Learning to live again: Discovering normalcy after 3+ years of debilitating illness

Summer 2017 will forever go down in my memory as the summer of “YES.”

Sometime in April, I decided (and blogged about) this sudden change of heart God was growing within me. After 3.5 years of debilitating, life stopping, world rocking sickness, I felt the time had come to start living beyond my limitations.  (Read my medical story here.) I was healed/healing enough to start discovering what my normal life will be. I vowed that the summer of 2017 would be a season of “YES” to living a more normal, full, and active life.

Rather than seeing the many obstacles that would accompany having fun experiences, my mind shifted to noticing the many joys and memories that accompanied the fun, knowing I was ready physically/mentally to handle the obstacles.

 

In many of my older blog posts, I wrote about feeling sidelined from life although I wanted to be in the game more than anything. For two years I was no where near even ‘warming the bench” rather I was more like an alternate for the JV team. Slowly, I worked my way up and now I’m proudly riding the bench, praying to God, “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play!”

 

This summer I’ve been playing and playing hard.

I actually need a break on the bench for a while to recover!

 

Over the last 4 months my healing has accelerated exponentially, thanks to my switch to a vegan fruitarian healing diet.  This way of eating (WOE) is the catalyst to waking up my paralyzed, sluggish digestive system. This WOE is the catalyst to allowing me to EAT more than small bits of pureed foods while minimizing my 24/7 battle with nausea, vomiting, constipation, debilitating abdominal pain, dehydration, malnourishment, etc. This WOE is catalyst to me feeling actual ENERGY pulsing through my veins for the first time in 3.5 years. It felt like sweet electricity and actually scared me at first because energy had become such a distant, unknown feeling to me.

 

This WOE is the catalyst to treating my lifelong asthma, wheezing, heavy mucus and allergies. This WOE is the catalyst my body needed for TRUE healing through detoxifying my blood & organs (this is a constant, long process), oxygenating my cells, and alkalizing my tissues so that my body is NO LONGER HOSPITABLE FOR DISEASE. The whole idea is to use as food as medicine, creating such a clean environment that disease can no longer grow, thrive, or live. My body is becoming so alkaline, oxygenated, and toxin free that my sicknesses have no other choice but to remain controlled/HEAL, without filling my body with the countless drugs I was made to believe were my only hope for functioning.

 

This WOE is the reason I’m actually LIVING LIFE again. IT is only by the GRACE, WILL, and GENEROSITY of our Loving God that I am here. It is by His wisdom that I’ve been lead to the knowledge He had in store for me, by which He is granting healing to my body.

 

I want to emphasize that last summer (though it was a big improvement from the year before) being in the sun for an 30 minutes- 1 hour was draining and left me feeling awful. Even sitting in the shade was draining (and still can be.) We attended one wedding last summer (I was the maid of honor) and that was about all I could handle in terms of busy weekends. I was on multiple antibiotics for 2 months for simple infections that would not heal. I was completely miserable from the infection pain & feeling all the gross side effects of the meds.

 

Last fall, I was dealing with new pain that was never really identified or treated (just pain meds in the hospital.) I had just started driving little bits around town in August yet October-half of November, then December- January I was too weak to get behind the wheel. In December I had surgery to place my gastric stimulator device. The month of December was a rough time for recovery (we were unable to do any traveling for Christmas) and much of January was actually worse (that’s when Tyler was down with his back.)

 

Early 2017 it was difficult for me to get out of the apartment to do much at all. I used to feel extra bad and fatigued for at least a full week after going to Tyler’s parents house for the weekend (2 hours away.) Going out for something social maybe one weekend a month was about the most I could handle.

 

Okay, enough with all that… ready to hear about the huge differences and exciting experiences from this summer?!

 

  • WEDDINGS: This has been the summer of WEDDINGS… actually in April we attended 2 (both out of town), in May we attended 3 (all out of town), then one in June (out of town), and one in July (out of town)! we have 2 coming up in August, 2 labor day weekend, and one the end of September… all but one are out of town. I honestly cannot believe my body has held up through all of this travel, dancing, having to pack and prepare all my own food anytime we leave home, the socializing, late nights, etc. Of course I’ve needed extra rest and have felt bad after many of these but now I RECOVER. Yes, my body is figuring out how to recover overnight, in one or two days! That is a miracle. All of these weddings have been absolutely beautiful and fun! We’ve gotten see nearly all of our closest/best friends several times just from attending these weddings. What could be better?

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  • VACATIONS: We had the opportunity to enjoy not only one but TWO vacations this summer with our Jenkins family! First was nearly one week on a houseboat on Lake Cumberland. The last time I had been to the lake was 4 summers ago when I was still a “normal” college student. The houseboat always gave me vertigo afterwards and I deal with motion sickness literally all the time. Even just walking, moving, or turning my head can make me feel this way. I was nervous about going to the boat and being “stuck” but I knew I would have fun no matter what. It was awesome! We boarded the boat on my 24th birthday (our family surprised me with a “cake” made out of watermelon, berries, & pineapple) and we left on Tyler’s 25th birthdayWith the help of motion sickness meds around the clock and acupressure bands, my nausea did not control the week and I was able to feel decent much more than I felt bad. From kayaking, to jet skiing, swimming, riding in the speed boat, tubing/watching other tube & ski, to playing games in the evening..we did it all! My favorite part of the week was when I took my first solo drive on the jet ski. I was sick from riding the speed boat while watching others go tubing, so I hopped on the jet ski with my mother in law. She wanted to get on the boat so I motioned for Tyler to come & drive me. Everyone was super encouraging, telling me I could drive it by myself that I was able & should do it. You see, sickness takes away your confidence. It takes away everything. It makes you question your abilities & independence. I’m in the process of continuing to re-gain my independence in many ways & taking that jet ski by myself was a HUGE victory for me. I had a blast flying through the quiet coves where it felt like there was no around but God and me. I admired the beauty of the water, sky & trees while praising God for this moment & how far He had brought me to get there. I sang praise music aloud & truly felt FREE again. I also spent a few minutes tubing with the little kids which definitely was painful for my body but also thrilling! The great part about the houseboat is having tons of family & friends all together.

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FOLLY BEACH: Vacay #2 was in Folly Beach for t he last week of July. We went with Tyler’s parents & sister & also got to see one of his brothers for a day. We stayed in a house right on the beach (the same one we stayed in April) with the most perfect ocean view. Folly Beach is a neat little island type of town. Everything is within a few miles & our beach house was only 1 mile from the center of town. We rented a golf cart & bikes to ride around the island! SO MUCH FUN. There was a local juice truck that was open every day so rather than bringing my own juicer, I treated myself to fresh juice every morning. I love the beach! We had a few days of crazy wind & waves so Tyler, Andrea, & me played in them like little kids. I got knocked dog like a rag doll every single time, they were strong & I don’t weigh much! That was exhausting for my body yet tons of fun. My father in law brought a huge tent so that we could sit under the shade on the beach. That was a lifesaver for me. I realized that even if I spent much of my time under the shade, at some point I felt heat sickness/exhaustion each day. I hated being inside sick when everyone else was outside but truly it’s amazing that I was there & so active. We walked on the beach some everyday & rode bikes several mornings. My favorite memory was the “adventure sister date” that Andrea & I shared. We decided to go exploring on bikes during an overcast day. The rain came pouring down just minutes into our ride. Rather than heading home, we continued going in search of a lighthouse. We had throwback music playing through a speaker, we were literally singing in the rain, not caring that we were drenched  & cold. It took me a bit to re-learn how to ride & stay balanced on a bike since it had been years. We finally found a trail that lead to the lighthouse. We jumped off our bikes, walked through the sand & found a beautiful, deserted looking beach with huge rocks & a lighthouse looming in the background. The rain seemed to scare off any crowd, leaving us with our own “private island.” We spent a few minutes in the ocean which felt like a hot tub while continually saying, “This is awesome!!!” The ride back to our house was cold as we were soaked from head to toe & the rain continued to fall. But, we smiled the entire time, living in the moment & loving our afternoon together. In those moments I truly felt alive.

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I was able to order a large raw salad at every restaurant our family picked. I made sure to get my calories from sweet fruit during the day. Delicious! No dressing, or just have them put it on the side and use lemon, hot sauce, avocado, ketchup or BBQ sauce as vegan options.

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I made raw vegan pasta one day for lunch with the beach view!

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  • WALKS: Okay, if you know me you know that I love taking long walks/talks with family & friends. I’ve done tons of that this summer! My friends Kelly & Sarah have been my most frequent walking partners. Kelly & I like to walk early in the morning & we end up walking 4+ miles EASILY because we are so busy talking. Tyler & I have also walked quite a bit during the summer evenings. Being able to walk longer than 15-20 minutes & doing so multiple days a week is HUGE for me!

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Erin & I had an awesome walk around the lake one morning when she came to visit.

  • POOL TIME: Every chance we get, we are hanging at the Chaney family pool with my parents & siblings. Having a pool five minutes away that is open for us anytime is a pretty great setup. This summer I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time in & around the pool while getting sun on my skin! It feels amazing to actually have a real tan for the first time in years.

 

  • FAMILY EVENTS: I (we) have been forced to miss countless family get togethers, birthdays, graduations, holidays, etc over the last 3.5 years. This summer we’ve been blessed to attend the Chaney/Campbell family reunion in the beautiful mountains of Ary, KY. Before that, we made it to my little cousin’s high school graduation party. We also celebrated Abuela’s 80th birthday with a family pool party! And in a few weekends we will go to sweet Mia’s 1st birthday party (cousin.) These are all moments I TREASURE & do not take for granted.

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OTHER: From having a few game nights with different friends, game nights with family, going to the movies, celebrating birthdays, traveling, learning more everyday about healing, diet, & life, to so much more… summer 2017 has been nothing short of a GIFT. I feel myself breaking down right now, feeling fatigued from the travel back from the beach & I know that soon I’m going to need a period of rest from all the excitement. My heart is hugely grateful for all of this beauty that surrounds me. The Lord is faithful, He provides in every season & in the darkness He promises light ahead. He delivers on His promises & when you continue to hang on through the storms, doing your best to give Him the glory, & trust in His ultimate plan you will always be met with undeserved blessings from above.

 

I hope all of you thoroughly enjoyed summer 2017!

 

Thank you always for your support, love & prayers.

 

XOXO,

 

Mal

7 thoughts on “Learning to live again: Discovering normalcy after 3+ years of debilitating illness

  1. Joy, joy, joy! Never cease praying. A friend has a very serious illness and she has had 2 good weeks lately. Prayers work. I am so blessed reading your blog. I have learned so much and gained a new friend (?). May your days be long and healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I developed fribromyalgia last year and it turned my whole life upside down! I can definetly relate to the whole “my life will never be normal/I have so many limitations” feeling. I’ve found my disease actually makes me a more balanced person though because I’m forced to stop and take “me” time. Good luck girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is wonderful you’ve resolved to live beyond the bounds of your illness. Chk out NAET dot com for a practitioner near you if you can. It will change your life – likely give it back. “Allergy” is any type of rejection of a substance, far beyond the scope of pollen-triggered wheezing. We can be sensitive to our own body secretions and organs. NAET cures. Not just treats or manages. Cures.

    Liked by 1 person

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