Episode 29: Dr. Ginny Orenstein, Part 1

At 34, Dr. Ginny Orenstein (doctor of music!) had finally been diagnosed with severe systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis in her chest and spine, two benign vascular brain tumors, and a microvascular ischemic brain disease (stroke). Her life was one of confinement – she had been bedridden for 2.5 years, and prescribed medications and chemotherapy were causing more harm than good. Her Hail Mary was played out on a whim: she purchased Medical Medium by Anthony William – now known widely himself as the Medical Medium. She started following his protocols and, with her doctors’ supervision, made lifestyle changes – particularly with regard to mindset and diet. Four years later, Ginny has done a total 180 – she has shrunk the brain tumors to almost nothing, her brain shows no signs of stroke, her lupus and RA are in total remission – and she’s almost entirely off prescription medication. As she began to see results, her husband became gravely ill and suffered a heart attack. He was witness to Ginny’s healing and decided to join her on the Medical Medium journey. He has now almost entirely reversed severe heart damage, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, and a congenitally diseased colon. This couple has changed their lives completely. We hear a lot about Medical Medium (MM) in the chronic illness community, and we thought – who better to tell us more about their experience with his work than a woman who has healed herself – and her hubby – with his advice? Listeners: meet Dr. Ginny.

Key links mentioned in this episode:

Dr. Ginny Orenstein – Eat Pray Lupus

Eat Pray Lupus on Instagram

Medical Medium

Medical Medium’s books…

MedicalMedium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal

Life Changing Foods

Medical Medium’s Recipes for EBV – PDF

Medical Medium’s Cancer & EBV Recipes – PDF

Walk To End Lupus

Hay House

MM Radio

Listen in as Ginny shares…

  • that she had her first flare in 2003, which was likely triggered by extreme stress
  • the frustration of seeking her first diagnosis
  • that fluid around her heart and lungs were drained in 2012; her pericarditis persisted and would flare monthly after this point
  • that she first saw a rheumatologist in 2013
  • that Obamacare was really helpful to her, even if it was a long and winding road
  • that she didn’t get her lupus diagnosis until 2015 – 13 years after her first flare (and despite a negative ANA result)
  • that she had adverse reactions to almost every treatment she was prescribed
  • that she almost died because of drug interactions
  • that she met the rheumatologist who turned her life around almost by accident – and that he campaigned to get her off prednisone, telling her the “P” in prednisone stood for poison
  • that she tried a ton of diets to lose the weight she gained on prednisone
  • that she had read books on lupus that informed her she had 5 years left to live after diagnosis
  • that she stumbled upon Medical Medium in 2017, and brought it to her doctors to ask their advice – and that they were thrilled (GI, rheumatologist, and cardiologist were on board from the start)
  • that her transformation was incredible, but it didn’t happen overnight
  • the loneliness of living with chronic illness
  • that despite our love for our advocates, chronic illness can still strain relationships
  • that she started to notice a change in her health by week 4 on MM’s protocol
  • that after 6 weeks on MM protocols, she was no longer pre-diabetic or anemic
  • that because she very gently and slowly eased herself onto MM protocols, she didn’t experience any negative withdrawal symptoms
  • that mindfulness and energy healing have become a new focus and career path for her
  • that she is now writing a book about her healing journey
  • the interconnectedness of body and mind, and how she could only heal by working on both
  • that she relies on Reiki, breathwork, meditation, and yoga – among other practices – to target her mindful healing work
  • that her husband’s stoma healed incredibly quickly when he went whole hog on MM protocols after major surgery

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Eat Pray Lupus Uninvisible Pod

Ginny before starting Medical Medium…

Dr. Ginny Orenstein EatPrayLupus Uninvisible Pod

Ginny now.

Lauren: All right guys, thank you so much for joining us today. We are here with Dr. Ginny Orenstein, who I’m so excited to have on the show. Welcome, Dr. Ginny!

Ginny:  Hi!

Lauren: We want to specify … Dr. Orenstein is a doctor of music, hence the “doctor” before her name. But she has been through a number of health challenges – both herself and her husband. And they’ve healed themselves using Medical Medium protocols. So she’s going to tell us all about that today. So, welcome.

Ginny: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so grateful.

Lauren: It’s such a pleasure to have you on the show. I’m so glad we were able to do this. And the nice thing is that we’re both in LA — so we were able to connect because of social media and just getting in touch and making it happen. It’s all very kismet. So why don’t we just dive straight into it … and if you could tell us how you first realized you were sick, when and how it all manifested for you and for your hubby?

Ginny: I had my first flare-up in 2003.

I was in college, and I didn’t even know it was a flare-up. I had a lot of stress during that time — my dad was really sick with Parkinson’s, and my best friend also was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She died pretty suddenly. And then I had a #MeToo experience in college. So I just immersed myself into my work. I was barely sleeping. I wasn’t taking care of myself at all.

When I had my first flare-up, the doctors just called it costochondritis, which is just a fancy medical term for chest pain. And so after that point, my dad passed away, my best friend passed away; I started getting these really weird symptoms. They would refer me to a neurologist – to different specialists. And they would do all this testing and say, “We don’t know what’s wrong with you; it’s just costochondritis. We’re just going to give you prednisone and Flexeril.” 

Lauren: They really wanted to prescribe you, didn’t they? Oh, boy!

Ginny: (laughs) And with the chronic migraines, they gave me migraine medication for that. So it was frustrating, trying to figure out what was going on with me because I would have these recurring neurological symptoms, or recurring chest pain. So it wasn’t until 2012 … I was finishing up my doctorate … it was a very stressful time … I had just put on the drama musical I wrote about my #MeToo experience in college, so I was kind of reliving it … 

Lauren: That’s not stressful at all!

Ginny: All these things that were just kind of triggering. And I started to get this chest pain. At that time, I was also driving from Diamond Bar to Pepperdine, which is 120-mile drive.

Lauren: Every day?

Ginny: Yeah, back and forth. That same week, I was studying for my written exams. 

Lauren: This is proof of what stress does to your body — stress and grief, and how it all manifests. Whether or not these symptoms were something that were dormant in your system, that they made everything express itself in a physical way is really interesting.

Ginny: Yes. And so, after I finished teaching over at Pepperdine, I had a weekend off; I had finished my exams. And then suddenly, this chest pain started to get worse, and worse and worse. To the point where I couldn’t lay down. I had this dry cough. And I was in tears. I was crying, and my poor ex-husband at that time, who was very supportive of all of that, took me to the hospital. They found out I had pericarditis and pleural effusion … which is basically fluid around the heart, and fluid around the lungs. So they had to do a procedure to take out the fluid, and I was there for two weeks.

They had every specialist — infectious diseases, rheumatology, neurology, every specialist — and they took all this blood work, they ran all this tests, and they came back and they said, “We don’t know what’s wrong with you.”

Lauren: Gee, this isn’t a story we’ve heard before! This is the thing with chronic illnesses — and especially because you’ve got more than one, right? The thing is, that you go through doctor after doctor after doctor, and people say, “Well, I know definitively what it is.” Or, they say, “I have no idea.” I mean, at least at this point, they were saying, “We’ve got no idea.” After having diagnosed you with something that you didn’t have previously. 

Ginny: Right. So they said, “We think it’s a viral infection.”

Which is fascinating, because Medical Medium says that a lot of our chronic illnesses come from a form of the Epstein-Barr virus [EBV]. Or some kind of a viral infection.

So they weren’t far off.

Lauren: And had you had Epstein-Barr or mono? Had you had that before? 

Ginny: Never had it before. 

Lauren: Interesting. Well, it could have been something else, too, that might have been there for years and years and you didn’t know. 

Ginny: You know, I think it was passed down. I think my parents had it.

Lauren: Oh, wow, that makes sense. 

Ginny: I think I got it in utero, just because of how severe it was. I was in stage four of the EBV process that Medical Medium describes. And so, after that 2012 episode, my pericarditis started to get worse and worse. I would get it recurring almost every other month at that point.

And Obamacare really saved me at this time.

So, fast forward. That was 2012. In 2013, I was living in Denver.

Lauren: So this is 10 years after you first started having symptoms.

Ginny: Yes.

Lauren: That’s a long time to go undiagnosed. But, pretty typical.

Ginny: Yes, it happens. And it’s common. And so in 2013, I moved to Denver and was very fortunate that my ex-husband’s brother-in-law is a cardiologist. And he said, “You know, you should really meet my friend who’s a rheumatologist.” So he hooked that up. That was actually the first time that I saw a rheumatologist about my issues. Because I was starting to get joint pain, in addition to the pericarditis flares.

Lauren: I know what you’ve got going on. But I’m sitting here going, I know what that is! Because I talk to everyone in the chronic illness and invisible illness sphere. So to us, it’s so obvious now. Hindsight is 20/20. 

Ginny: But the struggle’s real.

Lauren: And I think also there is — and I ask people about this a lot in the interviews — there’s often a gender element there; that when you’re a woman, it takes twice as long to find out what’s going on than if you’re a man. Either because you have male doctors, and there’s that sort of power dynamic. Or because people just don’t listen to us in the same way. And I just think … guys, it’s 2019. But there you go. 

Ginny: Absolutely. So, I was in Denver, but then at that point, my marriage was not doing so well. We got divorced, and I moved back to LA. I was about to do more testing and treatments with that rheumatologist. But then when I moved back out here, I got on Obamacare and I got referred to a rheumatologist. It took time, because I was still going in and out of the ER, the hospital, because of this thing. And they would just say, “Here’s 40 milligrams of prednisone; do that for one week, and then 20 milligrams the second week.” And then, you know, hydrocodone or that kind of stuff.

Lauren: For people who aren’t familiar at this point, these are extremely strong medications with crazy side-effects. It really reads into the way of the medical system here … and we’ll get into that a little bit later on. But you’re often given medication when you go to the doctor; doctors are taught to prescribe medication, when sometimes that’s not necessarily the answer.  Or there are other avenues to explore.

Ginny: Absolutely. 

Lauren: So you were one of those statistics early on.

Ginny: Yeah. So, 2014, I’m still struggling and my symptoms get worse because of the grief from the divorce and everything else that keeps manifesting. So, then I met my current husband, and he proposed to me in March 2015. And then literally, one month later, I saw a rheumatologist because it took some time for me to get there. Because Obamacare kept losing me in the system. I mean, it was a mess. You know, dealing with insurance.

Lauren: Well, the thing about Obamacare is that it’s been wonderful for so many people, but certainly because it all happened very quickly, people fell through the cracks. 

Ginny: Yes. And I was definitely one of those that kept falling through the cracks, even throughout my chemo treatment.

Lauren: Which is another thing to talk about! 

Ginny: Yeah. So I got diagnosed; the rheumatologist I saw clinically diagnosed me, just based on my medical history because my blood work still kept coming back negative. 

Lauren: Okay, interesting. And this was negative for autoimmune issues?

Ginny: Yes. For lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, all that stuff; it just kept coming back negative. So he clinically diagnosed me, and that was when I was in a really bad flare. He put me on 60 milligrams prednisone.

Lauren: Hi, prednisone; we missed you! (laughs)

Ginny: Yeah. Gabapentin … which, one of the rare side-effects of that is suicide ideation.

Lauren: And we should also mention … the side-effects of these drugs, they don’t affect everyone in the same way. There are a lot of people who benefit from these drugs, but you happened to have the adverse reaction. 

Ginny: Yes. And I was severely depressed. And they put me on other medications like Imuran. And Plaquenil, I was also on that at the same time. Colchicine; indomethacin. And so, after he put me on those things, my husband, or my fiancé really at that time, was, like, “This is not like her.” And so he called my doctor and he’s, like, “This is kind of weird.” And the doctor said, “Oh, yeah, it’s the gabapentin. Let’s just take her off of it.”

Lauren: If it were only that simple all the time, right?

Ginny:  So, his treatment was not aggressive enough. I kept getting symptoms.

I would get lupus rash from the sun. I would get these really painful mouth and nose ulcers; it was painful to eat. Neurological issues, tremors, migraines, fatigue, brain fog, lupus fog, joint pain … severe joint pain. 

Lauren: And what had he clinically diagnosed you with at this stage?

Ginny: Severe systemic lupus erythematosus.

Lauren: Even though your ANAs were still coming back negative, he was, like, “This is lupus.” 

Ginny: Yes.

Lauren:  So he knew well enough that it was definitely some form of lupus?

Ginny: Yeah, he was actually one of the doctors that pioneered lupus. 

Lauren: Lupus treatments and diagnosis? That’s really cool.

Ginny: Yeah. But it’s interesting because his treatment with me was not aggressive enough. I kept getting these re-occurring flares; I would be more and more bedridden. And then I finally went to go see another doctor, another rheumatologist, to get a second opinion. Because I was, like, maybe it’s not lupus, maybe it’s something else because nothing’s working right now with this treatment.

So then I go and see her, and she said, “Okay, we’ll do methotrexate. We’ll start you on the infusions here in my office.” And then she forgot to tell me to stop Imuran. So, I almost died!

Lauren: This is the kind of thing … for every doctor to memorize drug interactions is a lot of work, right? But also, when people’s lives are at risk … Oh, boy!

Ginny: Yeah, so six weeks into it …

Lauren: You were really sick.

Ginny: I was dying. I was starting to hear footsteps in my head. And I had this awful pain in my abdomen area. They did the blood work. And then she was freaking out because it was so low. I kept having to do blood work that week. And then she’s, like, ”Uh, it’s really, really low now.”

So she told me to go to the ER; I went in and the doctor said, “You know, if you had come here any later, you’d be dead.”

My red blood cell count was at a one, and my white blood cell count was at a 2.

Lauren: For those who can’t see my face … I’m making a, “what?!” face. That’s insane. 

Ginny: So they immediately put me on blood transfusions. And the next day, the footsteps just went away. They found that I had pancreatitis, as well. So we stopped the chemo treatment … the methotrexate, we stopped it.

Lauren: And this is also a very common treatment for lupus.

Ginny: Yeah, very common. The side-effects suck. At least for me, they did. I lost a lot of hair. I was bedridden for five days out of the seven days, or four days out of the seven days; vomiting, nausea. 

Lauren: This is often what you hear about with chemo and cancer treatment. Because it is a toxin that they’re using to help kill the cancer cells. 

Ginny: To “help” – quote-unquote. (laughs)

Lauren: Yeah, air quotes around it. It’s an interesting one. Because obviously, we’re getting to the point in the journey where you made a total 180, right, and completely changed your approach to your care? But, again, chemo works for some people. But I don’t know if you ever hear a story about someone not getting sick from it.

Ginny: Right. And plus, during this time, the insurance keeps losing me in the system. So I’m supposed to go in for treatments, and I can’t —because I’m not in the system!

Lauren: And that’s a lot of extra stress, and work — when you’re also chronically ill.

Ginny: Absolutely.

It’s a full-time job to fight with the insurance companies. 

Lauren: Thank you, yes. It really is. On my drive over here today, I had a call with a doctor’s office about insurance issues. This is just how we live our lives now, fighting with insurance companies.

Ginny: Yes. I feel for all of you chronic illness warriors out there who have to deal with that. And so basically, it wasn’t working out with her either. 

Lauren: Well, after the oversight on the Imuran, I would have been: “Bye!” Hate to say it.  Sounds like she was really great in other ways, but … that was a big oversight!

Ginny: And she was totally blaming me for it. She was saying that it was my lupus fog.

Lauren: Of course, because it’s always the patient’s fault! Because you forgot to tell her when you gave her all your medical records anyway. Sure. Sure thing. She sounds great.

Ginny: Yeah! And, when you go to those doctors’ appointments, I make sure to write everything down on my phone. So I don’t forget.

Lauren: Because these are very complicated medical terms. When you have brain fog and lupus fog, these are the things that you have to write down, because you’re not going to remember.

Ginny: Yeah. So you take these proactive steps to make sure that you remember. So, it wasn’t working out with her. But I still stayed with her for about another year. Even after that. 

Lauren: Why was that?

Ginny: Because I think they said that they didn’t have another doctor for me, or something like that. 

Lauren: So you had no other options.

Ginny: Yeah, at that point. I just kind of stayed with her. And the thing is, she kind of had history with my mother-in-law … my mother-in-law’s a dental hygienist, and used to clean her teeth. So there was that, also.

Lauren: You had to play nice.

Ginny: I had to play nice. 

Lauren: It can get us in trouble, sometimes, can’t it? That’s another thing we were talking about before we started recording – about boundaries. That’s a real boundary issue. You were getting sicker working with this woman, but you had to play nice for a year. Because the system wasn’t working for you. And also because of her relationship to your mother-in-law. It’s, like, we make these choices that make us sicker. Really interesting.

Ginny: Yeah. So at that point, they had referred me to a neurologist.

They did an MRI, because I was starting to get bowel and urinary incontinence, And all these other neurological issues. And so he did an MRI, CAT scan. And they found that I had two benign vascular brain tumors, and that I had micro-vascular ischemic brain disease, which basically means that I had a stroke.

Lauren: This is unreal! It’s like another nail in the coffin. It’s, like, are you kidding me?? When you got those diagnoses, were you, like, (a) Okay, that makes sense. Or, (b) Oh, my God?

Ginny: I was really scared. I didn’t actually tell people about the brain tumors because I didn’t want them to worry. My husband knew. And my mother knew. And I also told my brothers. But I tried to play it down.

Another thing that us chronic illness warriors do is, we think about other people’s feelings, and we don’t want them to worry about us. We don’t want to feel like a burden, that kind of stuff.

So that was going through my mind. And I was really nervous. 

Lauren: And did they think that any of this was caused as a side-effect of medication? Or that this was just something unlucky?

Ginny: It’s interesting, because Anthony talks about how brain tumors can be formed because of EVB.

Lauren: And Anthony is the Medical Medium.

Ginny: Yeah. So after that diagnosis, I was reading a lot of books on chronic illnesses, lupus, and all that stuff. On Amazon, the recommendations … you know how they recommend stuff to you. It kept coming up as Medical Medium, Medical Medium. And so even though I was on the methotrexate and 30 milligram prednisone, I couldn’t get down; every time they would wean me down to 25, I’d flare. Just trying to find the right medication, putting me on so many different kinds of medication. And luckily, at that time — it was like a godsend — the insurance said that they couldn’t cover for the doctor I was seeing. So they put me with a new rheumatologist doctor, and I went to go see him — and he is the reason why my life started to turn around. It’s interesting because I don’t know if he really believed me with my symptoms at first —because he was kind of short with me. But then he saw, okay, she’s not faking it. 

Lauren: This is real.

Ginny:  This is real.  

Lauren: I see this paperwork, yeah.

Ginny: And he saw how I wanted to heal, how I wanted to get better.

Lauren: Isn’t it interesting, though, how the default is not to believe? The medical community, when they see brain tumors and a stroke and lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and that you’re on chemo and prednisone, they’re looking at you and saying, “Oh no, there’s no way. No one’s that unlucky.”

Ginny: Right! So, he kind of continued what my previous doctor was doing.

But he said, “We need to get you off prednisone because the P in prednisone stands for poison.”

Lauren: So that’s interesting that it was a rheumatologist who said that too, because a lot of doctors rely on these medications. And also because you’d been on it for a long time.

Ginny: A long time. It was almost two years that I was on it, on high dosages. So after that, I found Medical Medium in May 2017.

Lauren: Okay, two years ago.

Ginny: Yeah. And so I was, like, you know, I’m just going to try it. What else do I have to lose? I had tried the Goodbye Lupus Protocol. I tried this other protocol from Thomas DeLauer; he was all about drinking apple cider vinegar. And it just made me way worse.

Lauren: I think for people who have more acid in their stomachs already, it doesn’t help. For some people, apple cider vinegar is like a miracle cure, right? I’m one of those people … I tried it, and I was, like, this doesn’t do anything for me. But I think it’s a 50/50, that one. 

Ginny: Yeah, we’ll see.

I know Medical Medium talks about apple cider vinegar, and how it basically pickles our organs; so he says, don’t do it.

Lauren: Well, I mean, it’s vinegar. I’m kind of with you on that one!

Ginny: Yeah! So, I was trying everything … vegan, vegetarian, firemen’s diet, military diet … because I was trying to lose the prednisone weight.

Lauren: You post photos on your Instagram of the kind of swelling and weight gain that you had. In the middle of all of this, you were a different person!

Ginny: Oh my goodness, a different person.

Eat Pray Lupus Uninvisible Pod

Ginny during treatment – and after going on MM, bottom right.

Lauren: We’ll post some of these pictures, with your permission, on the website when we post this episode, but it is insane the transformation that you’ve been through. Just being here looking at you … I’m thinking, her skin is so clear, you’re glowing. You can tell that you have health from the inside out — and that’s what this is all about, isn’t it? So, you found Medical Medium and you heeded the call of the universe … and you have a doctor who’s telling you that we need to get you off prednisone.

Ginny: Yes. So, I was really lucky to be switched over to this doctor because I feel like he knows more about nutrition and supplements than other doctors. He studied in India. I think even then, maybe it’s different.

Lauren: Well, there’s Ayurveda, which is a huge part of the health system there.

Ginny: Yes, there’s that as well. So, when I got the book … I didn’t even buy it at first because I was, like, I don’t want to commit just yet. Because all the other ones that I did buy and try failed for me. They made me flare worse. So then, I got the book from the library. I read it and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, so much of this kind of makes sense. So many of my symptoms are in this book. I’m going to give this a try.’ At that time, because I was so sick, I was seeing my doctors every month. I was seeing my GP, my rheumatologist, my GI doctor, my cardiologist and neurologist.

Lauren: Yes, because you still had the the heart issues, and the lung issues, too. With the fluid, which I know can be related to lupus, too. This was before they realized that you had the lupus, and they were probably, like, “Gee, this is rare!” But actually, it’s related to lupus.

Ginny: Yes, absolutely. Definitely one of the severe symptoms of lupus. 

Lauren: Especially when left untreated. 

Ginny: And it can kill you. You can die from this. You know, it’s funny … when I first started with the journey, I didn’t know anything about lupus. The only time I heard about it was in grad school; I had a friend who had a lupus scare. She went to a doctor because she was getting rashes and stuff. And that was the first time I heard about it. I didn’t realize how scary it was. She was scared, but I didn’t understand it until it actually happened to me. She turned out to not have it. It was all fine. It was just stress-related.

Lauren: Another indication that points to the effect that stress can have on our bodies.

Ginny: Exactly. And so, when I first started reading up on lupus, they were saying that the life expectancy is five years after your diagnosis.

Lauren: Who wrote that?? That’s awful!!

Ginny: The books are upstairs; I can show you!

Lauren: That’s really frightening! Thanks, guys. That’s really helpful. I’m going to be great now. For the next five years. I’m just going to live life to my fullest. Are you kidding me?

Ginny: Yeah, yeah, it was in the books. And I was freaking out.

Lauren: I don’t blame you!

Ginny: And I was, like, What am I gonna do?? So at that point, I was really trying to do everything and anything. But just going back now to the Medical Medium … I kind of started playing around with it in June; I brought the book to all of my doctors and I said, “I really want to try this with my medical treatment.”

Lauren: And this is what I would say to anyone in this chronic illness world … if you’re thinking about trying a diet or a protocol, ask your doctor. If you trust your doctor, hopefully they’ll give you good advice. This was so smart, that you thought to do that – to bring it to your doctors to make sure that this was something that they could help you with on the journey.

Ginny: Absolutely. And they were thrilled. And it’s really interesting, because three out of the five doctors are Asian Indian. And so my cardiologist said, “Go, do it!” My rheumatologist said, “Go, do it!”  My GI doctor, the same. But then my neurologist and my GP were, like, “Well, you have anemia.” You know, I had anemia for 10 years. “You’re pre-diabetic. So we think that you should not do all this fruit and smoothies.” And Medical Medium talks about fruit fear in his first book, which is Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness, and How to Finally Heal. So it was that book, and that was the only book he had available at that time. So I used that book; I started implementing the 28-day cleanse. He has a supplement list in there. So I showed the supplement list to all my doctors. And they said, yes, you can take this, and not that because you’re on the chemo. So I was really lucky to have that. Plus, I Googled it, just to make sure! 

Lauren: Like, is this legit?

Ginny: Yeah, like, not legit – but can I take this supplement with methotrexate? Just kind of double-checking. And it’s all on Google; they’ll tell you if you can do it, or not. So my doctors turned out to be really spot-on with it. So, I said, ‘All right, I’m just gonna do this. I’m going to do it really slowly. Because if I throw myself into it, I’m most likely going to flare. Very badly.’

Lauren: And also when you throw yourself whole hog into things like that … I think we have more success when we’re more gentle with ourselves. Because there’s that mental component, isn’t there … oh, I’m on a diet. And when we tell ourselves that we’re on a diet, we then associate this entire lifestyle change with restriction; it’s meant to be the opposite of that. And it is about healing. But that’s where taking it slow and being gentle with ourselves is so important, isn’t it?

Ginny: Absolutely.

Lauren: Super smart. 

Ginny: So that’s what I started doing – slowly implementing the 28-day cleanse that’s in this book. The first three weeks, I was still bedridden. I was bedridden this whole time.

Lauren: You’ve had an incredible transformation, but obviously it took time. It wasn’t overnight.

Ginny: Yes.

Two-and-a-half years in bed is no joke. And I was using a walker and a cane to get around.

My mom had to fly out frequently to come and take care of me for, like, a month. Over a month, she’d be here. It was hard on everyone. We were really fortunate, my husband and I, because he was at a job at the time where the HR … his sister had lupus. So he understood what was happening. And so my husband would leave early from work, because he actually was able to move his hours — because he works in technology. So he worked from 7 until 2.

Lauren: So he was able to care for you. 

Ginny: Yeah. So, he would come home and he would take me to my doctors’ appointments, and really advocate. 

Lauren: My next question was going to be: Did you ever find that you needed an advocate in this journey? It’s obviously been your mother and your husband.

Ginny: Absolutely. And my husband’s grandmother. 

Lauren: Oh, how sweet. 

Ginny: She’s 94, 95 now – but she’s still kicking it. She would go with me to my doctors’ appointments. It’s just having that support system that was really helpful. And, yet, I still felt so lonely (laughs).

Lauren: We laugh about it now. But of course you did. Because no one could quite understand what you were going through but you. Of course, as you have been more public about your health experiences, people have come out of the woodwork, I’m sure … who say, yep, yep, yep, I had that. And you meet more people. But until we feel free to talk about these things … And then there’s all the stigma attached, and how that then affects our mental health. I mean, there’s a lot of nodding in this conversation! (laughs). So, in terms of these advocates that you had, who were helping you … how did that affect your relationships with them? Did it strengthen the relationships? Did they become more complex and difficult because of it? What do you think?

Ginny: It changes. Everything is temporary. And so it just kind of depends. Sometimes it would be very difficult with my mother. But I think that was because the medications were making me crazy. 

Lauren: And she was probably living with you when she was here, too?

Ginny: Yeah. She was doing her best. She was doing her absolute best. 

Lauren: She was worried about you, I’m sure.

Ginny: She was worried, and that stress on her, seeing me the way I was. 

Having to help me to go from the bed to the bathroom, shower me … I couldn’t bathe myself.

So there were these things!

Lauren: As a parent, it’s not something that you expect to do for your child beyond a certain age – when your child is a fully functioning adult, and then all of a sudden, can’t function.

Ginny: And the same thing with my husband.

I really have to say that the medications made me crazy. I can’t even recognize who I was then.

Lauren: Well, when everyone sees these pictures, they’re not going to recognize you — literally! Also, emotionally and figuratively. You know, everyone has such different experiences, and their bodies react so differently. So, it’s really interesting, because you always see studies about the side-effects of different drugs. They take a certain percentage of the population, or whatever. But nothing’s ever going to be clear-cut for anyone; you have to try it and see.

Ginny: Experiment with an open mind!

Lauren: This is where, with treatment for these chronic illnesses, you really realize what a science experiment the whole thing it is. Because you can’t go to a doctor and have a definitive answer on a lot of these treatments. You just have to make yourself an experiment, and be open to trying them. And you certainly have tried everything. 

Ginny: I tried everything.

I was a scientist. My body was the lab. And the things that I was doing was the study, the actual research study.

Lauren: Another, honorary doctorate!

Ginny: (laughs) A doctorate in Medical Medium! (laughs). So, going back to the Medical Medium … by week three, I was still bedridden. But it was only because I was doing it slowly, like eight ounces of celery juice, and stuff like that. Doing the smoothies. 

Lauren: And guys, for those of you who don’t know, Medical Medium is the celery juice guy. And for some people, celery juice is a game changer. And it certainly was for you. 

Ginny: It was for me. So by week four, I got out of bed … just one morning …

Lauren: On your own?

Ginny: On my own. I got out of bed, and I said, ‘I’m going to clean the master bedroom today.’

Lauren: That’s a big undertaking! The things, that at that point, bring us such joy!

Ginny: I wasn’t able to do it for the last two-and-a-half years! And so, I actually lifted the queen mattress and I flipped it on my own. 

Lauren: What?! So you went from not being able to bathe yourself to flipping a queen mattress??

Ginny: Lifting the box spring and vacuuming underneath the boxspring!

Lauren: This cleaning job was no joke!

Ginny: No joke. I did a deep clean of our bedroom. And I felt amazing! So then, it just kept getting better and better after that point. I wasn’t, like, ‘Yeah! I’m healed!’ But I had more energy all of a sudden. And then six weeks later, I got my blood work done. So that’s mid-August. And then at the end of September, I saw my rheumatologist. That’s when I got my blood work results. And turns out that I was no more anemic.

Six weeks on this … no more anemia. No more pre-diabetes. 

Lauren: Even with all the fruit?

Ginny: Yes. Even with all the fruit, no more pre-diabetes. My cholesterol was lowered; my white blood cell count, which was always between 17,000 to 22,000, 24,000 … it was always super high … was lowered to 12,000. 

Lauren: Wow, this is significant.

Ginny: Six weeks. And then my pancreas enzymes and my liver enzymes also went down. My doctor said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” 

Lauren: This leads me to the question: What specifically were you doing within the protocol at this point? Were you on a completely vegan diet? 

Ginny: No. I was still eating meat. Because Medical Medium says it’s okay to eat organic chicken, organic turkey, organic beef. Just not all of the time. And he says certain fishes are okay, like wild caught salmon, or small fish like anchovies, sardines, mackerel. But everything else usually has mercury, heavy metals in it. And I stopped eating pork. Because pork really binds up your liver. And it doesn’t allow the liver to process through the blood, and takes a really long time, like 15 hours to process. So if you eat pork for dinner, and then you eat bacon in the morning for breakfast, you’re just not allowing your body to process the meat that you’re eating. So it just gets overloaded. So I cut out pork, but I was still eating organic chicken every now and then, organic turkey every now and then, organic beef every now and then. I was also doing a lot of the things on the 28-day cleanse, like the spinach soup. The smoothie.

Lauren: And you still do this stuff, because you post about it.

Ginny: I do it. I do the wild blueberry smoothie. I still do it every day. Oh, and there’s a PDF that I found he has; you have to really search for it because it’s not on his blog. 

Lauren: We will link to it on the episode page. 

Ginny: Yeah. So he has one for EBV, which is for a lot of the autoimmune diseases that we have. He has one for cancer as well. So, I basically took that and applied it to my health. I tried different recipes; the easier ones. I was eating a lot of asparagus, leafy greens … nacho potatoes, one of my favorites!

Lauren: I’ve seen that on your Instagram as well!

Ginny: It’s so good! So, just incorporating more of the healing foods. I would still have gluten every now and then, just to help wean off. And I have corn tortillas sometimes, just to help wean off. 

Lauren: It’s never a perfect science, is it? It’s, again … that thing about being gentle with ourselves. 

Ginny: Exactly.

So this was my way of being gentle with myself. Still enjoying some of those foods — the “no foods”, he calls them, the foods that you’re supposed to avoid because they feed the virus in your body. Or, I would enjoy the healing foods. It was just kind of like a balance between those two. So I never got to feel those detox symptoms that many other people are experiencing by going all in. And when you go all in, you get burned out by it.

Lauren: You feel the restriction because that’s a mental health aspect.

Ginny: Absolutely. And when you read his book, especially his first book, he tells you exactly how to finally heal. It’s like chapter 17 to 23 or something like that. He talks about gut health; he even talks about soul-healing techniques.

Lauren: Which has certainly been a part of your healing.

Ginny: A huge part. That’s when I started incorporating meditation, Reiki.

Lauren: And now you’ve become an instructor in meditation and Reiki. So you’re not just incorporating them as a user of these experiences. You’ve also been certified to instruct. So it’s been a total life and career change. 

Ginny: Yes, total. So, I’ll just go back to the journey … While I was doing that for the first three months, I did the Walk To End Lupus. This was right after my doctor’s visit; it was literally three days later. I asked my doctor, “Can I do the Walk To End Lupus?” And he said, “Yeah, go do it!” So I did it! It’s a mile-and-a-half; we actually took the Metro down, with my husband and his parents.

Lauren: Keeping in mind that, a few months before, you couldn’t bathe yourself. Let’s just reiterate that!

Ginny: Yes! And I did the whole Walk by myself, with no cane, no walker. And then stuff happened. My husband lost his job, he got laid off. And drama on both sides of the family led to a flare-up for me.

Went back into the hospital. And this time, they found rheumatoid arthritis in my chest and spine, via X-ray.

Lauren: So this is interesting, because often we hear about rhupus, right? Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis that often come together, or one is confused for the other. Symptoms can be so similar. But you found that you had both.

Ginny: Yes.

So then, it was like starting all over again. Going back to the drawing board. But this time really paying attention to what I needed to eat to heal my RA as well. So it’s brain tumors, brain disease, autoimmune, gut, lupus, and the RA.

So I did all my research with the Medical Medium stuff, I listened to his podcasts on it, read up on his blog. And then at that point, Life Changing Foods came out. And so I started doing the Life Changing Foods, incorporating the information in that to heal my brain tumors and all that other stuff. So I slowly started incorporating more supplements, more healing foods. And then I eventually did go raw, doing the 28-day.

Lauren: So that wasn’t a permanent change; it was just on the 28-day?

Ginny: It was for a few months. And then I was, like, I don’t need it anymore. So I’m going to go back to eating meat again and certain other things.

Lauren: So in the process of all this, you’re starting to hear your body more, too. 

Ginny: Exactly.

Lauren: Which is really interesting. Were you journaling about all this stuff while you were doing it?

Ginny: Yes, I journaled it, I was doing a lot more meditation. I was reading a lot of Hay House books as well. Just kind of now doing more of an emotional journey … forgiveness, learning more about kindness towards myself.

And kindness is really the gateway to healing. I’m actually writing a book about it. 

Lauren: That’s amazing. Well, it’s about time you wrote a book! When that comes out, we’ll tell everyone.

Ginny: It’s basically about the whole process  … how you have to release first, before you can even restore and renew your health.

Lauren: Well, that you have to heal your body, but you also have to heal the stuff that’s toxic and emotionally toxic that we hold on to. Because that stuff – you’re hurting yourself more than you’re hurting other people when you hold on to grudges. That’s where that kindness to oneself, and the forgiveness, really come in.

Ginny: Absolutely. A lot of people just want to skip the release part. I wanted to skip the release part.

Lauren: It’s not easy work.

Ginny: I didn’t know that I really had to go through it.

But in order to heal, you have to go through the releasing aspect — releasing the foods that no longer serve you, releasing toxic relationships that no longer serve you, learning about boundaries. That’s more restoring. But when you’re learning to release, and you’re able to let go of anything and everything that no longer serves you, then you can actually start to restore.

And during that restore process, you can use Reiki. You can even use Reiki to release as well. Breath work is great to release; meditation. Meditation is also great for restoring and renewing. You kind of just find what healing modalities work for you. For some people, they may need a more hands-on approach. There’s a thing called touch therapy. Or, emotional code therapy. Basically what that does is, through certain touches on the body, it releases.

Lauren: So, almost like an acupuncture, but through touch.

Ginny: Yes. So there are all these different things that one can do … going out in nature, being in nature, hearing birds sing, being with the trees … going to the beach, watching the waves. 

Lauren: It sounds so simple, but it’s so important. 

Ginny: So important.

Lauren: We sort of talked about this a little bit, but why don’t you tell us about a typical day then — versus a typical day now. What is the contrast there? I suppose one was, in bed. And now we’re up and about and working and living.

Ginny: Now I’m working!

Lauren: It’s unbelievable.

Ginny: Honestly …

When I first started this journey, I had no expectations. I stuck with it because it was working.

And then … and it’s really funny because halfway through, I remember complaining to my husband, “I’m not getting better!” And he was, like, “What are you talking about?? You’re actually out of bed, and you’re making dinner and you’re making lunch. You’re making me lunch for work, and all this other stuff.”

And it’s really interesting, because as I was getting better, my husband was getting sicker. And he didn’t adapt any of the Medical Medium stuff until he actually had to.

Lauren: Fair enough. 

Ginny: Yeah. He was laid off in October 2017, as I said earlier.

Lauren: But he’s working again, now.

Ginny: He’s working. Yeah. He’s got a great job now. And he’s so super grateful. But he was out of work for over a year. And during that year, he had a heart attack — and he didn’t know. He had all these gut issues, and they found out that he had diverticulitis and diverticulosis, and a diseased colon, which was like a congenital birth defect. Because he was on Cobra, and the doctor said, “Why don’t we just take out the diseased colon now, so that you don’t have to deal with it later on in life?”

Lauren: They just took it out?

Ginny: Yeah. That was in June, and they did surgery. But then after the surgery, the hospital gave him chicken. His sutures ruptured. The nurse that was supposed to take care of him was missing for four hours that night. So he was going into a sepsis shock kind of a thing. The very next day, they squeezed him in for an emergency surgery. And they put in a colostomy bag.

Lauren: So he has a stoma now. 

Ginny: Yeah. He had a stoma, which was like … I don’t know what to say how big this is?

Lauren: It’s like a pancake, a small pancake?

Ginny: Yeah, like a silver dollar pancake. 

Lauren: Like an apple…that’s about the size of an apple.

Ginny: Yeah, like an apple size. So he had that. And the homecare nurse came out twice a week to see him.

And as soon as he came home, I was, like, “Celery juice. Lemon water with supplements. Green juice.” We cut out all the bad stuff — dairy, eggs — all that stuff.

Lauren: You had to be more extreme with your approach with him because he got sick so suddenly.

Ginny: Yeah. And then, aloe water. So we did those things for his gut health. And his stoma healed to like, a little tiny marble size within two and a half weeks. And the nurse said, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. Let me write down this book that you’re talking about.” Because it’s funny, I brought it up the first day she came. I told her, “I’m healing my lupus, and RA, and brain tumors, and yada yada yada.”

Lauren: Speaking of which, did you ever get the brain tumors removed?

Ginny: Oh, I’m gonna get to that. Because we’re timed …

Lauren: Well, I know the answer because I’ve seen it on Instagram. But I want our listeners to know!

Ginny: That was June. So then, for two months he was doing that. But at the end of July, we got into a car accident.

STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR PART 2!

3 comments on Episode 29: Dr. Ginny Orenstein, Part 1

  1. Amanda says:

    In this episode, Dr. Ginny mentioned a pdf for Medical Medium protocol for EBV that you mentioned you would provide a link for. I have not been able to find the link. Have I overlooked it? Would you please point me to the link. Thank you.

    1. Lauren says:

      Thanks for bringing that up, Amanda! I’ve followed up with Ginny and will update as soon as I get the materials. Keep an eye out – thank you!!

    2. Lauren says:

      Hi again Amanda – ask and you shall receive! The PDFs are listed in the “Key Links” for episode 29. Hope they’ll be useful! Thanks again! – Lauren

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