When I was about 15, I started having sharp abdominal pains that came on sort of gradually and then got progressively worse and worse. They would last for minutes, hours, or sometimes even days. And then the pains started interfering with my daily life. I remember the day I made the decision to quit dance, and I sat with my mom in her bed and just cried. I had been missing a lot of classes and just wasn't ever feeling well enough to go. But it was an incredibly difficult decision to make.
During this time, my parents took me to every kind of doctor you can imagine. For the most part, they pretty much sent me in circles; the GI doctor suggested I see an OBGYN who suggested I see a GI doctor, and so on and so forth. It was incredibly frustrating, and the doctors would tell me it was all in my head, or at best, to ignore the pain because it wasn't life-threatening. For years, I bounced around from one doctor to the next, living almost each day in pain, without getting any closer to figuring out what was wrong. I spent hours researching various conditions, and when I got married, Jon spent hours of his time researching and trying to help me figure out why my body was going haywire. I remember wishing that a doctor would diagnose me with anything so that I wasn't just living in some weird mystery. Tell me I have cancer! Tell me I have Celiac. Anything.
I definitely reached a point where I gave up on finding any solution and resolved to live with the pain for the rest of my life. But Jon refused to give up, and urged me not to give up either. He reassured me every day that we would figure out what was wrong. During my many nights of tears, he told me not to give up and promised that I would be ok. And low and behold, despite all my opposition and disbelief, he was right. Isn't he the best?
Through a long, serendipitous chain of events, I was led to a holistic doctor who diagnosed me with Leaky Gut. Basically, my intestinal lining was destroyed and full of holes, which allowed toxins to leak through my intestinal walls and into my bloodstream. This triggered autoimmune responses and a LOT of pain. Unfortunately, there was no pill to take or any sort of quick fix. The solution was to cut most foods out of my diet and let my intestines heal, and then slowly add them back one at a time. When I found this out, I was thinking "Ok, so cut everything out for a month and then add it all back." Not so much. It was more like, cut everything out for a year and then add one thing. Then wait a few months, and add another thing. And realize that most things you try to add back won't go well at all, and you'll have to cut them back out. It was ROUGH. Jon really is a trooper, because I'm pretty sure I cried every day for the first month. My body was withdrawing from the foods, and I was depressed. I felt like I had to plan my entire life around food. I couldn't go out with friends because there was nothing I could eat. I was losing weight, and people were definitely making an effort to let me know. As if I wasn't aware of what was happening in my own body. "You're waisting away!" "You look sick." "You're too thin." "Do you have an eating disorder?" These were just a few of the many things I heard on a weekly basis, from the people who's support I needed most. It was really, really hard.
Almost two years later, I am still in this process. But I am doing so much better! (Which I think is the reason I'm finally able to sit down and write about it.) I still have a lot of dietary limitations, but I see the whole journey as a very positive thing. I've actually expanded my food repertoire and eat so much healthier than I ever did before. I feel more connected to my food and value where it comes from, and who suffered in order for me to eat. I am so much more educated about the environment and the food industry. I respect my body, and I am careful about how I treat it. I feel strong and empowered. Isn't that what it's all about anyway?
To those of you who are facing similar heath problems: you're not alone! Please please please ask me questions. Or call me if you just need someone to cry to.
And to those of you who stood by me and supported me through all of this: thank you! Your support has meant everything to me, and I truly couldn't have done it without you.
You are now permitted to start bracing yourselves for a ton of recipes. You're welcome. :)