Seeing the Good Through the Bad: Setbacks that teach us the most valuable lessons

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It’s not that I fell off the wagon, it’s just that the wagon didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. I had been grain/ lactose/ sugar free for 4 months when I decided to start eating grains again. I felt like I had tried everything, done every diet to the letter, no cheating, no expense spared. And still no change to the majority of my symptoms. I took the big step of doing the GAPS Intro diet in September 2013, which 2 months later ended in my symptoms being much worse than ever. So I started to eat porridge and brown rice, desperate for some carbs and comfort food after months of meat and veg only, thinking that grain-free living wasn’t making any difference. Well, I was wrong on that.

After a few days of grains I had a crushing headache and a week later developed a sinus infection and terrible fatigue. My first reaction was to keep going through the pain, in case it was a random coincidence that these symptoms had returned when grains had been reintroduced. I gave it 3 weeks. No change. So 3 days ago I gave up grains for the second time in two years, and today I am starting to feel human again. Symptoms are all still present, but my body no longer feels like lead, the headache has nearly completely cleared and my sinuses and throat feel normal.

The GAPS experience really knocked me, physically and mentally. To make such a huge effort and to be rewarded with nothing but pain and illness was such a slap in the face that I had no hope left. BUT, the positive side of this debacle was that it highlighted my sensitivity to fat and honey, which combined with the knowledge that I am super sensitive to caffeine, fruit, peppermint, dandelion and chicory coffee, and lemon juice suggest that I have some form of gastritis. It would explain the constant hunger, inability to eat more than a few mouthfuls of food at a time, food intolerances and pain in my upper left stomach – the kind of stabbing pain that keeps you up at night. Now I know this, I can avoid the irritants and treat this part of the problem. One step forward!

Sometimes you have to get worse to get better. As long as we can learn from the setbacks. I have to hang on to this otherwise there would be no hope to carry on. I still don’t have the answers to my illness, I’m just embarking on another complete exclusion diet to see if I can get the inflammation down. It’s been 2 years and I am still learning something about my illness and having to ask fundamental questions daily, but if I didn’t, I’d be right back at square one. And square one is a pretty bleak place to be.

Keep going friends, there is an answer out there, you just might have to go through a hundred wrong answers to get the one you are looking for.

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