Starting out, I could eat nearly anything without any signs of gut distress. I was not a sickly kid, never had any hospital visits, nothing. I grew up, got married and then pregnant soon after and immediately began having migraines. Not just any migraine, the kind that caused me to go blind for about 20 minutes where I could not see anything at all. This made life fun when trying to navigate through Atlanta traffic to get to my job.
Fast forward 9 months, I had the most beautiful baby girl and the migraines continued. I breastfed her for 18 months while working and continuing to have the migraines 3-5 days per week. Once she was around 2 years old I was forced to quit my job due to the headaches becoming too bad to drive. My current job allowed me to work from home during most of this time until my boss retired and I was forced out of there due to the inability to travel to work. I stayed at home with my little girl while my husband (at the time – more on that later) worked extra to try and make up for my crazy doctors bills trying to figure out why this was happening to me.
Around when Zadee was 2 years old, (while still having weekly migraines) I decided that I was too much of a “go getter” to sit around and let the headaches keep getting me down. I decided it was time to try working again. This time in the form of opening up my own Natural Food Market in our small town of Griffin, GA. It was called Hill Street Market & Gourmet Pops. We put our entire savings into this store and opened it up in about 4-5 months.
There was nothing like this in Griffin. Griffin had not caught on to the healthy trends yet everyone welcomed us with open arms. We loved what we did although it was very time consuming, something we had not factored in with me not feeling well about 4-5 days per week. We pushed through and made several trips to Atlanta weekly to replenish our stock, get fresh bread from our Favorite bread company (H&F Bread) to make our stores sandwiches on and we also had a $10k popsicle machine that we had imported from Italy that we made popsicles for farmers markets, our store and various other events.
About a year into our business, we decided it was time to grow. We took our 600sf. Store front and moved across the street to an approximately 2000sf store front.
Just after that, my health took a turn for the worse. Along with the headaches, my arms and legs started to go numb which totally freaked me out, my heart raced all the time, (up to 180 beats per minute just going from sitting to standing) and my stomach quit working (in the form of going to the bathroom over and over and over again). TMI.
I finally figured out that GLUTEN was the cause of my headaches after a lady kept on me that was a frequent shopper at our store. She would say that she had migraines and when she quit the gluten they went away completely. I never would really listen to her until I got super desperate. I decided to try it and I literally NEVER had another migraine EXCEPT for one time when I was painting. So I went from having them 3-5 days per week at my worst to having ONE more EVER. But even when the migraines were gone, the health deterioration continued. I went to every conventional, holistic, integrative, surgeon that there was. I was diagnosed with the following illnesses. Epstein Barr Virus, Fibromyalgia, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (Also known as SIBO), Chronic Migraines (DUH!), Anxiety, Depression, you name it, I had it!
When you look healthy on the outside (eventually I started to not even look healthy on the outside) your friends, family and everyone you meet thinks you are insane. I’ve been called crazy I cannot tell you how many times. Even from people very close to me. I shut everyone out who called me crazy because I had no time for these people in my life and the struggle was real to even maintain any kind of norm with my own household, business, family, marriage and be any sort of mother to my little girl. Peace out to all of the close minded folks. I don’t need you dragging me down.
We ended up having to close the store because I could not run it, (although it was proving to be a successful endeavor). My husband who had quit his job to help me run the store had to return to work to have medical insurance, all while cooking, cleaning, daddying, and actually having to bathe his sick wife it got so bad, all while trying to keep a roof over our heads. He did as good as he knew how at the time. And I will never take that away from him.
I ended up going to an endocrinologist named Judson Black, MD. who diagnosed me with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome caused by an infection of unknown origin after laying in his office with my heart beating at over 180 bpm. I was put in Northside Hospital for 4 days to do testing on my adrenals and every other blood test known to man. I came out of there with a wheelchair and was told that was it. There was nothing else he could do for me. “Herrrrrre’s your wheelchair” at 34 years old. I was also told “Most people who have POTS do not get better – go ahead and figure out a new norm for your family” Thanks doc! Thanks.
Our little girl started kindergarten and we moved back to Peachtree City where we both were from (letting our house to back to the bank due to me fixating myself on the fact that I think that mold in our 1940’s home was the “infection of unknown origin”) and rented a home later to purchase a home in the same neighborhood one year after. Thanks to my mom who knew we paid our bills but were falling down on bad luck with all of this sick stuff.
At the time, still unable to walk, rolling around daily in a wheelchair, tired all the time (even though I slept all day everyday) – I remained as positive as I knew how under the circumstances and continued to search for answers, I did some research and decided to go see Dr. David Jockers up in Kenessaw, GA. He had some orthostatic issues himself and I knew that if anyone would get it, he would. I went and saw him. He was a holistic doctor who did not take insurance just like most of my other doctors. I had given up on the conventional route due to just getting the “anxiety” stamp right as I walked in the door.
Dr. Jockers took the time with me. I think our first appointment was 2 hours. He came up with a game plan. And it worked. Little by little I began to see positive results. Healing my gut took time. And hard work. Never going out to eat, using every ounce of energy I had to cook my own food and finally I transitioned to a doctors stool (thanks to another doctor I had seen) and then to my feet again for short distances.
I SO LONGED to get out of the house again. I reached out to an old friend whom i had kept in touch with here and there and asked if there was anything I could help him with. He so graciously hired me. And honestly, when I started I probably shouldn’t have been working yet as I still became exhausted and could only make it from my office to his without feeling faint. But I will forever be thankful for him getting me out of the house again.
Dealing with chronic illiness is absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Even harder than watching my mom almost die of cancer, seeing crazy divorce stuff happen between my parents and giving birth! I lost my marriage after I got better – we just could not get back on the same page and now I’m dealing with the aftermath of that as well. BUT, what I can say is that I am genuinely happy, healthy and able to thrive and feel alive again. When you are sick, the only way I can describe it is that the world just keeps turning and you are just there. Not moving.
My little girl is 10. She was born with a severe reaction to dairy. (Another post for another day – because trust me, it needs it’s own post) I have been sick for all of her little life. She has known me in the bed or in a wheelchair. She was a daddy’s girl because she didn’t have a mom who was able to do with her. While I am thankful that her dad kept everything together for us, the thing that lacked in our relationship was togetherness. He would do life and I would resent him for leaving me out all the time. He would not take up for me when people called me crazy, lazy or that I just needed to “get up”. And the resentment turned into something I could not get over once I started to get better.
I am working now on re-establishing OR I guess I should say establishing a relationship with her first and foremost at this time. It’s a process. But one that I am up for the challenge.
Currently, I work in a marketing firm in Peachtree City, am about 95% back to health and living everyday to it’s fullest! Being thankful for everyday. The best day was the day I threw that wheelchair in the trash!