Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mommy, My Tummy Hurts.

My daughter shared her drawing with me this week. She told me that gluten makes her feel sick – so these are her enemies.

It’s never a good thing, when a child tells you their stomach hurts. Most moms might think, great – a stomach bug is coming on – bring on the barf pails and Lysol.

At our house, it’s been a regularly occurring saying for quite some time. Years actually.

I’ve just assumed most of it was in their heads… After all, my stomach hurt most of the time – that’s pretty normal in my mind. Just relax, pray, think of something else.

All the while – I realize, it’s not like pushing the “easy” button when something is going on inside your body that you can’t control.

Last year I thought my daughter had really started stressing out more, having more anxiety, and I was just SURE she had inherited my digestive system… I figured it was hormones. When my 5-year-old son started in with the “my tummy” hurts (and he’s had GI issues, since age 1), and refusing some snacks recently… I really started thinking something could be going on.

But what?

Little did I know in a few short months, we’d be connecting the dots for our family…

That rash my oldest 4 children get, that seems to never go away… is more than just eczema. The tummy aches, head aches, asthma and behavioral issues REALLY could be all connected.

My 12-year-old son’s dermatitis herpetiformis – elbow.

My daughter’s dermatitis herpetiformis – elbows, knees, hands. Yes, it itches something terrible.

When I inquired about it being a celiac rash (dermatitis herpetiformis) last month at the Dr’s office, I was about 100% positive that’s what it was. Even when my daughter’s blood test for celiac disease came back negative, I<already knew differently.

Apparently, again, the blood test doesn’t allow for what a skin test would show. Her body was saying, “Stop feeding me gluten!”

I’m happy to report, after only one week off of gluten – there has been much improvement at our house. My children with the rashes have almost NO burning, itching rash … which is the first time in YEARS.

Yes, that confirms what I suspected…celiac disease. But I’m happy to have an answer, and way to help them. As my friend said – our food IS our medicine.

All of the children have been so happy to feel well, and have been great about all of the changes. Personally I just want to cry with joy, I’m so thankful to have all of the puzzle pieces fit and KNOW how to help my kids, and myself.

Yes, they may be living without some things, according to the world of indulgence. However, the gift of health will be worth SO much more.

Praise God.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

Why Label Reading Is Important

I know we’ve touched on this before, but an article I read today reminded me just WHY it’s so important to be your own advocate when buying products, or perhaps a reminder on why to buy fewer products (in a box) altogether.

The marketing word “natural” is over used, and under monitored. In fact, there aren’t regulations on using the word at all. It seems the word organic can be used freely as well.

What a shame.

Several cereals, many found in the organic section of your local stores, were tested with disappointing results. Cornucopia Institute (www.Cornucopia.org) shared the study late last year.

Read the cereal scorecard here.

Food that is genetically engineered, is just that… ENGINEERED. Chemically processed to manipulate your mind and body, and we’re falling for it when we don’t read what is in our foods – and take the marketing on the box as truth. Often times the food is made addicting, and we crave more of it… but we don’t know why. We just think it’s GOOD. MSG and sugar are infused into these goods, and we’re consuming them left and right.

Read up! Let me know what you think. I know we have a few boxes of the Puffins and have also eaten some Kashi cereals as well.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Proverbs 1:7

What Gluten Intolerance Looks & Feels Like

After reading on celiac disease, I honestly wish I would have known a sliver of the information before my first question to my doctor about how I was feeling.  I wish I hadn’t discounted much of how I was feeling, and symptoms I had… especially as they worsened.  I think if I would have, he would have tied them together much sooner.

Would have, could have, should have…

It doesn’t change the now factor.  It happened the way God wanted it to, in His time.

When you’re a busy, tired parent, it’s easy to excuse some of your symptoms as normal…  you may assume you’re just stressed, or tired, perhaps you have a little bug.  My allergies were really bad this spring, and I had just stopped nursing the baby.  It was hard to know what was going on with my hormones, I’ve been pregnant or nursing for the past 12 years.

I can totally see why people end up treating every other ailment, completely missing the very cause of what is continuing to make them sick – day after day, meal after meal.

NOW that I look back – it’s much easier to see the path of destruction – but in the middle of it, it’s very difficult.

I thought celiac disease meant people couldn’t have breads.  I knew it was deeper than that, but that was the main thing I thought.  I grew up on wheat bread.  The IBS I had was sporadic, so I knew it couldn’t be that…  and although several times my mom said, “it must be some preservative that is making you sick,” when I was in high school…  I knew it would be a needle in haystack, so I thought I’d just deal with that symptom for the rest of my life.

Again, I always thought my fingernails were just weak.  I never thought that it was a lack of vitamin absorption.

The bloating… as it worsened, I knew something was wrong.  I just didn’t know what.  It wasn’t a normal, “wow, I’m full” feeling.  It was more of someone taking an air pump and blowing up my stomach until it was just plain painful, and hard to the touch.  Sitting hurt – and my left side and rib always felt bruised afterwards.

On the left, normal me - on the right, 15 minutes after ingesting 2 bites of wheat bread.  My stomach would get hard - like I was pregnant and it hurt.

About that same time, I got a rash on my back.  I never had back acne or issues like that – so I couldn’t figure out what it was.  It was like little blisters, and it itched like crazy.  After reading more, I realized it was probably a celiac rash – I’ve finally connected that it would have been worth it to mention it to the Dr!  Write weird symptoms down.

Since there are over 300 symptoms, and they vary for everyone – it can be really hard to tell,  especially if you’re just used to some of the symptoms.  You accept them as “normal for you.”

Now I can totally attach the toe cramping/charlie horses I would get – to when I would ingest the most gluten (1 piece of bread, and 1/2 cookie).  The day after that I would feel hung over from a major brain fog and mouth sores.

With symptoms coming and going, waxing and waning … and not realizing what all GLUTEN was in, it’s not a wonder most people can’t figure out what is going on.  Not to mention the brain fog makes you so confused!  I would forget how to type, or talk – and thinking straight with focus was a challenge.

I read so many stories of people who went for YEARS with symptoms, and no answers…  testing negative, only to test positive 2-5 years later.  I would read those stories of people who had similar symptoms to mine and cry.

I DO NOT WANT THAT TO BE ME and I can’t stand feeling like this.  Please God, let us find out what is wrong.

I wanted to share my pictures, because when I found pictures like this, it solidified my suspicious feelings on just what was occurring within my digestive system.  Hoping someone else can be helped like I was!  Remember, not everyone has GI issues or symptoms at all, so even if you don’t have the symptoms I do – that doesn’t mean you can rule out celiac disease.

The bottom line is – you know your body, you know what is normal for you – and when you feel sick, or you know something is wrong – it’s important to take note.  You may not think different symptoms are related – but you never know, they could be!  I’ve never wanted to be the patient that came in for everything – so I had a really hard time calling and pestering my Dr’s office for test results, even at my sickest point.  I just kept updating the nurses when they would report to me that yet another test came back that, “everything looks normal”…  However, I did myself an injustice by not being more bold.  I think I had become too weak to fight…

While everyone was comforting me that it was as blessing nothing major was wrong – and I half-heartedly agreed, I knew in my heart there was INDEED something majorly wrong, we just hadn’t found it yet.  Something FOR SURE wasn’t right.

Praise be to God that I’m on the road to better health.  It was a long 3 months – (especially for anyone who had to listen to me rack my scrambled brain for what was making me sick!), but I’m so very thankful for all of you who have helped me, and who continue to be encouraging on this new path we’re traveling.  I thank God for you!

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. 
He cares for those who trust in Him,”

Nahum 1:7

Pizza – THAT Sounds Good!

I’m all about great tasting food.  After settling for bland the past few months, I have been excited about tasting some things I was missing.

While scouring my 4-ingredient cook book, I stumbled upon some great ideas that seem more like other things we’ve eaten in the past.  Things that would work for myself – and my whole family (so I wasn’t making two meals when avoidable!)  Not to mention, it was also an affordable option.

So I gathered up my ingredients for these easy, healthier pizzas:

Food for Life GF Tortillas 6pk – these were SUPER yummy.

Some Amy’s Tomato Basil Sauce. (Also GF, and for me, this made the punch – YUM!)

So, I added some shredded chicken, prepared with GF chicken broth, from our meal the night before and topped with cheeses.

Now here’s where things went wrong for me…  and I guess I had to make the mistake to figure out what my body was thinking buuut….  I had read most hard cheeses are ok (and gluten-free), but mozzarella wasn’t on that list [I realized later].  As if that wasn’t bad enough,  I know I’m lactose intolerant but I was just hoping, on a whim, that might have been a fluke due to my body being disgruntled about the gluten.

Organic cheddar and mozzarella that we shredded.

So you see here I put only cheddar on a few pizzas, and I was going to keep mine with just cheddar.   However, in the mix of making dinner, and being hungry, and 500 questions, and tripping over feet like an obstacle course in my kitchen (why again did we build a larger home if we were all going to live in a 2 ft square?)…  Anyway – I forgot.  Call me a rookie.

It hit me about 5 minutes into eating it… but I was thinking about how GOOD it was at that point – and I shut out that I was going to regret eating it.  I had 3 small pieces of the whole pizza.

And they were VERY good.

But I felt like I was trapped in my skin all night… and I was swollen and sore for 2 days and back came the head fog.  Boo to the cheese!

How’s that for color? Wa-lah!

I spent that night and a majority of the next day beating myself up for making such a silly mistake, that hurt myself again.  I need to give myself a little grace… it is a lot to remember – I just wish the effects didn’t last so long, or you could just take an epi-pen and make them go away, once you realized it!

Silly cheese, you won’t trick me again!

I will be going back to cheese-less pizza from now on.  I will continue making this for my kids because it was great, and we all loved it.  We just baked them at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; 
He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Psalm 55:22

Isn’t That Expensive?

I remember thinking, “Wow, organic food is so much more expensive… is it worth it?”

Well, the same thing came across my mind in regards to GLUTEN FREE foods. Is it worth it? It seems to cost so much more. This is going too add up fast.

Certainly if you don’t have to go gluten-free, it’s not some how the magic key to good health – although, some might argue that point {and I might even agree}. However, often times when the food makers take out those (normally) good grains, they must substitute with other additives… BUT, if that’s your option to be healthy for Him, than guess what?

It’s worth it.

To me, the cost of additional health visits, and medications used to try to fix the ailments I might have from eating gluten… will certainly be out weighed by ensuring I’m not causing further damage to my body. I’m thinking of it as an investment in my body to be a good steward of what I’ve been blessed with.

So, that said… we have been frequenting many grocery stores lately… in search of some staples I need. Some I’ve acquired over the past month or so (like G-FREE peanut butter), but I needed other things like vanilla, mayo, pizza sauce, salsa, bread, flours, mixes – all in G-FREE format… to name a few. While I’ll use most of them sparingly, I need to have them on hand so that my excuse is to either not make something, or accidentally continue injuring myself. Looking through the cook books gave me some ideas on things I could make that we ALL could enjoy, so I wasn’t making two separate dishes at each meal, every time. We’ve cleared a space, and tossed a bunch of foods to make things function a bit smoother for meal planning and prep.

While at our Friday date at the home schooling conference, we stopped by a WHOLE FOODS store afterwards. It took us over an hour to get through the store, but it was so worth it. We looked at oils, mixes, baked goods, breads and everything I might think about wanting to eat, but felt like I couldn’t… [and by the way, I know the packaging looks different on many of these foods – but so far, everything has been VERY tasty.]

It’s truly amazing to eat some of these things and not feel sick or bloat afterwards. It’s a strange feeling, to say the least. I might start being a whole lot LESS picky on my tastes, if I know it won’t make me sick and crazy!

We decided we’d be trying to go back once a month if possible. Locally, our major grocery stores do have a decent G-FREE assortment. I’m thankful for that – but it is nice to get outside of the box sometimes. I bought 3 lbs of shredded organic turkey and made my first batch of G-FREE turkey nuggets from this recipe. Everyone loved them.

I count my blessings know how far things have come for those who need G-Free foods. My good friend Kori has a son with celiac disease, and she had to drive an hour to get his foods to prepare each week – WAY before most people even had heard of celiac diease or cared about what gluten even was. The way I figure it, I have it pretty easy. Praise be to God for having great food in this country, and options on how to get it to our homes and mouths.

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Psalm 16:8

What To Eat?

So, I mentioned I found some helpful cookbooks at the bookstore.  The next question I had was…what CAN I eat?

Love this cookbook, lots of great ideas that are practical and delicious. Helpful for a newbie like myself.

If you’re ever looking for more veggie dishes to make yourself or your family, vegetarian cookbooks are super helpful.

I was relieved to find these great books, as well as lots of online resources.  GLU-ten is hidden in a lot of foods as a preservative or binding compound…  but it’s also in other things I needed to be watchful for.  Mainly, GLUE or things that might have glue type properties.  Licking envelopes, and things like tile grout have gluten in them too.  Not that you’re ingesting grout – but it is a powder, it’s difficult to control.  The more I learned, the more I realized WHY my friend said she would pray for discernment for me, with EVERYTHING I put into my mouth and came in contact with.  It’s a great thing I’m up on how to read labels – praise be to God!

I can eat my sweet potato chips.  THAT is great news, since that was a majority of my carb intake before.  I think it’s NOT a wonder that I loved them so much, they didn’t make me sick!  I can also eat all of the beautiful fruits and vegetables God made for us to enjoy.  SO thankful!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  Matthew 6:25-27

Meeting Myself Face-to-Face [PART FOUR]

The bookstore was a disappointment.  While I found some great cookbooks on gluten-free/vegan, I found nothing on celiac disease.

Up and down the aisles I went.  I really started to feel discouraged.  Maybe celiac disease was SO rare, that there was NO WAY I had it.

I bought a few cookbooks, and a book on food allergies, and off I went to the library.

The library proved to be much more helpful.  I got plenty of great books and I returned home to bury myself in reading during any free moment I had.

Hands down, this book was the most helpful in realizing this described everything I was feeling.

The more I read, the more I KNEW this is what I had.  But I also realized, I probably wasn’t going to be testing positive… because I was simply not eating enough gluten.

After a follow-up appointment to my Dr for one of my children, he inquired about my health and I told him what was going on.  I asked again about the celiac panel, and he then agreed we could try that.

If only I would have known to start here BEFORE making any changes.

It was negative.

Although I wasn’t surprised, as only 15% of people diagnosed, get a positive with a blood test.  It was still a few weeks to my GI appointment at this point.  I figured I could keep a bit of gluten in my diet until my test and perhaps they could do a biopsy and it would show up.

The Dr. then ordered a CT scan.   After previously denying that test out of frustration of “tests” with no answers…  I consented to the test.  Another fairly simple test.  Fast, drink some citrus/glue-tasting stuff, [actually a whole LOT of that disgusting stuff] and with some contrast dye from an IV, they took pictures to see what was going on.  Fifteen minutes and done.  Easy.

After that test, I was reading about something called a “gluten challenge” – where a patient who has gone off of gluten must eat 4-6 pieces of bread a day for 6 weeks, to ensure there is enough to cause a reaction.  That night, I took 2 bites of a multigrain bread for dinner, and the reactions almost took me to the ER.  I bloated within 15 minutes, the pain, cramping, head issues went on for about 5 hours.  The next day I felt like I had been run over by a semi.

It was VERY difficult to eat gluten after going gluten-free.  After that day, I knew I couldn’t do the gluten challenge.  I started realizing all of the hidden places gluten liked to hang out, and WHY it wasn’t obvious to me sooner as to what was making me sick.  Not only that,  apparently, after you continue cutting more gluten out, your body reacts stronger when you try to add it back in.  I ate some salsa a day later, and on day 2 realized it was the salsa making me sick – yes, after I had ingested it TWICE.  Diarrhea plagued me after that, all Easter weekend.

That Monday, the Dr’s office told me that the CT scan was normal.  Apparently I just needed to take some laxative.  I let the nurse know my body already took care of that.  I’m pretty sure they thought I was a hypochondriac.  Ironic, since I did feel so irritable on gluten I thought I might be going crazy!

The more I read however, everything said …. the BIGGEST MISTAKE people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance can do, is to go OFF gluten before being tested.  Personally, I don’t see how that’s possible (to stay on gluten while awaiting months of testing) – if you were like me, and realized what was going on.  The first thing you want to do – is to feel well so you STOP eating those things that make you sick, or stop eating period.  The LAST THING you want to do is to continue poisoning your body… and withering away.  I know in my heart that God blessed me with enough information to protect me from things reaching that level.  I don’t know WHY, but it’s part of the reason I feel led to share my story.

I tried to keep some gluten in my system the week before my GI test, but I knew in my heart it probably wouldn’t help.  I just wanted to try – anything to get some solid answers.

I went into the GI appointment [yes, I skipped the prep part of the story to spare you – it’s horrid, but it’s essential] relieved {literally}, to be at the end of my journey, and I awaited the answers with hope.

This is me, right before we left for my test. I actually felt really good this day. Amazing – all toxic gluten – GONE from my system!

Following my appointment, and feeling well, I tried again to tolerate some comfort foods – but after two days of severe gluten reactions, God gave me the peace I needed, to know in my heart the answer – before I had the results to the test.  I knew it would be a long shot for the results to show enough damage.  I was basically eating gluten light before February with cheese being my number one source of gluten.  Then I ate gluten-free to gluten lite after the Dr. directed me to get rid of lactose…  and I couldn’t eat the amount needed to show the test otherwise.  Not only I couldn’t, I wouldn’t.  I was sick of being sick – and looking forward to feeling healthy.

So Thursday, April 19th, I went back to gluten-free – for GOOD.  I will be meeting with my family Dr. to seek genetic testing – for the sake of our children, and I meet with the GI Dr also at the end of next month.  I have no regrets, or doubts of my diagnosis.  The past years, as I’ve been trying my hardest to eat well, exercise and feel good – my body has been slowly trying to tell me that it’s not getting the vitamins it needs, because it hasn’t been able to absorb them!  Mostly I’m thankful to know now, vs. when I have intestinal cancer.  Sadly, 27% of people who have symptoms and test negative, continue searching for what is making them sick – never retest, and they wind up being positive for celiacs disease when it’s too late.

I always had indented “spoon-like” nails when not pregnant. I just thought I had bad nails. Another sign of a vitamin deficiency that celiacs have.

I’m on day 3, and feeling great.  My swelling has gone down,  no belly aches, bloating or cramping and NO REGRETS. 🙂  I’m more clear-headed than I’ve felt in months – no more forgetting how to speak, as if I were having a stroke.  It’s only going to get better from here!

Here’s to being healthier for HIM!  (and for His peace in times of confusion!)  It’s a strange feeling, but I truly feel like God is allowing me to understanding just how He created me and I’m so thankful.  When I look in the mirror, I finally understand just how this body works!  Thank you God for helping me meet myself face-to-face and for allowing my body to be healthy enough to carry 8 healthy children. [Amazing how we are designed in such a way that would be possible – yes?]

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Cor. 10:31

Meeting Myself Face-to-Face [PART THREE]

I love learning about new things to cook for my family.  What is your favorite healthy cookbook?

As I made my appointment for the following week, I continued cutting out more and more lactose containing foods.

My weekly half – buttermilk donut… gone!  Seems odd that would make a difference.  After all, HOW many months did I eat half of a donut on daily basis?

I decided I’d try a few bites of their sourdough one instead.

REALLY bad idea.  After feeling flu-ish and cramping all through church that Sunday, my husband suggested a quick trip to get our weekly things from Wal-mart.  I thought I might pass out in the store.  Hot flashes, and cold sweats.  I took my temperature when we returned home.  Nothing.

I ran to the bathroom and proceeded to throw up the entire contents of my stomach.  JOY.

I passed out on the bed from exhaustion, not eating lunch, and slept for a good 2 hours.  I woke up feeling much better, but with a headache.  This wasn’t the flu.  My body was rejecting food, and carbs seemed to be clogging up my instestines.  I just didn’t know what to think.

Wednesday couldn’t get here soon enough.  Day after day – I would eat, feel uncomfortable and not be able to sit for hours after eating.  The pain was crazy, my joints hurt from swelling and my mind was in chronic hazy-fog.  I would wake up with fingers and feet swollen and hurting.  I remembered these symptoms now and again, but it was becoming a frequent occurence and worsening daily.

WHAT IN THE WORLD COULD BE GOING ON?

Finally, I got to talk to my Dr.

After listening to my recent ailments, and my commentary that I’ve always struggled with “IBS” symptoms, I asked about possibly celiac disease, or crohns.  He assured me it wasn’t celiacs, stating how rare it was, and the test was expensive – but he did want to rule out crohns or any other stomach bacteria that can cause similar issues.  While pressing around my stomach, he realized how tender my left side was – especially under my ribs about where my stomach and small intestine lie.

“We need to check out your gall bladder,” he stated.  “When people lose a lot of weight, that’s the first organ to give people problems.”

So although I didn’t have any pain where my gall bladder was (on the right side, mine was all on the left), he thought it was worth a look.  We scheduled an abdominal sonogram, and a full blood work up to check my thryoid, cholesterol, and wbc.  His office scheduled an upper and lower GI for shortly after mid-April – a month and a half away.

The blood test showed nothing alarming.  In fact, I looked in perfect health.

The abdominal scan results came back normal also.  That was March 5th.

Next the Dr. ordered a HIDA test for March 15th.  It’s a fairly easy test that just requires you not eat a few hours before, and you must lie still on your back for about 2 hours.  They run a solution through an IV, to check the function of your gall bladder.  Everything looked normal, no blockages or anything to report.

The pain intensified and after another long week of worsening symptoms, losing weight and headaches from not enough calories…  I was losing the desire to want to eat at all.  It was my turn to take our daughter out to breakfast Friday morning, so I did.  I enjoy a waffle (no butter), a few eggs and bacon…

On the way home my foggy brain started feeling like I might be having a stroke.  I kept taking deep breaths and trying not to panic, but something WASN’T right.  The worsening vertigo, and my vision issues were throwing me for a loop.  Maybe I was just tired.  I was feeling tired a lot, despite plenty of rest, water and good nutrition.

I continued exercising – just for shorter periods, getting my weights in…. and making sure I wasn’t over doing it with my decrease in calories.  I didn’t want to just feel sick – I was going to fight to feel well again. GOD, please give me the strength!

By March 19th I hit 121 lbs, and I just stopped all carbs.  I tied almost every connection of feeling very ill to meals that involved any type of bread-like substance. I decided I needed to figure out how to get nutrition in me through out the day – and I planned out separate meals from my family that included no carbs at all.  I felt better… sometimes – but still not right.

Several people mentioned to write down what I was eating… and I tried that.  I never could seem to find a connection that “fit” – as to why I would feel better or worse.  It just seemed like I always felt bad, and some days I felt REALLY bad.

I figured if I could at least STOP losing weight… I would be ok.  I needed to function for my family, so if that meant green smoothies with almond milk for lunch, and plain eggs for breakfast – I could get through.  There had to be an answer somewhere!

It was about this time that my friend mentioned celiacs to me again.  I ignorantly assured her it wasn’t that.  After all, I KNEW someone who had celiacs.  She was really sick to the point of being hospitalized… I wasn’t having chronic diarrhea all the time.  In fact, if I wasn’t under stress, I was swinging the other way.  A recent client also had a daughter with celiacs – she stopped eating, and my friend’s son had celiacs, no GI symptoms but during puberty he just didn’t follow the growth chart.  Nope, it definitely wasn’t celiacs.

Then I goggled celiac diease…

WOW.

The symptoms were endless, and many of them sounded oh TOO familiar.

–         Foggy mind / vertigo / floor moving feeling

–         Leg cramps/foot Charlie horse where toes feel uncontrollably stuck

–         Feet/legs falling asleep often

–         Tingling throat, like sore – when not

–         Severe bloating (as if I were 5 months pregnant)

–         Diarrhea/constipation (despite lots of water/exercise?) Always the two extremes.

–         Tar-like stools

–         Gas – malodorous

–         Swelling of fingers/ feet when not eating sodium filled foods

–         Stomach cramps, pain – left side – starting at under ribs, sometimes entire left side.

–         Lump-like area when bloating is really hard – left side.

–         joint pain

–         mouth sores

God was teaching me patience.  My GI appointment was still a LONG way away.  Maybe I should get some books on the subject and read up, as well as grab some information on what to cook books I need that can keep me from losing more weight.  Of to the book store and library I went!

[to be continued…]

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

Meeting Myself Face-to-Face [PART TWO]

Was I healed from my digestive issues after pregnancy?

Not quite.

The earliest I can remember having digestive issues again, was last spring. I know I slowed down nursing my daughter around that time as she was eating more table foods, but perhaps just my hormones levels were dropping as well.   At any rate… I started having upset stomachs – a lot. I mostly noticed symptoms after dinner, but it increasingly got worse throughout the year.

The gas.  It was toxic.  During workouts he would tease me, but it was more than just occasional bad gas…  I had other weird symptoms.  I tacked them up to perimenopause, or “something I ate”… but I knew I was at the top of my game.  I was healthy, eating right… other than my stomach – I felt great.

Fall came and went, and my husband begged to me to mention my issues to our Dr at a well child visit. I reluctantly promised that I would.

How embarrassing.

WHO wants to ask about BAD GAS and bloating on the side of a well visit appointment?  It didn’t seem very lady-like, but I asked just the same.

The Dr was super about it, he immediately suggested I might be lactose intolerant.  I was to cut out dairy, and try that.

OH MY! I was so relieved!   “Just” cut out dairy? That’s easy enough…

and so, for the next month I did.

Later, when I tallied up how much dairy I actually ate at that point, and realized I didn’t really even eat that much. I cut out milk 6 years ago, and other than my yogurt cup in the morning, and a small spoonful of cottage cheese on my daily salad… I didn’t consume anything else but perhaps some processed cheese in a casserole or soup.  So unless it was in something baked, I wasn’t consuming much dairy.   All in all, cutting out the cheese helped some.   But it almost seemed as if the bloating and pain were getting worse and other symptoms were that I had been passing off – were also more noticeable…  More foods that were upsetting me, mainly – were anything carb related… and I didn’t tie them together as all being related until later on.

and then “IT” hit.

We were having painters come to paint the house, remember our fresh coat of paint? Well, having people in my house while I’m trying to do school STRESSES ME OUT and my stomach just went haywire.  I was sick, sick, sick those weeks – but sicker than I’ve ever been with “IBS” issues.  Maybe it was because I had so much to do, maybe I was just tired… maybe… I just didn’t know what.

Again, it didn’t seem to matter what I ate, the bloating, and instant diarrhea – I would felt like I was in a terrible fog, fighting to function through our daily life.  At a borderline LOW BMI, I looked 5 months pregnant following meals.  My stomach could get rock hard, and my left side cramped.  The pain was right under my ribs, and it hurt to sit.  My organs felt bruised.

When my husband told me he had to run a load of boots out to a store, I literally cried.   I didn’t know how I was going to function, but he had a lot of stress at work, and I wanted to support him going. He left early, and promised me he’d be back before evening. I was certain I could be strong, and prayed God could get me through the day.

As I struggled to make it to the bathroom that day, I laid out like a lifeless thug on the table while we worked our way through school. My head hurt, my body hurt… I felt like someone had been shaking my brain all up and I couldn’t think.  It was more than sleep deprivation I’ve had with newborns, this was with plenty of sleep, exercise and good nutrition – AND lactose cut out.  Something was very wrong…. I decided I definitely needed to see the Dr again, and soon.

[to be continued…]

“Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”  Philippians 3:16

Meeting Myself, Face to Face [PART ONE]

I never dreamed I’d be 36 when I finally met myself, face-to-face.

I mean, I know myself…  but I never really understood myself.  My make-up.  The reasons for lots of different elements that make me who I am.  Digestively speaking.

Get ready, I’m about to boast about my weaknesses, and it’s going to take a few blogs to get it all out.  Oh, the irony!

I struggled with sharing too much of what I’ve been dealing with recently, for lots of reasons.  Pride might be the biggest one, but just uncertainty also, to know exactly how to explain it.  As I think of what has brought me so much comfort – other than my relationship with God, it’s been reading stories of others – who have shared their struggles, online.  I hope, in me sharing, someone else can be brought comfort through what I’ve experienced.

Bettering my health has been a priority to me, and my husband – for ourselves and our family, for over 6 years now.  It’s not by accident we studied N.E.R.F (Nutrition, Exercise, Rest and Fun) in school about the time I was dealing with gestational diabetes.  God knew what we needed.  We made some big changes that year, which – at the time, seemed huge to our family of 8.  Mainly spreading out our carbs throughout the day, and cutting down my intake considerably.  Things were anything but healthy, before we began.

We went from bowls of sugary cereal, to eggs, sausage, yogurt and a small carb option.  We made educated choices and the difference in our health was astounding.  For one, we nearly never get the stomach flu-like we used to.  I attribute that to the daily yogurt… at any rate, I’m very thankful.

Looking back now, I know why God had this all laid out, and knows me full well.

I don’t like CHANGE, especially if it’s not my idea.

When someone tells me I can’t have something, what is the first thing I desire?  My mom will tell you this has gone on my whole life.  My husband will thank the person who told me I couldn’t home school – they probably sealed the deal right then and there.  {I’m not even joking.}

Stubborn might be an appropriate name.

So needless to say, the fact that I’ve deal with GI issues my whole life (but oddly NOT when pregnant – Yes, I really enjoyed this aspect of pregnancy), I just assumed that was normal for me.  No need to ever really bring that up to a Dr.

Right?

It’s quite embarrassing.  It seems like something I should be able to control… and with Immodium AD, and avoiding triggers I knew of…  but I never could quite get a handle on what it was that made me sick.  Sometimes it was right away – as in, 15 minutes after I ate.  Other times I just didn’t feel well for days, for no apparent reason.

I actually thought I might be cured.  I thought maybe pregnancy agreed with me so much… I’d never have GI issues again!

But then, after having my 6th child, I did have another major episode… I attributed it to stress and a trigger I indulged in… and my husband being gone for a week on business while I tended to 6 children ages 6 and under.  It stuck around for a month.  I couldn’t seem to kick it.  Everything I ate, went straight through me. Again, I was stressed, a dear friend passed away… and I missed my period, but wasn’t pregnant.   Nothing really alarmed me.  My periods were never on schedule.

Then, I got pregnant two more times… and it went away.  Again.

I thought maybe I was healed for good!

But was I?

to be continued…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

  1 Corinthians 12:9

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