Have you ever come to a place in your life where you have said, “I do not have enough hours in the day to do what I need to do!” and really meant it? I came to that place in 2015. And I had to make some difficult choices. The end result is a happier family, a stronger marriage, and a healthier me.
But, here’s the back story: everything in my life looked great, we had a beautiful new home, my daughter was happy, my husband had a good job, I was feeling confident in my business. But not everything was running smoothly and I had really over loaded myself. I wanted to be able to be a good wife, a parent who was “there,” and an amazing blogger. As a small business owner everything fell on my shoulders. So often, I would spend all day preparing, photographing, editing, writing, and promoting a blog post… only to look up at my husband walking through the door at 5pm to a dirty home with no food on the table. He was always 100% understanding and gracious (because I married way up) but I knew that my life was out of balance.
I really wanted to be able to take care of the house, my family, myself, my business, and not drop any balls. But I couldn’t. I was holding myself to a ridiculously high standard. I was running on fumes, but I was holding everything together…
And then everything fell apart.
On Monday May 25, 2015 I suffered my second miscarriage in less than 13 months (I wrote about losing our second child in April 2014 in this post). At the time, I did not have the emotional energy to talk about our third child here on the blog because on the same day my 5 year old daughter started to mention she had double vision. Thus began what has been the most difficult year of my life. I personally had 4 doctors appointments that week in order to try to determine the root cause of my miscarriages. I also took my precious girl to 4 doctor appointments during that last week of her Kindergarten year as specialists ruled out infection, eye problems, and other general issues. By Friday her pediatrician suggested we go to the ER as it would be the quickest way to get an MRI, as he feared a tumor was the cause of her still unchanged double vision.
We spent 3 days in the hospital. And during that time I was trying to deal with the loss of my third child while simultaneously dealing with the potential of losing my first. Emotionally, I was a wreck. Over that long weekend, the doctors at the Children’s Hospital ruled out all the scary things like brain tumors. But we were left with so many questions as to the cause of her double vision. We were discharged with orders to visit multiple specialists.
I thought my difficulties were ending, but I was so wrong.
My blood tests came back later that week and I received a call from my doctor with the results. My labs were all over the board, but three things were determined:
- I have a genetic mutation called MTHFR (hetero C677T for those of you familiar the mutation) which means that my body cannot produce the enzyme needed to breakdown Vitamin B and makes it hard for my body to rid itself of toxins (no wonder I have felt tired my WHOLE life).
- I was testing positive for antibodies for Brucella – a zoological disease found in goats. Yeah, I had a goat disease.
- The one thing he was not sure about, as the finding required more testing, but I was either suffering from Lupus or Cancer. Whoa, I did not see that coming at all.
So that phone call sucked.
So I learned from that call that I was a mutant with a genetic mutation that looks like a curse word (MTHFR) and that my Kryptonite was a naturally occurring vitamin, and I didn’t even get any special powers… lame. I also knew that the goat disease thing made NO sense, because I had not had contact with goats in almost three years (at the Orange County Fair) and the tests showed I had contracted this within the last 3 months… so something was fishy. But the third one was the hardest to wrap my head around – lupus or cancer? How do you even process that information? My entire summer was filled with doctor’s appointments for my daughter and myself. Specialist after specialist ruled out one thing and suggested something else as a cause of my symptoms. I suffered from night sweats, insomnia, massive hair loss, severe brain fog, and constant fatigue.
I was so fed up with my HMO shuffling me around.
I felt like the doctors were playing “1,2,3, not me!” so they could pass me off to someone else. When I was first diagnosed I was so overwhelmed. I couldn’t bring myself to go online because minor issues, when searched on the internet, lead you to one of two answers: it’s nothing or cancer. Ya know? I had already been dealt the cancer possibility, so online research felt like too much at first. But after 2 months of the back-and-forth, I got online and consulted Dr. Google. That’s when I realized that I needed one doctor to handle all these issues. I found a trusted Naturopath who specializes in MTHFR and brought every.single.lab.result to our first visit. I had over 30 pieces of paper from 6 doctors documenting my recent medical journey. She reviewed them all and gave me real advice.
Here’s what she said:
- MTHFR requires Methylated B vitamin (already broken down) – take that and you’ll be fine.
- Brucella is way out of left field, we can do a blood culture to see if you have it (why didn’t my HMO tell me that?! BTW it was negative. I never had Brucella.)
- She discovered in those blood tests I had brought her that specialists had ruled out Lupus and Cancer … but no one had ever told me. (WTH HMO?!?!?! Who doesn’t tell their patient that?)
She earned my trust and respect as she treated me like a real person and successfully navigated the mess that was the state of my health. So when I met with her again in October and she said, “I think the underlying cause of everything is an auto-immune disorder that was triggered by stress.” I was like “That could make sense.” And then she said,
so I did. I have officially been grain-free since October 2015. 6 months of zero grain (and corn because my body reacts poorly to that too) has been a game changer for me. My energy is returning, the fogginess in my head has lifted for the first time in forever (*cue Frozen Soundtrack*), and I feel like a fully-functioning adult, finally. Being Grain-Free felt difficult at first. But I found resources to help. The biggest game changers were learning how to cook without grains, and finding these two cookbooks that I love (these are affiliate links, which means if you click them and make a purchase a small portion comes back to illistyle to help off-set the costs of running this blog. Thanks for supporting illistyle!):
Along with going grain-free I also take a handful of vitamins each day. I am not sure if I will have to take all of them forever, but I know that for now, they are helping me too. I have recently start yoga as a way to decrease my stress and get my body to a stronger place. My health was coming under control, but I knew that my old way of living: running myself ragged non-stop wasn’t something I could go back to.
I had to make hard decisions about what to cut out of my life, what to keep, and how it all worked together.
In part two of this story I will share how I went about making those decisions and share the step-by-step process that might be able to help you regain some control of your life. You’ll also find out what we have learned about Ava’s double vision and what our family life is like today.