In early August, I laid everything on the table in my State of My Health Address. You can check out that post for the nitty gritty, but basically I have been battling ulcerative colitis (UC) since May 2011 and despite my best efforts through eating a GAPS diet, the UC was only getting worse. To be frank – I was getting to the point that leaving the house was risky and stressful. I really could not afford to be far from a bathroom. Like, 2 seconds away was sometimes too far away.
I met with a new gastroenterologist (GI) this summer and he was very supportive of my natural mindedness and desire to steer clear of steroids and other “symptom suppressing” medicines. Of course he wanted to check my colon out for himself and compare it to how things looked a year ago. He also wanted to perform an endoscopy to rule out/in celiac. Other my blood tests have always indicated that I have a gluten intolerance of some sort, the only way to confirm celiac is my taking biopsies of the villi in your small intestines.
Earlier this month I had my second colonoscopy (which to be honest I really am not bothered by) as well as my first endoscopy (do NOT try to swallow a tube without sedation. It just doesn't work out!) The news wasn't what I was hoping for. My colitis has gotten worse. It went from just affecting the upper and lower portions of my colon to the entire left side. There were a lot more polyps and the GI took a bazillion biopsies.
While I wasn't expecting improvement, I was also not expecting things to have gotten so much worse. I was confused and pissed. I have been eating SO clean and you know, GAPS is SUPPOSED to address these sorts of issues. I just could not figure out what was going wrong.
Well – now I know. I have confirmed celiac disease. While ulcerative colitis and celiac are both autoimmune diseases, they are different from each other. However, in a person who has both, they work against each other, wreaking havoc on your body. They basically exacerbate each other.
To be frank – I am overwhelmed. I mean, HOW am I supposed to heal myself naturally when I have to autoimmune diseases fighting with each other inside of me? Even my GI is pushing the drugs on me and he is supportive of my natural efforts.
Thank goodness for my Nutritional Therapist Lydia! She got me calmed down, somewhat.
Over the course of the next year or so, I would like to bring you along on my journey of natural healing. I am hell bent on attacking BOTH my issues naturally. I want to live a full, healthy life. I will not let these diseases cut my life short. I am going to put in the work to get my body back to where it needs to be. It won't be easy and it won't be cheap but hey – life is neither is it?
Already there is a ray of hope. Lydia has had me on a heavy duty probiotic/prebiotic blend for the past 5 weeks (as we waited to formulate a formal game plan after my results came back). There has definitely been a huge improvement in the amount of blood I am eliminating. What used to be a multi-daily occurrence is now only happening every few days.
I recently spent an hour and a half talking to Lydia about our game plan. Lydia is amazing. After reviewing all of the questionnaires I filled out and talking to me about pretty much everything, she created a personalized supplementation plan for me. We are addressing everything from the inflammation to low stomach acid to absorption issues to gut flora and a host of other “stuff.” I'll be popping pills like a mad woman but at least they are all natural and specifically formulated for my health needs. I won't be taking anything that I can't use!
In addition, we are working on meal planning to ensure that I an eating what my body needs to heal and avoid those foods that are only going to damage it further. While GAPS is still the way to go, we are going to tighten things up further. My GI actually has crafted a meal plan for me as well and we will be meshing the two together.
Beyond all that, I have to get serious about the gluten free lifestyle. This means addressing cross contamination issues. There cannot be ANY gluten in my home. No gluten containing foods can be stored, prepared, or consumed. Lifestyle change for my husband for sure. But before that all happens, we have to get the gluten OUT of our house. And oh wow – that is NO small task. Basically, I am looking at a whole house purge.
Thank goodness for the Gluten and Dairy-Free Traditional Foods eCourse from KerryAnn Foster of Cooking Traditional Foods (CTF). While still overwhelming, KerryAnn has this task broken down into manageable pieces. (I was pretty much freaking out about doing all of this overnight!)
I think for me, the social implications of this are more overwhelming than anything. At least for the next two years (maybe more, hopefully not) I will not be able to eat “out.” No restaurants unless they are truly gluten free (not just offering gluten free options), no eating at friends' homes, no family dinners at my parents, etc… Yes, I can make my own food and bring it but I also have to bring ALL my own dishware, cups, utensils, etc… That isn't something I am going to want to haul around unless it is a special occasion. Seriously. I have enough to lug around with a young child. I don't need a traveling kitchen either.
While I will never be able to have gluten again, and cross contamination will always be an issue, after we heal all the damage and inflammation running rampant in my body, I may be able to eat a gluten free dish at a non-gluten free home or restaurant. But that is a long way off.
I am starting with baby steps. That is all I can do. And I have to remember that all of the work this will take, all of the tears I will shed when I just want to go to my parents for a meal, all of the explaining I will have to do to friends, all of the lack of understanding there will be from others, will be worth it. This is MY health. MY life. This is just what I HAVE to do.
I will heal myself naturally. I will. It is not an option. So join me on my journey. Learn from me what works, what doesn't. Share my ups and my downs. If you are dealing with your own health crisis, lets support each other. Gain some inspiration from my triumphs.
In one year, I hope to look back on this post and laugh. Laugh because my new lifestyle is just that…my lifestyle. My health is greatly improved. I can enjoy being a mama again because I don't have to stress about where the closet toilet is. I will be living a good life.
Let's meet back here the first Friday of each month and I will let you know how things are going! And please, send healing vibes my way.