Born and raised in Chicago, I come from a big family. Growing up in a mixed heritage household and speaking 2 languages, I learned to love who I am and where we come from. My beliefs are spiritual, but I put love and trust in God. Due to the pandemic, I lost my job in March, finding a job is near impossible these days. I’ve been looking for remote work but no luck. I am finishing up for my degree in Organizational Management and Human Resources and graduating in Spring 2021!
My journey had some bumps on and off, symptoms and things I felt for years looking back but I ignored the signs. The event that did finally break through my “wall” was the day my father died in 2018. I unfortunately witnessed his death, it happened suddenly and horribly and my life spiraled after that. They say trauma/stress can trigger things health-wise. So it goes that I wasn’t dealing with the trauma of that very well and in the months after his death I experienced unexplained severe weight loss, vomiting, extreme gut pains, unable to keep food down, and on top of it all simultaneously I was trying to process my grief.
But my grief took a backseat when I realized something was wrong and I was very sick; it got to a point where I thought I would die I lost almost 50 lbs in 2 months, and was thin and couldn’t sleep. Doctors wouldn’t listen, they kept tying it to my new found anxiety and panic disorder caused from my father’s death, until I pushed and begged for testing. Upon getting bloodwork and my endoscopy, it showed I have high inflammation and my levels were out of whack. Unfortunately the doctor who did my testing refused to acknowledge something was happening. It would be months before I found a doctor willing to help me and she was a functional medicine doctor. In between those months, on my own research, I found out I reacted badly to gluten. Every time I tried to reintroduce it, it cost me a trip to the ER. I did some initial testing that tested for gluten issues but it came back negative. Nobody believed me, everyone thought I was faking and making things up. I felt alone, abandoned, I felt helpless. Months later I tried with another doctor, we re-ran lots of tests. Eventually we found out I have Celiac, and also suffer from SIBO. My body reacts very intensely to stress and creates inflammation which has a chain reaction of other issues for me. Previously I was already lactose intolerant for many years, so now I live a diet free from gluten/lactose/inflammatory foods.
It has affected me in more ways than I’d like to admit. It was affecting my relationship with my fiance, we got married but my physical and mental health was taking a toll on our marriage. Having a partner witness all the turmoil of health issues in someone they love is hard. They are an outsider and at times it’s hard to handle and deal with when they feel helpless and can’t make you better. Sometimes just being there on the ride that is your life is all they can do, and just having their company and comfort is all you need at times. My family took forever to be on board with what was happening to me, some of my family still doesn’t believe what’s happening to me to this day and that’s ok. Its my life and my only one I get to take care of. I did try to work at a job shortly after first getting better and it was hard, i had to quit because everyone ate gluten food around me, at their desks, touching everything and not wiping or cleaning anything. It was becoming too much me having to clean and wipe everything before I touch it. I kept getting accidentally glutened, but these days I’ve learned how to live with this and function as normally as I can.
Time. And eating gluten free. Sometimes if I’m “glutened” by something, the only thing that helps is time, letting time pass to feel better. Drink lots of water, sometimes a heating pad on my stomach.
Accepting that this is my life. While I still am healing from grief from my father, I also felt I was grieving for losing the person I used to be before all of this. The food I could eat, not having to worry about gut pain and changing everything in my entire life routine. It means being left out at family gatherings, events, not being able to eat at restaurants I used to love. Turning into a master cook at home since food I cook is safest, but it’s frustrating at times. I try to be grateful for the health I do have and those that are supportive around me.
I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so my 2 favorite things to always remind myself: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the LIGHT” & “Fear of a name increases fear of a thing itself.” In which case the name to me meant “words” like, Celiac, Anxiety, etc. and learning to not fear the thing itself.
I’m young at heart always, the world of magic and fantasy always gave me an escape from reality when going through tough times. When I was going through all of this, just hearing those words meant the world to me. It took me to a place where I could realize that my own magic was in living and staying strong no matter what happens.
Find Alyssa | @glutee.free.eats