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“It’s all in your head” – No…it’s all in my gut!

It all started with a flood!

In 1993 my family and I lived in a home located in a flood plain. That spring and summer we had massive amounts of rain and the standing joke in the area was that we all needed to start building an ark! Unfortunately, that joke proved to true. Over the course of a few weeks, the river started rising, higher and higher, and the rains kept coming. Finally, it proved to be too much for the various levees in the region and one by one they started to fail. Within a matter of a few hours, our beautiful home was surrounded by nasty, dirty, flood water. My husband and I had an emergency plan in place, just in case the levee did break. Our three small children stayed with relatives and my husband and I stayed in our house. We had a small boat with a motor so that we could boat a couple miles to the closest little town and replenish our supplies. We also had a generator that we kept going to keep the sump pump from backing up in our basement (which we did manage to keep dry throughout the course of the flood).  Needless to say, it was a stressful and harrowing time in our lives.

Through the course of the next few weeks, I was exposed to the contaminated river water. It would splash on our supplies, and on us, as we boated back and forth from our home to the nearest little town where we obtained fresh water, fuel, and supplies.

Eventually, the flood water subsided and we were all able to return home. Once the mess and damage from the flood waters were repaired and cleaned up we resumed our lives as before.  However, I was not feeling well. I noticed that I actually felt worse when I ate a meal, I had no energy and felt weak, tired and totally drained.  I went to my family physician who performed a physical and blood tests which all came back normal.  He referred me to a GI doctor, who once again did a series of test.  All my test results came back normal, but I kept feeling worse and started losing weight. I was then referred out of town to a major medical center.  There, I saw two doctors, underwent more tests but received no answers.  In fact, I was told “It’s all in your head. You will just have to go home and live with it.” I was given prescriptions for pain pills and sleeping pills and I went home thinking that this would be my life from now on. However, I continued to lose more and more weight and over time, my weight dropped to 103 lbs.  I just KNEW something was wrong.

My Dad was kind enough to take a week of his vacation time and drove me to the Mayo Clinic. Long story short – over the course of three vigorous days of testing, doctors discovered that I had a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. By now I was greatly infested and since I was the host, I was literally being eaten alive! No wonder I felt so bad and had lost so much weight.

Over the next year, I finally conquered the parasitic infestation through a series of medication. Although I eventually felt “normal,” I quickly learned that my “normal” would never be the quite same.

Since having these parasites I have been unable to tolerate gluten, and have developed food allergies/intolerance to corn, onions, garlic, kiwi, bananas, peanuts, milk products, soy and all preservatives.  If I eat any of these foods I develop flu-like symptoms and an excruciating migraine.  Through the years I have kept food diaries to help me figure out what I can eat and what I should avoid. If I eat the wrong foods, I always pay a price.  I attempt to eat healthy by baking my own bread, cakes, cookies, etc… I know exactly what ingredients go into my recipes so I know they are overall, ‘non-contaminated’.

I would encourage anyone reading this to listen to what your body is telling you. You know your body better than anyone, so listen to your instincts and do your own research. Sometimes symptoms can be caused simply by a food allergy, or intolerance. Keep a food diary for several months and you may be surprised to discover that you feel better if you eliminate a few things from your diet.  It’s at least worth a try.

You can find many yummy recipes that are dairy-free, paleo, Whole30 gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, low carb/diabetic, on my Pinterest account.

Linda

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