It took a moment of tragedy to bring clarification to my goals. Now I finally feel ready to share the journey so far….
I’ve been waiting to share my story of going gluten-free because I’m still very new to all of this. I wasn’t even sure what “My Story” was. Did I have one? Like most newbies, I’m struggling to figure out everything there is to know. I guess “my story” is just beginning, growing, getting off the ground and finding it’s place. Unlike Andrea who is a seasoned pro, I’ve been a part of the gluten-free world for almost 2 years, and it’s an ever changing world that I am studying daily.
It was after my second pregnancy that I noticed a change in my body. New symptoms arose that had my husband and I concerned. Almost every time I ate a meal, I’d feel tired and sick shortly after. In fact, it became an act of sheer will to keep going at my usual high-speed pace with the kids and daily family life. Secretly inside I just wanted to fall on the couch and give in to the dark fatigue that pulled at me. I began to bruise like a peach, well, more like a old fallen half rotten peach. A simple touch to the arm or leg could result in a big dark bruise that looked worse than actuality. Never prone to headaches before, they became my daily companion along with sever neck and back pain. My stomach would often cramp and my digestion never felt normal. By the end of each day I was light headed by simple tasks and it was difficult to carry my baby. I sensed within myself that these symptoms were all connected.
My mother lives a gluten-free life as she was diagnosed with a form of chrones disease several years ago. Luckily she is okay and healthier than ever once adjusting her diet. So the gluten-free idea wasn’t abstract to me and I had a feeling after some time that this was the direction I was heading. My symptoms matched the ones my mother used to talk about.
Finally, while visiting family in Utah this past December, I went to my mother’s doctor to do some extensive blood testing. The results came back in January and were very clear: Gluten was damaging my body. Because I was so weak, other foods also tested intolerable for me at the time, including dairy, eggs, almonds, rice, cocoa, yeast, soy, peanuts and sugar. That list you see there makes is nearly impossible to find anything to eat!
Back in Hawaii now, and searching for a doctor who could help me, I did the only thing I knew to do: Go completely OFF the harmful foods and eat as pure and clean as possible. This meant for me basically only fruits and veggies, some corn products, learning how to use potatoes again, beans, and meat. As you can imagine, I was hungry ALL the time. I felt like I was fasting 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But the worst symptoms quickly began to disappear so I stuck to my guns. Hungry or not, I was determined to get better.
The search for a knowledgeable doctor was slow and difficult where we live. Options on an island are limited, I ended up having to fly to Maui to see someone who had ideas on diagnostics. In the middle of March, just one week before I was to be tested for a cause of the food intolerance, I got the wonderful news I was pregnant again! Well, Yee-haw!! My husband and I were thrilled with the news and couldn’t wait to see our family grow. But to protect the baby, the tests were postponed for a year and I was left to wonder what my “diagnosis” was. Am I celiac? Do I have chrones like my mother? Or am I simply intolerant? I haven’t had very much time to get strong. I went off the harmful foods just this January and I’ve read it can take an adult one to two years to get fully back normal levels of health.
I figured the less I dwell on the problem and the more I focus on the path to health, the better off I’d be. SO that’s what I did. A clean healthy body is all I allowed myself to think about. Besides the usual 1st trimester abilities of having a nose like a bloodhound and a nasty feeling in my belly all the time, I felt pretty good considering the situation at hand. But I still had silent fears, “My body can hardly absorb enough nutrients for myself right now, is the baby going to get what he needs? Will the baby take priority and my body be left frail and incapable?…..” I became obsessed with drinking nutrient packed green smoothies every day to give ourselves a fighting chance at this.
Recently, my story took a turn in an unexpected direction. I feel compelled to share my experience here…. maybe out of hope, maybe out of the desire to heal, or maybe just because this blog is a passion and an outlet and an expression of who Andrea and I are, and it seems only fitting I’m honest with everyone. At 12 weeks pregnant I suffered a miscarriage. I visited my midwife when I realized what might be happening, and she told me from the ultrasound results it just wasn’t meant to be. She calmed my fears that it was not ME who caused something to go wrong. “Even if you sat in bed all day and ate the perfect diet of pure nutrients constantly, this one wouldn’t have worked.” That was good to learn but doesn’t make the loss something less, so my husband took me home and we held each other all night.
Because this was my first miscarriage, and I hadn’t any close family members who’d ever experienced one, I didn’t know what to expect. To make a long traumatic story short, I think I waited too long to get help as the situation worsened. What I remember goes something like this: I blacked out in the shower, an ambulance was called, in the ER my blood pressure dropped to 60/30 and I went into shock. The last thing I recall was being rushed into surgery as the nurses hollered for the doctor to hurry up quick.
After a successful procedure, a few blood transfusions, and a day spent laying in the hospital (because simply sitting up would cause me to faint), I was deemed well enough to go home and recover with my family. Now that I’m here, alive and hugging my two beautiful daughters and embracing my doting husband, it’s all I can do to think about the beauty and grace found in life! I’m blessed to have family around; they’re taking the reins for me now while I work up the strength move around freely again. Apparently my body has a lot of blood it needs to make.
And speaking of strength, it’s my ultimate goal now – even more than before – to get as healthy as humanly possible! In the most natural way of course. I am going to tackle this challenge in front of me with all the knowledge and resources I have available, and every day I’ll be seeking for even more. Luckily I have people in my life to use as role models, with Andrea and my Mother at the top! I want to protect my family, and myself, by feeding them pure & true foods that will give us the strength to live this life the way it was meant to be. That includes some fun too, health doesn’t mean boring and mundane… the blessing of life is to be had in fullness and joy!
So, this brings me to the now. I invite you along with me as “my story” keeps pushing it’s way forward. As Andrea and I have said before, we love to share. It’s how our happiness is multiplied. I’ll continue to share with you the road ahead and all that is discovered there. This road hopefully is full of beautiful vistas and adventures, clearly some bumps and pits will be there too, but all we can do is to take those in stride. Thank you for this moment and for the genuine and kind support we’ve received already.
Here’s to the moment! Here’s to the fun we’ll have, the beauty we’ll enjoy, and the memories that’ll be created. Oh, and I’ll be sure to make creativity & passion an ingredient in every recipe too
Read Andrea’s Gluten Free Story here, she is my inspiration and greatest support.
I want to thank and send love to my precious family, Phil, Teya, and Eden for the joy and love and support (and patience) you give me every day. You are the reason.
**Please note that Andrea and I are not doctors, nor are we specialists in any form. We are merely women who have experienced things first hand and have researched the issue in depth. If there is anything we can do to help you, if this is a path you think will benefit your health, it would be our greatest pleasure in doing so. Let this section be a place we can learn from each other on making healthier wiser choices and take care of our bodies… in the most delicious way possible of course.