After contracting COVID-19 in November of 2020, Carmen Elston of Windom, MN beat the virus, but found herself struggling with post-COVID syndrome, or ‘long haulers.’ She did what she could to recover, but nothing was giving her a permanent solution. Then, Carmen reached out and set up an appointment for Integrative Health with Liz Coleman at Windom Area Health.
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made for my health. It was a night and day success.”
A Cycle of Illness
Carmen’s journey began near the end of 2020 when she had COVID-19. “That was the start of the downward spiral for my health. I just couldn’t bounce back.” She was doing her best to eat right and exercise, but she found herself in a constant cycle with no long-term results. “I would feel better and then in a couple of weeks I’d be ill again. I was on and off antibiotics throughout that entire time.”
After about 6 to 7 months of these ups and downs, Carmen decided to look for alternatives. “I thought, ‘I need to look at this from a different angle.’ So I called and made an appointment with Liz.”
When Windom Area Health first announced the Integrative Health service, Carmen had read an article in the Citizen. “That sort of planted the seed for me,” she explained, “I was always intrigued by that article and that type of approach to medicine.” It was about a year after reading the article that Carmen had her first appointment with Liz.
A New Approach
The initial visit was informative for Carmen, both in terms of her health issues and in understanding the holistic and functional approaches utilized through Integrative Health. “She asked me questions, but in turn I asked her some, as well. About what Integrative Health is and what this more holistic angle was,” Carmen shared, “She emphasized the mind, body, and soul, and how connected they all are. All of those things depend on each other for overall health.” Carmen appreciated how her issues were approached through Integrative Health, focusing on the root cause instead of solutions for only the surface symptoms. “You can be going along thinking ‘I’m eating well. I’m exercising. My lifestyle is healthy.’ But you’re still battling something with no answers.”
Even from that first appointment, Carmen felt at ease with Liz as her provider. “She was very thorough, genuine, and easy to talk to. She is the kind of person you can sit down and chat with, and she has such good information that we all need.”
The Path to Feeling Well Again
To find out what was causing Carmen’s issues, Liz ordered a Vitamin D test to check her levels and a test to find out what kind of good bacteria Carmen had in her system. One of the things that Liz emphasized in that first meeting was how gut health ties into the rest of a person’s wellbeing. “While we were waiting on the results of my tests after that first appointment, I went to Liz’s gut health lunch and learn. It was so informative.” It helped give Carmen ideas and a more in depth understanding of how to take care of her health moving forward.
When her test results came back, Carmen found her Vitamin D levels were below the healthy range and she had zero good bacteria in her digestive system. “Whether it was the antibiotics I had been on or COVID that threw me into this health tailspin, just knowing what the root issues were and altering things in my diet and life brought me back to a healthy zone.” Carmen worked with Liz to incorporate larger doses of probiotics and natural probiotic foods, such as kombucha and yogurt, along with increasing her intake level of Vitamin D. Carmen shared, “My Vitamin D levels have doubled and they are back in a healthy range.”
Making those changes had huge impacts in how Carmen was feeling. “From there on, I was healthy. I didn’t get sick. I felt better. It’s just amazing that you can go from that struggle to feeling well by just changing a couple of things that you had no idea about.”
Back to Normal
Carmen has an active lifestyle and is thrilled to be able to fully enjoy her hobbies again. Whether it’s raising chickens on her place in the country with her significant other, Kirk, practicing yoga, or working on finishing up her online college courses to become an Administrative Assistant, she no longer has to worry about the cycle of illness she had been trapped in before.
She also is looking forward to getting back to her adventures with her mother, Juane. “Mom and I are biking buddies. We’ll plan out where we go, whether it’s to Storden, Jeffers, or Heron Lake, and head out.” These trips include stops for lunch, food being one of their big destinations on the outings. They also have other activities to get back to, “We were going to snowshoe this winter, but it didn’t work out with the weather!”
Happy and Healthy
After her long journey, Carmen is back to feeling her best. “The situation was frustrating to me and I was just so relieved that there was an answer. There was a remedy and it wasn’t a permanent situation.” She still has appointments with Liz to make sure she is taking the best care of herself that she can and was excited to be able to share her story. “I feel like if more people can have the same success that I had by visiting Liz…that would be wonderful. She truly helped my body help itself.”