In the Beginning
One of my earliest memories is that of a horrible pain in my head followed by prayers and petitions for healing. The TV in the background was playing Strawberry Shortcake, my favorite show, but I was in too much pain to watch. My mother lay me on her bed, called my grandmother, and did all she could to help me through the pain. I was three years old.
As the years went by, the headaches were sprinkled throughout much of my childhood, rearing their ugly heads more and more often as I entered middle and high school. Most of my greatest memories were stricken with these pains I would later learn were called migraines. From the Sweetheart Dance to my college graduation, I remember the throbbing feeling, the nausea that followed, the inability to stand light or noise. I have very few special memories in which I was not in pain.
My parents knew I needed help and took me from doctor to doctor in search of answers. I saw neurologists, certain body-part specialists (such as eye, ear, and throat doctors), alternative practitioners, chiropractors, acupuncturists, anyone they thought could help me. They ran MRI tests, CAT Scans, X-rays and any other test they could think of. I remember telling my mother one day that I hoped they would find something wrong because if they did, then I would be one step closer to being healed. The doctors would receive the results and it was the same answer every time. I was normal.
Somehow “normal” translated into pills to prevent the migraines; pills to take away the migraines; self-injections to take them away even faster; annual visits to the emergency room for narcotics that would make me vomit, then knock me out; and everything in between.
But nothing worked. Each year there were more and more migraines. Each year they got worse and worse.
And then they were joined by other symptoms: vertigo, back pain, neck pain, body aches, back-of-the-head headaches that felt like my head was going to explode, mental fog, wrinkling skin, vomiting, etc. I was in awful pain at least 3-4 days a week and in some sort of pain during the remaining days.
I will never forget one night in particular. It was the night of my best friend’s wedding rehearsal, and I had driven to Austin alone to be there for her. Early during the day, I had started out with a migraine and rushed to the chiropractor for some quick help. It didn’t seem to work. On my way to Austin, I stopped for coffee and kept hoping for the best. The migraine continued to get worse, so I took two pain relievers. They didn’t work. By the end of the wedding rehearsal, I was in so much pain; I just had to get home. By that point, the migraine was accompanied by severe neck pain and head pain that gripped the back of my head and squeezed every last nerve. I felt like my head was going to explode. I remember yelling in pain, crying at the top of my lungs as tears rushed down my cheeks. I pleaded and begged God to take away the pain. I cried for a miracle or to be taken from this earth. I could not take it anymore. I was 32 years old and wanted to die.
A few days later, I got an answer, but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
An Answer to Prayer
The answer came to me in a doctor who had heard my story one too many times. He ran test after test just to be sure, and my results were stricken with a multitude of other symptoms, from functional high blood pressure, functional anemia, and hypoglycemia to stage 7 adrenal gland failure, parasites in my gut, abnormal hormone levels, and autoimmune disease.
And then the final tests came in. . .
They said that my body could not tolerate egg, soy, casein (milk), yeast, or gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and some oats). I also learned that I had to avoid immune stimulants, such as caffeine, green tea, garlic, etc. I felt like I was handed a death sentence. Not because I wasn’t going to get better, but because I was afraid of how I had to live.
I remember telling my husband that I wanted to have one last binge, full of pizza, breads, cereals, waffles, French toast, and cookies. He looked at me and said, “You have been searching for an answer all your life, and now that you have it, you don’t want to do what you need to to get better. You got your answer. You need to start now.”
And so I did.
The first few weeks were the most difficult. Because my gut lining had been destroyed by gluten, I was always STARVING. I believe I had a sort of addiction to gluten, and I craved it so much when I could no longer have it. No other food could leave me feeling full. And then there was a night of vomiting and diarrhea, a gastrointestinal reaction to the changes, I believe. I remember wanting to give up, thinking that I was now even sicker and felt like I was sacrificing so much.
But I hung in there with the support of my husband, family, and doctor, and it started to get easier. Instead of making a list of all the stuff I couldn’t have, I began to make a list of all the things I could have. I started researching new alternatives and created a new “routine” for myself. I found new snacks, new ways to enjoy the foods I loved, new entrees to feed my family, new ways to travel, and restaurants that would accommodate me.
GF, CF, SF, EF Me
The lifestyle changes were not always easy. At times, I questioned if this intolerance to food even existed or I wondered what would happen if I slipped just once. But neither was a chance I was willing to take.
After nine months on the diet, my skin has taken on a more youthful appearance, my energy levels have allowed me to do so much more than I ever could before. The migraines only come about 1-2 times a month at most, but their intensity is no longer what it used to be. I have hope that one day they will be completely gone.
I am so much healthier than I have ever been. I see food, and I am no longer afraid of how I will feel afterwards. I feel energized after I eat. I feel stronger each day.
The most exciting thing is that the journey for me has only begun. As I continue to nourish my body with healthy food, I continue to heal a bit more and more each day. I now look forward to the coming years that lie ahead.
I have also met others who have joined me in search for their own answers, and it is in these relationships that I have been inspired to create this site to help others along the way.
It is my new prayer that there be an awareness and new understanding of how we see food and its effects on our bodies and health. It is my prayer that we learn to see symptoms for what they are, the body’s way of crying out for help, and then search immediately for the cause instead of “hushing” our body with pills. The body will only find another way to speak to you, and it might not be in a language that you want to hear.
It is my prayer that we each realize how perfectly and beautifully we were created and understand and do what it takes to care for our unique individual bodies, even if sometimes, it really does mean that we have to, both figuratively and literally, go against the grain.