The birthday phone call that finally revealed my diagnosis

Let me tell you about how my birthday has been fundamental in finding solutions to my health problems and creating a life that I love.  And (spoiler alert) discovering the diagnosis for my 50 year-long illness.

In March 2015 I was (mis)diagnosed as having had a stroke and spent the next year pretty much in bed with a diverse array of debilitating symptoms. Frequently hospital visits didn’t help much strange symptoms –  at my worst I couldn’t stand up I felt dizzy, drained, hyper-reactive to everything and totally demoralised.

On my birthday the following year –  the 5th of April 2016 – after I’d spent the year in bed, I resolved that I was going to take action and not spend another birthday in a wheelchair feeling totally drained and ill.

I remember that decision and where I was, with such clarity.  Whereas the rest of the year is just fog.

I turned to nature – specifically to natural principles and a design process that allowed me to design my way back to health.

I felt overwhelmed at the task ahead, but using a step by step design process allowed me to break this down into manageable steps.

Over the course of the next year I totally changed my diet kept away from chemicals cleaning products and stress and discovered just some of what my body was reacting to.

A year later I was well enough to use the same design process to design a new career, a new business and a new future. Think like a Tree was born!

But there was still a big Question Mark –  I still didn’t know what was at the root of my health problems.

The Vision for one of the designs that I created in 2016 was to discover a diagnosis for my illness. I had put pen to paper and mapped out a way that could be achieved – a step-by-step and (naturally) winding route plan that I could follow.

I had spent decades seeing a wide variety of different specialists in locations around the UK but none had looked at me as a whole person.  None wanted to link the diverse symptoms in all many of the systems in my body.

I was that ‘heart-sink’ patient that many doctors speak of.

By 2022 I could have easily have given up, after all I was on an upward trajectory, health-wise, my plan was working.  And doing the work needed, such as seeing doctors, was draining my limited energy, with only a slim chance of success – it would have been easier to quit trying.

It was tempting to let this design go…

But not having a diagnosis still niggled.

I also had another motivation to find out – my 3 children, now adults, have all shown some signs of the illness, and I wanted to save them and their families from the worst that the illness had offered me. So I used that to motivate me too. 

I followed my own advice that having a purpose outside of yourself is stronger than doing things for yourself alone.

The holistic design process that I followed encouraged me to reject vague diagnoses such as ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ and instead look to the root causes. 

Over the course of 7 years, the natural principles such as ‘slow and small solutions’create ideal conditions to thrive’ and ‘be a good ancestor’ guided me and kept me going, as did many others.

Take time to pause’ became particularly relevant, as I found that a burst of energy in seeking a diagnosis (which usually entailed lots of doctors appointments, tests and stress) were draining, so I learned to pace myself, having ‘time out’ from working on the diagnosis.

I knew I had to be patient. But also I had to keep on going (just like trees do)…

Eventually I found two key doctors to help:  One, a GP, said simply ‘I don’t know what you’ve got, but you’ve got something and I will support you with whatever you need.’

The other, a consultant, was the expert whose research would eventually lead to the diagnosis.

Fast forward 7 years to this year –  5th April 2023.

It’s my birthday and the phone rings…

It’s my wonderful consultant with some news

“The genetic test results are back and you have…


Hereditary alpha tryptasemia”

Wow, a seven year journey following a lifetime of ill-health and I finally have a name to put to the illness.

I felt relieved, emotional, vindicated, angry, elated, all in one birthday morning.

It was faulty genes, but, (like most illnesses) environmental and lifestyle factors play a big part. As the illness was only discovered in 2014 it’s too early to talk of progress or cures, but there is plenty I can do to keep well.

So what difference will this make?  Day to day not that much – I know what I need to do to keep myself healthy and my many other life designs have got me to a place where I’m working full-time, living the life that I want in a way that balances my health and my purpose.  I am happier and more fulfilled than if I’d not been ill and embarked on this amazing journey.

For my family, each will have to decide if they want to know if they have it too, and make the necessary changes.  They will have to undergo their own journey since every carrier has their own unique cocktail of symptoms or non-symptoms.

Yet in many ways it’s huge – I will never be mis-labelled again in the damaging ways that have happened in the past (many people with my illness end up with medical trauma).

And I can be happy and content with my body, despite its over-reactivity (I can thank it because it’s simply trying to help keep me safe).  With this diagnosis the signs are that I can continue to live healthily and happily for life.

And all thanks to one decision I made on my birthday 7 years ago – and the nature-inspired processes and principles that came from that decision.

Thank you nature and natural principles!

And happy birthday to everyone everywhere!

If you don’t want another birthday to pass without make the changes you want to your life, then I’d love you to join me on a Think like a Tree programme.

During the 3 day Think like a Tree programme you will discover the 12 phase design cycle and natural principles that I created to design my own happiness, health and wellbeing.

The programme has been running for 6 years with hundreds of people having redesigned their lives, families, careers, work, businesses, health, happiness and wellbeing.

“Profoundly life changing – it simply made me feel like I do have a say in my life, that I could have control over my life again and choose my path, and how to achieve things (through small and slow solutions), and how to harness and make changes for the better.  It’s not that difficult and beyond our reach, when as Sarah has demonstrated in the course, that simply distilling down and being taught the natural principles as applied to our own lives.  It has turned my negative thoughts of insurmountable impossibilities into actual possibilities.”
We have in-person and online options – check out the website for more details and dates.
 Of if you prefer the 1 to 1 option (via zoom or in person) then email me and I’ll send you the details.

Feel free to arrange a short zoom chat if you have any questions

With abundance x

Sarah Spencer

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