Tag Archives: ulcerative colitis

A Love That Endures

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In the last post, Addicted to Love, I touched briefly upon the idea of “soul mates” and the unrealistic expectations we often take away from fictional stories. Today we’re going to take a closer look at the difference between reality and fantasy in our search for true love. A love that endures.

Seasons, cycles, mountains and valleys, every life has ups and downs, and so too does every relationship. We’re all familiar with the words “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” and we know that these words are almost always promised from a mountain top in a relationship and not from a valley. When we pledge to love, honor, and cherish our spouse until one of us breathes our last breath, we all hope that our love story will have the longevity to last the better part of a century, and that death will truly be the only thing strong enough to separate us. In that honeymoon phase we think we’ve already found true love. The truth is, we’re only just beginning on the journey to discover it. True love is something that is proven over time; something refined and strengthened by the fires of life.

Think right now about the most powerful and inspirational real life love story you’ve ever seen. I’m going to guess that there was likely great adversity overcome; adversity so great that only true love could withstand it. These are the stories that move us to tears. These are the stories that restore our faith in humanity and in love. I have seen relationships that have withstood life altering accidents that forever change the way one of the spouses looks or acts. I have seen couples stick together through tragic loss, financial bankruptcy, and crippling illness. Have you ever been to a wedding where they get all of the married couples out dancing and then slowly have them sit down until only the couple that has been married the longest remains? They inevitably receive resounding applause because we all know that a marriage that survives for 50, 60, or 70 years is something worth celebrating. Nothing lasts that long without seeing its fair share of hardships. So how can this change the way we view our own marriages?

"It's all about love" by Candida.Performa https://flic.kr/p/6ZWzRB

“It’s all about love” by Candida.Performa
https://flic.kr/p/6ZWzRB

As discussed in the previous post, we see “soul mates” being portrayed in a relationship that is blissful and easy. I wonder that we ever confuse this with true love when the most poignant examples of true love are those that are proven through endurance not ease. How many of us have hit dry seasons and valleys in our relationships and felt like maybe it just wasn’t meant to be? Sadly, we’ve all seen loved ones separate when the pressure and tension of life reaches a breaking point. What makes some couples stick it out when others throw in the towel? And how can we have our marriages beat the odds and someday be the last couple standing at our great-grandchild’s wedding?

My husband and I have been married for 13 years. It may not seem like a lot when the end goal is 70, but even 13 years has been long enough to throw us some real curve balls. My battle with ulcerative colitis has by far been the longest ongoing stressor on our marriage, and one we certainly didn’t see coming on the sunny, August afternoon when we said our vows. There have been a lot of tears, a multitude of days filled with just getting by, and way too much of getting to know the not-so-beautiful parts of me (It’s a bowel disease… enough said!). We’ve been frustrated. We’ve been tired, really, REALLLLY bone-tired exhausted! We’ve gone through the motions and had long stretches of time that weren’t particularly lovey dovey, blissful, or easy. Nine years of battling illness takes its toll, but through it all we were committed, we were a team, and at the end of the day we were a family. We didn’t see chronic illness on the horizon, but my husband has definitely honored his “in sickness and in health” vow. And you know what? Our love is deeper and more true than it was on that August afternoon 13 years ago. We’re more a part of each other with every new chapter written in the story of us.

If you’ve found yourself in a marriage with some rough patches, take heart; you’re in good company. Every great love story has been tested in the fire. Challenges are an opportunity to grow together in trust and in faith. When we see the weakest and most raw parts of each other we can begin to know and understand each other more deeply, and we find our most honest acceptance in those places. Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean you’re not soul mates. After all, the true soul mates are the ones who keep on fighting until only death parts them. The true soul mates are the ones who have found a love that endures.

 

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The Gift of 2014

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As the first day of 2015 draws to a close, I’d like to share with you the miraculous blessing that 2014 has been for me. No year is perfect, and 2014 certainly had its share of trials as every year inevitably does, however, what stands out most to me about this past year is HEALTH! 2014 is the first full calendar year since 2004 that I have not suffered any symptoms of ulcerative colitis! PRAISE GOD!

The journey has not been easy, and I’m never fully assured that it’s over, but 16 months of remission after battling flares on and off for the better part of a decade is certainly reason for rejoicing! People always say that hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes that can be so frustrating. We wish we could see clearly as a situation unfolds, or better yet, before it is even upon us. Other times, only having clarity when looking back can be inspiring. We see that in our times of lacking faith and being consumed with worry and stress, that God really was working. It would be so much easier to see His hand in the thick of our struggles, but since that isn’t always possible, we need to document the times that our 20/20 hindsight clearly reveals His work. We need to document them so that we don’t forget the next time we’re in a dark place and we’re wondering if He’s there. We need to document them so that other people who are currently in that dark place can be encouraged that He’s with them too.

Sunrise From English Boom - Camano Island, WA by Chris Parmeter https://flic.kr/p/oj8QVL

Sunrise From English Boom – Camano Island, WA by Chris Parmeter
https://flic.kr/p/oj8QVL

Two and half years ago I was in a hospital bed in the darkest pit I’ve ever been in. Treatment for my illness wasn’t working the way it had for previous flares, and I was facing some extremely scary medical decisions. I felt hopeless. I felt defeated. I felt afraid, and angry, and downright weary. The despair was a suffocating darkness. I shook with sobs, and knew they wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. I willed myself out of bed, wheeled my IV pole across the room and behind the safety of the closed bathroom door. I didn’t want the nurse to see me so distraught – she’d surely call a social worker and then I’d have to talk to someone when all I really wanted to do was crawl inside myself. Completely depleted I sat on the shower seat, clinging to my IV pole for support, and weeping. “God, where are you? Why are you allowing this to happen? Are you really counting my tears? Do you even care? I feel forsaken. Please speak to me. Please give me peace. I need you!”

Silence.

The silence was like a heavy weight, crushing my spirit. In that moment, I hit bottom. No more tricks up my sleeve. No energy to pursue a new avenue. No will to continue to fight. Complete despair.

About a week after I was discharged, my sister gave me a copy of Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall which outlines the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that I’ve been following for the last 2.5 years. When she gave me the book, she told me how she had heard about it. She had committed to help her best friend who had just started a new job and needed a “client” to train with. While helping her friend, she met her friend’s new manager. Her friend (who I’ve known since I was three!) was concerned and asked how I was doing, which sparked her manager to ask what was wrong. My sister explained that I was hospitalized for ulcerative colitis. The manager said she had previously suffered from Crohns, but had cured it using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. My sister, who is a doctor, was understandably skeptical. Yet, before she left that day, she asked again what the name of the book was, went home and looked it up on Amazon, and was blown away by the hundreds of reviews from people claiming that the diet had given them their lives back. She ordered it, and didn’t say a word about it to me until she actually placed the book in my hands. She told me she wasn’t offended if I decided not to follow what the book suggested and that she had been skeptical, but was impressed by what people had to say about it. She suggested I read some of the Amazon reviews and see what I thought. As you know, the rest is history!

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the light bulb turned on and that 20/20 hindsight kicked in. You see, my sister didn’t come to visit me that horrible rock bottom day in the hospital. She didn’t come because she had a previous commitment to her friend; an appointment that had been scheduled prior to my even being admitted to the hospital. An appointment that overlapped the EXACT time I was locked in that bathroom asking God if He was really counting my tears. He may have been silent, but He wasn’t absent. Little did I know that in that very hour He was bringing the pieces together to lead me on a new path. He didn’t need to show me that He was there and working, but I’m so glad that He allowed me that glimpse. And I do believe it is just a glimpse of how He is working and present in our lives all the time.

As you know, my health and faith journeys since starting the diet haven’t been pothole free. But as I look back on 2014, I am so amazed, humbled, and thankful that I serve a merciful God. It has been a year of freedom and beautiful normalcy! What a gift! It’s not a diet, it’s not my will power, it’s Him! He deserves all the glory!

A new year brings new hopes, dreams, and goals, and if we’re honest, new worries and fears as well. I pray that in this coming year our faith will be strengthened and our hope and joy multiplied! “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Happy 2015!

~Heather

I’d love to hear what 2014 has meant to you! Leave a comment and share your story!

 

The Tapestry

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“Why do bad things happen to good people?” This was the topic of the message this past weekend at church. It’s definitely a question that I think all of us wrestle with at times. Our pastor did a great job laying out four answers to this question. Here’s a link to the message if you’d like to watch it, which I’d highly recommend since I can’t do it justice here. 2|42 Community Church “Why do bad things happen?” (Click on video from 1/12/14 if it doesn’t go to it automatically.) The Cliff’s notes version is:

1. Bad things happen because of choices we make. For example, we choose to eat unhealthy food and end up with health problems.

2. Bad things happen because of the choices others make. This is fairly self-explanatory. Think of the impact of an affair on a family, or drunk driving, etc.

3. Bad things happen because we have a very real enemy, Satan, whose desire is to destroy us.

4. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen and broken world that has been broken since Adam and Eve rebelled and sin entered the world.

I completely agree with all of these points, but I want to expand upon them by explaining another reason that has really rung true to me as I have faced my own trials, particularly a debilitating chronic illness. After the message, we take communion. As I sat, head bowed, holding my bread and juice, God gave me a mental picture as a way to help me understand this reason. What I saw was my life as a tapestry that God is weaving. It was on a giant loom being woven from the bottom up, but wasn’t completed enough for me to make out the picture. Most of the threads were beautiful in color and texture, but the one He was currently weaving with was ugly and coarse.

“No, God! That’s wrong! That ugly, coarse, painful thing you’re weaving in. It doesn’t fit. It’s going to ruin the picture!”

“It may look ugly now,” He assured me, “but this coarse thread is necessary to complete the beautiful image. You can’t see it now, because you don’t see the whole picture, but I do. When it’s finished you’ll see that this ugly thread actually adds definition to the beautiful parts, and enhances their beauty.”

Image by blodgett esq.

Image by blodgett esq.

I have definitely faced things I thought would destroy me. They felt so big and insurmountable. Looking back on some of those times, I can see that God saw the bigger picture. All along I was freaking out, and He was saying, “Relax, I got this. You’ll see.”

He has worked a lot of beautiful things out of trials in my life that are already true and tangible to me, but I also find comfort in knowing that there are quite possibly reasons for painful things that I will never understand this side of Heaven. Let me explain what I mean.

My great-aunt has begun to show signs of Alzheimer’s. My grandfather, her brother, died of the same horrible illness. Their father, my great-grandfather showed similar signs before his death. The recent development with my great-aunt brought fear to my heart. What if this carries along genetically and impacts me or other members of my family? The grip of fear comes swiftly, and then almost immediately an article I read about Alzheimer’s several months ago came to mind. The article said there may be a link between developing Alzheimer’s and eating a high carbohydrate diet. Well, if you have read any of my past posts, you know that due to ulcerative colitis I have been following a very strict, and very low carb diet. Now this is just speculation, but what if God allowed me to suffer these past 7 years with this illness in part to get me to change my lifestyle so that I’d be protected from other devastating health issues later on? Or what if the knowledge I gain while fighting this is exactly what I need to protect my children from suffering? Let me give you another example…

I had a very difficult delivery with our first child. I’ll spare you all of the gory details, but suffice it to say that my tailbone was broken in the process, and I had a very long and painful recovery. The difficulty of the delivery made it impossible for me to ever fulfill my dream of what I thought delivery would/should be like. I barely got to hold my daughter after delivery, and I couldn’t nurse her right away. In short, nothing went according to my birth plan, and honestly I felt robbed of the joy I was supposed to have in those moments. Three years later while expecting our son, I was absolutely terrified of delivery! I was told I would likely go back to square one with the tailbone pain unless I opted for a C-section. Hmmm…being cut open while conscious, that sounds like fun! No good options here!!! After much agonizing, I opted for the scheduled C-section, and our son was delivered a week before his due date. When the doctor went to pull him through the incision, they found the umbilical cord was dangerously wrapped around his neck. They were able to unwrap it without any complications. A vaginal delivery could have been dangerous for him. Since that time I have also heard stories of people who lost full-term babies in utero, and in some cases it was determined that the baby’s death was caused by the cord being wrapped tightly around their neck. What if….. what if, God knew my son would be in danger, so He allowed me to go through the pain of my daughter’s delivery, so that I’d choose the early C-section that I never would have chosen otherwise? What if not experiencing the joyful moments immediately post-delivery with either of my children is the small price I pay for the joy I have in my healthy son?

Like I said, I’ll never know the answer to these things this side of Heaven, but you know what? I don’t need to. Frankly, whether those conjectures are accurate or not is completely irrelevant. The point is not figuring out the reason for our pain, the point is that we allow ourselves to see that God may have some greater purpose for why we are allowed pain, and to learn to trust that He sees the bigger picture that we can’t see. These conjectures are really just an exercise to train me to trust more. The goal is to recognize that if something bad doesn’t happen, how are we to know we were spared from it, and praise Him for the work He’s done? I don’t know what exactly happens when we get to Heaven. Will we suddenly see everything fully and have complete understanding of the whole picture? Will we fall to our knees and say, “Oh Lord, I’m so sorry for my bitterness and bad attitude! I can see now how incredibly merciful you really were to me. I can see how magnificently beautiful the picture is just above that ugly, coarse thread. I can see the ripples of good that came from my pain that touched other lives I never even knew about. If only I had just surrendered to You and trusted You then. My heart would have been spared much agony!”

Image by Jelle

Image by Jelle

A well known Bible verse says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV) I often hear this verse shortened to “God works all things for good.” This is obviously very comforting, and we all want this to be true in our lives. The problem is that our part in the equation is lost when the verse is shortened this way. We have a job; a role to play. Love Him! Read the verse again. It says that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. The next part says, “who have been called according to His purpose.” How do you know if you’ve been called? Now I don’t have a seminary degree, but my understanding of this verse is this – if you love Him, you follow Him and surrender to Him, and when you love, and follow, and surrender, you’re automatically called to live His purpose. There’s no special qualifications you need to have for this other than to love and trust Him. When we love Him and follow Him, we become His children, and He works for the good of His children.

I know many of you reading this have faced things so painful that none of these reasons really come close to helping you understand why. I have struggled with questions about why God doesn’t just shield us entirely from all evil and pain. Look at number 2 above – sometimes bad things happen because of other people’s evil or foolish choices. But can’t He insulate us from that? Can’t He make the consequences fall to someone else? In short, yes… sometimes. And I think this is why we don’t understand. We don’t understand “sometimes” because we don’t see the whole picture and we don’t fully understand how all 4 of the reasons listed above interact with God’s ability to work all things for the good of those who love Him. We don’t understand that sometimes pain is necessary to grow us. Grow faith. Grow character. Grow compassion. We don’t understand that sometimes the good coming from our pain comes as a benefit to another and not ourselves. We have a self focus, but God has a kingdom focus. Honestly, there are so many things that I don’t understand the “Why.” All I know is that the 4 things listed above are real and unavoidable. I also know that when we try to weave our own tapestry seeing only one tiny spot and trying to pick just the prettiest, and shiniest threads for each place, that the bigger picture turns into a big mess. We can’t stop this fallen world from throwing pain our way, but we can love and trust a God who is able to weave those things into a beautiful, and purposeful tapestry. Surrender is hard, but there’s peace in it. He sees it all. Relax, He’s got this.

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Fighting for Faith

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I’ve been pretty quiet here in Blogland for the past few months. Yes, sure I’ve been busy. Really busy sometimes even. But more than that, I’ve been fighting a monumental inner battle that left me feeling like I didn’t have anything to say; at least certainly nothing that would be inspiring or encouraging. If anything I felt like sharing my struggles may actually be a discouragement or stumbling block to others. I’ve never been about keeping secrets, but sometimes we just aren’t ready to talk about things when they are raw. Now that I am slowly emerging from the abyss, I can see how trying to share my experience might actually resonate with others’ experiences. So here’s where it gets real all up in here.

About a week after my last post I had to go to the ER for abdominal pain and dehydration caused by a severe and sudden worsening of the ulcerative colitis flare I was having. I had to start corticosteroids again to try to get things back under control, and even on high doses things did not improve quickly. I was shattered, confused, angry. Here I have been following this uber strict diet like a fanatical maniac for a whole year because I truly believed that God led me to it, that He wanted me to do it, and that He was using it as a tool to bring me complete healing. My part was to be self-disciplined and willing to sacrifice; not so I could heal myself, but so that He could heal me and grow me all at once. It felt so unfair! I had done everything “right”! Somehow, in the midst of my flare, everything I thought I knew and trusted and felt sure about scattered into complete confusion. Had I somehow heard Him wrong or missed a critical part of the instructions? Had every victory that seemed to be confirmation that I was going down the right path just been a teaser? Is God really good? Does He really care? Can I trust His promises in the Bible? They can seem so black and white, and yet over and over I have done “A” and yet “B” doesn’t happen. What gives!? Why does He speak in parables? Why can’t He just come right out and say, “Do exactly this ______.” (fill in whatever “this” may be)? Can I trust anything I hear Him leading me to? I am telling you, I was rocked, people! I was ashamed by how deeply my faith was shaken.

A yawning distance grew in my heart between me and God. I absolutely still believed He existed, yet there was a huge chasm between us. Have you ever felt profoundly angry and simultaneously profoundly sad? That is how I felt. For weeks. And weeks. I felt as though I had lost Him. The closeness and intimacy and safety of our relationship; the one thing I believed I could NEVER lose; the one thing that mattered more to me than anything else in the world – lost. Yes, I cried out to Him. Yes, I yelled at Him and told Him all the reasons I was angry, and how I felt I couldn’t trust Him, and how I felt betrayed, abandoned, and stranded, and why doesn’t He just say what He means. Not because I have any right to be angry at God or yell at Him, but because He knows it’s in my heart anyway, and trying to hide it will only widen the chasm. I tried reading my Bible. I tried listening to worship music. All I felt was numb and hopeless. I had the hardest time praying because it felt pointless. All I heard was silence. For the first time in my life, I understood what it feels like to want to wholeheartedly believe, but not be able to fully surrender. To not just feel like I was in a valley I would eventually come out of, but to truly feel like I had lost my faith. To feel like God exists but only as a distant figure. I fought for my faith the best I could, and I tried to shake my negative attitude, but I couldn’t close the gap. I had felt like I understood the work He was doing, and the encouragement He wanted me to bring to others through it. I felt as though I had not only lost Him, I had lost my purpose as well.

You may not know this about me, but I can be pretty stubborn, and I’m ashamed to say fairly self-righteous at times also. I think really deeply about things. Ok, let’s be honest, I over-think things… to death and sometimes to the point of nearly losing my sanity! I also research and research and research some more. So, I have at times fallen into the trap of believing that I’ve got quite a few things figured out because hey, if there’s an angle, I’ve already explored it. Needless to say, when I first started the diet and everything breezed along so beautifully and all of the pieces fell into place and started to make sense, I thought I had God’s plan figured out. To say that facing a severe flare a year into this thing threw me for a loop would be a huge understatement.

So the other day I’m alone driving in the car listening to my kids’ vacation Bible school CD (don’t judge), and the song my daughter’s class performed for the parents on the last day of VBS is playing. “Oh happy day,” the song goes and I have this mental vision of my daughter on stage jumping up and down and spinning around with her arms waving above her head without the least bit of shame. A huge smile flashes across my face and then is almost immediately replaced by a sad, furrowed brow, and a pang of missing that feeling in God’s presence. Out of nowhere, a thought comes to mind, “Just because you can’t understand it, doesn’t mean it isn’t part of God’s plan. His good plan.” Of course I had logically thought this already many times before, but this time I could feel the Holy Spirit saying it to me and it hit me on a soul level. Something finally started to break inside. I actually felt my spirit rise and worship as I sang along. “Oh, happy day, happy da-aaay, forever I am changed!”

Later that evening as I opened and closed the fridge for the umpteenth time that day, my eyes landed with purposeful focus on this magnet.

Believe magnetIt was a Christmas gift from my mentor mom at MOPS. She had bought enough magnets for all of the ladies at our table and each one was a different word. She wrapped them in unlabeled bags, and handed them out randomly saying that she hoped everyone would just get whichever one they needed. To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I opened mine. Believe. Believing wasn’t something that was hard for me. I was sure I was supposed to get one of the other ones. “Hope” would have been better. Yes, I could always use hope to continue the battle with my illness. How about “Peace”? That would have been quite fitting considering my lifelong struggle with anxiety. “Believe” just didn’t really seem to fit. Oh well, it was still pretty and a gift from a dear friend, so on the fridge it went, and so it has sat mostly unnoticed since last Christmas. Then all of sudden the other night I’m standing there just staring at it like God has me by the shoulders and is shaking me. B E L I E V E!

Two little experiences, so small, and yet so big because I have missed this feeling of God speaking to me tremendously. The way He suddenly makes me focus on a thought or something I’m reading or hearing and makes it come alive. It’s like I’ve been holding my breath and now I’m letting it out going, “There you are! You’re here God, aren’t you? You’ve been here all along. Help me to believe no matter what happens. Beyond believing that you exist. Believing that you are in the details of my life working all things for good. I don’t need to understand everything, agree with it, or think it’s fair. I don’t have to figure it out. I just need to believe. I can’t do it alone. Help me believe.”

Redefining Possible

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A year ago I set out on a journey that I had once thought impossible. My husband and everyone else agreed with my verdict – “Yup, great in theory, but not possible.” In all honesty I think this particular undertaking was, in fact, impossible for a former version of myself, but it’s interesting how trials change us. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That may very well be true as it turns out; at least for me.

Last June I was hospitalized for a week for a severe flare of ulcerative colitis. It was a dark time for me not only physically, but also emotionally. All of the doctors came to the same conclusion; it was time for me to either take a stronger, more dangerous medication, or undergo surgery to remove my colon. I wasn’t ready for either of these options, and I felt trapped. I kept telling myself, “There has to be another way out of this! There has to be another option!” I prayed and prayed for a way to avoid what seemed inevitable. It was hard to be hopeful. I had already tried thousands of dollars worth of homeopathic supplements and nutrition plans (at one point I took up to 65 supplements a day!), I had cut out gluten, milk, alcohol, and a number of other random food items I thought aggravated my condition, I had taken several courses of corticosteroids, I resigned from my job to reduce stress and focus on my health, I had looked into hormonal balance – essentially, I had been down just about every rabbit trail you can imagine.

Photo by: Frank Kovalchek/Alaskan Dude

Photo by: Frank Kovalchek/Alaskan Dude

Shortly after being discharged from the hospital, my sister gave me a book that I surprisingly had not seen before called Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall. The book contained a diet plan for treating ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, autism, and a number of other conditions. I was skeptical. I had already cut so many things out of my diet and none of them seemed to make much of a difference. Besides, I had read about other similar diets in the past, but had never tried them because they were too overwhelming. In short, they were impossible. No one could maintain such a restrictive diet for more than a week or so.

Something was different this time around though; I had changed. When I received the book, I couldn’t wait to read it and get started. I was different. I was all-in, gung-ho, completely determined. A new potential option that might avoid stronger meds or surgery had presented itself. An answer to prayer! I didn’t know if it would work, but I knew I was going to give it my best shot. My attitude had undergone a major and critical shift; I now didn’t see dietary restrictions as a deprivation, but a blessing. I have the gift of being able to eat in a way that improves my health. Don’t you agree that’s a gift?!

So today I celebrate one whole year of being completely grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, and lactose-free! Yes, grain-free means no grains of any kind. No corn, no oats, no rice, no quinoa, no amaranth, nothing. The only types of sweetener I eat are honey and real fruit. No chocolate either (I just lost about half of you on that one alone, didn’t I?!). Starch-free means no potatoes and many kinds of beans are out as well.

In the past year, I have learned to make my own yogurt, crème fraiche, ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressing, and a whole list of delicious baked goods made with almond flour and honey. For many years I had been feeling guilty about eating too many processed foods, too much refined sugar, and not doing enough good old home cooking. Needless to say, following this diet has forced me to conquer those areas as well. As an added bonus, my husband and I both attained our goal weights (although neither of us exercise…I know, I know, I’m not proud of it, but hey, we all have areas that still need improvement!)

I would love to tell you today that I am in pristine health with no signs of ulcerative colitis, but unfortunately this is a long process. What I can say is that this has been my best health year since being diagnosed 7 years ago, and that I had a solid 7 months of complete remission with no symptoms. During that remission time I got through a couple of events that would have certainly caused me to flare in the past. I am currently flared, but as flares go, this one has been mild. Don’t get me wrong, even mild flares are extremely taxing, and it has been a struggle, especially since I work so hard for my health, but overall I am thankful because I know how much worse I could be.

This diet focuses on changing the balance of gut flora. I have been pursuing other treatments that have the same goal. It’s two steps forward, one step back, but I’m optimistic that I’ll get there. The book says it may be necessary to stay on the diet for 3 years. At first that was completely daunting. The success I’m celebrating today is not simply 365 days, but proving to myself that I can do this. If I can do it for a year, I can do it for three, and even forever if necessary. The victory is that I’ve redefined for myself what is possible. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. When something snaps inside you, when something finally clicks, when you stare down your struggles with unwavering determination to conquer them, when your attitude undergoes that critical shift, then, THEN, you are no longer a victim of your circumstances, you are not a passive player in your life, you do have will power, and resolve, and power to better yourself. You can do it! So much more than you ever thought you could. So much more than you ever thought possible.

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