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Mike’s Story; Finding Passion & Happiness While Facing Mortality

mikeWhat do you mean I may need a liver transplant? I asked that question six months ago to my hepatologist here in Vancouver after numerous tests and biopsy confirmed I had a rare autoimmune condition. I had been doing great since my previous transformation from 2011-2012 which I shared in my previous blog post. Things had changed dramatically when I came back in March 2013 from my first trip back to Vancouver in over a decade.

I was suddenly feeling so exhausted all day, my pee and bowel movements were very erratic and the colors very disconcerting. I thought maybe I was just exhausted from my trip and from the subsequent stress of packing up to move to a new home. I had not regressed with my change in nutritional lifestyle and ate no junk or processed food. I still was drinking my gallon of water daily. So I just dismissed it for the last couple weeks of March. Yet it didn’t improve.

I realized this was something altogether different as I could literally feel my life force ebbing and I went to see my doctor in Anaheim. When she saw me I remember her face turning ashen and she immediately told me I needed blood tests and possible go straight to the emergency care. I asked why and she told me to look in the mirror. When I did I was literally shocked at the reflection that stared back at me. I was yellow from head to foot including my eyes.

Her initial diagnosis was I had jaundice and possibly more so the blood tests were done on the spot at her clinic. I somehow still had the strength to drive home and tell my wife and family about what was going on. A couple days later on April 10, 2013 my doctor called me frantically asking me to come in because she had just seen my results. At her office she asked me a bunch of questions about if I had eaten anything contaminated or been in contact with anyone that may have had hepatitis. I said no and just told her during my 6 weeks in Vancouver I was literally eating sushi and sashimi everyday.

She had some suspicions about what I was eating and taking there and she showed my liver enzyme results which were one hundred times above the normal threshold and confirmed I had jaundice but negative for hepatitis A, B, and C. She suggested I go to the hospital for further testing. For me I’ve always been deathly afraid of going to hospitals and I asked her if I could just recuperate at home. She begrudgingly said it was very dangerous and told me that if things worsen to go immediately to the hospital. So I toughed it out and the next few weeks of April 2013 I just stayed home and made a lot of healthy smoothies loaded with fruits, vegetables, and superfoods along with herbs milk thistle and turmeric.

I felt things were getting better but on the night of April 29, 2013 I had severe pain in the right side of my ribcage. I’ve always had a high threshold for pain and I was reminded of the time in 1997 I had a ruptured appendix for a couple of days and thought I was just constipated. This pain though was excruciating and I couldn’t stand it any longer so I had my wife take me to Anaheim Regional Medical Center. The admitting person at the ER took one look at me and told me I needed to be seen immediately. They took blood tests and the results for my liver enzymes were lower but still about 40 times above normal so I was admitted for further testing.

The next five days were a whirlwind of tests ranging from ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, and finally a liver biopsy. Blood draws were round the clock and taken every 4 hours and I lay in bed miserable, scared, angry, and sad. I just felt it was so unfair that after all the effort I put in to transforming myself from a 300 pound type 2 diabetic this happens after a year of that celebration. Amid all that I could again hear the spirit in me coax me to fight this just like I did in 2012. I focused on channeling positivity through prayers and meditation while lying in bed in the hospital. Even though part of my mind was trying to drag me into depression I said to myself that wasn’t going to happen. The gastro-enterologist team at the hospital was preparing me for the worst.

All the results of the tests were puzzling my doctors as they could not pinpoint specifically what my exact problem was. There was definitely acute inflammation of my liver and at one point they were about to take out my gallbladder because they believed it was gallstones causing the problem. The ironic blessing was that my liver enzymes were so highly elevated it was too dangerous to operate on my. In those five days though my liver enzymes started dropping to the point where it was just 10 times higher than normal and I was discharged on May 5, 2013.

I resolved to heal myself naturally without any drugs and my gastro-enterologist had me go for weekly blood tests to monitor my enzyme levels. I did a lot of research on the Internet and I’m so thankful for technology to allow me to do research while lying down in bed with a laptop and smartphone. One thing my doctors felt was that some kind of nutritional supplement was to blame even though there was nothing in those tests to prove that definitively. It boggled my mind that my doctor had me go off taking milk thistle, turmeric, Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, and alpha lipoic acid even though that specific combination is a healing protocol used by naturopaths and alternative medicine professionals.

Being stubborn and steadfast in my belief that I could heal naturally with the right combination of supplements, natural organic food, and an attitude of positivity I went against the grain again. By the time I went to see my GI doctor in late July all my enzyme levels were normal. This left him puzzled yet happy so he wished me well and told me to visit every couple of months. I was just so happy to see that my test results were normal and I could resume getting back to normal routine of work.

I prepared for my trip back to Vancouver a year ago and accept a project do social media marketing for a couple of clients there. My energy levels weren’t totally there yet and I recognized that internally I was still healing so I did not over exert myself. I did go back to the gym in October of last year and even was the fitness trainer that led the warm ups for the first ever Run for the Cure Breast Cancer event in Surrey. A month later though I started feeling weak again and the pain in my right side had returned. This time I did not procrastinate and checked in to Richmond General Hospital.

Sadly my enzyme levels were above normal again close to the 1000 range and I was in the hospital for two whole weeks while doctors were trying to figure out what exactly was going on. They received my records from the Anaheim hospital and I was referred to the top GI team of doctors in Vancouver. Those two weeks in the hospital was were I did a lot of soul searching not just about my personal health but about everything in my life including my career and business goals.

Facing one’s mortality is a reminder and an opening for one to look deeply inward. I recognized this as a sign that the my old beliefs about everything had to change. My values had to transform and even though I had already set down that path with my first phase of transformation there was a lot more work to do. When that final diagnosis which shed light on my true condition was given to me I had already made up the plans and steps to implement to transform myself even further.

Being diagnosed with a multitude of ailments is scary. First was the autoimmune hepatitis which is a relatively rare genetic condition that affects 1 in 200,000 people in North America. Second was adrenal fatigue syndrome and along with that I referred to a metabolic test procedure I had from 2008. I didn’t really read deeper into those results until January of this year and it shed more light as to what was going inside of me. I had food sensitivities and intolerances to dairy, pork, peanuts, almonds, and gluten. By this time though I had already eliminated any kind of fast food and most processed food from my diet.

What put the most fear in me was that statement my GI doctor here told me about possibly needing a liver transplant and the fact that my liver was severely scarred. He recommended a protocol of corticosteroid therapy that in his words he described as potential side effects that were horrendous. To know that a prescribed therapy would cause me to be type 2 diabetic again, regain the weight I had lost, hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and osteoporosis I just didn’t want that at all. I refused his recommendation and told him I would do it the natural way through food, meditation, and healing protocol of nutritional supplements. He immediately told me that he was highly doubtful that would work and said that his option was the only option.

I asked him if his option would cure me of the autoimmune hepatitis. He said no and it was just a program that would dampen my immune system to the point where it could not attack my liver any further and prevent additional damage and possible cirrhosis and liver failure. I figured that if it wasn’t a cure then why subject myself physically, mentally, and emotionally to that. I said to myself I’ve conquered and reversed type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol so this was another higher mountain I would climb. I was steadfast in my belief that I would heal and reverse this condition that would sap my strength mentally, emotionally, and physically on a daily basis. I walked out of his clinic and said I would see him in April and show that I could make it better.

While all this was going on I had taken on a new career as independent representative for Ecoideas which is a company specializing in organic and sustainable food products and natural health supplements. I was still able to take on a few clients for my personal training and maintained social media clients and even added a couple. Those are the blessings that presented themselves to me all while this major upheaval was threatening to submerge me again.

Add to that the fact that my wife was down in California still recuperating from complications from her own gallbladder surgery. There were times I would just break down and cry because it felt so dark, hopeless, and merciless. This was so much different from my previous transformation. It was gut-wrenchingly painful, weakening, and relentless in its attack on all fronts especially on the emotional side. How did I get through all this?

I looked further inward and meditated and prayed daily and always made an effort to wake up and say thank you and be grateful for another day of life. I noticed too that the way I conducted myself in my business and relationship with my work was changing. I would pause and stop when my mind and body would feel weak. I took time to take care of myself first and foremost and not go back to old patterns of trying to be anything and everything to everybody. I had also stopped listening, watching, and reading daily about all the negativity put out there by the mainstream media.

Positivity and the Law of Attraction combined with always being a state of gratitude and surrounding myself with positive people contributed greatly to my well being and healing. I disengaged and let go of what didn’t serve me for my highest good. I listened to my gut intuition more and not be attracted to the same old patterns that brought me down in the first place. I switched to becoming a full vegan because I knew I had to heal my body internally and I felt it responding positively. It was just my mind that was holding onto those old limiting patterns and beliefs and temptation rears its head whenever the aroma of a nice steak or burger on the grill would reach my nose.

The end result was that my enzyme levels were dramatically reduced when July came along and complete validation last month from both my hepatologists in Canada and in the US. I had completely normalized and reversed the condition they felt was incurable and irreversible. The look of surprise, happiness, and confusion they had was something I did not gloat about. I just thanked them for all their support and care for my journey.

For me it’s been a most difficult journey but I wouldn’t have it any other way. No regrets about anything and everything that had happened in the past. They are all experiences and events that provides nuggets of golden wisdom even with all that pain and fear. What it has taught me was that even while going through so much turmoil, pain, and confusion there are blessings that are there daily. To live in the now, to be grateful, and to do the things that make you truly happy.

As for how this impacts someone’s career or business let me say this in perspective. During times of uncertainty, volatility, and uncertainty in life and business both people and the businesses and professions tend to revert to old beliefs and patterns that can be destructive and self-fulfilling. You have to fix yourself first from the inside and transform your behaviors, beliefs, and thought patterns to thrive in an environment that is so unpredictable. Just go with the flow, let go of what doesn’t serve you for your highest good, and let your heart and mind communicate with each other.

To heal and be happy be founded in love and abundant blessings follow. Turn off that TV, smartphone, computer, and other devices that suck your energy and revitalize yourself through walks, meditations, and doing things that make you happy. Passion and happiness ultimately present themselves when you walk along the path of your own journey. Live well and prosper.

About Mike Pestano (2 Articles)
Mike is passionate about health and happiness first and foremost. Through those two as his foundation he is able to pursue his other passions in helping enlighten businesses and professionals achieve their highest potential. Mike has over 25 combined years of experience in the business world in retail, marketing, nutrition, financial services, social media, automotive, and networking. He is a global ambassador and advocate for healthy mind, body, and spirit through a sustainable economy working with enlightened leaders and companies. Change is the one constant in any age and Mike believes one must also evolve as a person to face these volatile, uncertain, and daunting times.
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