Fair warning: this is a lengthy post. I think it would be worth reading. But if you don't want lengthy, then you need not go on from here...or come back when you do have time to read it. :)
When I first started this blog, I didn't want to really share "my story." I just wanted to share good recipes, as I'm learning to go gluten free. Sure, I've told a little about why I chose to go gluten free, etc., but that's not even the half of it. And it's not like I mind sharing my story--I don't--well, I don't mind sharing with friends and other people that I meet, anyway. But I didn't want to share my whole story to the "whole world" (of bloggers, that is).
As I started writing this post, I had just had lunch with some friends, where I told them what happened to me 3 1/2 years ago. And how that has played a part in bringing me to the place I'm at today. It was then that I felt God impress upon my heart, "It's time." Time to share "my story." Time to be real. Somehow I think that when others hear where I've been, they may be inspired and encouraged in their own journeys. So here goes. There are other details to this story as well, but that would probably take a book to cover it all; I won't bore you with all that. Here it is in a "nutshell"...well, sort of. ;)
When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). This basically meant that I had a sensitive digestive system, but it wasn't severe or specific enough to fit into one category. My parents and I tried medication for 10 months, but it didn't change. Then I started consulting with a nutritionist for a little over a year. She was truly a God-send, as she helped lift my spirits and taught me the first things I learned about how to heal my body through the foods I ate.
As time passed, I didn't follow as strict of a diet, but there would be times where I would have to watch what I ate. But my symptoms got worse as I headed into college, and eventually became classified by my doctors as ulcerative colitis (basically ulcers in my colon). Then came finals week of my junior year in college. Due to stress, I started eating more and more sugary foods, and felt worse and worse. Eventually, everything I ate went through me almost immediately, and I went home to "rest" for a week at my parents' house. I didn't go back for the whole summer. I kept getting sicker and sicker, and after 3 weeks of basically being on bed-rest, my parents took me to the ER. Within 24 hours, I was being scheduled for emergency surgery to remove my perforated colon. I was "out of it" before I even knew I had to have surgery. I woke up in Surgical ICU 6 days later, and was told that I had just survived a miracle. Since I was so sick before I went in for surgery, I had complications, and 4 surgeries on my gut within the first 2 days. My parents were told that I had a 50% chance of making it. Everything was shutting down. At this point, I know that the only thing that pulled me out was the power of God. I don't know what your stance is on this subject, if you are reading this, but all I know is that I had so many people praying for me, and I know that my God is a Healer--no matter what my family was told!
I was put under medical sedation for those 6 days, so that I wouldn't pull out my ventilator or any of the other tubes. After I woke up, I was put in a regular room about 2 days later. But I didn't leave the hospital for almost a month. I could say so much about what happened in this amount of time, but I shall resist right now. In short, the next several months were very hard, even after I was able to recover at my own home. But, through my incredible support system of family and friends, I made it through. I was eventually reconnected 14 months later, and now only have the scars to prove it.
I used to not like where I've been. After I got past the point where this trauma no longer consumed my life and my existence, I got to where I'd just rather not think about it. But over time (and especially recently), I've learned to think about it differently. I am thankful for where I've been, for what I've been through. Was it fun at the time? Did I see it as good then? Most definitely not. But now I can say that it's given me a compassion for people, and a way of looking at things that I've never seen before. That's also another post. But for now, I'll focus on one small aspect of this:
Like I said, I've been on restricted diets before. And because I'm a rule-follower, I followed the rules. But it was still about, "oh, I can't have that." Now that I've gone without refined sugar and gluten (and often have to listen to my body and be careful about some other foods, too), I don't think of it in the same way. I think of it as a choice. "I feel better, so I'm choosing not to have that." It's a completely different mindset. And for those of you who may be new to all of this, let me tell you that it is a process. Will you have times when you don't eat as well, or maybe occasionally get "glutened"? Yes, you most definitely will, even if you try your best not to. But also, it's a time of learning. Learning to listen to your body, learning to be happy with a "new normal." Learning to be happy with you.
And just as an aside, it's not that I think medicine's bad...I don't. And through this whole process, I was blessed with so many good doctors, and I am very thankful. I often tell people that I have great appreciation for anyone in the medical field (especially nurses, too!). But in addition to all this, I think--for me, at least--God is showing me another way to help with my healing. And that is through the foods that I eat. Think about it: God put all of these amazing fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and other things on the earth for us to eat. And then we can use these directly to help our bodies to heal, fight infection, etc. (For more about this, see this post.) And so I think that the Lord has given us a great gift. Well, not only has He given us life, but He's also given us a way to sustain our life, so that we can be the best that we can be, with the time that we have. So this isn't about being healthy for "health's sake," although that may be a good reason. It's about taking care of what we've been given, so that we can give back, and so that we can enjoy life to the fullest!
Thanks for reading! :)