It was something I felt like I had to do to prove to myself that I could do this and I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.
Find Nevada Onlinehttp://twitter.com/drnevada
Dr. Nevada Gray, the Paleo Pharmacist, suffered a horrible back injury in 2016. She was diagnosed with a rare condition named Cauda Equina Syndrome. She initially did not know if she would ever be able to walk again. In the years since, she has transformed her health and her life. Now, she is not only mobile, but she is thriving. With a spirit full of positivity, she shares her journey online and is helping many others. She is sharing her story of healing in this podcast episode.
[0:50] Joe plugs his DiseaseReversals.com project.
[1:50] Joe introduces Nevada.
[2:50] Nevada details her health background. Several years ago, Nevada had started suffering from back pain. It started getting worse and worse, until eventually one day she couldn’t even walk to her car after work; she needed a motorized cart. The next morning she woke up paralyzed from the waist down, in excruciating pain, incontinent, and with a lack of reflexes. She had to get to a high-level medical center.
[5:40] The E.R. physician recognized there was something wrong with the lower part of her spinal cord (horse tail, the cauda equina). Nevada needed emergency surgery.
[7:00] The emergency surgery was critical. It took place about 36-38 hours after acute symptom onset.
[9:00] After waking up from surgery, what was going through Nevada’s mind? She is very grateful for her neurosurgeon’s words (the first she heard upon waking up after surgery): “I believe you can have a full recovery.” (This reminds me of Brandon LaGreca’s episode of You Cured What?!, where he discusses that it’s important to avoid medical hexing.)
[10:00] Nevada stayed in the hospital for a week after surgery. Her bowel and bladder function came back, but she did have residual numbness. She had physical therapy after that and had lots of support from family and friends.
[11:30] Even though her surgeon told her not to Google her condition… Nevada Googled it! It was discouraging. But a friend encouraged her to find success stories online, and she came across Shawn Stevenson who had overcome a (different) back condition via nutrition and fitness.
[13:00] Stevenson had come up with his own protocol, and Nevada decided to research her own protocol for her rare condition (Cauda Equina Syndrome). She found out about the neuroprotective potential of the ketogenic diet and found some rodent studies showing that a ketogenic diet may be beneficial for spinal injury.
[13:55] Nevada found The Ketogenic Girl Vanessa Spina online and she helped Nevada adopt a well-formulated ketogenic diet.
[14:30] She found Dr. Stuart McGill and his functional back training programs. She trained gradually: she made progressions from wheelchair to walker to cane.
[15:35] She found the work of Dr. Joe Dispensa, who also healed from a back injury. He emphasizes techniques involving mindset and visualization.
[16:30] Nevada created a vision board of what she wanted to accomplish.
[17:45] In what timeframe did Nevada start noticing benefits from her multifaceted healing approach?
[19:20] Nevada considered herself recovered after one year, and her foot drop resolved at about a year and a half.
[20:35] Nevada had muscle spasms in her legs. She had to take Valium for the pain. It felt like she had an alien in her leg. She also tried foam rolling to deal with it.
[21:40] “I wanted to just be able to feel like I was in control of my mind.”
[22:00] As of recording, Nevada is about five years out from her back injury.
[22:40] What did Nevada put on her vision board? She wanted to return to work, to go to the gym, and she wanted to run in a 5K on Thanksgiving Day after her surgery. The 5K was an ambitious goal, but she completed it!
[23:55] “It was something I felt like I had to do to prove to myself that I could do this and I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. So I was able to do that.”
[24:05] Nevada discusses the benefits she felt from guided meditation. It helped (and helps) focus and calm her mind.
[25:10] Nevada did a lot of grounding, walking on the beach, feeling the earth beneath her feet. (She actually face-planted one of the first times she went to the beach after surgery!)
[26:45] How did Nevada’s diet evolve over time?
[27:30] Nevada struggled with asthma and allergies most of her life. And to avoid acute allergic reactions, she gravitated towards processed foods.
[28:45] Nevada was diagnosed with PCOS in her early twenties. She now attributes that to the diet she ate. Her weight got up to about 220 pounds (at five-foot-four) upon graduation from pharmacy school. Then she learned about Robb Wolf and the Paleo diet because she heard it could help with allergies.
[29:45] Between Paleo and getting a personal trainer, Nevada lost fifty pounds.
[30:25] After her injury and adopting a ketogenic diet, she initially cycled through versions of the ketogenic diet as laid out by the Charlie Foundation.
[31:00] Nevada found Maria Emmerich and Craig Emmerich and their book Keto Nevada started eating a more protein-focused ketogenic diet. She also learned about the PKD. She went to a Zero Carb diet, and she saw major positive results from this. Her PCOS resolved!
[34:00] How have Nevada’s allergies responded to her dietary changes?
[35:30] Dr. Ted Naiman’s P:E Ratio diet (Protein-to-energy ratio) is working very well for Nevada right now.
[37:35] How have Nevada’s friends and family responded to her transformation?
[38:30] Nevada’s mom has followed Nevada’s lead. She adopted a Zero Carb, protein-prioritizing diet, and she lifts weights. She has followed that approach for 3 years (age 70 as of recording); she has lost 40 pounds, she has come off all medications, and she has started to reverse her osteoporosis!
[39:25] A lot of Nevada’s friends have adopted low carb diets.
[40:30] What were some of the challenges on Nevada’s journey to health?
[42:25] A local pub actually named a meal after Nevada and put it on the menu: “The Nevada Carnivore Dinner”
[44:45] Does Nevada consider herself cured of cauda equina?
[47:00] Does Nevada have full feeling back throughout her lower body?
[49:15] Now that she has improved her health, what is one thing Nevada enjoys doing that she couldn’t do before?
[53:30] Does Nevada have any message for anyone else who is suffering from cauda equina or any other rare diagnosis?
[54:40] Nevada references her friend Tim Angelone, who walked across Europe after suffering from cauda equina; hear his story on a podcast with Nevada and Chris Donohue here.
[55:20] Nevada emphasizes the importance of human connection.