A Detour on my Journey

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            So…I threw the adult equivalent of a tantrum the other day.  Not something I’m proud of, but it’s true.  Why, you might ask?  Simply put, I was tired, miserably itchy, and hungry.  Sounds silly, I know – and it was – but let me start over.

            I’ve had sensitive skin for as long as I remember, and it keeps getting more sensitive.  It’s always been something I’ve simply dealt with, but I remember when I was little coming in from playing in the snow and my legs being so red and itchy in patches it would drive me crazy.  As a teenager when I started to get acne the one consolation I had was that it wouldn’t last very long…but it has.  I am thirty-five and deal with it just as badly, if not worse sometimes, than I did then.  And it is all over, not just on my face.  I’ve had dry, flaky patches appear and disappear in different spots at different times.  Then about six months ago I got these two awful red, painful itchy patches on my upper-thigh, lower hip.

            It was actually, honestly, right at my panty line, so I first thought maybe I was just reacting to the elastic.  It got worse and moved down my legs.  Time went by and I learned what I was dealing with: eczema.  It is now, to a degree, all over my body and it makes me MISERABLE.  I try not to scratch it, but I wake myself up at night, itching like crazy and scratching – and I have gotten up in the morning to find I have scratched myself bloody in the night.  I have become so self-conscious I wear long sleeves almost ALL THE TIME, even when it’s hot, and when I don’t I stress someone will notice.

            I have no idea how much money I have spent on lotions and creams – and frankly I don’t want to know and NOTHING has worked.  Some help, but only to a degree.  Desperate, I began searching for answers, and I was shocked at what I found.

            Eczema is typically a side effect, not a stand-alone condition and often it is a result of a weakened digestive system or autoimmune disease.  Well, Celiacs disease affects what?  Your large intestine.  And guess what?  It’s an autoimmune disorder.  A light bulb went off and I dug a little deeper.

            I’ve been dealing with other ongoing digestive issues and have looked into some different causes or ideas.  I’ve been considering the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet, a healing diet that is completely grain free and I’ve read some promising testimonials, and I’ve known about the Paleo diet for a while.  Also known as the Paleolithic or Primal diet it focuses on clean eating, going back to the basics of the earth and is grain free as well, but also dairy and refined sugar free.  You’ll see me share a fair amount of Paleo recipes but I’ve never considered the diet; I like the recipes because they’re gluten­-free.

            I was reading an article by one of my favorite blogs this last week and it was a review of the first book pictured, The Eczema Cure (find it here:  http://www.mommypotamus.com/5-eczema-triggers-to-avoid/ ).  The article was talking about triggers, which included gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, and nightshades.  Have you heard of nightshades?  I hadn’t and all she had in explanation was a link to an article (here it is:  http://www.thepaleomom.com/2013/08/what-are-nightshades.html ).  I thought, ‘Is that me?  Am I sensitive to any of those things?  As I already stated, it was making me miserable, and I was started to lose sleep and never get any respite, so I was desperate.  I started an elimination diet and right away stopped any of the triggers I was ingesting, including the long list of nightshades, which include tomatoes, bell peppers, and spices like hot peppers to cumin to paprika and beyond.

            Cut to my tantrum.  I wasn’t seeing any change, I wasn’t sleeping, and I was HUNGRY!  I felt so deprived and I couldn’t find anything I could eat!  Anything that sounded good was off-limits.  Then I got a phone call that upset me a bit and threw me over the edge.  My husband asked me what was wrong and I started to bawl.  It was a full blown pity party, right in the middle of the kitchen.  I was feeling sorry for myself and as I said, tired, hungry, grumpy, and itchy.  Then I realized something.

            Yes, it’s not going to be easy.  Yes, it’s frustrating because I am making an already restrictive diet even more restrictive.  I was disappointed there was no improvement, but it had only been a couple of days!  And yes, it’s going to be inconvenient sometimes, but if it makes me feel better it will all be worth it!  Then I thought of something else.

            A friend sent me an article earlier this year she had read in a Guideposts magazine about a woman who had always been famous among family and friends for her Christmas biscotti.  Well, then she was forced to go gluten-free and the article was about her struggle to convert her recipe.  To make a long story short, in the end she realized she needed to thank God for what she knew and what she could have instead of focusing on what she couldn’t have.  The article spoke to me so much I cried when I tried to read it to my husband, because I have been there, and I suddenly find myself there again.

            I am thankful I am learning about how to heal my body.  I am learning what is wrong with it and been given tools to fix it.  I learned tonight of a whole new list of things I couldn’t have and started feeling sorry for myself again, but then I realized there is ONE page of things I can’t have, compared to FOUR pages of stuff I can have!  When I went gluten-free five years ago I was overwhelmed and feeling sorry for myself, wondering how I would ever get through it and now I barely give it a thought.

            I went shopping today and got me a bunch of healthy snacks so I wouldn’t feel deprived. I was craving a rice bowl and made it with cabbage instead, roasting the pork myself instead of going out.  I’ve upped my probiotics and for dessert tonight had a handful of dates and a cup of kefir.  Not my typical dessert choice, but guess what?  It was really yummy!

            The second book is by an author who has the idea of using the Paleo diet to heal a variety of autoimmune disorders and I’m seriously considering it.  It will be an undertaking, but I’m thankful for the tools I have.  I am five days into a thirty day elimination diet, where I will cut out everything possibly triggering my issues and then I will slowly add them back in, hopefully being to identify the offensive trigger. 

            It’s not easy and I still feel a little sorry myself but I’m trying not to focus on it and be thankful for what I can have and what I can’t.  I am using my mouth to confess health and healing over my body, praying to The Great Physician, thanking Him for dying on the cross for me and taking away all my sickness and infirmaries.  Like the rest of this journey so far, it’s not going to be easy but I’ll make it through it, all the smarter and stronger for it.

            Thanks for listening.  I just felt the need to share this.  The whole reason I started this blog was to share my own experiences on my own little health journey and this is proving to be a big part of it, however small of a detour it started out as.

            As I stated before, I welcome any suggestions or advice.  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and would love someone to talk to about it.  In the meantime, on with the journey!

 

Emily

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