I’m just going to say it: It drives me up the wall how many people talk to me about health, hoping I have a magic bullet to offer them for why they are suffering with chronic ailments, who haven’t ever bothered to organize a comprehensive health test for themselves. Here’s the magic bullet: Go and find a quality physician who will help you get those tests ordered. By all means get your standard labs done with a GP, but I’m talking about tests that can give you a far more complete story of what is happening in your body.
That reaction is probably just a reflection that there are a number of people in my life whom I really care about, who despite an obviously urgent need to make that happen, simply do not do so... for seemingly endless numbers of years. It sounds cold - the truth is I relish opportunities to help people feel better, who wouldn't? I've got a well of energy for people who are all in on themselves if there's something I can offer. If they're just looking for a shortcut and don't really want to help themselves, though, for me that's both energy-sapping and very frustrating.
The regrettable truth is that especially in the years when I was most unwell, there’ve been people in my life that I effectively weighed down by being that way. I tried not to as best as I could, but to some extent it was inevitable – particularly my family and some people I was very close to. It might feel good to remind yourself of the times you made those people laugh, or the intimate moments you shared, but to do that is to deny reality. As I see it, in a way you can only be one of two things to someone you spend time with: a spark, or a drain. If you don’t feel like you're offering a spark, then there’s no way around what that means.
Does this mean you should avoid all people until you are full of vitality? Of course not; that’s a fatal trajectory to take. In my eyes it means you have an unending responsibility to do the best you can. To share your difficulties, to be open, to be positive. If you show people that getting well matters to you, they’ll care about you in return; in the moments where your determination to improve shines through, you’ll have the opposite effect to weighing people down.
I rest peacefully now, knowing that throughout the struggle, I’ve given everything I’ve had in attempting to heal, and to bringing good energy to those around me. In truth, the relationships that suffered were between two people, neither providing spark to the other. It’s easy to overly blame ourselves when we’re at our lowest, assessing our presence as a burden to others – however, with those in my life who presented a spark, the relationships stayed fantastic.
To try your hardest is all that can be asked. Not to, to me, seems egregiously indecent.
One of the main tests my doc has had me regularly getting done is the ‘NutrEval Plasma’ with Genova Diagnostics (far from the only good option). I understand that tests like this are regrettably expensive, but what could possibly be more important? With the vast amount of information that they can give you, saying that even getting it done once could be life changing should be too obvious to mention. Of course, it’s just as important to have a quality physician who can assess the results with you, as it is to get it done in the first place.
I had a test done in August after the WSOP, and although many markers were far from ideal, many were in fantastic shape - hugely improved on a year previous. That figures, given that I’d enjoyed myself a lot throughout the WSOP, and felt it was the best level that I had performed at.
From there began a more intensive dedication to fitness and tennis back in Melbourne, and as mentioned in a previous article, I progressively seemed to struggle with it more and more. Whilst there were so many exciting changes and improvements, I was concurrently having confounding issues with sleep (something I’ve poured so much energy into over the years), mood, energy levels, injury niggles not healing and so on. With so many new variables and moving parts to my treatment and fitness program, I probably blamed 15 things as the culprit causing the symptoms... only to then rule them out and be blaming something else the next day.
No doubt everything is multifactorial, but I’m certainly glad my doc suggested getting another NutrEval done in December. Given that I was pinning the blame on other things, I wasn’t sure it was a necessary expense just a few months after the most recent one... but of course it was. When you have so many question marks about how you’re feeling – when things aren’t quite adding up – there’s one solution: test. Get data for heaven’s sake.
We went through the results together a week ago and many things stood out, but one in particular: my folate (Vitamin B9) had gone from a healthy level to extremely low. I’d rapidly become anaemic! Perhaps this should have been on my radar given it’s not the first time, but as I’ll keep saying: it’s too hard to know what’s going on without testing. Having been outdoors so much in the summer sun, pale skin hadn't shown up as a symptom, so it wasn't on my radar. Unsurprisingly, there are links between anaemia and all of my symptoms, including insomnia (it's multifactorial again though, of course!).
It’s a bit frustrating to have ‘lost’ some time in part because of something like this, but it’s cool; there’s always growing pains with a radical life change, so I’m just excited to see what sort of difference our new supplement plan will make. Given that my diet is far from terrible and not short in folate, and I already supplement with folic acid in a B Complex, it figures that my body is having some enzymatic difficulty converting it to the active methylfolate form... not having a colon really complicates some of these things. It’s going to be so valuable having this insight about how my body reacts to intense exercise moving forward.
It’s time for me to get back to training. And perhaps it’s high time for you to go and get bloody tested!