Where I’ve been

Written by Heather

Topics: Life in Virginia

Hello, friends. It’s been a while.

This is my first blog post of 2014. THE FIRST. I’m breaking an almost 4-month silence on the blog (finally!) to share where I’ve been all this time.

While I’ve mostly been away for not-so-fun reasons, I’m blessed to have enjoyed some positive experiences too.

Gav and I spent Christmas and New Years with family and friends in England.

london-friends

On Valentine’s Day weekend, we ran a 14k.

vifl14k

A few days later, I flew to the west coast to visit Nicole and catch up with friends.

sfo-trip

And two weeks ago, I ran my first half marathon.

first-half-marathon

shamrock-half-finisher

I feel so fortunate that I’ve taken these two trips and conquered these two runs, despite the challenges and setbacks I’ve faced.

What I haven’t mentioned on the blog or Facebook are health issues that have consumed so much of my time and energy for the better part of a year. I haven’t tried to hide them, but I didn’t know what to say either. At times I’ve made progress, and at others I’ve taken a step or two back. Sometimes my health care providers and I felt we had things figured out, only for problems to persist.

A friend from Germany recently emailed me to reconnect, and he mentioned that though I hadn’t written a post in a while, he figured things must be going pretty well with the half marathon photos I had uploaded to Flickr. While I’ve taken on physical challenges I never thought possible in the last few months (a year ago if you’d told me I’d EVER run 13 miles straight, I would have laughed), I’ve also been struggling physically in ways people can’t see. And I think I’m ready to share a little about it.

Since 2007 I’ve known I’m sensitive to gluten, dairy, and soy, and those sensitivities have only become stronger with time. In fact, I’d say there’s a full intolerance to these foods now. Early on I adapted a mostly gluten, dairy, and soy free diet, but there were times where I’d cheat and have “just a bite” or two of something “special”. Sometimes I felt fine afterward. This made me think I was actually doing okay. But I wasn’t. When I finally read about the damage I could be doing to my body, even if I felt well, I stopped cheating.

In fall 2012, I noticed changes in my appetite, GI tract, and overall feeling of wellness. Thankfully I’ve been working with a local health care practitioner who focuses on wellness since 2007, and we were able to identify some potential causes and solutions together.

Last summer, things got worse, and we didn’t know why.

I spent the summer months and half of the fall with anything from slight discomfort to a strong, localized pain in my stomach. At least five days out of the week. And instead of stress causing these GI issues, like happens in many people, I encountered the opposite, but also natural, response — the physical changes influenced the brain to think I was stressed, so there was often a low level feeling of anxiety. Based on testing and analysis, I added new supplements to my daily routine. In addition to gluten, dairy, and soy, I removed nuts (all types, in all forms) and a few other new potential trigger foods from my diet.

In the fall, I experienced some temporary relief. I visited my primary care physician who didn’t see anything wrong but was happy to refer me to a GI specialist, and I continued working with the practitioner with the natural, holistic approach.

Since then I’ve experienced a handful of seemingly random relapses (no food or stress triggers in sight!) that pull me away from “feeling like me” again and back to the pain of last summer. In addition to the GI issues and pain, we also discovered another health concern in early January, which we addressed naturally and nipped in the bud within six weeks. Looking at photos, no one would ever know. I’ve traveled. I trained for months to participate in two races, and a year ago I’d never run more than three miles at once. I’m both amazed and humbled by what my body has accomplished while it’s also been less than at its best.

Though I’m still struggling and never know when the pain might pop up, I’m hopeful things will improve in the next several months. I’m doing everything I’ve been asked to do, and I’ve poured hours of time and energy into reading about healing diets. I’ve read that most of the immune system lives in “the gut”, and if possible, I want to work on healing myself through food and natural medicine.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been researching one diet in particular (GAPS, if you’re curious), learning about the multi-stage approach and searching for recipes. While there are some who haven’t found healing through it, many have, and I’m looking forward to starting the GAPS journey very soon.

Hope things are well in your world, and if not, work towards wellness ♥

8 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Gav says:

    So proud of you babe and your achievements over the last couple of years. Here’s to 2015 and your first marathon ;-)

    Love you and here for you always <3

  2. Nicole says:

    Heather, you have accomplished so many amazing things! I truly hope the GAPS diet allows you to heal. Thank you for sharing your experience – and thanks also for the recipes & knowledge of food that you continue to share with me! :)

  3. Jayne says:

    Welcome back to the blog – we’ve missed you :)

    Sorry to hear about your health issues but well done for handling them in such a proactive way and conquering a half marathon in the middle of it! Go Heather xx

  4. Teresa says:

    You are an over comer, that sums you up in two words…keep going, you are doing great!

  5. Dad says:

    Along with your faith, the positive attitude you embrace carries you through new experiences. Also gives you strength during those challenging times you shared. Those who know and love you are proud…and so would Eleanor Roosevelt if she were here.

  6. Laura says:

    I know the feeling!! (about lack of posting that is ;) Sorry to hear about your setbacks but hoping things continue to improve. And I’m SO proud of you for running your first half. I still remember the first time I ran a mile and I never dreamed of running a marathon… and well, you know what happened there ;) Looking forward to see what challenges you take on next!

  7. First off, kudos to you for all the long distance running! It makes me tired just reading about it ;)
    And I do hep you find the solution to your problem, it has to be frustrating not knowing the exact cause.

  8. So extremely pleased of you girl and your success over the last few years. I truly wish the GAPS eating plan allows you to cure. Thank you for discussing your experience.

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