Last year at this time, life was predictable. And boy, do I mean predictable. 2 kids, 1 husband, a full-time job, a house in the suburbs, and 2 dogs. Everyday was about just getting the job done- where ever and whenever. My faith has always played a central part in my life and I prayed often for the next step. A part of my soul was bound and waiting, but for what? I didn’t know. I just had this feeling that something was next. A little back story- for two years I had been battling terrible acid reflux. I saw my ENT, was scoped, and diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux, or silent reflux. My throat was scorched and I was told that the only cure was to eliminate caffeine and acidic foods. Forever. Didn’t sit well with me, but I was desperate. I eliminated all said foods and did experience some relief for a while. Then, my stomach issues escalated. I’ve ALWAYS had stomach issues, but they just continued to get worse and worse. TMI here- gas, cramping, and diarrhea all the time. I knew that I had to figure out what was happening to my body because I just couldn’t go on like this much longer, but it’s so hard to find time for yourself when there are so many other people to take care of. THEN COVID HAPPENED. My full-time job was an elementary reading and language arts teacher. When Covid shut down our school district and I only had to provide a few hours of instruction daily, I suddenly had extra time on my hands and decided to tackle the GI problems I’d been plagued with. I called my doctor, got a recommendation for a really good gastrointestinal doctor, and made the first appointment. Let me just say, my GI doctor changed my life. She listened to me talk about my symptoms and suggested a SIBO breath test. I had never heard of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), but after researching it I couldn’t deny it fit all of my symptoms, so I was on board with the test. Long story shorter, yep, I had SIBO. The cure? Specific antibiotics and a complete lifestyle and diet change. I had to start on a completely restricted diet to kill off the bacteria, then sloooooowwwly started to introduce foods back into my body. This diet had three phases, and it was ROUGH. BUT! Omg- after the first week of detoxing all of the food out of my body, I felt amazing. No symptoms, no cramping, no reflux. It was the craziest, most unexpected thing for me. My GI doctor works closely with a nutritionist who showed me how to incorporate healthy foods into my diet while eliminating all grains and dairy. Guess what? We’re thinking I probably have undiagnosed food allergies and will need to get testing as soon as I’ve had four weeks to eat a wider variety of foods.
This diagnosis changed me. It literally changed my life and my families’ life. I started learning and researching about foods and how every bite I take has the potential to hurt or heal. I started cooking from scratch more, and I started paying attention to my kids own digestive symptoms. My sweet fourteen year-old has always had the same digestive issues as me, along with joint paint, random hives, and anxiety and depression. As the wheels began to turn in my head, I wondered if just maybe the food she was eating could be contributing to her health. Several trips to an allergist later, Em was diagnosed with a wheat, gluten, and milk allergy. Talk about life-changing.
My life had gone from predictable to completely un-predictable in the span of about three months. I started wondering if maybe forty wasn’t too late to start over, to keep learning, and to keep getting better. I decided to start focusing on myself, my families’ health, and how the hell to navigate through new food allergies while keeping my sense of humor. I quit my job. Yep- twenty years as a public school teacher and I quit. Done. Thankfully my husband works a couple of jobs, so I’m able to stay at home for a while and help him while I navigate this newness. A becoming of sorts where my soul can unwind and I can focus on the most important people in my life.
I am learning to honor the space between no longer and not yet. The no longer excites me even more than the not yet because I’m not going back to the predictable life where each day was about surviving until the next. I’m showing up to learn how to navigate through my forties with a little wit and little wine. Oh, and the waffles? Well, they’re just my favorite.