Its hard to condense a 7 year journey into a meaningful "blog post." I challenged myself a few weeks ago to ask this question about my life: Where do I want to see changes, and where do I want to look back 4 years from now and be amazed by God's grace and provision? The specific areas were my health and spiritual life. I vaguely referenced that I have dealt with stomach problems for nearly 7 years with no real answers from doctors. The struggle has been emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining. Those close to me have an idea of what I have dealt with, but for the most part I feel like no one has known what I really have been dealing with because I did not want anyone to know what I was dealing with. Isn't that how it is sometimes? You want to be understood. You want people to know what you are going through and at the same time you do not want anyone to know what you are going through. I didn't want to have to explain myself, be diagnosed by everyone, open myself up for judgement and misunderstanding. While I wanted someone to ask me, "How are you doing?" I did not want anyone to ask me, "How are you doing?"
In "Cliff's Notes" style, I started having stomach problems 7 years ago unexplanably when I was pregnant for my 6 year old. I started feeling sick after eating, like my food was sitting in my stomach and going nowhere. Then I would feel worse, like the food was actually rotting in my stomach, eventually I would end up throwing up because I would feel that sick. It didn't happen all the time at first, but I definitely didn't feel "normal" anymore. Then I started feeling that way everyday. I had every test imaginable done from my neck down to my intestines. I swallowed a pill with a camera, had stomach biopsies, upper GIs, esophagus biopsies, swallowing studies, scans. I visited an osteopath, allergists, had blood work done. I changed doctors and tried a bigger city, Indy. Then I moved and did it all over again at UIC in Chicago. I tried drug therapies and went to a nutritionist. No real answers, mostly "guesstimations." Everything came back "fine," but I felt far from it. I desperately scoured the internet for answers or someone out there like me. It was like a roller coaster-peaks of hope, followed by feelings of hopelessness, then numbness and acceptance and denial mixed together and I unwillingly accepted that the way I felt was my new "normal."
7 years flew by and passed slowly all at once. A few weeks ago I thought to myself, I have been throwing up almost every day for 7 years. For at least 95% of the past 2555 days I have become physically ill at least once in a day and felt sick every day. When I say "stomach problems" most people think heart burn, or acid reflux and I let people think the best. Everyone hates throwing up. I do to. But over time I accepted the sad realty that I would passionately love food, love to make it for others and myself, but that it would make me feel sick maybe forever. I was either in crusader mode desperately obsessed with finding an answer, or processing my reality emotionless, like a robot. When I couldn't find answers the latter was the only way I felt like I could deal with the situation.
I remember the time I vaguely shared my realty with some friends and someone asked, "Are you sure its not in your head?" I remember the time someone (not a doctor) suggested I had an eating disorder. And I remember the time someone said, "You need to choose to not throw up," like it was cut and dry and that simple. That's why I held on to this struggle so privately, and why most everyone that knows me would be shocked to know that this was going on. I became very good at appearing "well."
But now its been 13 days in a row of eating food and not thrown up. For 13 days I have felt like I am on the start of a journey that is going somewhere. And so I decided to open myself up here for judgement. How could I not share this journey? For the first time in 7 years I feel like there might be an end to this struggle. I came across a book a few weeks ago called The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering your health and rebuilding your immunity by Donna Gates. And for the first time ever, I felt like everything in the book applied to me. I will definitely write more at some point, but the book addresses the issue of an extreme candida infection, an internal yeast overgrowth infection, and all the repercussions this kind of infection can have if left to grow inside the body and if untreated. The book also addressed clearly how to recover and heal from this type of infection, information I had never seen before, and definitely nothing that had ever been addressed in my many doctors appointments.
And so 13 days ago I decided to take a deep breath, trust God, open myself up to possible disappointment, start to really feel the emotional magnitude of this situation, and begin a plan that will hopefully result in healing. Right now I am sugar free, gluten free, and mostly dairy free (the first phase of this plan) in an effort to kill the candida infection so that I might begin to recover my digestive system. Some people might say, "I could never do that...go without sugar, even most fruit, no carbs or dairy!" But I say, "If you threw up every day for 7 years and doing this for even 5 months meant you might stop throwing up, I think you might be able to find a way." For me its all about trusting in God and remembering how He has sustained me until this point, being determined, choosing to be intentional, and staying committed to this goal.
Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be the beginning of day 14. 2 weeks ago that I took action and started to see results, started to feel confirmation that this was the right track. Every day that I eat all my meals and everything stays down feels like a gift. I don't care how "restricted" my diet is right now. I feel joyful. I feel free. I feel hopeful.
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."