effort. The sinus/asthma survival program gives you the tools you need to rebuild your body and mind and soul, which in turn gives you good health, joy, and happiness as you take control of your own life.
Jackie’s story was adapted from “Sinus Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment for Allergies, Colds, and Sinusitis Fourth Edition” by Robert S. Ivker, D.O. (published by Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Putnam) ©2000