It was January 2007, and we had just made our fourth move in seven years. During those seven years, we had also had two children. I was exhausted and had been for years. I was told: “This is just part of motherhood; this too shall pass.” I was also trying to lose the 20 plus pounds that I could not seem to get off since the birth of my second daughter. After trying everything under the sun with little to no results, I decided that I could get accustomed to my “new” usual body weight. After all, I really did not have the energy to think about it, much less do anything about it. In addition to my diagnosis of subclinical hypothyroidism, I seemed to stay sick all the time.
…Chronic sinus infections, debilitating migraine headaches, stomach viruses, or what ever was going around at the time, I contracted it. I had a constant feeling that something was stuck in my throat, and my lungs felt like they had cobwebs in them. The cystic acne that I had battled as a teen resurfaced. My pelvic bone and hip sockets constantly felt like they were on fire. My lower back ached and made it difficult to stand up straight. My legs felt like they were 50-pound sacks of sand. My muscles ached and my arms were so weak I could not hold a newspaper to read it. I would have episodes of abdominal pain that would take my breath away, not to mention the persistent nausea. Constipation was unbearable at times. My once “elephant memory” was no more than that of someone with dementia; I could not even remember if I were coming or going when I got in the car. My brain was so foggy and tired. I no longer could multitask; I was unable to focus long enough to complete a single task. Only good days allowed me to get out of the bed. When it was time to go to bed at night, I could not sleep.
Emotionally I was a wreck. I had been to every doctor under the sun and got the same answer: “It is all in your head.” I got very depressed and felt hopeless and helpless. Soon after our move to San Diego, I found a physician who not only listened to my story but heard what I was saying. She did blood test that revealed I had an autoimmune disease. Further testing was diagnostic of Sjogren’s Syndrome.
This is where my journey begins.
Sjogren’s Syndrome? I had a medical background, but never had I come across that term! I started researching this medical condition while I waited for my appointment with a rheumatologist. Sjogren’s Syndrome is a condition in which your body attacks your moisture producing glands. This would explain my severe dry eyes and mouth. Once I saw the rheumatologist, I was diagnosed with secondary fibromyalgia. I was put on more than my share of pharmaceuticals. Although my pain eased, I was nowhere close to being “well”. When symptoms got worse, we just added another medication, and I was referred to other specialists for more medications. This was a moment of awakening for me: ”How can I fit one more doctor’s appointment into my schedule, and how many more medications could I possibly take before seeing negative side effects?”
About this time, I attended the annual California Dietetic Association meeting. Many of the seminars I attended were related to food allergies and intolerances, celiac disease, and naturopathic medicine. Wow! What an epiphany! This became a turning point in my journey. My thought was: “Why not try something different? Could there be an alternative to pharmaceuticals?”
I came home and scheduled to have the Mediator Release Test (MRT) done for delayed food sensitivities. I was astounded when my results came back! Of 150 foods and chemicals, I tested either highly or moderately reactive to 48. I started taking what had been considered “healthy foods” out of my diet. I also rid my home of all toxins, including household cleaners, laundry detergent, personal care products, and cosmetics.
Out of fear for the future, desperation to feel better, and, I have to admit, stubbornness, I decided to start researching the “why?” of all of this.
Again, I sought a non-traditional approach: stool testing and DNA testing. After all, I had already had CT scans, MRI’s, an endoscopy, and colonoscopy, which were all negative. The functional nutrition tests gave me the answers that I needed. The genomic and stool test confirmed that I had celiac disease. I immediately removed gluten from my diet, in addition to all the other foods that I had reacted to during the Mediator Release Test. The results within a week were unbelievable! I had more energy. My nausea subsided. My headaches disappeared. My mood improved. Within the next few months, I cut my prescription medication list in half and lost 30 pounds! This was truly nothing short of a miracle for me! I felt better than I had in over 10 years! The food that I had been eating was making me sick, simply because there was a dysfunction in my gastrointestinal tract. My body was unable to use the nutrients it was given due to this dysfunction. This brought about a cascade of negative events in my body.
There once was a day when disability was staring me in the face. However, one simple blood test provided me with invaluable information that changed my life. I found a renewed excitement for my profession through my health challenges. I have tremendous compassion for those with chronic health problems who have tried everything with little to no results or relief.
Be Well: An Individualized Nutrition Plan for Optimal Health and An Active Lifestyle came to be out of my desire to help others.
By combining my formal training as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and my personal experience with chronic health problems, I can better understand my clients and their individual needs. I approach each new day with an acceptance of what I have been given and an opportunity to understand and help others. Life is a journey, but to Be Well is my destination.