Saturday, March 14, 2009

My (health) story...

Wow, so much to say on this topic! But I really desire to blog about it, since I was so naive for so
long on what was actually going on with my body. So, here goes.

Ever since I can remember, I have had digestive problems. Looking back, I thought I was normal at the time. I mean, when all you've known is feeling ill after eating, the "ill" feeling doesn't seem so... "ill" anymore, right? It was a feeling I could never pinpoint exactly - just general uneasiness and discomfort. In addition to this, I have always (and I mean always) dealt with chronic migraines, tummy pain, eczema, dermatitis, solar urticaria, anemia, constipation, female problems, sinus infections, TMJ, depression, etc. In high school, my only docs were specialists. I had an Gyn for my female problems (for which I had many ultrasounds, and even a surgery for recurring cysts, possible endometriosis, etc.) - when they were at the end of their rope, I had a laparoscopic surgery to check for endometriosis, during which they took care of a blood clot and did some biopsy of something. All of this pain had no additional source, and I was promptly sent to the GI doc for him to check me out in that respect. I was given some meds, put on a high fiber diet, and that was that. Well, it didn't help. The migraines continued, and although I was eating a little bit better, the most I could chalk everything up to was the preservatives in foods that were causing the tummy aspect of it.

Fast-forward to the last five years. During this time, I have married, and then bore four children in consecutive years. This is when my life and health started to fall apart. Okay, that was overly dramatic. Let's just say things got far worse!

My first pregnancy was great and normal. I gained a whopping 55 pounds (I ate - a lot), and delivered a perfectly health baby girl. That event totally rocked my world. Remember that depression that I mentioned? Well baby blues hailed to full-blown post-partum depression. This depression became the norm in my successive pregnancies and post-pregnancies as well (my big, overly well-kept secret that is now coming out. All those times I said I was fine? Yeahhhh, that was probably false.). With each new baby, the migraines and stomach pain grew worse, the depressive spells more frequent, and on top of it all, I began these horrible back problems that rendered me unable to care for the house, my children, or myself for the last half of my pregnancies. The back pain became so terrible and unbearable, and in addition to all of that, I began to have major bone and muscle pain during my last pregnancy. When it would rain, I would be reduced to a heap of tears due to the TREMENDOUS pain. Every time the kids touched me, it felt like sharp pins. If they grabbed my arm or leg, it felt like knives. The aching was unending. So my OB put me on bedrest for the last several weeks before I delivered. I was miserable, depressed, and begging the Lord help me. Through all of this, He remained faithful. Although I cried constantly, I clung to Him. He was my comfort and my hope that one day it would get better.

So what do I do about all of this? Well, during it all I believed that it was all random.... that I just was sick a lot. But that wasn't satisfying, because it kept me from everything. I was never well, I never felt good, and it dampened friendships and hindered much. How could anyone understand me? I mean, all I did was stay at home. I told myself it was all in my head, I need to buck up and push through it - but all that ever did was make me feel worse. What little energy I had was consumed with the children, leaving NOTHING left over for anyone or anything. Ugh, miserable. And what was even worse, I felt like the most misunderstood person on the face of the earth. You know, the one who has no commitment or backs out of things all the time, or the friend who can never really deliver. Oh, how I cried over these things!

Well, before Emmie was due to be born (while I was on bedrest, and being tested for Lupus), I began to do some research. Research on Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and anything else that could possibly explain what was happening to my body. No matter what I did, it seemed my body always felt worse - I was always MORE sick than I was the year before. Well, a few friends had suggested going gluten free. I did the research, and it seemed like a huge feat. But I was willing to try ANYTHING.... anything to be able to care for my children! Anything to feel GOOD - for just a few days in a row! Anything to not spend the majority of the day on the couch (which is where I had been for the majority of the past 5 years!!!!).

Well, it worked. One day of eating gluten free, and I felt amazing. I didn't feel sick after I ate - and I didn't know how sick I had been feeling after eating until that day!! Migraines? With the exception of hormonal times (ya know) - GONE. TMJ? A thing of the past! PRAISE GOD, He had put a stop to it all!

There are times when I still eat glutenous foods. And during those times, my migraines and TMJ and tummy problems, etc. return fairly quickly. My sinus infections are back to back. I feel HORRIBLE. Anemia - well, I still struggle with it (more so than I did before having children). That is probably my biggest difficulty right now. But praise the Lord, I know what it is! Is it expensive? HECK yeah. But we do what we can, and the Lord provides.

Since all of this (due to my aunt's keen eye as an allergist), we have come to realize that Lottie is very sensitive to either casein or lactose. The poor baby vomits up cow's milk, carries a constant rash, and has persistent diarrhea. Soymilk has solved most of that, but she still carries those symptoms a little, so I think there may be something else she is sensitive to as well... so I will be starting her soon on a GF diet as well. The older two also seem to have some sort of sensitivities as well (although not as pronounced as Lottie's), so our whole family is going GF for awhile, so that we can slowly start to narrow down the food culprits here. Besides, children of a parent who has a gluten sensitivity are much more likely themselves to have the same thing. It definately doesn't hurt to try the elimination diet on them just to make sure. After a few weeks, we'll slowly start to add in foods that we have in question (i.e. eggs, soy, dairy, glutenous grains, etc.). Since it's my job to make sure our kids have the best nutrition available to them, it's incredibly important that I make sure they can tolerate what I am feeding them. I will not rest until I know what is causing these warning signs in them, and take care of it efficiently and effectively.

If you have any interest in researching this topic of celiac disease/gluten intolerance, or any other food intolerance, check out foodintol and . There are a wealth of other resources out there, but these two are great.

Well, off to chat with hubby now... and after that, we have a date! Yay!


Anonymous said...

A lot of docs (RE's and ob/gyns) do not recognize all the forms of endo and the locations and stages.

If anyone wants more info, these are great sites

Also, digestive enzymes helps amazingly. so do probiotics.

Having my progesterone levels tested by someone who knew what they were doing and then supplementing solved my migraines.

Anonymous said...

Also, supplementing with progesterone (natural, compounded, bio-identical) helped with the PMDD issues. It's supposed to also help with post-partum depression.

Mrs. Potts said...

Meg, I can totally relate! I'm so glad you posted this! Since Middle School I have been struggling with IBS, depression, migraines, anemia, sore joints/muscles, and nausea (sick feeling in my head and stomach) after I eat. They have tested me for everything.. I've had some many female tests for ovary cysts, endometriosis, colonoscopy, barium enemas, they tested me for celiacs and said it was negative. everything has always been negative. Except for the anemia. But I'm always canceling b/c I just dont feel like it. Its just too much to put on clothes and walk outside. It hurts! lol Even when my stomach stopped moving so I couldnt digest food... there was no reason given by any dr, and no cure. Just more tests. and some medicine I found I was allergic too. I was on a liquid diet for months and lost 20+ pounds only to be told nothing. I still have no reason, explanation, or cure for any of the problems that happen everyday. I'm glad you found your solution. I might try it! Could you tell me more about it? I didnt know we had some many "problems" in common! It relieves me! :o)

Meg said...

Hilary! Yay!
I'm still learning a lot about it myself (Janet, since I know you read this - this is your cue! :D) I believe you can have false negatives for Celiac, and also that the test for gluten sensitivity is not reliable also. The only way to accurately identify with it is to totally eliminate it from your diet. And re-introducing it after eliminating it for a few weeks should confirm it for sure! I think you should definately try it. I'm still weeding through a lot of it myself, but I know there are a lot of gluten-free snacky foods available at health food stores, and gf flours and baking mixes as well. I still feel HORRIBLE when I eat it, and for me it's truly hard to do consistently, but I've never felt better when I avoid it totally. I hope that helps some! Even googling gluten free diet, or gluten intolerance, or even celiac will give you a lot of info. :D

Deedee, thanks for the info and resources! I will certainly be checking those out!

Aimee Mayer said...

I'm glad you've posted this! It's a lot easier knowing what's going on. Until we get a job, I'm reduced to eating rice and veggies, since I despise beans, and occasionally throwing in some gluten foods. Since I've been doing that, my headaches are returning, my sinus problems are back, my hands are breaking out (with what was previously called seborrhea, but is close to herpetiformus), and the typical gastronomical issues. Only one of my four tests came back positive for gluten intolerance, but I can tell the diet helps. Now, I'm just sticking to my vitamins and eating as gluten free as I can! And now that you're feeling better, maybe we can finally see each other for the first time since you were pregnant with Charity! :)

Meg said...

Thanks Aimee - I would love to get together :) It just never ceases to amaze me what food can do to you! The level of awareness out there is alarming. So many people pay no heed to the signals their bodies are sending to them (I was in that group as well!). The statistics of those who have food intolerances are also cause for concern, as most are completely oblivious to the fact. I am definitely proof that identifying an intolerance can change your life.