Bye-bye, tiredness

Doc­tors brushed off her fa­tigue, but Su­sanne Ben­nett, 55, wouldn’t set­tle for feel­ing less than her best. A lit­tle de­tec­tive work led her to the cul­prit—and helped her re­claim her vi­tal­ity in days

First For Women - - Feel-Good File -

A sneaky chem­i­cal is mak­ing 93 of us al­ler­gic to other things. Dis­cover the easy an­ti­dote

And then the lit­tle bear said… umm… he said…” Su­sanne’s voice trailed off as she looked at the eager 4-year-olds wait­ing for her to keep read­ing. “When my son, Cody, was in preschool, I would of­ten vol­un­teer to read books to the kids,” Su­sanne re­calls. “Even though I was a busy holis­tic chi­ro­prac­tor, I loved squeez­ing in time to see him and help at the school. But on this day, my ex­haus­tion and brain fog were so se­vere that I stam­mered and strug­gled to get the eas­i­est words out. I started over and even­tu­ally fin­ished the story, but the en­tire time, I was so anx­ious and kept think­ing, What’s wrong with me? I can barely get through a chil­dren’s book!

Ex­hausted 24/7

“That was 20 years ago, when fa­tigue set in and changed my life. My re­la­tion­ship with my hus­band, George, was most af­fected. When we’d go out to din­ner for a date night, I’d fight to keep my eyes open. All I could think about was get­ting home so I could go to sleep. And I was so ir­ri­ta­ble and snappy with George that we grew apart.

“Fa­tigue took a toll at work too. I needed to stay alert to treat my pa­tients, but I strug­gled to think straight. It was so bad that I wor­ried I was los­ing my mem­ory! Be­fore I saw each pa­tient, I had to go over my notes be­cause I couldn’t re­mem­ber their health his­to­ries. I even had my as­sis­tant take a photo of each per­son to get a re­fresher on what they looked like be­fore I greeted them.

“By the af­ter­noon ev­ery day, my voice was hoarse and strained, which seemed odd. And even though I ate healthy, ex­er­cised and took sup­ple­ments (a multi, pro­bi­otics and L-car­ni­tine for en­ergy), I had fre­quent headaches and aches and pains.

“The fi­nal straw came shortly after I bought a new car. I was driv­ing with Cody in the back seat and heard sirens. But I was so dis­ori­ented, I couldn’t fig­ure out where they were com­ing from. I got fraz­zled, los­ing con­trol of my car and slam­ming into the car in front of me. Thank­fully,

Cody and ev­ery­one else in­volved were okay. But

I was ter­ri­fied! I knew some­thing was wrong and needed an an­swer fast.

“I saw sev­eral doc­tors who all ran a va­ri­ety of tests—but they didn’t find any prob­lems. Since I looked healthy, they brushed off my symp­toms and told me I’d feel bet­ter with more rest. It

was so frus­trat­ing that none of them could fig­ure out what was wrong.”

Mys­tery solved

“I de­cided to try and fig­ure it out on my own, and started to re­flect on when my symp­toms flared. I re­mem­bered that my symp­toms were re­ally in­tense when I moved into a new home years ear­lier, and when I had my of­fice re­mod­eled with fresh paint, new car­pet and new fur­ni­ture. At the time, I chalked it up to stress, but now I won­dered if some­thing in my house or at work was mak­ing me sick. That didn’t to­tally fit, though, be­cause I also no­ticed that I got dizzy when I went into cloth­ing stores. And when I spent time out­side or re­laxed in a sauna I’d start to feel so much bet­ter. “My real aha mo­ment came when I at­tended a post-grad­u­ate pro­gram on en­vi­ron­men­tal tox­ins. I was shocked to learn that formalde­hyde, which is in so many things we come into con­tact with ev­ery day in­clud­ing fur­ni­ture, clothes and car­pet­ing, is linked to all my symp­toms. Plus, I found out formalde­hyde can cause sen­si­tiv­i­ties to other tox­ins and even foods. I was sen­si­tive to per­fume, nail pol­ish and clean­ing agents, and any­time I ate food with preser­va­tives, I’d get a rash. Sud­denly I re­al­ized formalde­hyde could be at the root of all of it. “I started elim­i­nat­ing every­thing I came into con­tact with that had formalde­hyde. I ripped out the car­pet and floor­ing in my of­fice, re­placed the par­ti­cle-board fur­ni­ture with real-wood and metal fur­ni­ture from tag sales and flea mar­kets, and re­painted with noVOC paint. I also shopped on­line to avoid cloth­ing stores. Al­most im­me­di­ately, the fog lifted and my voice was no longer hoarse. Within one week I had more en­ergy, and my other symp­toms van­ished. I couldn’t be­lieve what a huge im­pact formalde­hyde was hav­ing on my health, but was thrilled that such easy fixes made all the dif­fer­ence. “Now that the fa­tigue isn’t hold­ing me back, I have plenty of en­ergy to de­vote to my busi­ness (DrSu­sanne.com), and I cher­ish fam­ily time. Cody and I love to cook meals to­gether and George and I are more con­nected than ever. We love to go out to din­ner, catch a late movie and go danc­ing. Life is good!” —as told to Julie Reve­lant

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