Tag Archive | finding answers

My Food Journey: What I didn’t know could hurt me

road

 

I guess I’ve been on an unintended hiatus. I don’t know how it happened and I don’t know that I’m ready to be here, but here I am, for today

 

 

It was around 2008 or 2009 that I started developing a cough. It was a random cough. There were times it was worse than others. There were times it was so bad that I choked and gagged. Those moments were jarring because I couldn’t breathe.

At the “mildest” of moments, I didn’t even know I was coughing. I simply had no idea I was doing it. What was worse was the “dirty” looks I would get. The “Are you sick?” “What’s wrong with you?” questions followed much later by just “Go to the Doctor!”

Oddly, I didn’t feel sick….not even close. The “hacking cough” wasn’t alleviated by chewing gum or sucking on cough drops. In fact, not only didn’t they help, I sometimes wondered if they made it worse. My frustration level was rising. The cough I had initially attributed to seasonal allergies wouldn’t go away! It was there even in the Winter…The Winter!

During a physical with my Doctor we went over my health history and family history. I lost my Mom way too young. She was too young to die and I was too young to be motherless – some of which I’ve already written about previously.

During the course of our conversation, The MD and I mutually decided I should have an endoscopy. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s when a Gastroenterologist takes a medically designed camera inside you and down your GI tract. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to, but we agreed it was for peace of mind.

I had the procedure in October 2012. But I so was nervous about the results that I ended up waiting nearly 10 months to follow up with the Specialist. Yes, 10 months (August 2013)

When I finally did go in, that was one of the most intense evaluation sessions I’ve ever sat through.

At that point, I found out I had Acid Reflux (AR). I believe it’s also commonly known as GERD. To be honest, when he initially presented his findings to me, I was totally disgusted. I honestly didn’t believe him. I couldn’t believe Reflux was possible because I felt no symptoms. I felt perfectly healthy. I really was questioning his opinion and findings. I really grilled him, I wasn’t ready to give up and give in to something that just didn’t seem to fit….

But, then…the more he spoke – the more questions I asked and insight he gave me – something “clicked.”  And not in a good way….

The more he addressed really detailed, technical stuff about Acid Reflux: how it works, what it does, why my body was doing what it was and what ALL this might mean in the bigger LONG term picture…..Acid Reflux if left unchecked, un-managed and ignored for too long can lead to cancer.

What he was describing to me took me back to 1983. In his description of my condition, he was talking about my mother in reverse. I don’t have her records to refer back to, but her demise (stomach cancer) was (essentially) esophageal cancer.  Esophageal Cancer is cancer of the esophagus, the GI tract. The GI tract leads to the stomach.

All these years later, I had wondered how this could have happened to her, with seemingly little warning. Seemingly because we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We didn’t know what to watch for. We didn’t understand what could be trigger points or aggravators.

Here I was, listening to the Dr tell me what my Mom didn’t have the chance understand or learn about.

Pair all that together with my gut instinct (pun intended) and that’s good enough.

 

Now that the appointment with the Specialist was over, I had a small supply of “sample” medication to see me on my way.

Fabulous.

I’m not really a fan of prescriptions or meds in general. I found out why, FAST. I took the medicine I received for 2 days and starting on day 3, I knew something was wrong!! I woke up feeling lousy. And only got to feeling worse throughout the morning. I still can’t believe I did, but I called my Dr about it. I was told a reaction was rare, and it could be a virus since there was a virus going around. I should stop taking it immediately for 48 hours. If the condition lingered longer than 48 I had a virus, if the conditions stopped, it was a reaction.

24 HOURS LATER I WAS FINE.

UGH.

For 3-6 months I flip flopped between my General Practitioner, my respiratory specialist (where I found out I had near perfect lung capacity) and even had allergy testing done! (With no significant allergens of concern).

GET THIS: With all that being said. With all the time that had passed…my cough still lingered. It still wouldn’t go away. Seriously!

 

I went in for my annual physical this past spring. May 2014. We went over everything, all over again. Symptoms hadn’t changed.

Everyone I knew said something was “WRONG” with me (a great thing to hear on an endless basis). I was getting tired of finding no answers. I felt like a dog chasing its tail. That’s not a pretty picture but it accurately portrays where I was.

I had tried nearly everything the 3 Doctors and Allergist had suggested….and that’s when I looked my MD in the eye and said:

I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of meds that aren’t cutting it. I don’t want to bother with them anymore. What else can I do. I want to stop this….there’s got to be a better way!

Let me say this – I have always liked my Doctor. I ask a lot of questions. I challenge her with my doubts about “modern medicine” and she antes up. We have had some great chats!

But this day, this particular conversation was a game changer!

“Well, you might be able to eventually come off the meds, in time, but you’d have to make a major change.”

“Like what?” I replied.

“You’d have to stop eating gluten”

“What do you mean? Why is that?”

“Gluten can be a major contributor of Acid Reflux. In your case, it’s likely aggravating the already high acid levels of your stomach and that’s why you’ve got GI damage.”

“Are you saying if I stop consuming gluten I’ll be able to discontinue the meds?”

“What I’m saying is you need to take the meds AS you are quitting gluten and get your damage healed. Once you’re gluten free we can reevaluate and see if with the combination of taking the meds and lack of gluten, if your body can then maintain that balance on its own.”

The conversation above happened in May. We are now in September.

I finally “initiated” my attempt at being gluten free this summer. It was either May or June. I was not thrilled by the idea BUT, it was an idea I hadn’t taken seriously or even contemplated.

Two weeks into the process – yes, two weeks in, something was different. My coughing was subsiding. By August, my cough was gone. What I didn’t realize was that I was a good part of my way already into a gluten free lifestyle. Flour and flour based products (wheat) are full of gluten (think bread)

I don’t like bread

I don’t often chose to eat bread.

I don’t even care for the bread basket at restaurants.

My biggest hurdle? That’s been baking!

Yes, one of the many reasons I’ve not been on here as much as I intended was this gluten free lifestyle change. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought. Maybe that’s because I know where this road will go if I don’t take it and I’ve already seen what can happen! As much as I’d rather not have to deal with checking ingredient labels, it is so nice now that I’m not coughing, clearing my throat (or hacking). But the biggest reality is the (hidden, unseen) internal reaction my body has to gluten. I DON’T WANT to GO back there!

What have I discovered through this process? I can still love my homemade chocolate chip cookies. I just use a combination of AP GF Flour and Coconut Flour. While I’m not really supposed to have chocolate because of GERD, if I need a nice chocolate “fix” I can always make a flour-less chocolate cake.

 

I don’t generally eat supermarket ice-creams. Have you ever read those ingredient labels? If I want ice-cream, I need to pull out my ice-cream maker.

The biggest culprit in all this though (for me) has been the bread and bread products. I ate two bread based sandwiches a few weeks back (because I didn’t have lettuce around to make a wrap) for lunch and dinner one day and the effects were nearly instant. Within a few hours, I was coughing and I couldn’t stop. It was baffling until we reviewed the day in full.

People reading this may believe gluten allergies or sensitivities aren’t real. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But, where modern medicine and allergy testing couldn’t get it right (and there is no official “test” to determine a gluten intolerance or sensitivity)…I’m glad I gave myself the chance to try!

 

 

 

Dear Father:

I am forever grateful for your unending blessings. Whether or not I can see what you are doing in my life, I know you are GOOD. Your strength carries me from day to day. My purpose, my reason for being here is only found through you. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for Shining YOUR light on my path.

I ask you to bless every person who reads this with your Love and Peace that surpasses ALL understanding. Help any who are lost to find you and seek your presence. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

-Kenzel

 

 

 

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God proved to me HE is REAL: #prayer

 

I spent what seemed like months looking for the records. I had two binders full of important information. Information that wouldn’t be important to anyone else, but was to me.

I searched my home high and low. I was purging, sorting and organizing. I generally knew where I kept the information I gathered but I felt like I was on a wild-goose chase. Not unlike when a dog chases its tail…I felt like I was going in circles. I kept looking in both the obvious and NOT SO obvious places. It was driving me crazy.

I started to go through “playbacks” in my mind. Trying to figure out where I might have taken it. I started thinking about calling up the places I had been to and people I had visited over the past few months. But, like finding a needle in a haystack I knew that would be futile.

Then I started getting shadow visions of these binders but I still couldn’t really tell where they were…

 

YOU HAVE POWER!

 

It was a Friday afternoon. I hadn’t started dinner and had made little progress on actually cleaning my house for the weekend. Still frustrated and at wits-end having not found the binders. I was ready to wave my “white flag.”

I realized I could search my house, time and time again – and I may not find them…EVER. At least not of my own will or accord.

I remember standing at the window and gazing out. Then, I dropped to the floor on my knees. In desperation I uttered these words ALOUD:

“Heavenly Father, I NEED help. I’m coming to YOU because I believe YOU can do something. I KNOW all things are possible with and through YOU.

I don’t know who to call and I’ve no idea where to start. I KNOW they are out there. I know they are hidden. Someone has them and doesn’t know it.

Please, Lord: I pray that wherever they are – YOU will have someone call me and let me know they ARE THERE! They will call and ask me to pick them up. I just don’t know where to start. Give me a starting point and lead the way.

I am LOST. This is out of my HANDS, so I give this to YOU.

In Jesus Name, Amen.”

 

I got up. I had come to the end of my rope on trying to find what I needed on my own. Exhausted as I was from relying on myself, I’d had enough. The reality was, if these binders were no-where around me, I’d never find them.

It would take an ACT of God to get them back. So, I “anti-ed up” and (foolish as I felt for doing so) decided to give God a try.

 

No Boundaries

 

Three days later, we were on a trip and I was “people watching” when I glanced down at my phone.

That’s when I noticed I had missed a call that was heading to voice mail.

I went to retrieve it but there was so much noise around me and reception was so poor I couldn’t even hear the recording.

Once I did access it, this is what I heard:

“Hello, My name is Susan and I’m calling because we just found two notebooks with your number inside. Please call us back if you want to pick these up.”

My jaw dropped. I frantically attempted to return the call but my feeble attempt went directly to voice mail. I left a message.

I think this was Monday afternoon. My mind raced while the rest of my body sat on “pins and needles” wondering what was to come!

I hadn’t received a call back by Tuesday mid-day and tried calling again. No one picked up. I couldn’t leave another voice mail and wait.

I searched out another number and called it. The phone rang: SHA-ZAM!

“Hello? May I help you?”

It turns out the number I dialed wasn’t the number for the public to return calls on. It was strictly an outgoing line. I hadn’t paid close attention to the message to know WHERE to return the call. I’d called back the number that was on my call log. The answering receptionist re-directed me…and this is what happened when she answered:

 

“Hi, I had a voice mail message that you found two notebooks that might be mine?

“Yes, Hello!”

“I’ve been looking for two books, but these are more like binders….”

“These could be considered binders, we just found them.”

“Really? Do you know how long they’ve been there?

“Well, let me look. Oh, yes, actually….it was May of 2012.”

“Did you say 2012, as in 2 YeARS ago?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Wow, I can’t believe it’s been two years…how did you find them?”

“Our company decided to upgrade its computer system recently and as part of the process we had to clean out our offices and upgrade the information we had. As we cleaned out our shelves, we found these books and when we opened the covers, we found your name and number. So, we called.”

“Wow…”

“Did you want them?”

“Yes, definitely!”

“Can you come pick them up?”

“I’ll be there Thursday..”

 

I hung up the phone and just stood there looking at my phone. Utterly dumbfounded at the chain of events that had just transpired.

There was no way I would have found those notebooks, books, binders…whatever you want to call them on my own. As much as I had searched for them it would never have happened.

It had NEVER occurred to me to engage God with this!

Two years had passed…and I was beyond knowing where to look or where to turn!

I know God is mighty and good, willing and merciful. I know prayer is powerful. I had NO idea how powerful. When YOU send prayers up, THEY are heard. They are received. You may not always GET the answers that you WANT but once you pray them – THINGS start Happening!

Here is how I know Prayer in The Spirit REALM works:

Matthew 7:7  “Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it

He wants us to trust HIM. He wants us to challenge HIM with BIG prayers.

But our prayers NEED to be presented by praying IN HIS WILL.

 

The BIGGER the challenge, the more specific your petition: the more powerfully God can answer YOU and provide grace if YOU are in HIS Will. If you can agree to accept that HE knows BEST.

I knew God could answer my prayer/petition. I believed HE would.

Was my soul prepared for it? Was my mind?

Actually, NO. I knew HE could, but I was stunned by HIS provision!

It taught me that not only is HE in control, but HE can and does do what HE says.

If WE turn to HIM. If WE allow ourselves to TRUST in HIM.

If we pray BIG.

If We PRAY in HIS will, what could we really accomplish?

Being on our knees isn’t a sign of weakness.

Being on our knees gives us strength…God’s strength. It seems to me God’s strength is better, than my own.

What would it be like to have the power of God (through the Holy Spirit) as part of YOUR life?

What could you DO if YOU allowed God to transform you and your dreams and deepest desires??

What if you don’t….? Then today will be a day just like any other, as will tomorrow and the next.

If God will answer my simple, yet specific prayers for something “silly” – What ELSE can HE do that we haven’t ASKED for?

What have WE got to lose by not trying?

  • Answers
  • Miracles
  • Blessings
  • Wisdom
  • Clarity

God is GOOD all the time. And God is ALWAYS Good.

Are you ready to see what God can do in your life? I know I am!

 

Dear God,

Thank you for your mercy. I understand you can do great things. Help me find you amidst the crazy-ness of this world.

The clock is ticking. I want to know MORE about who you are. Show me. Empty me of me and fill me with YOU. Help me to become who and what YOU designed me to be.

Your Will for my life is what matters, allow me to shine your light into a world that is becoming increasingly dark.

Thank you for your gift and help us turn from sin and temptation.

We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

 

It is my sincere hope that you will give God a chance. It’s not hard, but sometimes the first step is the most daunting.

Just Try!

-Kenzel