• My health journey Medium version

    {This is a semi-short version of my health journey. If you would like more detail you can read the longer version. If you would like less detail you can read the shorter version.}

    Psalm 6:2-4 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long O Lord, how long? Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.

    My God of Grace

    God is a God of infinite Grace. He has shown His faithfulness and mercy to me time and time again in my life. My awareness of His tenderness and love for me has grown deeply in my adult life through many trials in every area of my life. The trial and triumph you are about to read is my health story. You will learn how God pointed the way to healing for me, bringing me back from the brink of death, intensifying my faith and allowing me to help others through the anguish I experienced and the things I learned. Praise Him!

    A Bit of Background

    In my childhood I suffered from Asthma and allergies quite severely. It was usual for me to go to bed with eyes swollen shut because they itched so badly. I would need to take my Ventolin or Albuterol inhaler multiple times a day because my allergies triggered my Asthma. Laughing or exercise triggered it as well. My legs were always horrendously itchy and I was not able to exercise well because I would get debilitating asthma attacks. Doctors eventually put me on steroid inhalers for “prevention” and basically said there was nothing else they could do. Nutrition and gut health was never explored by my doctors (and I don’t think even properly understood at that time.) I also gravitated toward sugar and carbs when I ate. Every day I would have some form of sugar and it was rarely the whole food kind (from fruit.) In the 90’s when GMO’s were introduced I had my fair share of GMO sugar, unbeknownst to me. Antibiotics were a mainstay in my life as well and in the course of a year I was usually on them 2-3 times for various reasons but mostly because I was sick a lot.

    These patterns and symptoms continues well into my teenage years and then into my early adult life. The addition of extreme life stressors and more responsibilities further compromised my gut health. Migraine headaches were almost weekly happening and depression never left me until I was out of young adulthood and changed my lifestyle and diet.

    My young life set me up with an environment to turn on the mutations in my genes that I was already predisposed too. {It’s called epigenetics.} Those predispositions were heart disease, thyroid problems, arthritis, blood pressure problems, glaucoma and more.

    My Adult Life

    The Asthma, allergies and headaches from my childhood continued but, during my pregnancy with my first child, my asthma went away and headaches subsided. 3 Months after my son was born I had two root canals done in my upper back molars.

    This dental choice was the final straw that would ultimately turn on the gene to cause Hashimotos to rear its ugly face. Within 9 months of that “routine” dental visit the skin on my face turned itchy, burning and very flaky. Very much like Psoriasis. It would not go away no matter how many chemical filled topical creams I tried. It wasn’t until about two years later when I had my first miscarriage at twelve weeks that, at the advice, of my mom, I decided to have a doctor test my thyroid. “I was so young!” doctors would say. They didn’t want to test me but after hunting around, I found that my OB would refer me to an endocrinologist to test me. .

    Thankfully, even though this endocrinologist had much to be desired in the treatment arena, he did the entire panel of tests for Hashimotos and Hypothyroidism. I had no idea at the time but most doctors don’t routinely do these tests. Sure enough, I was diagnosed, after blood tests and a thyroid ultrasound with Hashimotos!

    According to protocol, my endocrinologist (who was the doctor for a popular MLB team) told me just take this T4 and you should be fine. I did what he said and I continued to get worse and worse. I had achy joints, hair loss, mood swings, fatigue, anemia, heart palpitations, sleep problems and horrendous skin issues. He assured me it had nothing to do with my thyroid.

    I suffered like this for many more years going through yet another miscarriage and some extreme stress in my marriage. I was blessed to be able to have another healthy baby boy after I was being “partially” treated for Hashimotos and he was a wonderful bright spot through these years. However, having a child that was up every 1-2 hours for two years did not help my health at all. It further compromised my gut health and immune system.

    Over the years of searching for answers about what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t feeling better, since conventional doctors were not helping me, I found a good Functional Medicine doctor.  It was about this time that I was at my lowest low. I was sick in bed, suffering from Mononucleosis, painful everything, suicidal thoughts, severe itching on my body that would rash up, ooze and bleed, swelling in my face that was hideous and I felt like I was going insane. I couldn’t eat anything for fear that I would react to it. Every time I finished a meal I had to put ice on my arms (which were the worst) so that I could find some relief from the pain and itching that came from inflammatory foods I was eating. I was up many nights because my skin couldn’t even touch blankets or covers due to the irritation. Every patch of skin on my body felt like it was crawling and my head always had an infected feeling. During my sleepless nights I sat on the couch and researched.

    *One important side note – during this horrible time, I also agreed to take another round of antibiotics and go on hydrocortisone because of the swelling I woke up with one morning. Eventually My face was unrecognizable due to a reaction to the antibiotics which I found out were Penicillin and I am allergic to it. My swelling also came from my inflamed gut and being undernourished. Taking antibiotics was a poor decision on my part that was based on fear and I regret it to this day. I caused all my symptoms to magnify, further compromised my immune system, and killed any good bacteria in my gut that I had left. Also, during this time my husband had just had a neck fusion in his C-spine and was supposed to be recovering, not taking care of me. I am so thankful for my parents who came to the rescue! He helped when he could but also had to go back to work as soon as he recovered.

    Ear Swelling

    At this point in my health journey I was 96 pounds and, although before overweight, my weight used to be about 135. I was completely malnourished and suffering with leaky gut (though I didn’t understand that on a deep level at the time) and could not even function in my daily tasks. I was in total despair and felt like I didn’t have hope of ever feeling better or living a full life.

    96 pounds and healing

    Thankfully my God is not a God of despair; He is a God of hope! I knew I could hope in heaven to come. If my plight was to succumb to something yet to be diagnosed like cancer or MS, I surrendered. I was completely broken and without any human way to help myself. I had no control over any of it anymore. After accepting the fact that I may literally die, after facing the fact that I may not be able to be with my children for homeschooling or to see them graduate or get married, after accepting that I may never meet my grandkids or grow old with my husband and after fully surrendering to the fact that this may be the path God had for me, then, my sweet Jesus gave me a little tiny glimmer. A glimmer of hope

    Finally, The Answers I Needed!

    My new Functional Doctor at the time had mentioned in my first visit with her (when I was tested for Mono) the term GAPS Diet. This was a game changer for me! It was during those late night suffering sessions that I watched videos, learned, and researched Hashimotos, what was going wrong with my body and the GAPS diet.

    I decided to start GAPS

    What did I have to lose anyway? I was already on my death bed and I was barely surviving. I was going all in with this diet, which, in God’s, grace, providence and sovereignty, He led me to.

    At my sickest

    GAPS was the best thing I had done for my health in about 7 years of problem after problem and getting worse and worse with no help at all from conventional medicine.

    Overnight I went from eating a diet full of grains, legumes, starches, meats and some veggies to what I call the “Bare Bones” which was homemade bone broth, basic, “clean,” organic or pastured cooked meats and all organic cooked veggies. My parents did the shopping and a lot of chopping when I couldn’t which was most of the time.

    Within one week of eating this way the change I noticed in my energy and how I felt was remarkable! It was so motivating. What I was doing was the intro stage to the GAPS diet. Turns out I had to be on the intro stage of the GAPS diet for four months. This is a stage that most people are on for one to two weeks! Even in this phase of the diet there were certain things I could not tolerate. I could not even eat onions or garlic (and many other clean good veggies) due to a detox reaction I would have. There is a lot of sulfur in these foods and they have A LOT of antioxidants which for me, would cause me to detox quicker and put me into more of a healing crisis. I had to take it slow, very, very slow.

    GAPS Was a Long Journey But Well Worth It

    As I healed my gut through the GAPS diet, which included eliminating every single potential trigger food, and introducing filler free, clean probiotics and killing some parasites, I started to be able to function at a better level day by day. I would still itch intensely. Sometimes so intense I would call up my husband at work and say I am done. I would ask him to just put me in an asylum while crying out in tears.

    In the middle of my GAPS Journey, although I was healing, I was struggling because I had developed such an intense fear of food. I never knew which food I put in my body would make me react or not. I could not take normal showers either. My skin was so trashed and broken that if water touched it, it caused severe pain. Water could definitely not touch my arms or neck which were in the worst condition. I implemented Epsom salt baths and only got parts of my body wet that wouldn’t cause intense pain. These baths were ultra healing, relaxing and helped to give my body back the magnesium it so much needed as well as gently detox my system. I just held on to the little things. They got me through. Just being able to have energy back was a big deal. Being able to wake up more refreshed after 8 hours of sleep instead of 13 helped get me through those really hard GAPS days.

    It took me over 30 years of my life to get into the health crisis that I was in and so healing would be slow going and not happen overnight. I had to remind myself of that often!

    I spent a total of seven months following the GAPS diet 100%. I never cheated or swayed. I absolutely couldn’t or I knew I would not be able to function. There were many, many hard days. I went through holidays and social functions on this diet and adapted. I brought my own food. It brought up a lot of conversation with people. I knew that potentially I could be on this diet for one to two years and I am thankful looking back that it was only seven month

    This health journey has ignited a passion in me that I didn’t even know existed. Do you know who knew though? God did. He knew all this was going to happen. He would turn my ashes to beauty. In one of my prayers to him during my sickest times was that when he allowed me to be healed, I would glorify Him in this. He allowed GAPS to work in my life. He put all the right people in the right places on my journey. He put all the pieces together for me. He picked up my limp 96 pound noodle of a body and said “Keep fighting, be victorious in Me!” Jesus Christ is my Jehovah Rapha, my Great Healer.

    96 pounds and healing

    Where I Am Now

    I knew after completing my GAPs Journey I would need to eat an AIP and/or Paleo Diet to continue to steer clear of the food triggers that caused my gut to become so compromised. After the 7 months, when I slowly started reintroductions, one at a time, I was able to pinpoint the exact foods that caused my symptoms and flare up. That was also a slow process but very much worth the time to figure it out.

    I have been eating this way for years now and truly love it. There are still some hard days but I feel the best I ever have in my life. I no longer have Asthma (I believe that initially going gluten free years ago healed that – read long version of the story for that.) I rarely get headaches. I don’t itch or have burning, flaky skin, unless I eat too much carbohydrates, starches or unrefined sugars and I sleep like a baby. My energy is like that of a teenager and I have been able to put my Hashimotos antibodies in normal range, and remit my hair loss and in turn remitting damage being done to my thyroid. The healing happened by God’s amazing grace and mercy on me. He showed me the way to changing my diet one hundred and eighty degrees as well as my lifestyle (the tools I cook with, toiletries, cosmetics, cleaners and more.)

    Today I love to help people find their way through the maze that it feels like to go from barely surviving to thriving. God has blessed me and allowed me to use this trial in my life to guide others and I am grateful that this challenge has not gone to waste. Feasting On Joy is one facet of how I help people. If you are local, I will meet with you in person. Someday, Lord willing, it will not only be limited to those who are local.

    Photo of me Thriving

    To you, my friend, be encouraged! The road of healing and sacrifice you are on is WELL WORTH IT! Truly living the live you are meant to live by thriving rather than just surviving is a wonderful gift not to be taken for granted. The time, commitment and finances on this journey are well worth it when you see the results! God’s grace doesn’t just stop with me, it extends to you too! Hold on to Him tightly!

    {If you would like a bit more detail – some people do – then please feel free to read my longer version health story. It has many details filled in between the lines like my ALCAT trials, marital stressors, baby days and more about my lifestyle that contributed to my lowest low.}

    Psalm 30:2 O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

     

     

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