This post is especially exciting to me! This girl is going to change some lives :).
Erica kindly agreed to share her story. She blogs at Edible Attitudes.
When I reflect on my childhood, I don’t remember a long period of time when I didn’t have some type of aliment. I never dealt with anything life threatening but everything was cumulative and seemly unconnected.
My first health problem was at the age of six months old when I had my first infection. Between the ages of two and three I was on continuous antibiotics because the ear infections would not go away. I began to notice environmental and food sensitivities to lactose, dust, pollen, and certain plants. In fourth grade, I began to have problems with my joints, specifically my ankles.
Seventh grade was when things began to rapidly spiral downwards. It started with my knees and ankles causing me a lot of pain. At the time I assumed it was because I am a softball catcher. But soon the joint inflammation spread and caused me to be in pain on a daily basis and everyday tasks were more difficult.
By the start of my sophomore year of high school, only 3 years later, I developed tendinitis in both knees and elbows, multiple fingers, left wrist, and right bicep.
My journey has taken a lot of work and sacrifice! I started seeing a functional medicine doctor in 2011 and was taken off gluten, dairy, corn, MSG, sugar, and soy. I took supplements that helped manage the joint inflammation. This helped a little bit but I still struggled with pain and multiple other health problems. I was frustrated and ready to change my diet again if necessary. I started the GAPS Intro Diet in November of 2012 with my mom and brother. This led to my first large and noticeable change in the joint inflammation. A few months prior I had developed a deep stabbing bone pain in my foot and within the first month of starting the GAPS Diet, it was gone. My knees also felt better and I could catch longer before having joint pain. Although GAPS was clearly helping, I still had pain, numerous other health problems, and couldn’t reintroduce foods without a flare up.
In April 2013, I was instructed by my doctor to remove salicylates from my diet because I had developed a sensitivity. My diet was limited to about 20 foods for four months.
It was hard, really hard at times, but it was totally worth it. In only a few weeks all my pain was gone. Completely gone for the first time in five years! I am 17 now and a senior in high school and am proud to say that I am free of joint inflammation. This spring and summer I played my first pain free softball seasons in five years. I no longer dread walking up and down stairs or biking or using a scissors or bending down to pick something up. Daily tasks aren’t painful anymore.
I assumed that the biggest change from modifying my diet would be physical, but it has actually been a mental transformation. I have learned to have perseverance, discipline, and self-motivation. I took responsibility for my health. It is not my parents’ responsibility to micro-manage everything I eat and do, it’s my body and I learned to step up and care for it. I have also learned life long lessons such as, people’s opinions shouldn’t matter to me. I know why I am changing my diet. I know that it works and that is enough for me.
I still have a restrictive diet because I am still working through other health problems, but I have been able to reintroduce salicylates without joint inflammation returning.
If I hadn’t been encouraged by my mom to change my diet and if I hadn’t taken responsibility, I can’t imagine how different my life would be now. Hardly anything about taking ownership of your health is easy, but it so worth it when you start to feel better and have a better quality of life.
If this sounds like you or someone you know and would like to read my whole story, you can purchase my book, A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions: A Practical Guide to Keep from Going Crazy. (Kindle version)
This post was shared on Healing with Food Friday.