My name is Kelly Showalter and I am happily married to my wonderful husband Brock. We enjoy our life to the fullest! We have two rescue dogs, Marty and Dakota. We enjoy traveling, hiking, boating, volunteer work, theater, museums, and being involved in our church. I am now fully recovered from limbic system dysfunction but just a few years ago, I had just about given up hope.
From an early age, I had the perfect storm for limbic system dysfunction. I had always been anxious and fatigued most of my life. Phobias started at an early age including a fear of flying, fear of spiders, fear of change, and fear of illness, just to name a few. Being small for my age, I was also sick frequently and bullied at school.
Into my early adulthood, other stressors, albeit minor, occurred and me up for the perfect storm. At age 20, I had mono which I never seemed to fully recover from. Soon after college graduation, I was married for a short period of time. The marriage did not end happily as I went through a bitter divorce. I was also in a car accident that contributed to my phobias. I worked for a year in a very sick, moldy building. It seemed like a combination of all of these stressors contributed to an increase in my fatigue and anxiety. I also begin to experience heart palpitations. Soon after I started my first full-time job, I started having panic attacks. I went to doctor after doctor who would just tell me that I was anxious and needed to get my stress under control. Many doctors treated me as if it were all in my head. The irony is that it was a brain injury, but it was not something I just made up. I was put on several different anti-anxiety medications, most of which had worse side effects than the actual anxiety. I mostly kept my anxiety under control by avoidance of stressful situations and when I would fly, I would use sedatives to calm my nerves.
I always felt like I was different from other women my age. While other women seemed to be able to juggle careers, children, social lives, exercise, etc., all I wanted to do at the end of a work day was rest. I couldn’t imagine being able to manage children so Brock and I decided not to have any. This was heartbreaking to me since being a mother was something I always wanted to be. Since I loved to travel and be social, I reserved these things for weekends and holidays because doing anything extra during a work week, seemed to exhaust me. On the surface, I appeared to be healthy but deep down, I knew something deeper was wrong.
I had two different triggers that were the tipping point of my limbic system dysfunction. In 2009, I got breast implants. I thought that saline implants were a safe option but I wasn’t aware that they could grow mold on them and that the shells of the implants contained chemicals that don’t belong in the body. Soon, I began to notice inflammation and numbness in various parts of my body as well as extreme thirst and dry mouth. It was discovered that I had Sjogrens Disorder, an autoimmune disease.
I coped for a while by using medication and by requesting to work part-time at my teaching job. This was something that was very difficult for me to do as I had just reached the peak of my career. Prior to my diagnosis, I had been promoted and I was speaking at various educational conferences. Although my employer was willing to accommodate, it felt like such a letdown after I had worked so hard at my career.
Gradually, over the next year, I developed MCS. At first, the reactions were few and far in between. The first incident was at a hair salon. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and various parts of my body went numb. Over time, I begin to notice more frequent reactions after coming into contact with chemical smells. My chest would become inflamed, my throat would feel like it was closing and my face would go numb, as if I had been injected by Novocaine. It was soon discovered that I had asthma and it was becoming more and more difficult for me to go to public places. Things that I enjoyed before such as attending theater and church were difficult because inevitably someone would be wearing perfume or a scented toiletry and I would have to leave. Going to stores became difficult because smelling toiletries and cleaning products would cause me to have an asthma attack.
In 2010, I went through a second tipping point, an emotional stressor. My husband went through a terrible business split with his law partner who had also been a good friend. The split caused us to be left with a financial burden as well as the loss of a friendship. It also put a lot of stress on our marriage. It seemed like overnight I started to react to foods. I tested positive for over 20 food allergies as well as some environmental allergies. My allergist thought I might have Mast Cell Disease. When I googled what that was, the prognosis did not look good. It pretty much meant a life of living in a bubble, carrying EpiPens and frequent ER visits due to anaphylactic shock.
I lived in constant confusion as to what to eat. Sometimes I would react to foods, and sometimes I would be okay. What was more confusing was that I seemed to have both true food allergies as well as sensitivities. It seemed as if nothing was safe to eat and I developed a phobia of eating. Between the chemicals and foods, it seemed like my body was in a constant state of reaction. I now know that it was my brain telling me that everything in my environment was a threat.
The list of diagnoses kept growing…
By late 2010, I began a life of complete avoidance. Because of my isolation, my work and social life suffered. This meant I had plenty of time to research all of my conditions online, which only made me more fearful. The more I read online about my issues, the more hopeless I became. I went to over 20 doctors, everything from traditional mainstream MDs, to chiropractors, naturopaths, and holistic doctors. Below is a complete list of all of the various diagnoses these doctors came up with:
- Sjogrens Disorder
- Thyroid issues
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Leaky Gut
- Breast Implant Illness
- Mold Illness
- Heavy Metal Toxicity
Mainstream doctors had told me that Sjogrens, asthma and allergies were not curable. The thought of continuing living like this seemed unbearable so I started to seek more alternative routes. These treatments included: LDA, NAET, SAM, ALF, candida cleanses as well as breast implant removal and detox, removal of mercury fillings followed by chelation, infrared saunas, colonics, provocation and neutralization shots, you name it! If you consider every doctor I saw between 2009 and 2014, I spent at least $35,000, not including travel expenses, as many of the doctors were located away from home.
Between 2012-2013, the list of allergies I tested positive for grew as well as food sensitivities. Before long, I was unable to eat most foods. At my worst, I weighed only 97 pounds and was eating fewer than 1000
calories a day.
My symptoms were so bad, that I had to quit my teaching job, even at part-time. I worked very part-time Brock at our home office. Being able to maintain a job, even part-time for any employer would have been difficult to do because of the nature of my symptoms. The autoimmune issues caused severe fatigue and dryness, especially with my mouth, making it difficult to eat, talk and swallow. My extremities would also go numb easily, especially after being exposed to extreme temperatures or stress. The allergies and sensitivities would cause my mouth to go numb and my tongue to feel heavy. I would experience shortness of breath and a feeling of my throat closing. My whole body would feel inflamed. Sometimes I would have facial flushing and mild hives. My anaphylactic allergies would cause my blood pressure to drop and I would feel as if I were about to lose consciousness. All of these symptoms caused me to feel weak and too depressed to work or live a normal life.
On my worse days, I would have to stay home in order to avoid smells (both chemical and food smells). Even then, my body would be in a state of constant inflammation (tingly sensations and numbness all over my body). Some days, I was so reactive that I could barely eat which would make me feel weak so I would have to stay in bed because standing up took too much effort. I began to feel extremely depressed because I became very isolated. At my lowest point, Brock and my father would take turns buying our groceries and running errands for me so that I could avoid triggers.
Trying different treatments became exhausting. Some of them worked somewhat, some made me worse, and most did not do anything at all. The treatments that did help somewhat were costly and would have to be repeated periodically for the rest of my life in order to hold. A few of them helped somewhat with the chemical and food sensitivities but ultimately, I was only able to gain a few foods back. My diet was still severely limited. Nothing came close to touching the actual food allergies, the fatigue, or the autoimmune issues.
In 2014, just when I was about to give up, a friend from a support group had just gotten back from a DNRS seminar and sent me an email suggesting that it might be something I could benefit from. I was living such a life of avoidance and fear that I did not think I would be able to manage the in-person seminar so I started the DVD’s in the Spring of 2014. In retrospect, I realize this was my limbic system telling me that I needed to continue avoiding situations where I might come in contact with triggers. I now realize that I would have been able to manage the in-person seminar.
Even though initially I was seeing improvements with smells, I only spent a little time practicing DNRS because in Summer 2014, my dishwasher flooded our house which caused my husband and I to spend the summer working on repairs in the house. After the repairs were finished, thankfully I realized that since I had seen some improvement early on with DNRS, I decided to resume practice in August 2014.
The first thing I noticed was losing the sense of hopelessness. Good memories were starting to flood my brain. I begin to feel more energetic and positive towards life. Then, I noticed that chemical smells weren’t bothering me. A defining moment for me was when I would walk into stores, I would actually think candles, potpourri, and perfumes would smell nice (even though I still do not use these things). When I started to notice that the smell of foods no longer caused inflammation, I became brave and started adding more foods to my diet. It was a gradual process but by Spring 2015, I was eating a normal diet and able to eat at restaurants, events, friends’ houses, etc. This was the ultimate defining moment!
Some of the positive shifts happened quickly, such as the emotional aspects of my condition. Within the first week, I started feeling more positive and had an uplifted mood. Within 2 weeks, my chemical sensitivities started to improve. It took a few months on the foods and a full 7-8 months before they have totally cleared. What has surprised me the most, is that issues I had not originally intended to treat with DNRS actually improved. I went in for a routine physical recently, and blood work showed that markers for Sjogrens no longer show up in my blood. I redid some of my allergy testing and nothing showed up! This was after being told that Sjogrens and allergies were not curable. I have started to fly on airplanes again without any medication for my nerves. I feel more calm, relaxed, and energetic than I ever have.
My life is full! I can now eat anything I want and have put on much needed weight. I therefore, no longer feel weak. I no longer have to specially prepare my own meals before going to other people’s houses and I can eat at restaurants, which has improved my social life. Travel is no longer restricted because I do not have to worry about packing food or whether or not there will be a strong chemical smell in a hotel room. I have the energy and stamina to exercise and to work. I no longer have to avoid public places for fear that I will have a reaction to smells. Ultimately, because not only regaining my health, but feeling better than I ever had, in July 2018, my husband and I decided to adopt a newborn baby girl Ashlynn. My ultimate dream had come true!
Practicing DNRS takes dedication and focus but it is worth it! The entire time I was sick and seeking out other treatments, I knew that something deeper had to be involved. I had read about neuroplasticity before and it was always in the back of my mind that it could be a brain injury. I knew that an accumulation of different stressors had to be responsible for my illnesses, however I did not know what to do about it. When my friend referred me to the program and I read more about it, it made total sense. I had been living a life of being stuck in a chronic trauma loop and in constant fight or flight. In most cases, I had been living a life of avoidance. This had not worked for me.
By changing the chemicals in my brain to feel-good chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, I was able to heal! What is interesting is that I used music a lot in my DNRS practice. To this day, whenever I hear any of those songs on the radio, I get goosebumps. It’s those feel-good chemicals being released. My brain automatically knows to produce those chemicals instead of stress hormones.
My advice to others thinking about doing the program is that you have nothing to lose. It does take time and dedication. Even when you do not feel like doing the steps, do them! There were so many times I would find that I would feel so much better after doing the steps. That is why it is important to think greater than you feel.