Many years ago, long before I knew what a gluten was and I still believed in Santa Clause, I spent a great deal of time on my grandparent’s farm in Ohio. It wasn’t a perfect childhood, but this part of it helped me endure the rest. I was an early riser, many days up before dawn. In the summer, I often climbed into the hay loft to watch the sun rise over the field and woods where I ran barefoot on warm days. My grandfather gave me little tasks to do, like pouring grain for Bessie to eat as he balanced atop his one legged stool pulling her teats and causing sprays of creamy milk to scrape against his shiny silver pail. Sometimes he sent me to gather eggs. Obediently I would go, though I was terrified of being pecked by the hens. I gathered the eggs I could, never disturbing the angriest looking hens. My grandfather taught me how to clean fish and he let me ride with him on the tractor as he cut hay, but mostly I ran like a woodland nymph, feeling the heartbeat of the earth in my chest and the power of God in the winds. I never thought about food intolerance or questioned the keratosis pilaris on my arms and face. Noone ever told me they were whispers from my body telling me something was amiss.
In my preschool years I had recurrent ear infections, by my teen years I had IBS, and then came the irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, recurrent yeast infections, allergies with recurrent sinus infections, gastritis, GERD, a small ulcer in the antrum of my stomach. Year by year, new symptoms came. For a healthy person, I had this mounting list of things happening in my body, many of which, doctors could not explain. Readily they gave me pills and sent me on my merry way…antibiotics, oral contraceptives, fertility drugs, antifungals, antihistimines, antacids, steroids…I was well on my way to a life time of pill popping to treat symptoms, while never understanding what my body was desperately trying to say.
About eight years ago I started taking a cranberry supplement in an effort to combat my near chronic issues with yeast infections, vaginal and skin lesions. This particular supplement contained probiotic as well as the cranberry extract. Well it did nothing for my yeast, but after a couple of weeks I realized I hadn’t taken any Imodium in a while, something I religiously kept on hand after a few socially embarrassing, IBS episodes. I took it at least several times a week, more if I was stressed. This revelation was a life changing and is where my journey to recovery begins.