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Broken, Not Defeated: Harnessing Childhood Lessons in My Healing Journey

Wayne Blackshear

14 min read

Feb 3





“I broke it, I can fix it” — Me

I can fix anything. I always have; I always will. This is what I do.

This mindset has been a part of my ethos for as far back as I can remember. Come on a journey with me and I will show you how this mindset can help improve your life.

As a young child growing up in the 90s your stuff was your stuff, and not something that would be replaced if it was to break.

If something broke, you fixed it. If you didn’t know how to fix it, you learned. If you didn’t have the resources to fix it, you improvised with what you had. You “run what you brung”.

My first memories started when I was four years old. Some of my first memories are of my dad fixing cars at my parents’ used car sales lot. My dad would spend hours upon hours fixing everything and pinching every penny he could.

My mom would use something until it was flat wore out, and then the tape on it was worn out, and then the super glue wouldn’t stick anymore.

My parents instilled this trait into me starting at young age. I don’t know if it was intentional or by happenstance; nevertheless, I am thankful for my upbringing. We lived in the back rooms of the office and I grew up around my parents business.

I picked up on this as the normal way to operate my life. My toys were old car parts, some home made Link-n-logs that dad hand made out of old broom sticks, and a few slingshots at the time. New stuff was a rarity, and if something broke, there wasn’t going to be a replacement.

Stick with me, I promise this all relates to my health journey.

I have figured out how to fix toys, bikes, cars, computers, electrical, mechanical, and much more. I never thought in a million years I would need to fix my health.

I once fixed an old black and white TV that stopped working. I had no idea how a TV worked, or what type of circuits were in it. I didn’t know what a ohm meter was, and had never heard the term “continuity”. I was 10 years old and it was 1994.

I remember figuring out after seeing a picture in a magazine in our local Eckards store, that I could take a small light bulb and tape some wires to it with an in-line AA battery, and touch the two wires to different parts of the circuit board. If the light turned on, the connection was in tact. If the light didn’t turn on, the connection was broken.

I didn’t know it at the time, but these old TVs had barrel fuses in them. I didn’t know what that was, but figured out that this glass tube thing was supposed to have power going through it but wasn’t allowing the electricity to pass through. I dug around my Dad’s garage and couldn’t find anything that looked like that.

I figured out that a paper clip could bridge the connection and the TV would work again. This was a total fire hazard, but when you are 10, that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you figured out how to fix something with no skills and no resources. Also, if you fixed it, you get to watch it, not your four year old sister. I love you sis, but this TV is mine.

That was my first memory of fixing something electronic that was broke. I eventually found a real fuse so it wasn’t a fire hazard anymore and replaced the paper clip. Nobody uses the TV now, but I will hang on to it forever. It is a fond memory.

Oh the memories opening this old TV up brings. I remember taking this TV apart like it was yesterday. Memories are a funny thing. There is more dust in it now than 30 years ago, but it is exactly how I remember it. If anyone else out there was into this stuff, I hope it brings you joy seeing it again.

Navigating life’s problems is a lot like fixing that TV. We are often hit with situations we didn’t expect, are not prepared for, and have no idea where to start. I think the best place to start is right here, and right now, inside your mind.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” — Walt Disney

Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t wait for Monday. Don’t wait for the new year. Start right now. If you put something off, you start from a defeated mindset. Your problem is right now. Don’t wait to solve it. You need to attack it full steam head on.

We may have no idea where we are going or what we are going to do about the situation, but if we attack it with curiosity and resolve then at the very least we come out the other side stronger, smarter, and more resilient.

In my earlier days I was a relatively healthy person. I was never overweight and only got sick once or twice a year with sinus infections. I had my handful of chronic symptoms, but was able to cope and battle through them.

I have had a full time job since I was 18 and worked mostly full time all through college.

This kept me going and made my chronic symptoms have to take a back seat. I didn’t have time to lay around in misery. Instead, I had to go to school and work and do my best to just get through it.

After I graduated college I changed professions and got into software engineering in the financial sector. I thought I was busy before, but found I would need to level up my game even more.

My health continued down a path that to me was manageable. I was unaware of the toxins inside of me that was growing and making me sicker.

In 2016 I ended up in the hospital getting pumped full of IV steroids because the vision in my left eye went blurry and delayed. It was like someone put scotch tape on my left glasses lens and installed a delay circuit between my eyeball and brain. I had an acute case of Optic Neuritis.

The suspect was MS at the time, but MRI scans said otherwise. Nothing was wrong with me, and the doctor sent me home after steroid treatment. I wrote it off as a fluke, but started down a health improving journey nonetheless.

Fast-forward to the end of 2022. I woke up and noticed my leg was still asleep. I didn’t think much of it and went about my day normally. I went to the gym, and then to work.

By lunch time I noticed that my leg was still numb and tingling. It was like when you sit on the toilet too long and your foot goes numb, but it was my whole leg, and it didn’t go away.

I still wasn’t too alarmed and figured I slept on it wrong, or pinched something in the gym. That night I noticed it had extended further up towards my belly button. That was weird. Again, I thought it probably would resolve itself.

The next morning My right foot was having the same feeling. That wasn’t normal I thought, but still was not too alarmed, because I am not one to worry about anything. By the next morning both legs and my lower body from belly button down were all numb and tingly. I started to think something was off and my family agreed. The next day I started trying to get in to see my doctor.

I ended up going through a bunch of rounds of blood tests, MRIs, and questionnaires. I started to suspect MS based off of the rabbit hole I had fell down. I love rabbit holes, they are where I am at my best. I love learning how things work and why.

After several doctors and more tests I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

Ok, now what? That was the question. I had only one answer. I need to fix this.

I see this diagnosis as a blessing in disguise. It gave me the push over the edge to jump all-in in my health journey. Before I was more relaxed and dabbled in the information and research to autoimmune. Books, podcasts, research papers, articles, — I was already consuming as much as possible to figure out how to fix my other health problems.

If I hadn’t been diagnosed with MS, I would probably still be on the same track. I was trying my hardest to fix things, but not making a whole lot of progress. Every now and then I would make an adjustment that would move the needle, but those times were few and far between.

I went down the rabbit hole of what causes MS. I ended up at road block after road block, with lots of correlations, but no actually causation founded in research. This seemed odd. How could all of the scientists and doctors not know what caused MS?

Why wasn’t there more concrete evidence of treatments being successful? Why did I hear of so many people with so many different experiences? Why, just why? This makes no sense.

I was lucky. My case of MS is mild. I didn’t have the progressive kind, and as far as my doctors and me could tell, I had no permanent disability. I had dogged the bullet.

I thought to myself, what caused this, and why would a human’s immune system attack itself? That doesn’t make sense. I felt like something was just broken inside of me that needed a repair. After all, humans wouldn’t have survived 200,000+ years if our bodies just “broke” that easily right?

I knew a little bit about the immune system and how it works. I mainly knew how it is supposed to work when it is functioning correctly. I needed to know what causes the immune system to go haywire.

More study, more research, more findings, more confusion, and more connections.

I figured out that the immune system goes haywire when containments traverse from outside of the body to the inside of the body. What does that mean?

We all have a mucus layer made up of cells that line our bodies. This extends from our lips to our anus. When we eat food, it passes through our throat, to the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and then the waste (everything not absorbed) is expelled. This entire track is considered “outside” of the body. It is counter-intuitive at first but made all the sense in the world to me.

When we get cut, blood goes from inside our body, through the cut (inside/outside barrier) to the outside of the body. Blood doesn’t normally belong outside of the body.

I already knew there were lots of processed foods that were bad for us. I knew things like vegetable oil, sugar, and grains were damaging to health. I had to find the mechanism of how these bad foods actually harm us.

It turns out that foods not compatible with an individual’s microbiome wreak havoc in the gut and cause a condition called leaky gut. Ok, so what is leaky gut? It sounds funny, but I assure you, it is serious.

Leaky gut is when your mucosal lining in the gut, which is only 1 cell thick, breaks down and allows stuff to pass through the barrier that shouldn’t be there. For the sake of this, I will just call these bad things contaminants. Anything that isn’t the absorbable nutrients that our bodies need I consider contaminants. When this happens the body kicks in the immune system to try to fight off the invasion of “contaminants”.

So, if I had a history of eating lots of processed foods, and most everyone else also has leaky gut in the western world as I found out. And this caused my immune system to flare up when it shouldn’t. And my overactive immune system was eating away at some of the myelin sheath around the nerves in my brain and spinal cord… Well, logically, I need to fix my gut, to let my immune system calm down, to stop the attack on my nerves. This is what steroids do isn’t it? It is also what b-cell depleting medications commonly prescribed for MS do. They bring down the immune system so the body can have a break from attack by it.

This may sound very short-sighted, and reductionist, with lots of extrapolation. Yes I know. But, what if this mechanism is at play? What if getting to the root cause of this inflammation is the answer? What if these connections all play a role in it? How would I even measure progress? What is the biggest offender in the body of causing inflammation in the first place?

Alright, I admit, I am not a doctor and this is only my experience. But, sometimes we have to take measures into our own hands. Sometimes we have to try something different from the norm, if the normal results are not what we are looking for.

I started searching and learning about inflammation and if systematic inflammation could contribute to MS. After a lot of searching I landed on lots of information about Gut Health, Toxins, Visceral Fat, and Diet. Specifically diets that essentially find what inflames your body and removes the offenders from the diet. This is called an elimination diet.

Diet is highly individualized. Everyone responds differently to types of foods. I don’t think there is one specific diet for the entire population. I think everyone that wants to get healthy needs to go on their own journey.

After researching inflammation and what causes it, I learned that visceral fat (the inside around your organ fat) is the earliest expression that something is wrong. It is metabolically active, unlike subcutaneous fat, and dumps inflammatory cytokines into your body 24/7. It is there, just screaming at us to stop doing what we are doing! It screams from the inside, but we don’t hear it right away.

Ok, fine, how do I measure it, and more importantly how do I reduce it? Do I even have any in the first place. After all, I eat pretty good, am not overweight and do CrossFit 6 days a week. I am probably fine…

Enter the Youtube algo. Hello Dr. Sean O’mara.

It turns out, you can measure and quantify visceral fat with a MRI. It shows up white, and will scare the living daylights out of you.

These are two MRI scans of my abdomen. This is an image looking from the top of my head down to my feet. I am laying on my back. My belly button is the concave dip in the middle at the top of the images. The left image is before, the right is 6 months after working to reduce my visceral fat. In a MRI, fat is white. The outer ring of fat is subcutaneous fat. I am only talking about the inner fat (visceral) that is in the inner area on the inside of the dark ring of muscles.

The images are of matching scale. The yellow lines and boxes are the same size.

  • You can see that over all my abdomen is flatter and more oval shaped.

  • In the middle, I have overall less white stuff, which is the visceral fat.

  • The outer rings of dark areas are my muscles. They also appear slightly larger.

  • My organs are positioned differently in the two images because they are “squished” differently. That is a highly technical term, I know, and apologize. I use fancy words sometimes to offset my over the top sense of humor.

Visceral fat is what we accumulate over time of living with poor nutrition, stress and lifestyles. This accumulated fat surrounds our organs and is highly inflammatory. 24/7 it dumps out cytokines into our system. This fat is metabolically active and doesn’t offer protection to us and in-fact causes lots of damage.

My model of inflammation, autoimmune, and MS all center around a response by our bodies to contaminants that we introduced in our systems. In essence, removing the contaminants will provide a better health outcome.

Whenever we consume things that are not biologically compatible with our bodies, our body mounts a defense response to it; this is inflammation.

Some people get headaches, some people get psoriasis, or one of many other sets of autoimmune symptoms. Some people get the set that doctors call Multiple Sclerosis.

That’s what my body responded with.

Steroidal medications reduce inflammation, and because each time that I have had a coarse of steroids over the years, my inflammation goes down. When I had optic neuritis in 2016, for the first time in my life my dermatitis (dandruff) went away completely for a few weeks. It came right back after the medication was finished. I didn’t understand the mechanism at the time, but now it makes sense that what I did was suppress my immune system temporary. It calmed it down long enough to stop attacking itself for a bit.

This seems like something that is solvable. How can I mimic this naturally? Is it even possible?

Different people having different reactions to the same compounds. Each individual has their own immune system and will react differently to inflammation. Just like different people having different side effects to the same medication. I think different people have different responses to the same compounds contaminating their bodies.

In my case, my immune system gets confused and attacks the myelin sheath around my nerve fibers. This process/outcome is know as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Other people may have different reactions to the same “bad” stuff that is causing their inflammation.

Because of this, I linked my MS symptoms and spots that showed up on my MRIs to inflammation. I knew that I needed to solve my inflammation. I started learning from Dr Sean about visceral fat and how it works, what it does, and most importantly, how to get rid of it.

To be clear. I didn’t hire Dr. Sean to treat my MS. I hired him to help guide me in reducing my Visceral fat, and by proxy my inflammation, and to have an expert resource on hand to bounce questions off of when they arise, or if I want another opinion on a connection, or train of thought I have. I can send him a text or video message and he gets back to me pretty fast with good explanations.

I have implemented the main things he told me to work on.

  • I eat a carnivore + ferments diet with zero cheating. Yes, I eat only meat and small amounts of fermented foods. For anyone wondering, yes I still drink coffee. No, I don’t eat any bread, sauce, sugar, or carbs. No fruit, crackers, candy, soda, juice. No, I don’t have cravings for junk food anymore.

  • I have actively worked on and improved my sleep quantity and quality.

  • I am doing less exercise, but with a focus on maximum intensity (sprinting) and weight lifting, and recovery.

  • I am doing fasting. — I try to do one 24–72 hour fast a week. This is hard for me still at this point in my journey.

  • I am focusing on my water quality. I won’t drink it unless I am positive there is not any chlorine or fluoride in it.

  • I am focusing on consuming grass-fed and grass-finished beef. I will still eat conventionally raised beef, If it is a good price, or just looks extra good when I see it. I don’t stress over this. I would say 85% of my meat intake is grass fed and finished 80/20 ground beef. Ground beef or minced, helps keep the cost low. And it is consistently good vs steak that can be hit or miss more often.

  • I am working managing my stress. I am notoriously good about ignoring stress, and pushing it off somewhere else. I can always feel it building but until recently never do anything about it.

  • I try to get sunlight in my eyes with sunrise, and sunset. I also try to get as much natural light as I can. This is easier in the summer time here in Florida as during the winter I am at work before sunrise, and it gets dark as I am grilling dinner.

  • I avoid blue light in the evening times. This actually, wether placebo or not has a measurable affect on my sleep quality. I wear a set of blue light blocking glasses starting at about 7PM until I go to be at 9PM.

  • I get daily “me” time, early in the morning. I like to wake up early, sit at the table, with nothing on it, no distractions, and just read. I like books related to the mind and nutrition.

  • There are many other small things I do, and even some I don’t think about on a daily basis, but those are the main ones.

With this journey so far, I have noticed improvements all around. I have lost a good amount of visceral fat and feel great.

  • My energy levels are great and steady.

  • I rarely have brain fog or fatigue anymore.

  • I can concentrate on things for longer at a time.

  • I am faster, stronger, and more witty now.

  • My gastrointestinal distress all but gone, I still have some and will continue to work on it.

  • My headaches are better. Less frequent and less intense, less medication to fight them.

  • My follow up MRI scans on my brain for MS show no new or active lesions, and the biggest ones have completely reversed.

Fixing the fuse inside that old TV is much the same to me as fixing the Visceral Fat inside of me. The journey is the same. I started with no knowledge, no resources, and had to do my own research and figure it out as I went. The connection is a stretch, but for me, it just makes sense. This pattern repeats over and over in my life and I always figure it out.

I will continue down this path until it stops working, or I run into roadblocks I can’t overcome. If that happens, I will try something else. I don’t think I am at the “finish line”, and probably never will be, but as I like to say, “so far, so good. Perfect, now what is next?”

Take Care.

Wayne Blackshear

14 min read

Feb 3





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