I am actually really thankful for the road that God has had us travel, we wouldn't be where we are with our diet, understanding, compassion or overall health without it. I am rarely sick anymore and that is a huge blessing! However, when the time comes that I do 'catch a bug' I am quickly reminded of the way I once felt ALL the time and how easily we forget pain. Believe it or not, I am actually grateful for these times as well. I don't want to forget how I felt before. I want to remember those feelings in order to fully appreciate how wonderful I feel now and to help others in similar situations. It's terrible feeling sick and exhausted every single day. It's not how we are meant to feel. Yes, we live in a fallen world and there will be disease and sickness until Heaven comes but I also know that healing exists! I have a long road yet, as many with long term afflictions, but I continue to heal every day and I want to be sure to tell my story so I might be of some help to those who are also searching for the reasons why they may be sick. I think it's also important for me to share these things so others, though they may not be the ones that are sick, will be compassionate toward those who maybe don't feel so great. Prior to experiencing it myself, if you had talked to me about having the problems I am going to tell you about here....well, maybe I would have been one to roll my eyes or nod and smile while actually letting everything go in one ear and out the other? I might have thought, "Well, they must be doing something wrong!" I may have even been one to think that someone was simply being a big baby about it all. Sounds harsh, yes? Believe me, I have been on the receiving end of these attitudes. They are common, even from well intentioned family members. People are mean, accusing and judgemental about the things they don't understand. I have also found that many people assume that pain and sickness are simply the cards they have been dealt and they must get over it or deal with it.
Well, God made me the way I am for a reason. I am stubborn and strong-willed! Sometimes this gets me into trouble but it's also the reason I am here and healing today! To fully tell my story will take a series of posts so today I will give you a running list of symptoms that I had before I found answers and leave you with a great smoothie recipe! I hope you will take from this post the understanding that not all ailments fit into 'textbook' descriptions as well as a little bit of compassion. There are many, many people who suffer from a variety of illnesses and often they suffer silently for fear of ridicule and comments like those mentioned above. If you are healthy, that is so wonderful and I hope that you will continue to be healthy and make even more positive changes in your diet and lifestyle as so many Americans still need to do. If you are one who is currently unhealthy, please don't give up. Even if the sickness from which you suffer has no cure, you can still make positive changes via diet, lifestyle and hopefully discover the wonderful world of holistic health! Knowing that you have support is half the battle! You will get that here! :-)
I started having noticeable symptoms at 18. I went to lots of different doctors, had lots of tests and took a variety of medications. At one point, I couldn't even function without three of the medications I was taking. I am not one who likes to take medications. I feel like they are just a mask, I wanted to find the real problem but nobody was able to help with that. After years of research, trial and error and, most importantly, prayer...I was able to discover that I do in fact have Celiac Disease in addition to PCOS. Though I believe Celiac is what started it all. We have been completely gluten free since December 27th 2010 and I am so excited to say that I have been medication free since that date as well! I really get better every day! Here is a list of the symptoms I encountered over the past 7 years:
~Migraines These started when I was 18, though I did not know what they were at the time. They became debilitating when I was 22.
*Many symptoms I had were that of migraine equivalent or symptoms of migraine without having the actual head pain. These were continual symptoms. They include: Sensitivity to sound and light, memory loss and word retrieval problems, inability to concentrate, muscle spasms, back pain (I would always have pain down my spine from neck to mid-back that felt like someone injected me with poison! It was terrible!) and generally feeling 'weird' ~I know that sounds generic but that's seriously how it feels. Almost like you are in a dream land.
~Significant and unexplained weight gain
~Muscle twitching and spasms These actually became so bad that I had to take anti-seizure meds
~Muscle weakness My muscles would randomly just give out. There were times I couldn't actually hold my daughter because my arms just wouldn't work.
~Widespread muscle and bone pain
~Abdominal bloating, cramps and pain
~Extreme exhaustion There were days I couldn't get off the couch. I would wash the dishes and then have to take a 2 hour nap!
~Lower back pain and tenderness
~Low blood sugar attacks
~Loss of strength
~Heartbeat irregularities and palpitations
~High blood pressure
~Anxiety and depression
~Hair loss, including eyelashes as well as hair on the head
~Excessive hair growth in places such as underarms, hands, eyebrows, limbs, and face
~Sensitivity to sunlight I got a rash every time I went out in the sunshine. Sigh. I had to avoid sunlight for almost 2 years.
~Sensitive and very dry skin
~Nausea and vomiting I was always, always nauseated. I never had a mentrual cycle after I turned 20 so I always thought I was pregnant. I must have taken 30 tests because every month it was the same thing....I threw up 3 times a night most nights of the week. This went on for 2 years.
~Significant mammary growth Ok, I don't know how to say that without sounding vulgar? Seriously though, I went from a very normal size to a very large and not so normal size, especially for my petite frame. I still have problems with that and I don't know that it will go away. We'll see?
~Ganglion Cysts These are common for a lot of people but I get them excessively. For instance, I have five in my right wrist alone!
~Food cravings I had the weirdest cravings when I wasn't even pregnant and I HAD to have it. I know now that it was my body telling me it needed nutrients because it wasn't getting anything but at the time it was odd!
As you can see, most of these symptoms are not symptoms you would automatically think of when it comes to Celiac Disease. A lot of them are from PCOS which I developed, I am certain, because of Celiac. However, more people in this country have Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance than they realize. 1 in 133 people are afflicted with this disease yet less than 10% of those people know they have it. It is a bad habit of the medical world and our society today to offer medications that simply cover up symptoms without even attempting to discover the underlying problem. Unfortunately, this great country is behind in terms of Celiac Disease. It is still thought of as 'merely a digestive issue,' which is not at all true. I have a dear friend with cancer who was telling me that her doctor said every single cancer patient he has also has Celiac Disease. That made me wonder, which direction does that go? Celiac to Cancer, Cancer to Celiac or both? It is obvious that a person whose body is not getting the nutrients it needs will end up very ill. Hopefully Celiac Disease is something we can all learn more about and the best thing is.....you can be completely healthy with the absence of gluten in the diet! *You will also have to take other actions in order to repair damage that has been done but eliminating gluten will prevent further damage and put you on the road back to health! Love it!
I promised you a smoothie recipe and I shall deliver! This is a great recovery smoothie! Whether you are recovering from throwing up all weekend (like yours truly, ha!), a long workout, labor and delivery or just want a fantastic, nutrient-dense drink for summer this smoothie will do the trick! It's loaded with enzymes, electrolytes, fruits, greens and fabulous flavor! It's a new favorite for sure!
Pina Colada Smoothie
*quantities are totally up to you!
~1 ripe avocado
~unsweetened/unsulfured shredded coconut
*Place desired quantities in a blender and blend until smooth! I typically use more pineapple than mango and only about a handful of shredded coconut. Serves 2-4
If you have fresh coconut water, even better!
Feel free to use other greens if you prefer! We like spinach in our smoothies because we get other greens from our juice!