A Life Change

Welcome supporters and raw food enthusiasts! This blog began as a personal journal entry, in which I started writing about my unspecified chronic illness that I’ve faced for the past three months.  My good friend, Sandie, encouraged me to start a blog, which I agree is going to be really helpful, not only to me, but to my supporters and others going through a similar situation.  Below is my first journal entry about my decision to completely change the way I live my life through a raw food diet.  Enjoy!

March 1, 2013

Day 1

For the past three months, I have undergone a tremendous health crisis unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Starting in early December, I literally woke up one day with swollen hands that looked like mitts. No pain, just two oversized mitts.  I wasn’t all that worried, but two days later, the swelling “spread” to my feet.  It was actually quite alarming, because it looked like a severe allergic reaction was taking place in my body.   Since that time, I gradually started losing feeling in my hands, especially at night when laying down, or while driving.  About four weeks ago, in early February, the loss of feeling turned into radiating pain, keeping me from a full night’s sleep.  These are just some of the symptoms I have experienced, not including fatigue, stomach bloat, headaches, and just an overall “mal” feeling – yes, the only way I can describe how I feel is the Italian word for “bad.”

In January, I decided to go “gluten free” for about three weeks.  Admittedly, this helped the swelling slightly, especially in my stomach.  But I substituted wheat and flour foods for rice and corn foods, meaning I still was carbing like crazy. 

I should mention that through all of this, I have seen six different doctors who tested me for lupus, cancer, other autoimmune disorders, congestive heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, blood diseases, parvo virus, kidney and liver disease, and more.  Every single test came out negative.  Every. Single. One. 

On February 1st, I met with an infectious disease doctor who suggested I may  have lyme.  After testing, it came out that I tested positive for “one band” of lyme disease – at least 4 to 5 bands indicate that you have the disease.  So basically, I tested positive for “something,” but no one could be sure.  I was put on doxycline, which I have now been on for five weeks, have literally seen no improvement.  I’ve actually gotten worse, as the pain and swelling has increased.  At first, I thought this was a herximer reaction, where you get worse before you get better.  Herxes, however, typically last at most two weeks.

Afraid I wasn’t getting all the right treatment, I then went to see a lyme specialist, who put me on more doxy and tested me for co-infections, such as babesia, bartonella, and ehrlicchia.  He put me on a second medication, called Mepron, which is used to treat babesia, and malaria.  Two nights ago, the nurse called with my test results.  My heart was beating out of my chest; I KNEW that I must have babesia or some other co-infection.  When she told me, “Great news! Everything came out negative!” you think I would be relieved.  Instead, I burst into tears for the first time since early December, feeling truly defeated, and spiraled into what some call a severe nervous breakdown.  HOW could I test negative for EVERYTHING?! OK, so the intense pain I get when I wake up screaming at night must be my imagination.  And the meat cleavers that are my feet must be an illusion.

The nurse told me to “keep with the medication” which I will do.  What do I have to lose?  Maybe there was a false negative, especially since I’ve been on doxycycline for five weeks.  If I get better on the meds, I get better.   She also told me that my white blood count is low, something I’ve known for three months, and that my rheumatoid factor is 20.7.  That’s high, but not high enough to be arthritis.  I asked her what those numbers meant, and her reply was “it means that you have inflammation.”  Before I could stop myself, the sarcastic words, “NO KIDDING” came rushing out of my mouth. 

I should also add that the biggest day of my entire life is coming up in a little over six months.  On September 21, 2013, I will get married.  Right now, I dreamed I would be working out every day, losing weight, and overall just enjoying this happy and joyous time with my fiancé.  Instead, I can’t fit sneakers on my feet, I have gained 15 full pounds since November, I’m avoiding my dress fittings like the plague, and I am constantly depressed.  There is literally no way we will be able to move the wedding, but don’t think I haven’t thought about it.  I’ve had to give up the one thing that I love, my weekly tap dancing class, because I can’t fit tap shoes on my feet anymore, nor bend or straighten my feet because the swelling at my ankles are so severe.

And then last night happened.  I took one of my oldest friends to dinner for her birthday to my favorite restaurant.  We ordered from the prix fixe menu, which started with a giant bread basket.  I completely indulged, not giving a care to the world.  However, toward the end of the meal, I reached under the table to feel my feet.  Not only were they swollen but they were the second most swollen they had been since early December.  The swelling was horrific, and went all the way up my legs. 

It then hit my like a brick, square in the face.  Something is wrong. I am sick.  And eating like a “normal” person is making me sicker.  Eating bread, carbs, meat, dairy, and desserts is actually making my condition worse.  My fiancé suggested the other night when I got the test results that we do a two week raw vegan diet.  I did the raw vegan diet for six full months in 2008, and it was literally the best thing I ever did for myself.  I lost weight, felt happier, and actually CURED the onset of pancreatitis symptoms.  Looking back, I am actually angry that I let myself slip away from that time and return to the harsh and toxic foods that my body cannot handle.

I don’t know what I am sick with since every single test has come out negative.  But I do know that I might have lyme, I might not.  I might have the beginnings of arthritis, I might not.  I might ACTUALLY have food allergies, I might not.  But these are all things I am working with doctors on.  In the meantime, my fiancé and I are going to start our raw food LIFE together this coming Monday.  As he will make the commitment to be my husband, he is making the ultimate commitment to change his entire lifestyle, if that is what will make me get better.  I do know that eating raw (veggies, fruits, naturally sprouted foods such as quinoa and buckwheat, nuts, and juicing), will help with the inflammation.  If it IS a food allergy, the raw lifestyle will clearly help with eliminating the toxins that are hurting my body.  If nothing else, it will help my mind to feel more at peace and help my body fight against any harsh intruders. 

Knowing that my fiancé will be there with me gives me the ultimate hope that I WILL get better, my swelling will go down, and I WILL be happier again.  I am so excited to start this journey again.  While we gave ourselves a deadline of two weeks, I will likely continue for much longer than that. 

Every day I will write a blurb on what I’ve eaten, and how I am feeling that day.  For the first time in a very long time, I really feel that I will get better.  I have hope again.

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