Hello, and welcome! We’re Curt and Tina, a married couple from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and we’re so happy you’re here. Ever since Curt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2015, we’ve been dedicated to optimizing our health and helping others do the same by sharing healthy and delicious recipes, wellness advice, and thoughts on avoiding (or coping with) illness. Our own wellness journey has been filled with ups and downs but we continue to thrive and remain healthy thanks to the support of each other, a never-ending thirst for knowledge, and an intense desire to keep improving our health, naturally.
So what led to “On Our Heals”? Here’s the story from Curt’s point of view:
Tina and I first met in the summer of 2004 while on a camping trip to British Columbia, where we bonded over card games with friends. Despite getting thoroughly thrashed by Tina at every single game (a trend of board game supremacy that continues to this day), I didn’t hesitate to exchange email addresses with her before departing, and we soon began sending notes back and forth. Although we lived a substantial eight-hour drive from each other, our relationship continued to grow through many late night phone conversations and visits whenever our parents were kind enough to let us borrow their cars (thanks Mom and Dad!).
Before long, our long distance relationship turned into a short distance one when Tina moved across provinces to join me in Alberta. Friends quickly assigned us a celebrity couple name (“Curtina”) and soon began bugging us about a wedding date. While the actual wedding wouldn’t come for a few more years, there was never a doubt that it would happen eventually, and that our love and support for each other would endure in sickness and in health.
As it turns out, the “sickness” part would rear its ugly head in a big way in 2014.
After a lifetime of mostly great health, I began experiencing some strange symptoms in the summer of 2014. First it was a patch of numb skin near my ribs. Then a bit of pain behind one eye. Then both feet slowly started becoming numb and tingly, and balance became an issue. When I tripped and fell down the stairs at a movie theatre in late 2014, I knew something serious was up. (Note: I may have smashed my face into the back of a theatre seat, but at least the two drinks I was carrying didn’t spill a single drop – those theatre snacks are expensive!)
I was diagnosed with MS in May of 2015, and Tina and I were both thrown for a loop. Like many who are unexpectedly struck by illness, we didn’t know where to start. Doctors immediately began pushing me into taking “heavy meds”: injectable drugs that promised unpleasant and often severe side effects. Meanwhile, these doctors gave us little advice on how to heal naturally other than “eat a balanced diet”.
We felt confused, scared, and alone. Dealing with lifelong illness and side effects from medication was not the life we had imagined for ourselves, and after seeing other friends and family members struggle with illnesses of their own – including cancer, depression, and other autoimmune conditions – we were nervous at the journey to come.
Now, we’re not doctors, or nutritionists, or personal trainers; I am an information designer and Tina is an administrative professional. In 2015, we were probably more comfortable giving advice on spreadsheets than healthy living. But after doctors pushed medications as the only path to better health, we quickly realized that it was up to us to adjust our lifestyle to promote healing and avoid future illness…naturally. It wasn’t enough to simply “take meds and hope for the best” – we were determined to actively take control of our health and do everything possible to live long, healthy lives. What did we have to lose?
In the weeks immediately following the diagnosis, we surrounded ourselves with books and resources on healthy living and healing. I went through a period where I was afraid to eat anything – I would pull out my phone or a nearby book to research every ingredient that went into my mouth and any personal care product that touched my skin. As it turns out, many of the foods we had considered healthy and had enjoyed for years had the potential to cause inflammation and an exacerbation of symptoms. But in their place we discovered many new foods that were both healthy and delicious.
Appointments with dieticians and naturopaths provided further clarity on an optimal diet, and I explored various other complementary and alternative medicines – acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and homeopathy among others. Seeing minimal results from these alternatives and knowing that attending appointments every day was unsustainable, we eventually honed our focus mainly on our own lifestyle and eating habits – what could we control at home that would give me the best chance of healing and give us both the best chance of enjoying long, healthy lives?
We began by making incremental changes. Every week we made small adjustments to our diet (ex: adding more vegetables or new ingredients to our morning smoothies), or adopted a new habit designed to help with sleep or stress relief (ex: using 100% pure essential oils and practicing meditation before bed). Tina started experimenting and coming up with her own recipes using the healing foods we had discovered, and I happily served the role of “taste tester”. Our energy levels began to rise, our minds became clearer…and my symptoms began fading before disappearing almost completely only six months after diagnosis.
Unfortunately, we learned the hard way in November of 2016 that our new lifestyle and diet would have to be a lifelong commitment. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, life began to get stressful, getting a full night’s sleep became a challenge, and we started eating foods we had previously added to our “no-no list” (sugar being the biggest). I experienced an MS relapse, with burning sensations, numbness, and weakness in my legs. It was a harsh wakeup call and a reminder that health has to be the number one priority – no matter how busy life gets.
With the support of each other we quickly got back on track (believe us, it wasn’t easy over the holiday season). My symptoms faded again within a few weeks and have remained stable ever since.
On Our Heals
In July of 2017, Tina and I finally said “I do” under a scorching sun at Calgary’s historic Heritage Park. After years of researching, experimenting, adjusting, and implementing these healthy recipes and habits into our lives, we both felt (and continue to feel) better than we ever have before, and I was able to proudly stand next to Tina: symptom-free and medication-free.
To say we both feel lucky is an understatement; but when it comes to our health, we both believe strongly that it is so much more than luck. It’s believing you have the power to alter your health for the better, and making a lifelong commitment to doing everything possible to control your diet and lifestyle to create the best possible environment to heal and thrive.
It was on our honeymoon that we talked and decided to launch a blog to inspire and help others on their paths to wellness. We asked ourselves, “What is the one blog or website we wish we would have found when Curt was first diagnosed?”. This is that website. We wanted to help others thrive by combining both of our passions: healthy cooking tips and recipes (Tina’s specialty) with my own personal experience and wellness advice.
It sounds weird, but I consider my diagnosis a blessing many ways; it has opened our eyes to a new world of health, knowledge, and opportunity to help others who may be in the same position.If we can use our knowledge and experience to assist even one person in preventing illness or maintaining good health, we can consider our mission a success. I hope you’ll join us!
Join Us On Our Healing Journey
On Our Heals chronicles our ongoing mission to live the healthiest lives we can, while sharing our experiences, recipes, and wellness tips with others so that you too can live a life full of energy while improving your chances of preventing or healing from illness. Whether you’re coping with illness in your own life or are just passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, we want you to know that you’re not alone. it’s our hope that you can use the healthy recipes, habits, and advice in this blog to improve your own lives and the lives of those close to you.
Finally, because we are all #OnOurHeals, we want to cater this blog’s content specifically to you. Have an idea for a recipe or blog post? Want to share comments or feedback on the site? Or just want to say hi? We’d love to hear from you.
We’re looking forward to connecting with all of you and hearing about your journey to optimal health!
~ Curt & Tina