Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Life Long Illness Finally Diagnosed!

Alternate Title: : 
"How God Repeatedly Hit Me Over The head With The Obvious Hammer Before I Finally Got It"
I have had severe digestive problems all my life. I have been to the Doctor with several complaints for many decades, ever since I was a young woman. No one could figure out what was wrong with me.

Tired and Puffy.....
Then, this last Winter, the combined stress over Doyle's medical problems, plus an "On The Road" diet made me sick. Really sick. I knew I had to get a handle on this mysterious ailment once and for all, since it was disabling to the point of my not being able to help out in the kitchen, or even go for walks without being seized by heartburn and joint aches. If I did anything physical at all I would gain 15 pounds of water weight overnight.

I was done with Doctors on this particular problem, I had been told I had ulcers, Colitis, and several other nasty sounding and non-treatable illnesses that left me in despair over the lack of a final treatment that would improve my quality of life, (In the Doctors defense, glucose intolerance is VERY difficult to diagnose). I lived with constant daily heartburn and other indescribable maladies that no medication could touch for decades.

Then I turned to prayer, not the first time, but this time I made the right request in the right way and he answered. No handwriting on the wall or a small voice from a burning bush, my miracle came in the form of messages from everyone and everything.

All of the sudden, people were walking up to me and telling me about their illness. They kept harping about Celiac Disease and their intolerance to gluten products. It was strange, because so many people suddenly seemed to be afflicted with the same illness, but I wasn't listening. So I got sicker, and was reduced to sitting on the couch in gripping pain watching old movies.

A movie came on called "The Color Purple". It's an excellent film with Whoopie Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in a refreshingly different role then you could ever imagine them in. It was even better that it was on Public Television with no commercial interruption.

I was mesmerized by it's plot and characters, but the most riveting part of the film was the end, when all the characters converge on a country church and an old timey hymn bursts forth from everyone, sinner and saint alike.

"God Is Trying To Tell You Something" was it's name, and it would raise goosebumps off a log. It had that effect on me, and then even more, I found myself moved to tears. The kind of tears that told me I hadn't been listening. 

Even on this occasion, I wiped my tears and went to bed, sniffing and telling myself, it was, after all, a movie. I had been baking the entire day before and had feasted on caramel rolls and wholesome, (I thought), fresh home baked bread the night before.

I got up the next day and felt even sicker, once again I found myself on the couch, turned on the TV and there was that movie in progress, the church scene playing out before me once again, and once more, the tears flowed. Someone was trying to tell me something.

The movie ended and I flipped the channel. The very next PBS show in progress one channel up was a program about "Celiac Disease", which is a severe allergy to all things containing wheat and/or gluten. I dropped the remote.

I watched with rapt attention as they were talking about the very illness that several people had approached me about in the past weeks. Could this be my problem? My symptoms weren't exactly as they described, but it was close enough for me to pay attention and then act. After all, what did I have to lose? All I had to do is eliminate wheat products from my diet and see what happened.

I turned to the internet and did some research, and if you suspect this may be a problem in your life, a simple search on Google will reveal several great Celiac.org sites that give you great advice on what to eliminate from your diet. You would be surprised to learn that wheat is in just about everything these days, as a stabilizer or additive. It was simple to take that list and remove bread products and products with gluten and wheat from my diet, without causing myself too much undue pain.

Lookin' & Feelin' Better Everyday!
I found out how widespread this intolerance/allergy is, affecting a good portion of the population. I found many good gluten free foods clearly labeled in the average store. Some stores like Sweet Bay have a section entirely devoted to gluten free products, so we don't have to suffer never having pasta or bread again. Substitutes are made from corn, rice and soy or a combination of all of the above.

What happened was after 24 hours my symptoms stopped cold. Over the next week my joint pain became less and the constant swelling in my hands, face and feet went away. For the first time in my life I was getting better instead of worse. I have lost 20 pounds of water weight in ten days. It couldn't have been just wheat, I told myself, but it was. I had to be hit over the head with it repeatedly, but I finally got the message.

Now, I'm not going to tell people to start watching TV for messages, that's not usually how it works and frankly there are more bad things on television than good. But what I am saying, is that when you have a problem and have submitted it to your Maker, start listening.

It's up to us to sort it all out and then act. Sometimes it's not what you want to hear, that's another problem altogether, but if you start listening, you just might get an answer...even if you are stubborn and dwelling on the hopelessness of your situation.

You see, I have a theory that God answers prayer, but He tries to answer it through people. If you pray and aren't getting results, maybe you should start being more aware of what people are telling you. If the message you get is positive and enlightening and does no harm, it just might be the Big Guy, working His will in mysterious ways.

It sure seems to work that way in my life, anyway...if only I listen.

10 comments:

karylsquilts said...

I came across this site for my brother. This lady cooks with her crock pot but she also cooks Gluten free.. and mentions different products that have worked for her... glad you feel better.

Jan said...

Wonderful Terri. Good to see you smiling!

Donna aka Froggi said...

Be sure to visit FabGrandma.com and follow her blog. She has a LOT of info on this, products you can get (and she reviews a lot of them). She's a full-time RVer.

Gypsy Jane said...

Awesome! It is amazing to me how many physical and mental problems are caused by inappropriate food. So glad you found out what was causing yours. (I am not at all amazed by the Big Guy sending clues.)

Anonymous said...

So glad you are feeling better and could finally get some answers to why you were not well. Even more happy to hear that its somthing you can remedy yourself and rather easily. Justin, Gavin, and I love you guys. Take care.

Dale said...

So glad you finally got a handle on your illness. My daughter is celiac and, as you, basically diagnosed herself. What a difference her life has been since she eliminated gluten from her diet. Good luck!

Dale

eileen said...

I've been celiac for yrs. Only diagnosed 10 yrs ago. It left me with osteoporsis before I was due.The diet restrictions are second nature by now and thank god GF products are available almost everywhere. The first few months of my "new" life and health prompted me to comment daily how wonderful it was not to be aware of my gut[pain- etc] . May you have a wonderful "new" life!!!

Doyle and Terri Johnson said...

Thank you all for your well wishes, I have lost over 25 pounds since my diet change February 7 and never felt better! Check out my latest post on Gluten Free Mac and Cheese, (guilty pleasure), and check out my new pic on a recent blog about ads on my site, I look so different!
God Bless you all on your Gluten Free journey!

Heidi said...

AMEN! I don't have it, but my niece does. PTL!

Anonymous said...

Hi I am late to the 'party'. Found your site looking for info regarding living in a toy hauler and found yours. Just starting perusing. Then I found your Life Long Illness post. I just found out I am gluten sensitive, what a difference when items are eliminated. You might want to look at www.glutenfreegirl.com. Great recipes, wonderful story (similar to yours), wealth of info.
Keep on trucking,
Kit

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