Healing My Gut and My Heart

I’ve battled chronic illness for many years. Heck, it’s the reason this little ole’ neglected blog exists in the first place. In 2008, I was searching for answers, trying to understand diagnoses that didn’t feel quite right and looking to connect to others even though I was often confined to my bed. Since then, I’ve had good years and not so good years and I’ve been struggling yet again since last October. I was diagnosed with inflammatory colitis after weeks of severe GI issues in November. Since then, I’ve endured four stomach bugs, shingles and a raging UTI. To say I’m sick of being sick would be a gross understatement.

I’ve tried modern medicine for all these years but a few weeks ago, as I prayed about how to proceed, I kept coming across articles about “gut” health. Did you know that 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut (the term for the entire gastrointestinal tract comprised of large and small intestine as well as your stomach)? I kept telling my husband I needed to build up my immune system. I posted a pity party post on Facebook about being on my fourth stomach bug when a friend asked if I had tried probiotics.  A conversation via PM ensued and she introduced me to her naturopathic doctor, a sweet Christian lady who is helping me improve my gut health.

For almost two weeks I’ve been on a special diet that is basically gluten, sugar and dairy free with some other restrictions as well. I had to give up coffee, which has been the hardest thing so far. And within days, my stomach issues resolved. I’m only two weeks in so I’m not completely convinced it’s not a fluke but my stomach has hurt for months and everything has gone straight through me, if you know what I mean 😉 But not since I started on this diet.

Then, last Thursday I checked a book out of the library entitled The Immune System Recovery Plan, A Doctor’s 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease by Susan Blum, MD, MPH. I have systemic lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, so I got the book out of curiosity. Not only did it confirm that I am on exactly the right eating plan, but it also confirmed something I have long suspected: that chronic stress and trauma exposure contribute to the development of autoimmune disorders in the first place and exacerbate the issues once the disorder is present. {I am going to continue to research this connection for the benefit of myself and my children that come from hard places as well as the foster/adoptive families I want to work with when I finish my M.S in Counseling}

Coming off of the year we had from October 2016-October 2017, the last several months haven’t felt stressful in comparison so I ignored and stuffed some big feelings down inside. Given the toxicity of stuffing stress, it should be no surprise to me that I was run down enough to get shingles earlier in the month at the ripe old age of 39.

Understanding the stress connection is important because if I don’t acknowledge and deal with past stressors and current stressors, this diet alone will not cure my health problems. I didn’t feel particularly stressed lately, so I had to pray and journal about what was currently on my heart and God revealed three major things that I need to deal with. The thing about adults that grew up in chaotic and traumatic climates is that they become accustomed to tolerating a certain level of stress so it is easy to ignore moderate to even high levels of stress that don’t reach the fever pitch of your childhood. I have to teach myself a new normal. I need to learn to be in tune with my body, my mind and my heart and deal with things as they happen.

I’m excited to see my body begin to heal itself as I utilize food as medicine and begin to work on the heart issues God has revealed to me.

Praise the Lord, my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfied your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

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