A year ago I felt like I was dying a slow death. My biggest fear was that I would get cancer and die, leaving my little boy motherless. I actually think this was a very realistic fear. My father died from cancer at the age of 45. Granted, he had far worse eating habits than I did, so maybe I would have lasted longer. Maybe. But there was no doubt that I was sick. My body felt toxic and starved of nutrients. I felt that cancer was imminent if I didn’t turn my health around.
I had severe adrenal fatigue. I was always–and I mean always–tired. I could barely function some days. I was always stressed, and dealt with it by eating chocolate and blogging. I had premenstrual dysphoric disorder which caused regular raging and crying, and I got sick almost every month right before my period. I’m pretty sure that I was also suffering from insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian syndrome, although I didn’t know it at the time. I had chronic yeast problems and poor digestion. My blood pressure was around 135/85 when it used to be 110/70. I knew that if I didn’t reverse my health, I was going to stay miserable and only get worse.
Last February, I went to see a nephrologist for my kidneys, which had been injured by an E. coli infection when I was five, but had mostly recovered, only to be injured again when I was pregnant with my son four years ago. I wanted to get pregnant again. I felt the time was right, but I needed to see if I my kidneys were healthy enough. The nephrologist told me I should have a biopsy to see what kind of kidney disease I had, and then put me on a blood pressure medication which sapped me of what little energy I had. I had the biopsy in March–almost exactly a year ago–and it was a nightmare. And–due to a slip up–it didn’t supply much information; it was decided that my kidneys were probably just scarred from the childhood infection, which I had figured anyway. She told me that I should stay on the blood pressure medicine and she also wanted me to take a medicine for my kidneys to slow down the imminent kidney failure (no, my kidneys were not failing but she suggested they would fail eventually). I said no thanks. She also told me I might be okay getting pregnant again, but I might not. It was up to me.
The painful weeks following the biopsy and my disappointment in the extremely limited options my doctor gave me served as a catalyst that finally kicked my rear into gear. I had tried so many times before to get healthier, but it always felt like I would go one step forward and then one step back. This time I got serious with a spiritual fast and much earnest prayer…and pathways began to open up before me. I bought the book Nourishing Traditions, which was huge in turning my health around because it got me on a traditional foods diet. I miraculously found a naturopath with a special interest in kidney disease, and she helped me learn how to heal my body and led me to a focus on improving my gut health. That (and my son’s digestive issues) led me to reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and the GAPS protocol has already had profound effects on the improvement of my health. Finally finding a raw milk farmer and being willing to spend more money on nutrient-dense, healing food have been key players in improving my health. Indeed, more than ever before, I truly believed that food can be medicine and that the foods we eat should be the kinds that heal us. I believed food would heal me. It is healing me.
I may not be 100% yet, but most of my sick symptoms have gone into remission. I can function fairly normally most days, and some days I feel very energetic and have a wonderful sense of wellbeing. The results I am seeing are so impressive to me that I’m willing to eat things that have previously disgusted me (like liver) just because I know they are helping me to heal and feel good. Miraculously, I am off of my vitamin and mineral supplements. I simply do not need them anymore. I can finally get what I need from food.
I no longer feel like I am on my way to an early death. I am moving in the opposite direction–toward vitality. Throughout this year my health has improved in increments, and for each little increment I have been so grateful. Despite all the little incremental health improvements, however, I still felt so far from my goal of “thriving” instead of just “surviving.” But now, after being on GAPS for four weeks and focusing on getting fertility foods (super nutrient-packed foods) into my mouth, I am very hopeful that I will be “thriving” soon. In the last year I’ve gone from feeling like I’m sicker than most people to feeling like I’m healthier than most people (the people in the U.S. anyway).
I can’t even say how grateful I am. The most amazing thing of all of this is how “easy” it has been. I mean, it’s been A LOT of effort and has required a lot of faith and determination and commitment, but for once in my life I have only moved FORWARD instead of yo-yoing backwards. I attribute this to both the guidance I have received through prayer and the very nature of a traditional foods diet–when you are eating the foods nature has intended you to eat, it’s actually pretty easy to keep with it.
Anyway, it’s just really sobering to think of where I was a year ago. That biopsy experience was a pivotal moment in my life, and even though it really sucked, I’m grateful for how it’s affected me in the long run. Maybe I should send my nephrologist a thank you note?