For the first thirteen years of my life I was unhealthy, and no one really knew it. Oh, there were clues early on, my parents just didn’t recognize them, and most conventional doctors wouldn’t either as these things were “common” in babies.
My mom recalls that I didn’t sleep much as a baby so she listened to the old wives’ tales that I was probably hungry and that I should be given baby cereal to supplement the breast milk.
So, at four months old with the first bite my face swelled up where I only had slits for eyes. At four months old I had eczema on my face and wrists. I now know that my gut was unhealthy from the start.
At about three years old my mom took me off all grain and wheat products and I thrived fairly well for a while. However, as I grew, I developed many food allergies. Nuts, fruits, or vegetables made my mouth swell and induced itching and temporary hives. I began to avoid these foods and sought “comfort” foods: such as pastas, breads, sandwiches, pizza, and processed foods. Interestingly enough these did not cause the unpleasant allergy symptoms.This was not a good thing.
Fast forward to the summer before my freshman year in high school I began to develop nasal congestion and breathing issues. An ENT suggested I have my adenoids removed as they had not shrunk after the age of five and I have my deviated septum repaired.
See the red spots on the cheeks
Notice the bandages on my wrists
Because of the surgery I was put on the first antibiotics I had ever received. Not long after I developed strep throat, again another round of antibiotics. This was the beginning of the exponential decline in my health.
By the start of the school year I was experiencing severe gut issues. Every time I would eat I would experience excruciating gut pain often followed by diarrhea. I remember spending a lot of my life hunched over in pain and crying for it to stop. My mother would take me to the emergency room in the middle of the night fearful my appendix had burst after a round of pain and vomiting. There was no problem with the appendix. I was given an IV of Benadryl and sent home and I was told nothing was wrong. So why the pain then?
So then began the barrage of doctor visits.
First, I was taken to an allergist. I was “slightly” allergic to wheat, tomatoes, and garlic. Wow really! After removing those from my diet for an extended amount of time, nothing!
So off to the gastroenterologist for an upper and lower GI. Nothing. Recommendation was to take me off high fructose corn syrup and start on an anti-anxiety drug. Hmm, possible life-long dependency and simply masking my symptoms, no thank you.
Out of desperation my mother even took me to a psychologist. Was this all in my head? No, it was my stomach!! I wanted to shout it from the highest mountain, “why does no one believe me!!?”
By sophomore year my health continued to decline to the point I was practically bed-ridden. The joints of my hands were symptomatic of rheumatoid arthritis, I had black spotting in my eyes, I was so lethargic I couldn’t take a simple walk down my bedroom steps and outside. The brain fog was so bad I could barely comprehend simple sentences let alone do a math problem.
I was missing weeks of school and the hopes of graduating with my class were looking like an impossibility if I graduated at all. All this of course led to severe depression and anxiety. Life was passing me by, I was dying, and I didn’t really care. I had become a prisoner in my own body with no hope of escape. I had been to all the doctors. Or had I?
My parents were praying for a miracle and we got it. My father suggested we go see a holistic medical doctor. After reading my medical history and taking one look at me he said in his heavy German accent, “Leaky gut. She has leaky gut.”
We had no idea what he was talking about. We weren’t even sure if we had heard him right. But his diagnosis, later confirmed with a gut permeability test, was the beginning of my life again. With considerable work on my part I followed his protocol to the tee to repair my damaged gut walls.
I was instructed to avoid processed foods, no more wheat products, dairy, soy, corn, or legumes. I had to heal my gut. After months of changing my eating habits, taking supplements, and a lifestyle overhaul (including removing toxins from my environment), my symptoms disappeared & I began to start having a normal life.
Through all this I graduated high school on time & was accepted into the University of Missouri-Columbia in the Nutritional Science program. I never imagined in those darkest, lonely days that there was to be a purpose for my experience. But now it is clear. I was meant to become a Nutritional Scientist, to share my story of hope, to work with people like myself who felt there was no good tomorrow for them. Now I desire to work with individual clients to help them achieve their optimal health & live the life they too were meant to have & deserve!