Time for reflection…

2015 is coming to a close tonight… it went so fast, yet I’ve been anxiously awaiting a “fresh start.”

It’s easy for me to say that 2015 sucked because it did….

In January, I made a brave decision (with the assistance from my KU doc team) to begin to reintroduce foods I had previously taken away. Long story short – in Oct. 2013, I found out I was highly sensitive to so many foods and we immediately cut those foods out of my diet. We thought things were getting better so it was time to give them a try – kind of like a baby though, one new food at a time. I choose eggs – without hesitation. You see, prior to that Oct. 2013, my husband was trying to “bulk” me up and get me lots of protein so I was eating a minimum of two eggs a day and I got used to it. Then I had to quit eggs “cold turkey” (if you will). I missed them. Unfortunately, those 3 servings of eggs spread over a few days literally set me back SO far. I went from starting to eat whole, uncooked foods in December of 2014, to back to a completely liquid diet again in January… all from 3 eggs. That was just the long start to a rough year (health wise). Over the next few months, I repeatedly got ‘bad’ news at the doc, felt terrible, had zero energy… blah… blah… blah.

It all kind of came to that breaking point in May. I had what I thought would be a promising appointment since I had been giving my body so much time to heal with the liquid diet. It wasn’t promising… it was rather devastating. I learned that I was showing symptoms very similar to Cystic Fibrosis – my pancreas wasn’t functioning or producing enzymes to help me digest food. I also learned that despite my 30+ supplements a day and a very nutritious diet, I was still not absorbing nutrients and was still suffering from deficiencies. My doctors decided it was time for IV therapy. I began those in June and continued on a weekly basis through August – Wednesdays soon became my least favorite day of the week. I had goals to stay on track with having “home pre-school” with the kids and that kind of got interrupted. Lane spent 4 hours of his 7th birthday with me at the hospital when we should have been having fun at the arcade. At the end of July, I then became “Iron Mom” when I had to get an Infusaport put in my chest/clavicle so I could continue to get my IV therapies – I quickly learned that frequent IVs, large amounts of ‘routine’ labs and a weak body tend to make your veins crappy.

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In addition, my doctors agreed that my malabsorption problem was getting a little out of hand and that we needed another opinion. I was sent to the University of Chicago Medical Center just a couple days after my sweet 1st grader started school. My doctors were worried about an advanced type of Celiac Disease known as Refractory Celiac Disease – in which your body never thrives, despite a gluten-free lifestyle. What’s was even more scary is that there are two different types – 1 and 2 –  and the severity differs. One type is a little “manageable” and the other has a very, very poor prognosis. The University of Chicago Med Center supposedly has the best Celiac Research Center in the country. I don’t doubt the ability of the doctors or their reputation but unfortunately, that was the worst experience I’ve had a hospital or doctor’s office – and I’ve had MANY of those in the last few years. It wasn’t that I didn’t get the ‘answers I wanted’, I literally didn’t get anything. I was brushed off like ‘no big deal’ and sent home and was lied to. Not good.

Finally, the last few months have been just as exhausting – back and forth from my local doctor’s to KC, tests, tests, tests and more tests – labs, MRIs, scopes, random tests. And another new doctor – in KC. I spent most of December preparing for appointments and having procedures done.. and then recovering from those procedures. My husband and I were SO looking forward to Christmas so that we could actually relax – yes, it was sad to think that our busiest holiday was going to be our most relaxing. I also prematurely got my hopes up from some of those tests and thought I was going to be that ‘miracle’ patient that just got better at once. I got the final results back a few days ago which brought me back down to reality.

Oh, and did I mention that during all that, we decided to sell our home and move into an RV? Yeah… that happened. It’s crazy to me to think that when we bought our ‘dream home’ in June of 2014, that we would live it in for just over a year. It’s crazier to think that I actually prefer living in the RV than the big house?

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Now, it’s December 31st, 2015 and I’m sitting in that RV watching my children play with their new ‘farm puppy’ while my husband tries to find the remote to our only TV so we can watch a little movie before falling asleep before midnight. No, we aren’t going out – it’s almost impossible for me right now. No, we won’t be doing anything crazy – unless you count possibly watching TWO movies tonight or staying up until 11! No, our life is not ideal. But you know what? It’s OURS and it’s WONDERFUL.

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Yes, all of those things happened. And even some more that are a bit too personal for me to share… However, each and every one of these ‘bad’ situations have made something better. They each have a reason and a lesson. So no, I’m not going to say that 2015 sucked. If anything, 2015 was eye-opening, educational and love filled.

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In January, I learned that it’s perfectly OK if you can’t have eggs… like ever again. I’ll probably never knowingly eat an egg again and I’m FINE with that. I’ve learned to appreciate food for what it’s designed for – to make us live. There are some foods that, frankly, want me dead. I stay away from them. I enjoy the foods that I can and have learned to eat the right foods for healing, nutrition and health. You can call me a weirdo, hippie or whatever but I am proof that a Paleo diet works (for me). I pay so close attention to what we eat and how it makes us feel – not just me, my whole family. That’s SO important the life quality.

I also learned that I likely do NOT have Cystic Fibrosis – but I know how scary that “wonder” can be and I really feel for those who live with it on a daily basis  – or other disease for that matter. Patience is something I’ve learned is hard to come by. I was so frustrated with Chicago and everything else that happened this summer that I let my lack of patience get the best of me. It also led me to lose faith. I found both again though – with help from my husband, family, friends and all of the GREAT people who came together to help us in any way during our rough time. That port – not so bad. Oh sure, I hate it most days… it makes wearing sports bras (or any bra for that matter) literally a pain. Seatbelts also cause some irritation. I can no longer wear certain shirts without it showing through. Plus, the frequent maintence (and associated costs) is annoying. HOWEVER, it sure makes getting IVs, doing labs, etc. SOOOOOO much easier and less painful. I’ve also made friends with the nurses at the infusion center so that’s nice.

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I also published my first cookbook, became a part of my FAVORITE magazine (Taste of Home) and got to attend some pretty fantastic events related to allergy-friendly living. I met SO many inspiring people, got to speak to dozens of local classrooms and at other events and I learned so much about myself.

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And while December was a ‘rough’ month, I also did finally get some answers. I am still having some GI issues – in my small intestine mainly and I did get a confirmation of autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation thanks to those food allergies and GI issues. It really wasn’t “new” news but rather kind of pulled together a bunch of other results into something that made more sense – at least to me. It helped explained why my immune system is terrible – and why no one will see me much until Spring (can’t catch those viruses!). It also helps explain why I am not healing properly – there’s no “cure” or great treatment option. It was a slight disappointment yet a relief to finally get an answer.

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2015 was full of ups and downs and I’m happy to say we are finishing the year stronger. We have a stronger faith. We have a stronger marriage and family. We have a stronger love for life. Our values have changed. Our priorities have changed. Our life has changed. We are better, smarter and happier. We are far from perfect but we are closer together and that’s what matters. 20151223_153850

We have high hopes for 2016. We talked tonight about our “resolutions” and yet I don’t really want any. Here’s what I want for 2016: to live life happily. That’s all. Yes, we want to be more patient. Yes, we want to strengthen our faith. But overall, we want to live together. I’m sure this year will have it’s ups and downs as well BUT I hope we can manage them better.

We have a lot of plans. We are building a house. We are building a bakery. I’m starting my own business. I’m writing another cookbook. We are starting a new life, so very different that what we are used to. We may change our children’s schools. We may do a lot of things. But it is what it is. We’ll just kind of “go with the flow.” That’s the thing about 2015… it’s made us realize that we can’t control everything. We MUST have faith that life with work out how GOD wants it, not how we want it. There is a purpose for everything and a time for everything… we just have to believe in a bigger power than ourselves and know that things will be fine.

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You know what… I’m thinking 2016 might just be our best year yet. And I hope it is for you too! Happy New Year and MANY blessings! Thanks for sticking with me so far… stay tuned for big things from this blog, my bakery and anything else I’m lucky enough to be blessed with!

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