Peeling Back The Layers

posted in: Health | 18

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Oh look, it’s mini-me! That’s me, at the wonderful age of 12, having the time of my life! Ha, kidding! That picture was taken during my very first hospital stay, a pretty scary time; being so young I couldn’t really understand what was going on. I was a not-so-healthy 60ish pounds at that point, and I was so sick that I was taken off of all food and put on a clear liquid diet for 15 days. Jello anyone?

The only “food” I received was through that gorgeous IV (a PICC line), called TPN. Who knows what’s even in that “food?!” I was also on high doses of Prednisone, which made me insanely hungry. Just ask my parents. Or my husband. When I was able to eat, I could easily clear out the entire fridge while dreaming of my next meal! As an adult, I would pack big brown grocery bags to the top with food, just to cover my lunch at work! Those who’ve been on high doses of Prednisone know exactly what I’m talking about!

I went back to 8th grade with a puffy face due to Prednisone, and one boy in particular made fun of me for it. To his credit, he later (kinda sort of) apologized after he found out that I had a disease, but it really stuck with me. After that, I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness, especially my friends. In high school, very few people even knew that I had a disease. I would mysteriously leave school early to go to the hospital to have medications infused into an IV every 4 weeks. I just wanted to be “normal,” to fit in with everyone else. Being a teenager is hard enough; I didn’t think anyone needed to know what was really going on. I smiled through it all.

As the years went on, my “mask” became more and more common for me. No one, except for my husband, truly knew how sick I was. I never told anyone the real details, as I saw no benefit in them knowing. If anyone walked into my hospital room I would instantly plaster a smile on my face and pretend that I was just fine. It’s the way I learned to live.

It’s a blessing and also a curse to be able to smile through it all. On one hand, what I’ve been through has made me incredibly strong. On the other, plastering a constant smile on my face meant very few knew just how badly I needed them. I never once asked for anyone to come visit me while I was in the hospital, or even while I was home recovering. I never wanted to inconvenience anyone. It’s not like hospitals are fun! I knew that I could handle it, as I know my own strength.

So what’s it like to not eat for 15 days straight as a kid? Well, first off, it’s confusing. Incredibly confusing! I couldn’t fully comprehend what was happening to me, or why. All I knew is that I was starving and no one was bringing me food. I thought everyone was so mean! You quickly begin to realize just how much our country revolves around food, and that every TV commercial involves some sort of “food.” I became obsessed with food. I mean OBSESSED. Don’t believe me? Alright, let’s start with the pictures I drew of food! I also made food out of clay. Everything I did pretty much involved fake food. I was really into art; it helped to pass the time and saved me from complete boredom.

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

The obsession continued as I made lists and lists (and lists) of food that I wanted to eat. 20 pages to be exact. Then I created my dream menus. They’re ridiculous, and so is my spelling. Check out what I wanted for breakfast alone!

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I also created some wicked recipes…

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I’m in a place now where I can look back at this journal and remember all that happened, and laugh REALLY hard! I know that it’s a place I will never have to visit again, and I smile knowing just how far I’ve come. I’ve learned to fend for myself, and with my husband by my side, I am truly unbreakable. I have bad days, just like everyone else, but when I feel like the world is crumbling around me, my husband is the one who helps me find my strength again and see the good in every situation. He’s amazing like that. Life is crazy, but it’s what we make of it that truly matters.

Having all food taken away from me for such extended periods of time really created for an interesting relationship with food. I was so protective over what I ate! I absolutely hated when someone told me I shouldn’t be eating something. I just gave them the “stink eye.” I always felt that I’d been so restricted, that there was no way I would ever restrict myself by choice!

I was on prescription medications that lowered my immune system, for 14 years straight. Without them, I became very sick right away. Now I have a deeper understanding of why I had to rely on medications, as I was consuming foods on a daily basis that aggravated my disease. There was no way my Crohn’s could have gone into remission! Food was such a comfort to me, and I had no idea just how much damage it was doing to my body. I’m especially looking at you, gluten (and GMO’s)!

I can say with all honesty, that this is the first time in my life that I have an incredibly healthy relationship with food. I eat as if my life depends on it, because it does. It’s absolutely incredible when you realize just how much control you have over your own life! It’s more than we were EVER taught to believe!

I have absolutely no interest in eating anything that’s going to make me feel less than amazing. I also couldn’t care less what anyone else around me is eating. Things that I once loved, like bread and pasta, just have no appeal whatsoever. This is the life I choose to live, and given the choice, I wouldn’t choose to eat any other way! I find paleo to be the most fun I’ve ever had with food! It allows me to express my creativity and hopefully help others who are struggling with their own health, to show them that there is another way!

Oh, and just so you don’t think I was THAT obsessed with food (I was), I also drew a picture of my family during my first hospital stay. My drawing skills were amazing. You’re welcome!

I'm the one in the pink pants (obviously)!
I’m the one in the pink pants (obviously)!

18 Responses

  1. Tom
    | Reply

    Wow! What an ordeal you went through. It helps me to appreciate where you are now even more and inspires me and my family to work harder for our own health and well being. Thanks for sharing.
    Tom

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thanks for reading my little story, Tom! I love seeing your desire to stay healthy and prevent illness, it’s so rare to see that! Mike’s very blessed to be able to work with you 🙂

  2. healthyleanfit
    | Reply

    Wow wow wow!! I can only imagine how awful those times must have really been! I’m so happy that you’re now feeling more comfortable sharing your story and accepting the support being offered now! I remember going through my eating disorder and crying when meals were going to be delayed because I was sooooo soooo hungry! I knew I seemed ridiculous to everyone else because they didn’t recognize what was going on, but it definitely made for a very interesting relationship with food too!

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Wow, Deanna! I had no idea that you struggled with an eating disorder! My goodness, you’ve really been through it. What stories you must have! It feels really good to write it out after all these years. I remember a nurse accidentally telling me that she was going to bring me my food, I go so excited until she came back and realized that she had me mixed up with someone else. I cried and cried! Poor nurse, she felt awful!

  3. Todd
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    Great post. Crazy how u made that list of food to eat, people take it for granted that we can eat any of those foods when we feel like it. My friend was in the hospital after brain surgery.. He had a list of about 20 different drinks that he wanted when he was out.. But said once he was able to drink freely he didn’t care about the list anymore.

    Surprising that something simple like diet can actually make this huge difference. I used to believe it doesn’t work unless it’s a prescription medicine but my thinking has changed.

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thanks, Todd! It was pretty crazy, and very eye opening to go through something like that when you’re young. I was the exact same as you, I’d heard stories about people healing themselves through diet, but I honestly never believed it until it happened to me. I believed fully in prescription meds, until they showed me their really ugly side. My thinking has also completely changed 🙂

  4. adashofmeg
    | Reply

    Oh my god, sweetheart. This is the best post I’ve ever read. You’re an incredible person and I thank you so much for sharing your amazing story. It breaks my heart to know such a wonderful person like you went through all of that, but look at where you are today and all you have learnt from it. You’re helping and inspiring people every day (even if you don’t know it!)

    Keep being you, girl. You’re absolutely amazing! Going to share this post on my Twitter and FB pages 🙂

    Love you! (p.s. if you ever want to do a guest post for me please email me at adashofmeg@gmail.com I would love to feature you on my blog!)

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Meg, you are just too, too sweet and caring! I have learned so much in this short life, and I wouldn’t take a single lesson back! I didn’t even know you had Twitter and FB pages? I’ll look for you on FB! I would be SO honored to do a guest post for you!! I’ll get my life together and email you asap 🙂 xoxo

  5. Just Love Your Guts
    | Reply

    Amaaaazing post, Kristen! I really believe sharing your story like this is going to help so many people – there are probably tons of people thinking they are alone in their struggles and you are showing them that it isn’t just them, and it’s not their fault. And that healing is possible!!! You are indescribably awesome and I’m just so happy that you are here, happy & healthy, inspiring everyone around you. And um, your drawings are adorable!! Love you girl! <3

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thank you so, so much, Heather!! I’m so grateful for the constant support that you’ve always given me, don’t know what I’d do without you! <3 Didn't I do an amazing job drawing my family, especially my dads legs? Clearly I was into drawing 3-D objects, just check out those french fries! 😉

  6. Colleen Stewart
    | Reply

    Oh you poor girl! It makes me sad you had to go through all that

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thank you, Colleen!! I can look back and smile at it all now, knowing just how far I’ve come from that wild ride!

  7. Tara
    | Reply

    How did you make the transformation from having a flareup to going into remission? What foods did you try first in order to heal your intestines? Was it a slow recovery and transformation to paleo? Thank you for your time. I have a similar story and would like to overcome this battle and try to achieve remission with diet.

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Hi Tara! I was actually in remission when I started paleo, however, my immune system was a complete wreck from the Crohn’s meds that I took for 14 years. I started to notice small changes in the way I felt within a few days of starting very strict paleo, and my body has continued to heal even deeper as time goes on. I would highly recommend looking into bone broth (grassfed bones slowly cooked for 24-48 hours) as it’s been a HUGE part of my healing process, with my gut and my immune system. You could also look into the GAP diet, which includes tons of bone broth for gut healing. Let me know if you have any other questions! Best wishes to you <3

  8. Kristin
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    Wow…Felt like I was reading my own story – so many similarities! Diagnosed with UC at 13, hospitalized for a month with TPN only, wrote the same kinds of lists when I wasn’t allowed to eat (mine started with “garlic bread”) and also developed a life-long obsession/pre-occupation with food. Now 25 years later I’ve experienced on and off remission, flares, a re-diagnosis of Crohn’s, early stage colon cancer, j-pouch surgery, lots of meds including Prednisone, Remicade and daily Cipro to control chronic pouchitis. While my symptoms are management, I’m tired of being tied to strong medications and inspired by stories like yours to try dietary changes/Paleo as a possible solution. Thanks for sharing your store/recipes.

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Wow, Kristin, our stories are quite similar! I’m so thankful that I shared this part of my past, I honestly had no idea that food obsession happened with others as well. Now I’m hearing story after story! I more than understand the frustration that comes along with feeling like you have to rely on medications, it’s not a fun feeling. Wishing for the very, very best for you! <3

  9. Kerry
    | Reply

    Wow! THank you for this post! I really identified with your story–I, too was making lists of foods I coulndn’t have (but I was 21, undiagnosed Crohn’s, on a semester abroad in Africa and pretty scared: food lists calmed me down! I can totally remember how crazy the food craving’s I had on pred! I woke up dreaming of ham and HAD to have it just then! After 2 SI resections, I am done w/ drugs–have been doing the best on a paleo/scd type diet but would love to hear more about what worked for you. Thanks for sharing! A fellow Crohnie–Kerry

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Isn’t it crazy what Prednisone can do, Kerry?! I dreamt of food all day long 😉 Check out my post “Healing My Body From The Inside Out” (You can just search “healing” and it will come up). That post may help in regards to things I’ve added to my diet 🙂 Feel free to use the “Contact Me” page if you have any specific questions you’d like to ask! I hope you’re feeling great! <3

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