Book Excerpt: The Alchemy of You by Author Pat O’ Connell


Chapter 2| Problems Desperately Seeking Solutions

You have needs. This book has solutions. PART A of The Alchemy of YOU gets you from one to the other in a flash, without a lot of fuss.

Quick-Reference Format

Each chapter in this first section addresses a group of related issues that may concern you. These are presented in a three-column table format for easy reference.

  • The left column lists the symptoms, problems, conditions and diagnoses that may concern you.
  • The middle column indicates common causes for those issues.
  • And the right column lists a variety of actions or solutions you might implement.

This book does not cover conventional solutions the doctors on your team are likely to suggest. It assumes those bases are covered. Neither does it delve into exotic or rare causes for various symptoms.

Instead, it focuses on the many common causes that may either be overlooked or simply disregarded as untreatable or unworthy of treatment. And it suggests the complementary solutions that may be appropriate for those conditions.

The solutions entries often begin with a list of tests, each designed to help you home in on the true cause of the problems. Then they suggest a range of preventive or corrective solutions that may apply to your issues.

Later in the book you will learn more about tests and possible solutions as well as the overall systems/processes and organs that keep your body operating at its best.

Symptoms Everyone Should Recognize

Before getting into your specific issues, let’s take a moment to talk about four potentially deadly conditions (heart attack, stroke, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer) whose symptoms may be overlooked.

In some cases these are clusters of otherwise very mundane symptoms that can be attributed to simpler causes. Sometimes it is only as a group that these ordinary symptoms reveal something more sinister.

Heart Attack

We all know the classic signs of a heart attack in men: shooting pain in the left arm, a crushing feeling in the chest and shortness of breath.

But we women don’t like to do things the way men do. A woman having a heart attack is much more likely to be misdiagnosed than a man because her symptoms often look like other, less serious, conditions.

So here are the symptoms to watch for:

  • Pain in left arm/chest, jaw, back or stomach
  • Sudden unexplained anxiety/fear
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden heavy sweating/cold sweat
  • Lightheadedness, sleep disturbances
  • Indigestion, nausea
  • Severe fatigue, muscle aches


Many people can avoid the damaging effects of a stroke if they carry aspirin with them and take one or two tablets at the first indication of trouble.

When someone is having a stroke it is important to get the right kind of help (including aspirin) administered within the first 45 minutes. After that, they are more likely to suffer permanent damage.

Symptoms of a stroke can include:

  • Crooked smile or facial asymmetry, one side drooping
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness, numbness or loss of control on one side
  • Difficulty walking
  • Lost or diminished vision
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Sudden confusion

To respond when you think someone is having a stroke, think of the word FAST.

  • Face: Ask for a smile.
  • Arms: Ask them to hold both arms out straight.
  • Speech: Ask them to repeat a familiar phrase
  • Time: Act fast! Have them take aspirin as soon as possible, then call 911 or get them to an ER ideally within 15 minutes.

Ovarian Cancer

Like pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer is so deadly because it reveals no obvious symptoms early on and cannot be found in routine screenings.

So it is important to watch for these ordinary symptoms that, together as a group, may be subtle signals of ovarian cancer:

  • Abdominal bloating and/or pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Urinary frequency
  • Constipation

Some people believe the CA-125 test is a good way to find ovarian cancer early. It isn’t. As a screening tool, it produces a lot of false alarms and misses about half of actual cancers.

Unfortunately, it is primarily useful only in confirming a late-stage diagnosis of cancer and in tracking the effectiveness of cancer treatment, according to experts at Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere.

Currently, the best way to screen for ovarian cancer may be through ultrasound examinations, though this is certainly not a foolproof test.

Some women may even choose to have their ovaries removed once they shut down at menopause in order to prevent this insidious disease.

Endometrial Cancer

The number-one symptom of cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer) is irregular bleeding.

And any bleeding after natural menopause is considered a sign of endometrial cancer until proven otherwise.

However, if you are peri- or post-menopausal with an intact uterus and are taking supplemental hormones, you could continue having periods indefinitely. In that case, the diagnosis of cancer becomes much more difficult.

To watch for this deadly disease after menopause, get regular pelvic exams that include transvaginal ultrasound and possibly biopsy.

It’s All About You Now

You’ve learned about the structure of this chapter and have gathered some handy tips for spotting symptoms of four of the most deadly conditions.

Now, it’s time to think about what’s bothering you.

Identifying your specific symptoms, issues and conditions is the first step on the path toward finding the answers (and secrets) you’ve been looking for.

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