I already knew I had a problem. I had been steadily losing weight without trying ever since my 10 month old baby was born, even though I was eating constantly. I was chronically fatigued (much more than the normal “I have three little boys to chase after” kind of tired), I felt sick after almost every meal I ate, I had sugar and carb cravings like crazy, migraines, imbalance issues, insomnia while at the same time never feeling rested no matter how much I slept, and fifty bazillion other health concerns. Like major memory problems. Like, I seriously could not remember my youngest child’s name for a couple of minutes kind of memory problems. But the worst part was that I had suddenly developed severe food allergies to things I have eaten all of my life. I could no longer eat mushrooms. I could no longer kiss my husband after he had eaten mushrooms. I was developing reactions so quickly to so many different foods that I was terrified to eat anything for fear of my throat closing up.
Several friends told me that the symptoms I was experiencing sounded a lot like gluten intolerance, so I tried going gluten-free. And I felt better. Sort of. Two weeks of gluten-free eating and I was much less foggy-brained. I woke up feeling rested for the first time in forever. I actually had energy. I could eat without feeling sick. But, I was also in intense pain. My whole body ached severely like I had the flu. I did some googling and read that sometimes you can feel like that for a few days or even a week after starting a gluten-free diet. But this was more than a few days. And although I had more energy, I was simultaneously extremely weak.
The day I reached into the pantry to pull out some fancy gluten-free noodles for supper and could hardly hold the bag up was the day I realized that I needed to see a doctor. This was not something I could figure out on my own. I was in So. Much. Pain. that I was unable to function properly in any area. My poor little boys had gotten used to being told, “I’m sorry, Baby, I can’t hold you/read to you/play with you right now. Mama doesn’t feel good.” They had even started to become my caretakers in some ways, voluntarily fetching me bottles of water, rubbing my feet, and doing anything they could think of to make me feel better. “I’m so sorry you’re not feeling good,” became something I heard from my babies nearly every day. They are 2 and 3 years old! My babies should not feel like they have to take care of me!
I could hardly lift a 3lb bag of spaghetti. It was time to get help. I talked to my chiropractor and she recommended a functional medicine practitioner in the area. Before I met with him, he had me rate a list of symptoms 0-4 and add up the total (0 behind “Never occurs” and 4 being “Occurs frequently and severely”). The first thing he said when I went to see him was, “Well, I think you’ve broken a record. I’ve never had a patient score as high as you.” Wonderful.
He said there was so much going on with me he didn’t even know where to start! The first thing he decided was that we needed to do allergy testing. I got blood work done the next week and am still waiting for the results from that. The second thing he did was put me on the Whole30 diet to see what symptoms clear up by cleaning up my eating habits alone. For 30 days I can basically only eat meat, veggies, some fruit, good oils/fats, and nuts (although I’m afraid to eat nuts right now, not knowing what all I’m allergic to). No sugar (including honey and agave). No grains. No dairy. NO BUTTER, PEOPLE!!! Or peanut butter, for that matter. Legumes are illegal. GAHH! My sweet husband is taking on the diet with me, which has made it SO much easier.
The doctor also put me on a probiotic, multivitamin, Omega3, high doses of vitamin C, and liquid vitamin D. I’m also taking magnesium. I feel like a frail old lady with how many pills I have to swallow (3 times a day!). He recommended Metagenics brand, but I settled on Garden of Life based on the awesome reviews and all-natural raw ingredients.
So how is it going? We’re on day 15, the halfway mark. I feel pretty good. In most ways. I got up at 6:40 the other day and didn’t go to bed until 10:30, and I didn’t feel the need for a nap at all! I have enough energy to exercise. I’m not always ravenously hungry. I’m happier and less stressed. Dude, I can remember the names of all of my munchkins! And they’ve only asked “Are you not feeling good, Mama?” a handful of times. But the extreme aching has not gone away. I’ve also had some scary episodes of heart attack like symptoms waking me up from a dead sleep. I went to the ER the other day because I had chest pain, shortness of breath, and bad pain in my leg and the doctor wanted to make sure there were no blood clots. All of the tests came back clean with no sign of what is causing the problem. So, I’m still a mystery.
We have some thoughts. Candida overgrowth? Leaky gut? Asthma? Fibromyalgia? Plain ol’ stress and anxiety? Could be all or none of these. For now, we are focusing on sticking to the diet and eagerly anticipating the results of the allergy test so I can feel more confident about what I eat. We are also thanking God for the answers we have gotten and that we at least have a direction to work in now. He truly has been so good to us!
This all has me thinking an awful lot about my weakness versus God’s strength and the parallels between my spiritual health and my physical health. I’ve been a Christian for a while, but I am often spiritually weak in areas that surely shouldn’t be a struggle by now. Some days I’m faced with little problems that shouldn’t take much spiritual strength to overcome but, like that 3lb bag of spaghetti noodles, it just seems like too much. A word is spoken by a friend that cuts much deeper than intended. My boys won’t listen to a thing I tell them. My husband buys thirty cans of tomatoes on a week when I’m barely keeping the grocery bill within budget. At times a burden that should be easy to bear becomes a great load, and the temptation to respond wrongfully just seems too hard to fight against.
When we stop to examine why we are feeling so weak in a certain area, we will often find that there are underlying spiritual health concerns. For me, it’s usually because I haven’t spent enough time in the Word. Sometimes it’s because I’ve allowed too many distractions to interfere with my prayer time. It could be because I'm hanging around the wrong kind of people. These issues infect the soul and, like a disease, can easily destroy our spiritual health.
Sometimes we feel weak because what we’re facing really is a huge battle and we are simply exhausted from the fight. Whatever the cause, we all have days when we feel small and helpless. That is when we must turn to the Great Physician. Unlike the doctors who often struggle to figure out what’s wrong with our human bodies, God knows exactly what we need to recover our spiritual strength. And He’s given His prescription in the Word.
“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9).
[Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee and freedigitalphotos.net]