No Quilts Today

The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook

Hi to all,
Warning: this is very long!!!

Today I am straying from my usual subject matter of quilts, fabrics and, of course, Gizmo.
Ha, Wendy commented that she hopes The Giz doesn't think he has been replaced by the virtual cat in the header!  He has a big enough ego that the thought of being replaced would never occur to him! He is, after all, the center of the universe! A quick thank you to those of you who leave comments.  As you can see, although this blog gets a lot of hits, it gets very few comments. Sometimes I feel like I am writing to myself, so your comments are deeply appreciated.

O.k., so why no quilts today? Well, I am a believer that things will crop up in your life for a reason.  So, I try to pay attention. Lately, several people have cropped up in my cyber world that have autoimmune problems.  I have mentioned that I have issues, so today is the day I will talk about them. I am not a health care nor a nutritional professional. So it is up to you to decide what info you can use. I am not in a position to tell anyone how to live their lives.  I just want to point out some info that is available. My history:

I have been sick all my life.  Stomach problems, skin issues, menstrual problems to name a few.  I thought everyone dealt with all that. Later chronic sinus infections, chronic ear infections, spinal problems. You name it.  In my early 30's, endometriosis so severe, that scar tissue attached my uterus (which had tilted over)  to my intestines.  During that time, I had cysts that ruptured and surgery almost came too late. 
I would get hives all over my body for reasons no one could explain.
In 2008, my health hit rock bottom. I will try to remember all my symptoms:
Severe short term memory loss.
Brain fog so bad that I couldn't follow a paragraph from beginning to end.
Corneal errosions - this one is a beauty.  The outside cells of your cornea stick to the inside of your eyelid and when you blink, it rips those cells off. Yes, it is as awful as it sounds.  Extremely painful and leaves you temporarily blind. It can cause permanent scarring. 
My hair was falling out.
My nails were so thin and brittle that they would crack on the bed. I had to try and glue them to keep them in tact long enough to grow out and clip off.
My thyroid was enlarged.
I had diarrhea so bad that I couldn't get 10 feet away from the bathroom.
My toenails were purple.
I would get bronchitis and ear infections at the drop of a hat.
Joint pain.
Nerve pain in my feet.
I had no energy. Period.

Going to any dr. was extremely stressful.  I couldn't eat because I was afraid no bathroom would be available. I had to rely on my car's GPS because I couldn't follow directions. I will cut to the chase, here. No dr. was any help.  My tests would come back high normal or low normal and despite all my symptoms, there was no help for me.  Here is a quote from a specialist:
"There are only 2 things that cause what you have and you don't have either of them. So, I can't treat you for something you don't have." HUH?!? I would have thought I hallucinated, but my husband was with me for that one, so there was a witness.  Well, I ask you, what do you do with something like that?
I turned my back on the medical profession. I started doing research.  The only thing I had to go on was that the eye dr. told me there was some inflammation in my eyes.  He of course couldn't help me. He said he could give me steroids, but he didn't really recommend it and I declined.
Well, if you have stuck with me this long, you are asking, what in the world did you do to heal yourself? All the drs. had assured me that my diet had nothing to do with anything.  I insisted that they test me for Celiac Disease and of course that came back with some antibodies, but they were in normal range.  That dr. assured me that I could eat all the gluten I wanted, even though it made me sick.  Go figure.  I stumbled across the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and disregarded everything any dr. ever told me.  It saved my life.  It got my brain functioning enough that I could research and actually understand things - somewhat. It turned out not to be the best diet fit for me, but I am eternally grateful to Elaine Gottchall and the book she wrote.  I researched diet and inflammation relentlessly. I don't really remember when the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol entered my life. It is the diet I follow now, with a few foods reintroduced. I will not try to explain it all here, I will give you links and you can explore it for yourself. I tell people that I am in remission because I don't want to take the time to explain things. I am for the most part functioning in a normal manner. I get abnormally tired sometimes. I do have flare ups from time to time of strange symptoms.
Oh, I forgot. After tons of tests the drs. said I had Chronic Fatique Syndrome and IBS with D.  I think they just say that when they really don't know what is wrong with you.
If you have any autoimmune disease, and this list is long and includes rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Chrohn's - that is just to name a few - you owe it to yourself to check out the following sources:
Here is a link to an outstanding website and blog, Autoimmune Wellness.
Another scholoraly ladies work: The Paleo Mom
An amazing medical dr. who put her secondary progressive multiple sclerosis into remission by developing The Wahls Protocol.
That will get you started. Those links will provide you with info on the books pictured at the beginning of this post. Be prepared you will have to give up the following foods (and more):

Anything processed with chemicals - that is pretty much everything that is processed in any way.  Do not drink diet soda - it is a toxic substance!
Grains and Legumes
Eggs - I have reintroduced them in my diet, but eliminated them for awhile.
Sugar (it is not your friend.)

The websites I linked will give you all the info you need.  Before you start screaming, ask yourself this question: "Would I rather be sick?"  Which leads me to my soapbox. I have absolutely no patience for people who will not help themselves. I have talked to people who will not even try this protocol.  I couldn't understand it. Then I had a light bulb moment - they don't want to be well! They get too much attention and they have too much control over their families by being sick! For myself, I want to be well and do things for my family and oh yes, my cat!
Things are so much easier now than they were in 2008 - so many foods are available and so much knowledge on the net that people are willing to share. I feel blessed to have lived in this day and age. I am so grateful for all the Autoimmune Warriors that are out there and share their knowledge and recipes with the world.  If you have an autoimmune disease, tell it O.K. you are here and I will wrestle you to the ground and prevail!  Expect to be well and thank God for every stride you make.
Till next time.........


Jane said…
Glad that you are on the mend, Sheila! Whew! That was a pretty nasty bunch of symptoms! I guess we all have to do our own research; it seems today's doctors are only good for getting a prescription or if you need an operation. I don't think they know any more about nutrition and diet then anyone else. I feel better since I cut out flour and sugar too. Did it just for vanity, to keep my calorie count low, but feeling better was an added benefit. Thanks for sharing!

julieQ said…
As a nurse and quilter with three autoimmune diseases, I can attest to the fact that when I eat better? I feel better!! My family doc was no help, in fact, misdiagnosed me...I finally went to the huge university hospital and my doc actually is a professor and wrote THE BOOK on autoimmune disorders!!! Good is a life long thing for me...
Wow Sheila, you are an inspiration. My only problem is gastro and I do feel better when I eat "clean". I thank you for inspiring others to get help and enjoy more of life! There is oh, so much quilting to be done and we need to stay healthy! Take care.
Jill said…
What a journey you have been on....Good for you, taking control of your own health. So glad you are feeling well!
I still owe you a photo and explanation of what I was asking earlier. I will get around to it. I have been distracted lately. I seem to be going in several different directions presently.
Take care of yourself!
Debbie said…
I have many of the same things you do Sheila and I thank you for this post. I have tried different diets like the anti candida diet, paleo diet, and a few others. For me, there are certain foods that do trigger certain symptoms (and I avoid those) but overall the diets did not work for me. I am so thankful that they worked for you though. :) I think it has to do with each person's unique body chemistry. I will be doing more research through your links should never stop learning or trying right? ;) Be blessed!

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