Monday, December 28, 2015

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is why my body hates me. For years my body has given me fits of different kinds, but it all came to a head six years ago. For six years I have been chronically ill and no one could figure out why. They ruled out all kinds of disorders (MS, Lupus, epilepsy, and more), and then the doctors would send me on my way. My PCP fought for me, but didn't know who else to have me see. By the grace of God, a friend of mine mentioned a doctor who was able to help her when she was bedridden. We decided to give this new doctor a try. This doctor practices family medicine but also functional medicine. That was my first exposure to functional medicine, and although the diet didn't heal me as it has others, it has helped me identify foods that body doesn't handle well.

Early in 2015 our oldest was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation that was restricting the cerebral spinal fluid from getting to his brain and was pressing on his brain stem. Scary stuff! He had brain surgery in July and is doing much better. It was through my desire to learn more about his condition and receive support from other parents that I first learned about EDS. 

In September, a fellow mom in the Facebook support group posted a LOT of links about EDS. That day I decided that I should finally read about this disorder. I was shocked and amazed! I had numerous symptoms, so many that after sharing the links with my hubby we decided to share the information with my doctor. (The one who is a family doctor who studies functional medicine.) Because she believes in continuing to learn and putting her patients first, we were sure she would read the material. We were right! She told us at my visit that she was amazed at how many of the symptoms I have. She did the proper exams (the Brighton scale and the stretchy skin test) and gave me the clinical diagnosis of Hypermobile EDS. 


EDS is a connective tissue disorder that effects the collagen in the body. Collagen is found in every part of our bodies except the nerves. It is the glue that holds everything together. There are different types of EDS and depending on which kind you have depends on which part/s of your body are more severely effected. (I plan to address the other types in a future post.) For the hypermobile type, the joints are very flexible causing the joints to subluxate and dislocate on a daily basis (for many people, multiple times a day). It also causes pain in the joints as well as the muscles that are having to help hold our joints in place. We can use physical therapy to strengthen our muscles, but if the wrong kinds of exercises are done, or in the wrong order, it can cause injury (we injure more easily too) and cause even more problems. So finding a PT who knows about connective tissue disorders and hypermobility is a must. It's also important to find a PT who understands chronic fatigue (which we often have since our joints and muscles tire easily from having to work so hard just to walk, write, type, cook,  do all kinds of typical activities). If we work our bodies too hard it can land us in bed for days or cause joint injury. 

There are many health issues that are associated with EDS, but more research needs to be done to prove that EDS is a cause. It makes sense though because connective tissue is found throughout the body, every body system can be affected. People with Hypermobile EDS may also have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), mitro valve issues with the heart, gastroparesis (slow gastric emptying) IBS, very sensitive skin and stretchy skin that is difficult to suture, mast cell activation disease, vision issues, dysautonomia (which causes all kinds of other issues) Chiari malformation, cervical instability and more. It can be very difficult to be diagnosed with these associated issues because education about EDS typically begins and ends with a short paragraph in a Med school textbook. Because it is deemed a "rare disorder", most doctors don't even think of it as a possibility and there are very few specialists who know much about it as well. Insurance companies can be difficult to work with too in getting the proper tests completed. So, many people with EDS (EDSers) have to travel to be seen by doctors who actually know about the condition and understand the MANY, MANY underlying factors that go into treating someone with Ehlers-Danlos. 

It makes daily life a chore sometimes. Something as simple as getting out of bed, eating a meal, taking a shower, or going to sleep can be significantly difficult. My energy level and pain levels change throughout the day. I may seem fine and I'm able to go up and down the stairs and cook and clean perfectly well in the morning, but in the afternoon I can barely move, or my body makes me sick to my stomach or so tired that I have no choice but to lie down. Lying down is a pain too, literally. If I sleep in the wrong position or my bed or pillow don't give me the proper support, or if my joints are just hurting, lying down can cause a tremendous amount of pain; making it nearly impossible to rest or sleep. 

Why am I telling you all this? Well, it's not for attention or sympathy. It's for education. EDS is thought of as a rare disease, but the hypermobile type is likely not rare but more likely underdiagnosed. The more people that find out they have this disorder and get diagnosed, the better chance for more research we have. Not everyone ends up disabled or feeling ill all the time. There are different severities, and it hits people at different ages. The treatments that are available, aren't that great. The medications they offer are very strong and for some people cause side effects that are just as bad as the pain they have. And the government is trying to limit our ability to even get those medications anymore. Physical therapy and occupational therapy are great avenues to explore, but they don't work for everyone. And like I stated earlier, you have to have the right kind of physical therapy or else you could get hurt. This is a genetic disorder. Without question each of my children could have it. I want to give my children the opportunity to have a better and brighter future. Getting them diagnosed early on is one good thing that I can give them, but it would be even better if I could give them better treatments and possibly even a cure! 

For more information about EDS go to

When my neck is hurting a lot or too weak to hold my head up, I wear a neck brace to relieve my muscles and joints for a bit. I'm not a fan, so I try to keep up with the little things that help me feel "normal" even when I'm not feeling "normal" at all. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dysfunction Junction (a book review)

Last week I finished a terrific book, Dysfunction Junction by April Erwin. This is April's second book and is a fun and engaging novel that reminds young women that true beauty is found within and not to give up on God's plans. 

Here is a short synopsis of Dysfunction Junction.

“I’m twenty-six and I’ve never been kissed.” Staring into the bathroom mirror while making this brilliant comment is supposed to make it feel real. It doesn’t.

Finding true love these days feels impossible to Kianna Ravencamp, only dysfunction surrounds her. Her sister’s married to an abusive husband and marriages she’s admired for years are falling apart. Maybe relationships like her parent’s don’t exist anymore. She dreams of true love and a family, but she’s never even been kissed.

For her birthday, her best friend gives her a journal and dares her to follow her dream of songwriting and vocal lessons quickly follow. Kianna’s finally dared to dream big… if the three men in her life don’t get in her way.

Nick Steele, her new vocal partner is flirtatious and charming. Derek Simpson, the new vocal coach is asking her out for coffee. Even Jason Payne, a childhood friend is acting odd. For the first time in her life, she will have to navigate dating and flirtation. Will her inexperience be her downfall? How will these relationships affect her songwriting career? 

Letting go and trusting God is the only answer that brings the path to real love and success.

I am doing my best to give a detailed review without divulging too much information, but there may be a few spoilers.

Genre: Christian Chick-lit
I would agree completely that Dysfunction Junction is Christian Chick-lit. It is great for young women wondering just what God's plans are, especially when it seems her own plans are falling apart. Young men may enjoy reading this book, but it's intended audience is definitely female.

Age range: 21 years and older
Due to some more mature content.

God/Christianity: Throughout
Our main characters are regularly praying and talking about God and His will in their lives. Scriptures are mentioned as well. They also attend church regularly.

Drug and/or alcohol content: Some
Even though the heroine does not consume alcoholic beverages, she does put herself in situations where alcohol is served and she is interacting with people who are or have been drinking. This is spoken about in the book and clearly shown that our heroine and her friends and roommate do not drink alcohol and do not approve of alcohol consumption.

Cigarettes are also smoked at a few places that Kianna visits.

Cursing/Off-color Language: Very little
There is mention of a four letter word being said, but the word is not actually written in the book.

There is a joke at the beginning of the book where men are compared to parking spaces. Some may find the comparison offensive.

Violence: Moderate
As mentioned in the synopsis, our heroine's sister is in an abusive marriage. Dysfunction Junction explores this and we are able to see some of the abuse as it happens to both Kianna's sister and niece. (This part of the story line is intense and may be difficult for some readers.)

Sexual Content: Mild
Kianna and her friends talk about dating, kissing, and not putting themselves in a position that could compromise their beliefs or reputation. It is not explicitly stated, but implied that our main characters believe in waiting to be married before engaging in sexual intimacy. Despite her beliefs, Kianna does find herself compromising her standards and allowing herself to be in a questionable situation in her apartment all in the name of letting her walls down and allowing herself to fall in love.

There is a humorous story shared at a girls' night that mentions undergarments and an inconvenient position in which one of Kianna's friends finds herself.

Kianna's friends take her shopping, and she has bra fitting where she must take off her blouse and bra. 

There is also a humorous situation involving Kianna becoming stuck while getting dressed.

The descriptions of sexy and hot are used.

Marriage and Divorce: Throughout
One of the main topics of this book is marriage and how so many people are finding themselves in unhappy marriages or getting divorced. Kianna is overwhelmed by it all and begins to question if happy marriages can truly exist outside of her parents'. 

Although working through differences and attending marriage counseling is spoken about, the author also shares beliefs that abuse is an acceptable reason to seek a divorce. 

I very much enjoyed this book. It was difficult to put it down. I connected deeply to the characters and wanted Kianna to see herself the way others do. I highly recommend this book, especially to young women just out of college.

Monday, June 22, 2015

reading for fun

I love reading, but being a homeschooling mother of four, I hardly find the time to read for pleasure. I find time to read to my kids and read books/magazines about homeschooling, but not a lot of time to read for pleasure. Since reading is very important for children and adults, I'm working on finding the time to read just for fun. Reading aloud and modeling reading help children see that reading can be a fun way to learn and spend leisure time. Once kids think reading can be fun, they'll read more often and quickly find that reading allows them travel to far away places (including fantastical places), travel to the the future and back in time, meet new people (both real and fictitious), and so much more. Unfortunately,  I find myself easily engaged in other things rather than reading, so when I was given the chance to read and had a purpose to do it; I was thrilled! (Sometimes I need a little "kick in the pants" to do what I know I should.)

A few weeks ago my friend April Erwin gave me that kick in the pants. She asked for people who would be interested in reading her two newest books and giving an honest review of each book. It seemed like a great idea since we're doing very little school work right now, and I have missed reading books. (It also gives me a chance to get back to blogging.) I'm excited to be reading more of April's books and to give my children a good example of reading for fun!

So be on the lookout this summer for book reviews for young and older. I'm thrilled to spend more time reading for fun and reading to my children. I hope you enjoy my reading for fun series this summer! Be sure to do some reading yourself, and share your thoughts on the books you read.

Friday, June 12, 2015

About disappointment

Disappointment is a good word to describe my trial with the elimination diet. I know others have had great success with the diet and felt their bodies "reboot" and become like new. Well, that's not the result I had. I do feel better, I have more energy and can walk better. I rarely have to use my braces and it has been months since I needed the wheelchair. Matter of fact, I rarely use a motorized cart when grocery shopping (although that is due to my children's needs and not just mine). Even though these are WONDERFUL benefits, I'm still not able to do the things I really want to do.

I still want to be able to take my kids to the park and play with them. I'd love to be able to run with them and work in the garden even though it's hot outside. I want to go on nature hikes, roller skate, ride bikes, etcetera. It's difficult for me to not feel disappointed at another failure in both finding a diagnosis and getting my body to where it should be for a 36 year old mom. I'm working on being happy and feeling blessed with the results I did receive, but it is definitely a struggle for me. I feel like I'm letting my kids down and my husband down. 

For this reason (and some other trials our family currently has) our Scripture to learn this summer gives hope and promise for renewal.

Isaiah 40:31

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

-Inspired Version

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How many more weeks?!?!

My doctor called yesterday!!!! She told me that she went to a conference this past weekend where they recommended people with numerous symptoms (like me) stay on the elimination part of the diet for eight weeks. (Sigh) Eight weeks!?!? I know the idea is for me to get better, but this diet has been a bear. Even when you start to add things back into your diet, you only do it one food at a time for three days. Depending on how my body reacts to the "new" food I can make it a part of my regular diet or take it out completely. Since I have already completed five weeks of the elimination part, I only have three more weeks to go.  When I think of it that way, three weeks doesn't seem that bad.

Because my doctor thinks I have a gluten intolerance, I won't try to add that back into my diet for at least six months. Hopefully, after six months of being gluten free, my weakness, numbness, and fatigue will be gone. If it comes back when I eat gluten, we'll know that gluten was the culprit of my symptoms. If not, I can try to eat wheat and gluten again.

To make things a bit more interesting, I found out yesterday as I was making lunch that our glass stove top is chipped and cracked.  
Due the chips and cracking, we shouldn't use the stove top because we could get shocked or it could cause a short. :-/ So now we can only cook with the oven and microwave. We do have a plug in grill I can try, but for liquids (like soup) that's not going to work so well. So now I'm on the hunt for a replacement glass stove top. If you know where we might be able to purchase one without breaking the bank, I'd appreciate your tips.

Also, if you have any tips for "clean" food using a grill, oven, and/or microwave; I'll take those ideas too.

I don't usually share a Scripture on my blog posts (a habit I should probably begin), but today; I woke up very fatigued and weak. This Scripture showed up on my Facebook feed, and I felt I should claim this promise today. It's a good promise for all of us.

Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why aren't you better?

I'm ending week five, and I've decided that food is my sworn enemy.  Even on this diet, food is my enemy. My body hates me and food is my enemy. Eating food that is supposed to be "safe", my stomach hurts, my body is weak, and I don't have a lot of energy. I am so frustrated that I don't have a doctor to talk about with all this. My kids and and DH get the brunt of my frustration, which obviously isn't good.  

This diet is extremely stressful on my family.  They are ready for it to be over and there have been times where they just wanted me to quit and have told me so. I had to be on this diet over Valentine Day and our wedding anniversary which meant we couldn't really go out to eat (except for Chipotle, which wasn't edible on that date because it was too spicy) and DH feels guilty eating in front of me.  It's hurting my relationship with him and the rest of my family.

I can't say that I'm getting better.  I feel like I may have more energy than I usually do, but almost all of that energy has to go into making my food, so it's difficult to know if I truly do have more energy. DH isn't seeing any improvement. This was supposed to be the answer when none of the other medical professionals could figure it out. This was supposed to "fix" me. No luck. I'm just as sick & broken as I was before. 

I thought I'd be able to play with my kids again. Take them to the park and the library.  Walk barefoot with DH, and be able to go places without a wheelchair or walker.  Be able to exercise on a regular basis, and go out to eat on occasion without having to pick the entire meal apart just to eat something not worthy of the price paid for it. I'm so angry I could just scream!

So where do I go form here? 

Friday, February 27, 2015

A few days left of the diet.

I haven't posted in a while because I was having password trouble, so I'm finally back. :-) 

Cooking has gotten a bit easier, but I do eat many of the same dishes repeatedly. I still struggle with fatigue, weakness and tingly in my legs and arms, but many of my GI issues have gotten better. I also noticed my face didn't break out as much during my cycle this month. 

The most fun part of this diet has been trying new foods and eating more fruit and vegetables.  Eliminating sugar really does bring out the sweetness in other food, like rice and herbal tea. ( I have discovered that I LOVE❤️❤️❤️ herbal teas!)

I finally ordered ghee from Amazon and it is so YUMMY! I've been cooking with it, but also added it to a baked potato, rice, and topped a rice cake with it. (I was going to put a link for it here, but it didn't work.)

Some of my new favorite foods are sautéed mushrooms, onions, and spinach.  So good! I also really enjoy roasting veggies with garlic, sea salt, ginger, and black pepper (whatever you want really) and you get a sweet and savory dish. I hear thyme is good so I'm thinking of adding to something today.  DH and I also found that adding some canned tuna (be careful which kind you buy, look for tuna that doesn't have soy) to stir fry gives it a really good taste and it changes it up from having chicken all the time. 

One item that has made things easier is this kitchen cart. Our kitchen is so small that this cart nearly doubles our kitchen counter space. It has two shelves and a drawer too. It didn't stay empty for long. 😊
(I actually spent so much time here a couple of days ago that my muscles are still sore from all the chopping!)

I mentioned there are only a few days left of the diet, but that really depends on a choice my DH and I need to make. If I only do the elimination part of the diet for four weeks, my last day should be tomorrow (our anniversary), but I haven't been able to consult with my doctor so I'm not sure if I should begin adding foods back into my diet Tuesday, or continue with the elimination part until I hear from her. (I do have to remain strictly gluten free for at least six months to see if that is what is causing some of my symptoms.) 

If I choose to begin adding things back into my diet, what do I begin with? I don't know! I wish I had more guidance. Unfortunately, even though my DH and I were both impressed with this doctor after my appointment, we have not been impressed with her lack of follow-up. She's the only functional medicine doc our insurance will cover, so we're kind of stuck. 

What would you do in my place?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why this diet is so hard

I'm on day 11 and this STINKS!!!! It's not the food itself, it's the work that has to go into everything just to eat a meal (or snack). There has to be clean dishes, space on the stove to cook, and room to chop produce every time I want to eat. That may not seem like a big deal, but we have six people in our family with a VERY small kitchen, barely any counter space, a dishwasher that only cleans the dishes when you've cleaned them by hand first, and many pots and pans that can only be hand washed. Which means that just for me to be able to eat one meal dishes have to be done three or four times a day. (My excema covered hands aren't enjoying that very much.)

Even if dishes weren't such a big deal there's the food prep itself. If I had tons of extra time on the weekends or evenings, I could prep everything ahead of time, but the time isn't there. Plus, there's the fatigue. I get tired really easily. Chopping lots of veggies is exhausting for me. My arms tire easily, and I simply can't do it for long enough to get a week's worth of food ready. Which means I would need to do it every evening for the following day. Easy right? Except evenings tend to be difficult for my kids. They become really clingy and want Mommy to sit and snuggle. (How can I say no to that?) Plus, with their special needs, I don't want them to become anxious and overwhelmed because Mommy doesn't have the time to sit with them and spend time with them before bed. If they do become anxious or overwhelmed, it can take an extra hour just to get them in bed and maybe to sleep. 

We're a homeschooling family. The more time I have to spend washing dishes, prepping food, cooking meals, and eating; the less time there is for me to teach. That's not going to work. Not to mention the two year old that needs constant supervision and has a severe case of the "terrible twos". 

Then there are all the cravings. I know I was eating and drinking things that I shouldn't have been. I really like soda and chocolate. I rarely would have cake or brownies, or ice cream; and when I did it had to be gluten and dairy free and yet I still crave them (especially around Valentines Day and my wedding anniversary. The past few days I've really been craving soda, chocolate, and a bowl of cereal. :-/ Things that I can't have on the elimination diet. 

Right now, this STINKS! I don't know for sure if I'll be able to keep this up. The time, energy, and money it takes to complete this diet may just be more than I have to give. I know it has great potential to help me get healthier and not have all these physical problems anymore, but if I can't find the time to actually eat that's not healthy either. 

I want to end this post with a question to other homeschooling moms who have jobs or go to school while homeschooling, how to you juggle it alll? I really need your ideas on how to make this work. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Diet day 7

I had planned on blogging more often about how all of this is going, and life decided to get in the way. Last week we had three different family members struggle with a stomach bug that meant Momma was needed to comfort and blogging went out the window. We also had appointments for our kids that kept me away. Anyway, I hope to do a better job this week of keeping my handwritten journal and my blog up to date.

Seven days into the diet and I haven't really seen a difference. I'm still struggling with fatigue and weak legs, I've had some pretty bad headaches off and on, and I'm still having mood swings and GI issues. I know it can take a while to see a difference, but I must admit that I was hoping for something to show improvement by now. 

I do need to weigh myself so I can see how my weight changes as I go through the diet. I doubt my weight has changed very much, but it will be interesting to see if it changes over time and by how much. 

I have gone through some rough times with eating basically the same things each day. I would like to try something different but with the limited ingredients and our small kitchen it makes it difficult. Even with cutting up the vegetables last weekend it's been a bit more difficult and tiresome than I anticipated. I do like the fact that I'm eating healthier, and I'm hopeful that I will see positive results. 

I want to end this blog with my motivation for this diet. For the past four years I went from an active mom to someone who can't take the kids to the park, library, or on field trips without a second adult. I can't physically do all the things that I want to do with my kids, so my motivation for this diet is to become healthy so I can be the mom my kids deserve. So, I'm writing this blog post to be my encouragement for the next week to keep going no matter how difficult it is and even when I really want a granola bar or cookie. My health an being a more active mom is worth more than something sweet. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The first day of the comprehensive elimination diet

AUnfortunately, the day didn't start out so well. DH and I were rudely woken by our dear Nugget who got sick in the bed. (Poor baby) He was better very quickly, and was way too awake to back to sleep. I couldn't go back to sleep for fear of him becoming sick again, so I watched the news as the minutes ticked to hours. 

Eventually, he did fall asleep...on me. So when breakfast time rolled around, I had to skip it because convenient foods like cereal are NOT a part of this diet. I didn't get smoothies made the night before, so without being able to go to the kitchen and fix myself something, I simply had to go without. After a while I remembered that my DH bought rice cakes and SuperBoy could bring me one of those. So that was breakfast and my late morning snack too. 

Nugget did wake up and was back to his two year old self (being a stinker) until about one. Of course, that's when it dawned on me that I hadn't eaten lunch yet and that Nugget had fallen asleep on me again! Salad with mushrooms to the rescue (and another two rice cakes). 

Soon things were back to normal and I worked on washing dishes so I could make dinner (salmon filets, quinoa pilaf (something new), grilled yellow bell pepper, and my DH's own creation, avomato salad). It's was super yummy!

After supper we normally would take the girls to Handmaidens, but since Nugget had been sick, we felt it was in everyone's best interest to stay home. So the girls and I made smoothies instead! They turned out pretty tasty! They're excited to make some more for everyone in the morning. 😊

I'm feeling pretty good this evening, but had very little energy this morning. Hopefully tonight we'll get a full night's sleep and be ready for day two. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

When choices become actions

Monday is the big day.  Monday I begin the comprehensive elimination diet. There has been quite a bit of preparation that has gone into this process and more preparation to come.

The first thing I decided to do was search for recipes on the internet and Pinterest . When I began, I could hardly find anything that would work without a lot of substitutions, but as I kept looking, I found more than I thought I would. I've compiled them onto a Pinterest board elimination-diet-recipes.

The second thing was to make a grocery list. Usually we make a menu before a shopping list, but as I tried to figure out what to buy and where to buy it (looking at local ads) the anxiety of what I was about to do started to overwhelm me. That's when my DH reminded me that it wouldn't be that complicated since I've been gluten and dairy free for more than 2.5 years. There would be some changes to my diet, but we could keep making some of the same recipes we already have ingredients for with just a few changes. So, going on the idea that what we really need are "staples" (free range chicken breasts, salmon, ground turkey, frozen fruit and veggies), my DH went shopping. I wanted to go with him (and he wanted me to go too), but with four kids who would not be amused to go shopping for hours, he went by himself. 

The shopping left me happy and a bit shocked. DH was able to get many items at our local Costco. He bought cold pressed olive oil, cases of coconut milk and rice milk, and even found canned tuna without soy! I was most surprised at what he couldn't find, free range chicken! Organic grain fed chicken was available, but since the idea is to be 100% gluten free, grain fed chicken isn't going to work; even if it is organic.) After spending hours at Costco (checking labels, lots of labels) we decided for him to come back home and possibly go to the grocery store tomorrow.

Since I have gluten and dairy free for so long, we figured that many of the "staples
 we've used for years would still work; unfortunately we were wrong. When looking through our own pantry, we found that some of our "staple" items (quinoa with brown rice, Food Should Taste Good Chips, gluten free pasta and flour mixes) won't work for this diet due to the oil that is added or nut and bean flours. On this diet, it is imperative to check labels. So many foods have soy and unhealthy oils in them. I had no idea! 

Tomorrow, I'm planning on cutting up a lot of the fresh produce we've purchased and putting it into quart size freezer bags so that when it comes time to making lunch and dinner, it won't be quite so time consuming and labor intensive. I'm also planning to make smoothies, pour about a cup into quart size freezer bags that can easily thaw overnight for a nice easy breakfast in the morning. 

I still need to work out the menu for the week so I know what I'm making when, but at least now I have many recipes to choose from and know what ingredients we have that I can put together. :-)

I'm pretty excited to start this new chapter. I've heard great things about this diet, and I'm really hoping that I can get my old self back.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Choices, choices, choices: We choose health

So my DH and I came to the decision that we're going to try the comprehensive elimination diet to see if that will ease my symptoms and possibly take away whatever the illness is that I have. We know that there are other diets (GAPS and BED to name two), and if this one doesn't work, I might try one of those.

So my kind and loving DH doesn't want me to go through this diet alone, so he's going to do it with me. :-) We'll probably make some of the meals for the entire family, so the kids will get to try some new foods and recipes. (At this point, they won't be doing the diet. If we find it helpful for me, we may try it with them too.)

This next week, the plan is to put together recipes and a menu. I'll be keeping my eyes out for specials on produce, fish, seafood and other diet options to help us stick to our budget. Then we'll go buy the necessary foods and start the diet in couple of weeks.

If that seems like a while to wait, let me explain how difficult it can be to find recipes on the exclusion diet. First of all, there are many exclusion diets out there; although they are similar, they simply aren't the same. Frequently, there are ingredients in those recipes that I can't have on this diet. Some of them are probably easy to modify, others not so much. There aren't a lot of recipes out there that fit this particular diet, so it could take some time and digging to find what I need. So I'll be going through different cookbooks and recipes online this next week to make a grocery list and menu. I'm also looking at trying to grow some vegetables and herbs at home to help make this diet more affordable for our family.

This is a daunting task, and because of that I thought I would take my readers through the process with us. If you're interested in the diet, new recipes, tips on making meals more affordable, or just want to see if it works for me; I'd love to have you join us on this journey.

I'm really hoping this diet works. It would be a huge blessing and relief to our family if I was healthy again.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Choices, choices, choices: Getting healthy vs. getting by

In case I haven't shared this before, I am a disabled mom to four terrific kids who each have a chronic illness and 3/4 have special needs. (The youngest is still very young and the special needs that run in our family tend to rear their heads when kids are a bit older.) I homeschool and have the priveledge to see the strides our kids make every day.

For the past four to five years my hubby and I have been in many doctors' offices, and I have had many tests run to figure out what is causing my disability; but no one has been able to figure it out. I even tried to be seen by the Mayo Clinic, but they refused to see me. So yesterday, my husband and I tried a new route; functional medicine. These doctors are medical doctors (MDs or DOs), but look at medicine from a different point of view. They look at the body as a whole instead of different parts, and they tend to work from a nutritional point instead of a pharmaceutical point.

After sharing my "story" with the doctor, she shared with us that my story is different than any other she has heard and my symptoms we quite different too. She gave us the names of supplements I should add to my diet (fish oil, a special kind of B vitamin, vitamin D (which I've been taking for a few years)) and wants me to start with the comprehensive elimination diet. Since I've already been gluten and dairy free for about three years, she's not sure how well the diet will work for me; but our decision was that I wasn't strict enough with the gluten free diet and that I need to be more vigilant.

The elimination diet is scary for me. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, some lean meats, and absolutely NO gluten, dairy (which for me means cutting out the butter) and eggs. It is definitely healthier than I've ever eaten before, but it's also way more expensive. That's where my fear comes in, if we spend all this money on buying the supplements and produce, what if we can't pay our bills or buy the kids the clothes they need, or get the kids into activities they should/need to participate in!!!!! My momma heart is having trouble to thinking about all this, let alone actually giving it a try.

Granted, the elimination diet itself is only about four weeks, before you start adding food (one food at a time) back into the diet. The diet has been successful for many, including a friend of mine. The part that gets me is the whole, you are probably sensitive to some kind of gluten and need to be strictly gluten free for at least six months to know. No cheating at all, even accidentally, or the six months, starts over.

There are some tests she would like to run, but she's not sure if my insurance will pay for them. (Insurance makes way more money off of sick people than they do healthy!) She'll be calling me soon to let me know.

So my hubby and I are up in the air with this. We both want and need for me to get better, but is it going to be financially responsible to our family to spend even more money on food. I don't know, but I guess it's something we have to figure out.

What would you do?

(By the way, the elimination diet is because of the belief and research that has been done that shows many times our health starts in our gut. If we can get our gut healthy, we will be healthy. That goes for all body systems and even mental disorders.)

This is a copy of the comprehensive elimination diet that is identical to the one my doctor gave me. Comprehensive Elimination Diet

Want to know more about functional medicine.