SPEAKERS: Taylor, Brooke Smith
I had COVID for diagnosed officially diagnosed 61 days, but I had it like a week prior to that. And so it was like 70 days that I had an active infection.
Brooke Smith 00:27
Hi, everyone on behalf of MDF Instruments, welcome to our crafting wellness podcast. And today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Taylor. Hi, Taylor. How are you? I'm good. Thank you so much for having me. I'm happy to be here. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm really excited for everybody to get to know you a little bit. Can you kind of introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself?
Yeah, so my name is Taylor, Bernie, and I am 29 years old. I live in California, and I am a certified National Medical Assistant. And so what I do is I assist doctors, I've been working in practice private practices, as well as hospitals. And I assist them I scribe for them, and I get to interact with the patients and help them through their healing journeys.
Brooke Smith 01:18
Great and how did you how did you fall into becoming a medical assistant? Was that something you always knew you wanted to do? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah. So growing up, I actually had a huge fear of doctors and hospitals. And so going into the medical field was never on the map. For me, I just thought I'd always be either a teacher or a lawyer or some other career. But I actually had gotten sick in 2009. And for years, I was searching for answers. And finally in 2014, I received a diagnosis and was bitten by a tick and developed multiple chronic diseases and autoimmune diseases. And because of this, I was on my own healing journey and being a patient 24 seven. So this is where I learned exactly what it meant to heal and what it meant to be a patient. And during this, I developed a passion for medicine and healing and helping others because during like treatments and IV treatments, I would meet hundreds, hundreds of different people with similar diagnosis and stories as me. And through that we would help each other out, give each other tips on what works, what doesn't work with certain medicines. And because of that, it really sparked an interest and wanting to get into the medical field and become a doctor and help patients with their own healing journeys.
Brooke Smith 02:50
Such a beautiful story. So you, you got sick in 2009. So is that when you got bit by the tech, but you didn't get a diagnosis until like four or five years later.
I am not completely sure. Because there was a few times in my life where I did have ticks on me. But 2009, I had received a huge, major concussion. And then I traveled to Europe. And usually, when you have brain accidents, when it's major damage to any type of like your nervous system, that's where it can activate the TIC diseases. And that's, you know, it can be delayed, it can be inside your body. So my doctors were thinking either I got bit that year, or it was previously and it just went dormant until I had the concussion.
Brooke Smith 03:42
I see. And so when you weren't feeling well, where you just you have symptoms of like major fatigue and can talk a little bit about what that struggle was like for you. As far as you got sick.
Yeah, so I started out. Um, so this was after high school right after graduation. And after I travelled to Europe, I came home and I actually started having like flu type symptoms, and it just felt like the flu number went away and it kept getting more severe to where I was actually starting to begin having anxiety and mental distress of like, always in panic mode. And I've never had that or experienced that as a child growing up. I was very calm and joyful. And so that was the first thing that kind of was a little strange to experience the anxiety, the severe migraines, fatigue and body pain. And then I actually developed a my first autoimmune disease in 2012 when my pancreas gave out, and it was type one diabetes, and then from then on, my organs began failing. So it was like the pancreas have failed and the kidneys began to fail and it just ended up having me be bedridden. For For so long, and so during that time, I was going to so many different doctors because all these weird symptoms came out of nowhere. And no one really understood what was going on with me. And so that's when I learned, you know, I need to be my own health advocate, I need to really listen to what my body is saying, and you know, have multiple opinions, go to different specialists and see and then, you know, go outside the box and different types of testing for labs. And finally, I was able to find an integrative doctor, who then knew immediately from the rashes that I was getting the weird designs of rashes and my symptoms that it was Lyme. So he tested me did labs, and it showed it was Lyme disease. And so they, they were thinking, all everything could have been mainly because of that tick, bite, and then it was just, you know, attacking all my organ systems.
Brooke Smith 06:03
I have to imagine that being so young at night to get to feel L, I can relate a little bit because I had I went through a little bit of my own health journey, but um, you know, when you're that young, I feel like, there's kind of a stigma of you're healthy, there's nothing wrong with you, especially if you don't really look sick. There can kind of be that struggle of like, you know, your body and there's something wrong and it kind of is this problem of like, No, I'm not, I'm not in my head. I'm not imagining this. I'm not being like, like something is wrong with me. Did you kind of experience a little bit of frustration of kind of people like not understanding why you were so tired? Or if you were just kind of being dramatic? or that kind of thing?
Yes, definitely. You completely understand it is such a mind boggled going through that, because it's so confusing. And you, you rely on the doctors word, and then knowing everything and you know, sometimes, you know, things just get missed. Things just get overlooked. And yeah, I was very sick if you don't Yeah, exactly.
Brooke Smith 07:10
I don't even know what that means. But so it's it, it boggles my mind. But I imagine that when you finally did get that diagnosis, in 2012, you said or was that 14?
So 2012 was when I was diagnosed with type one. Um, so that's what I thought was the reason why I was sick. But it kept getting worse after that, and so is 2014. But yes, exactly. Like, I felt relief. Yeah. The answer's yes.
Brooke Smith 07:40
You had to feel some sort of relief of like, okay, now at least we know what's wrong with me, that wasn't in my head. And now hopefully, we can start to assess what are the best ways for me to get my health back. And I think a big lesson for anybody watching this is just that you know, your body better than anyone else. And if something's wrong, you know it and just don't let anyone tell you, you're fine. If you don't feel fine. And I think you show that you have to advocate for your own health. And you have to do the research. And you have to try it. Because you're right, like sometimes with these things, because they don't have the answers yet they don't have. So there's a lot of like trial and error. And it's a lot of natural things that they recommend you do things with your diet. And it's just a lot of trial and error. And I think a lot of people I'm sure watching can relate to the frustration of getting knowing something's wrong with you and not getting diagnosis for quite a while laughter and kind of a does to mentally but I do think it's such an amazing story that going through that brought you to the other side of wanting to advocate for other people who are who want to get their health back on track. And it's such a beautiful story, because you went through it as the patient. And now you're coming to the other side of it, as the practitioner and I know, are everyone watching you don't know this about Taylor, but she is med school. So you are you are pursuing a career and being a doctor. And I know that you're also a certified chronic illness coach. So I'm sure that that kind of brought you a little bit full circle around and I would love to kind of hear about how you're kind of your journey once you got diagnosed and you going through becoming a certified chronic illness coach to the medical assistant to now med school and kind of where you are in that journey.
Yeah, um, so I'm still pre med I graduate this year. So I'll be a few things got delayed earlier this year because of the pandemic. So everything will be mainly going full force next year for med school apps, and MCAT. But yeah, so during my first year of Lyme treatment in 2014, that's when I took a break from, you know, finishing my bachelor's and but me I have to be Doing something, I have to feel like I have purpose in order to keep fighting, if that makes sense. And so I enrolled in an online certification program for integrative nutrition and health coaching. And so that's the year that I became certified and studied to do that, just so I could also learn for myself to bring healing to myself. And then since then, with my career that I've been building as a medical assistant, and then my bachelor's education through ASU online, I've developed multiple resources of knowledge and tools of knowledge, to be able to start building my business as a chronic disease coach. And so it's fairly new, and I'll be launching it soon, but I've helped a few of my friends and I was like, you know, I just really want to keep helping the rest of our community, you know, until I become a doctor, and then eventually make it my practice, so that I could start interacting with chronic disease patients now, and being able to help them with the resources that I am able to for my scope of practice. While I'm in med school, you know, and then once I'm out of med school, I wanted to build the practice and become a doctor and focus mainly on chronic disease, autoimmune disease, and just helping people go through that long journey, because it really is a journey of healing. And it doesn't just end with your diagnosis, it completely begins another journey, another route. And as we both know, and many people listening, healing is not linear, it's an up and down roller coaster ride, and to have someone support you and help you is amazing. Like, that's something I truly wished I had going through all my illnesses and treatments. And so that's something I want to do to be able to get back to like our community, is just all everything that I've learned through my education and medical training, as well as my chronic disease patient experience.
Brooke Smith 12:14
I commend you so much for that. And as a person who kind of went through my own health battles, and still like you say they, they don't really go away the diagnosis is kind of the beginning of it. But you, I thank you so much for just first being so strong, getting through and fighting through all of that, and then also having the courage and the stamina, and the persistence, and all the things that it takes to also say, you know what, I want to turn this around, and I want to help people, because I've been through it. And I know what it's like, and it's scary, and you feel alone. And especially I think when you're so young, and you're going through because older people that you understand as a person, that at a certain point, you're going to deal with health issues, everybody in their life is going to deal with it. But when you're 18, when you're younger, you don't really expect that that's going to be you and you're very well cared for that your health is kind of something you just take for granted, like, Oh, I'm healthy, because I'm 18. And I'm fine, and then you're not. And I think it's really beautiful that you have showed that you can get through something. And then you can flip on the other side and say, now I'm going to also extend my hand and with all the knowledge that I gained through going this through this myself and getting this paddle under control, I'm now going to share that knowledge and help others it's really beautiful.
Thank you so much for saying that. It's just, it's why I'm here. It's my purpose, my calling. So I just want to put all my passion and energy towards it. And I really do feel like this is where I'm supposed to be. So I'm very blessed. It turned out to be, yes, a hard, hard journey, gaining chronic illness, but it showed me my purpose. And I'm forever grateful for it.
Brooke Smith 14:02
I think also for everyone watching, you know, if you are going through something similar where you don't, you know, you don't feel right, and something's wrong, you know, reach out to Taylor show love to answer any questions. And we can also talk about later, you know, building a community of people they ended it is such a great place and Instagram and everything, it's a great place to say hey, you're not alone. In this journey, you might feel like you are because, you know, you're you're not sure what's wrong with you, but we can all talk to each other. And that's how you grow in, in the information as well as like what works for someone, and you get ideas like, Oh, I didn't know to reduce on an empty stomach, you know, or whatever kind of little nugget of truth is that work for one person then you can talk to someone else and it might not work for them, but it's trial and error.
It really is exactly you completely understand but it's really bio individuality. It's trial and error. But you know, we're here and our community is So strong like each individual who has these types of challenges with their health at a young age or even older, it just it, it shows it's a true testament to the strength that the individual has. And I'm just so glad to be a part of a strong community of fighters.
Brooke Smith 15:19
Yes. So I know that also as a medical assistant, you were obviously a medical assistant during COVID. And I know that with your rd pre existing health conditions, you were still there fighting and helping alongside during COVID. And then can you talk a little bit about that journey? And what happened?
Yeah, um, so in the beginning of 2020, this year, well, the last year this past year, I've been working at a clinic, and its primary care, as well as oncology. So half of me was thinking, Okay, I should be okay. You know, um, but unfortunately, with COVID, that's just not the case. It just can pop up anywhere. And we were seeing patients in January actually come in with week long, brutal cough, type pneumonia, sicknesses. And there were quite a few patients, actually, that displayed many bizarre labs and symptoms, and a few were hospitalized. And then finally, once they announced the pandemic, and what was actually occurring, that's when it started clicking that, Oh, this is a pandemic, like, this is a virus, this is here, it's already here. And we've seen patients, and then as soon as they announced it, it just went complete chaos. And, you know, people were panicking. Patients were panicking, because they wanted to make sure they had their medications, they want to make sure they had their IV treatments, they, they wanted to make sure you know, they knew what was going on. And so during this time, unfortunately, one of the staff members who was the receptionist, she was out for those two months. So a lot of the jobs we were very short staffed, during this time in the beginning, and in February, and March. And so the other ma actually wasn't there, either. So it was just me doing multiple different jobs. And it was it was very chaotic, in the sense that it was just, it was just like a wave of panic and fear. And luckily, I, because of my own issues with having to deal with fear and sickness, I was able to help a lot of these patients like calm down. So I was very grateful to be there. But it was it was a lot like I was working overtime, you're short staffed. And I just tried to focus on being there for the patients and not fearing myself, because I couldn't give in to that fear. Because it would make me afraid to go to work. And I couldn't do that. Because my bosses and the doctors were depending on me to be there. And so during this time, I surprisingly, I even surprised myself, like how mentally strong I was to be able to handle that and not have fear. And then, um, and then like a few weeks went by, and then one of our nurses went into the ICU. And then the are one of the doctors started having the symptoms and he was sick. And then a few other staff members were sick. And that weekend before that's when I started my body started feeling really sick in different ways, but I thought it was one just exhaustion from working because of my chronic diseases. And then to I was like, no, it's mild enough to where it could be allergies. So I didn't really know, you know, because people with chronic illness, we just think immediately we're going to catch COVID and then it's going to go right into severe mode. But mine was slowly gradual. And eventually the staff tested positive, they close the clinic and then I finally took my test because it was mild, I was having some breathing issues, and that's when I knew that it was in me. And so I tested positive for covid. Um, during this time on the clinic was shot and I tested positive for COVID I was still working from home, virtual to help the doctors do virtual consults. And during the entire time, I was the only ma still trying to help keep them afloat. So while I had COVID I actually did my Best to work virtually from home helping answer messages. But once I became more severe, and the breathing just got so out of hand, that's when I had to take a little bit of time off to go to the hospital and focus on my healing and surviving it. Um, but yeah, it was, honestly this the first time I'm talking about it, like, over this type of platform. So it's, it's interesting, um, honestly, it was, it was kind of traumatic in the sense of, not been able to breathe. Like I've had health issues, but I've never experienced anything with my lungs like that before, it was like I was suffocating. 24 seven, and no matter what I did, nothing could bring relief. So I was on a nebulizer 24. Seven, doing my medication, they couldn't put it, they couldn't put me on stronger medication, just because of my other diseases. So it was kind of a, basically, you know, do what you're doing. Just keep doing what you're doing and hope for the best. And so thankfully, my experience the past 10 years of having chronic disease and dealing with flus and pneumonia is I was able to without my knowledge of trying to boost my immune system to fight off whatever this pathogen was. And so I did everything that I knew in my own knowledge, because none of the doctors really knew at that time when I got it, what to do, or what medicines. So I was basically on my own. In the hospital, they checked my organs and made sure I wasn't going into organ failure, which I wasn't thankfully, um, but then they sent me home to, you know, recover at home and fight at home. But, yeah, I had COVID for diagnosed, officially diagnosed 61 days, but I had it like a week prior to that. And so it was like 70 days that I had an active infection. And then after that, like two weeks after I got cleared, that's when I went back to work. And it was just kind of a blur all of this experience, because I went from helping people to fighting for my life to going back and trying to be normal and help people again, and there's things I'm still processing. And it definitely did damage to my own health that I'm trying to reverse right now and work on. But I know it happened for a reason. And I know this will only help me be a better doctor and chronic disease coach. So I'm focusing on that aspect. But yeah, it was a very challenging time.
Brooke Smith 23:05
I don't know how I mean, you are incredibly, incredibly resilient and strong. And I'm getting like emotional because just because you you know, just embody everything that a healthcare worker, who is you know, going through their, it reminds me of I don't know what I'm trying to say. But you know, when someone is, is drowning, and you're trying to also help someone who's drowning. It's like you even are so selfless. But even while you are fighting your own battles, you're still there trying to help other people. And it's so incredibly beautiful i'd there aren't even words, really. But I know that you know how strong you are. And you are incredibly brave and strong. And I know that everything you went through has already made you so empathetic and also given you such a different perspective to help people who not only can't get COVID, but other things and you're just going to have this empathetic perspective that not every every healthcare worker gets to have because they don't understand it if they haven't had to deal with all and fight all the battles that you've had to fight. But I'm so thankful that you're here and you're healthy and you're back on track and they know health like you say it's it's a process every day. But I'm so glad that you're doing well and you're not in the hospital anymore. Another thing I just kind of want to say is that for anybody who thinks that COVID is not real, or that we're blowing it out of proportion, please listen to this story and have respect and please just wear your mask. Stay home. You know Don't stay six feet apart from people quarantine. And it's not about you, it's about other people who are immune compromised. And, you know, not not inundating the hospital and all of that. So I, I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of this. But I'm also incredibly thankful that you did because you are here with us and you are going to do amazing things and have already touched so many lives that it's, it's really beautiful to watch. And I'm excited to continue to watch your journey.
Thank you so much for saying that. It really means a lot to me. I appreciate your words.
Brooke Smith 25:41
We appreciate you so much. So we'll switch gears a little bit. And can you tell me a little bit about other things you're passionate about? And let us know where you're from where you grew up? Let everybody get to know you a little bit.
Yeah. Um, so I was born in Los Angeles, the valley. So LA Girl, but I grew up in San Diego and LA. So both worlds two different, completely different communities. But I love them both. And I definitely have had such an incredible like journey with my family and being able to spend time up in LA and San Diego. I currently am in San Diego now. And I I love doing anything that's creative, I love taking photos, I love writing, I am so passionate about writing, and just anything that I can express my feelings, my creativity, my uniqueness, I love to do.
Brooke Smith 26:47
Yeah, and for everybody who's watching, we're gonna link all of her information to her blog, she has some really great articles about you can read more about her experience with COVID, as well as her fight with chronic illness and many other things as well, on her blog, so I'll definitely link that for everybody to read as well, because I know you've got a lot of great stuff up there.
Yeah, I just I going through all this, it really made me have an appreciation for life that I didn't have before. And so I truly just want to live my life, experiencing new things, try new things, meeting new people hearing their stories, and just learning as much as I can from just a women. And so I'm just so grateful for that perspective that I've gained.
Brooke Smith 27:35
Yes. And where are you in your in your medical journey? Now? Have you actually applied to med school? Or where are you? Where are you in that process.
So I was planning on applying to a few this cycle. But during COVID, I was taking ocam. And I just need to retake that class. Because having Corona and doing ocam is just not how you give advice. Um, so I am just taking this time to really like heal my body and focus on my new job at the hospital and just finished my last course of my bachelor's degree in October. And then, yeah, so I'll graduate in October, but I still have my own Chem labs that I need to do. And then I will, I moved my MCAT to because I was going to take it this year, like early summer. But because of everything I'm having COVID I obviously could not study during that. And so I had to move it to I'm going to just take it early next year, and then just do the cycle next year. So it kind of delays me, but I honestly believe all of this happened for a reason. And I know that the timeline, when I'm supposed to be a med school will happen when I'm supposed to, and that I'm just being led to the patients that will need me and meaning that fellow doctors and other doctors and PhDs and etc, that will need to that time. But um, yeah, so next year will be the big year. Next year will be the big year of applying to med school and finishing up my last few pre med classes.
Brooke Smith 29:22
Incredible, incredible. I I think it's really also something to be said for you said it's the kind of you're where you're supposed to be. Yeah, I think that's so true. And such a really important thing for people to remember that you're you're not on everyone else's timeline. You know, we're all individual and unique. And we all have our own stories to tell them we're all on our own individual timelines. And so you just have to do things in your own time and what might take someone, someone might do something faster, they'll slow down in somewhere else and vice versa. And I think it's really a great attitude to have because it's about the journey and every day that you experience, you're only getting more experience and more knowledge to help those patients later down the line, just growing as an individual and, and maturing and just all of the life lessons that you learn and the new people that you meet. So I think for everyone watching, too, you shouldn't feel pressure, that you have to start something right now, or you have to go straight from this to that. It's easy to get caught up in what you're supposed to be doing. And I think you're a really good example of, you know, listening to your heart, following your heart, right place, right time going through life as a journey and not having that kind of expectation on yourself of how to get something done. So in a way that everyone tells you, you should do it, because we're all on our own unique journeys. And I subscribe to what you're saying, because I think that's really, really great advice, as well.
Yeah, thank you. And it, it's not easy. Getting your mental state to that belief. Like it's, it's a journey in itself, just to be able to have that ability to see it that way. Like, it took me a long time. Because, you know, comparison is so huge in the medical field. And you always think that, oh, this person is going ahead, this person's already become a doctor. And they're the same age as me. And it's very defeating and discouraging when you focus on that. And so when I learned, I basically threw out the window, my expectations of my life because of having to deal with chronic disease. And in the process of doing that I did learn a valuable lesson of, you know, comparison is, will only hold you back.
Brooke Smith 31:38
And that person is the thief of joy. Yes. And I always go by the whole eyes on your own paper, because it's not about anyone else. It's about you. And it's about your journey. And I think also what you're talking about, it comes from being a really strong person, but it also comes from knowing who you are, and know that your value and who you are, isn't based on your job. It's not based on your looks. It's not based on how much money you have, how old you are, your value and who you are, as a person, it comes from inside it comes from that inner work, it comes from your spirit. It doesn't come from these outside things. And if you're chasing that your whole life, you're never going to be happy because you have that within you and know that you're you're on your own unique path. Yeah, exactly, you set up perfectly. We didn't cover that you're you feel like you want to talk about that I that I missed.
Um, you know, you're not alone. And if you do need support, or encouragement, like, please reach out to me, I really do love connecting with people on these platforms. And that's why I wanted to build everything on Instagram, and YouTube and these social media platforms, because you can reach so many people through them. And I just, I was just so alone in my journey in the beginning. And I know how that feels. And it's hard to reach out. So I just want anyone who's listening that may feel like that, to you know, reach out to me. And I'm here to even just encourage you and listen to you and support you through your journey of whether it be in medical field or going through a healing journey. Or if you've had COVID, or have someone that you love that has COVID or you're afraid of COVID whatever it may be, I just I want to be able to be there for the community. And really just encourage and instill that light love into your life.
Brooke Smith 33:40
Yes, we are so grateful for so everyone listening, please, please, please look at Taylor, go to her Instagram, go to her blog, reach out to her. She has a wealth of knowledge. As you've heard in this interview, she's been through so much that if I'm sure she doesn't know the answer to something, she can probably guide you in the right direction or can help you find that answer. So please reach out to that resource because she's here and she cares. And you're not alone. And I'm also here for you. So please know that and we're going to link everything in this video so you can go check her out. And Taylor, it was such a pleasure having you it was a real honor to have you on our crafting wellness podcast.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm just so grateful for this time spent with you. So thank you.
Brooke Smith 34:27