Big Changes

Almost exactly a year ago, I found out that I had a severe gluten allergy. For years, I didn’t know this which caused significant damage to my digestive system (and the rest of my body). In addition to the allergy, I also have a small spot of Crohn’s and what is called leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Basically, those intestines don’t work how they should – creating immune responses in my body for whatever I put in my mouth. Overtime, it has caused other parts of my body to grow weak from just trying to compensate for all of the “mixed signals” going through me.

In January of 2014, I began my elimination diet which I am currently still following. That consists of no gluten (obviously), no dairy/casein, no soy, no eggs, no legumes/beans, no grains, no onions/garlic, no yeast, limited amounts of tomatoes/nightshades, no beef and no pork. In addition, the foods that I do eat are all cooked and mostly pureed or very soft. I eat a lot of applesauce, mashed potatoes and soup. I can’t complain much about the diet. Sure, it sucks not being able to eat certain things (I really miss eggs). However, I have and continue to see improvement following this strict food preparation and elimination. I will follow it as long as necessary. My doctors and nutritionists do think that I will be able to slowly add foods back in as my body heals – we just don’t know how long that will take. As they tell me, it took years to get this bad; it may take that long to get better.

Also in January, I was given some shots to improve some of my very low vitamin/nutrient levels. When I completed my first set of labs for my doctor at KU (all 20 something vials), I found out that I was very malnourished and was deficient in almost all of my vitamins/mineral levels. I was having severe mal-absorption. January was a rough start to the year for me but also one of the greatest starts I’d had in a long time. I finally had a diagnosis and a plan for improvement.

I continued the diet and crazy amounts of supplements each day (and still do). However, my lab results have been a little back and forth (April was good, July was not so great). In July, my doctor asked me how “committed” I was to healing and getting better. I was a little confused – of course I’m committed – I’m paying them out of pocket, traveling over 4 hours round trip for each appointment, eating baby food and taking supplements like M&M’s. I immediately said “yes” and then the suggestion came to relax and rest as much as I could. In January, I knew there was a possibility that I would need to stop – stop work, stop worrying, stop whatever I could. I decided to cut my hours back some at work. However, it was our year-end, month-end and audit time (if you are an accountant, you’ll know how busy that is). My doctors didn’t care what time of year it was. It took a few weeks, but I finally came to the understanding that I would have to leave my job – at least for the immediate future. My last day will be October 31. It was not an easy decision to make and I’m very nervous about it. I like my job and what I do, but I have to rearrange my priorities. It wasn’t until my doctor questioned my commitment that I realized I had things mixed up. My husband and I have always said that we would give our kids a great life. We would make sure they didn’t have to worry about things. We would make sure they had nice things and could do fun things or go fun places. We also promised each other that we were in for the long-haul; for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. No quitting in the Stultz house.

I thought that having a great job would allow us to live the way we wanted. It didn’t. Sure, the kids always had decent clothes, cool toys, excessive things – and boy did they love it. However, in recent months I have also realized what they don’t have : a healthy mom. I realized that I was still trying to be superwoman to everyone else that it was impossible to devote the time required to healing. It doesn’t do our family any good to have the money to go do fun things or buy things, if I physically can’t go or enjoy them. I’m tired… physically, mentally, emotionally. I’m tired of hearing “mom, your tummy hurt again?” or “Mom, you don’t feel good, so we can’t go right?” or “Mom, are you ever going to feel good?”. I’m tired of seeing my husband wear himself out to pick up my slack or try to “fix” me. I’m tired of avoiding people like the plague so that I don’t catch any bugs due to my poor immune system. As for my health plan, I will be continuing with what I’m doing now but I’ll also be adding in some vitamin IV infusions to see if that helps speed up the healing process. I get my first one today! Hopefully soon I’ll get to start reintroducing more foods (or at least not eat mush).

I know that it still may take a while longer to get to where I want to be but I’m 100% ready to give it my all. Some have asked “what will you do?” I don’t know….. and that scares the heck out of me. I’ve never taken a break; I don’t rest or relax; I don’t just not do anything. I’m sure going to give it a try though! I’m nervous but excited. I’m excited to see my kids more. I’m excited to enjoy more time together as a family – eventually not being tired. I joke that little miss and I will either become best friends or mortal enemies – but in all seriousness, wish me luck with that diva! I’m excited to work on my blog more – it has proven to be a great outlet for me.

I will miss my co-workers and miss my job but I feel this is a good change for me. I have started to see improvements – I’ve gained 10 lbs, my hair isn’t falling out, I’ve been told my “color” is good (whatever that means J) and I’m happy with it but I’m also ready to have several “good” days in a row again. I feel like this choice will be a great opportunity to get those “good” days back.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and prayers and welcome any you send our way. I have a feeling though – one day soon, you’ll be using them on someone or something else!

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