Family Life

In Sickness and in Health (aka wholistic alternative medicine is where it’s at)

My husband is ill. Quite ill. In fact sometimes I think I feel a little proud of how ill he has managed to be, for his seemingly healthy and young state. Is that too messed up? For years and years he has struggled with physical and mental fatigue and fog, struggling to get enough energy to get through a basic day. In the more recent years it has escalated to an addition of severe stomach pains and discomforts, burning in his abdomen,  and other weird side effects, like consistent weight loss and random circulation issues. We gave conventional medicine a try, and were failed miserably by the standard Guess, Medicate, and See If It Works process that the general health care world lives by (and it cost a pretty penny too, for doing absolutely no good, and providing absolutely no answers). We tried all sorts of things from nutritional adjustments to diet, experimenting with cutting out certain lifestyle choices, even fasting, and nothing worked. My husband was getting sicker and sicker, and one morning a few months ago he woke up and nearly couldn’t physically get himself out of bed.

You wouldn’t think he is ill to look at him, (unless you knew what he looked like in contrast 4 years ago) and the reason is because guys, I’ve got the strongest and most fiercely honorable husband. He never complains. He doesn’t let it effect his work. He doesn’t let it effect his attitude. And until recently, when he just became too weak, he didn’t allow it to be an excuse to put off physical exercise. He smiles, he is warm and kind, and he thinks of everyone else before himself. I married a Hercules of mind and spirit.

That morning that he nearly couldn’t get out of bed, it hit me that we didn’t know what was wrong with him, and I had no assurance whatsoever that he was going to be there to father our baby girl in 5 months. I had no confidence that he’d be able to pick her up and play with her, if he continued this steady weakening and sickening. The thought terrified me, and I realized we couldn’t keep putting off visiting a diagnostic specialist just because of money shortages and no health insurance.  So we decided as Christians our responsibility is to do what we need to do and trust God to provide for His children, as He so many times has promised us He will do. We went through a process of narrowing down the right specialist to see, and ended up finding one practically in our back yard, just 15 minutes away in this little country area of ours east of Memphis. God closed all the windows and doors to every other doctor, and made every little piece fall into place perfectly. I scheduled an appointment, and we went in and they ran tons and tons of tests first visit, to aid the doctor in diagnosis. No guessing allowed at this place. We are so grateful.

Our follow up with the doctor himself was to go over test results and discuss diagnosis and treatment plan. We nervously and excitedly waited for that visit, wondering what we’d hear (and how we would pay for it – but every visit God has somehow provided the funds, even as little as 12 hours before!)

I won’t give too many details, but the short version is, most of his body is malfunctioning. He’s got 4 different types of blood infections, an off the charts case of SIBO, an overgrowth of yeast in his body, and some also (literally) off the charts intolerance to certain foods. All of those things have worked together over the years to cause his immune system to attack itself, resulting in malfunctioning hormones, organs, intestines, and extreme fatigue.

For the record – if we had gone the conventional route, it would have taken months and months, if EVER for them to figure out the extent of the root causes of his illness. This wholistic alternative doctor discovered all these answers in ONE visit, because he didn’t play the guessing-then-medicating game. We are strong believers in alternative medicine practices, and more so now than ever. The doctor spent nearly 5 hours face to face with us on our first visit post-tests to make sure we understood every test result, every chart, every cause, and every part of the treatment plan. He believes in finding the root cause and fixing it, instead of covering over the symptoms with medication.

Well, I never thought I’d be marrying a pill popper! The sheer amount of supplements and medications my sweet husband is having to take is unbelievable. But they are working to truly eradicate the problem, instead of just providing temporary fixes to the symptoms. He’s on lots of supplements to help his body maintain simple function while he goes through this healing process, he’s on some antibiotics to cure the SIBO, he’s on some homeopathic remedies to deal with the yeast overgrowth, once the yeast and SIBO is fully dealt with in a matter of 6 weeks, he’ll then be on antibiotics to cure the blood infections. He’s got as big of a pill organizer box as the 90 year old man in a nursing home to which the doc compared his functioning level.

But here’s the most difficult part – the diet change! We’ve had to go full on Paleo PLUS some, because of his body’s inability to digest and process, because of the yeast, and because of the intolerance to certain foods. He’s allowed a short list of meats, some vegetables, nuts, seeds, and oils. No dairy, no fruits, no carbs of any sort, no gluten, no yeast, nothing. It’s made for quite an adventure, and not really an adventure I ever expected to encounter. I’ve had to completely re-learn how to shop, how to cook, how to prep food. I can no longer send my husband to work with the fruit and frozen vegetables and oatmeal that he usually likes to eat; instead I’m needing to pre-cook various meals to get him anywhere close to the caloric intake he requires to function, on a list of frustratingly low calorie foods.

I never knew I could be so creative… and also uncreative. Some days I think of the perfect meal to prepare, and other days I can’t think of something to cook him to save my life! Keep a lookout for coming posts with some paleo meal successes (I’ll spare you the failures) for some good recipes!

This has been a difficult process for my husband, and it’s required a lot of lifestyle change, and a lot of adjustment mentally and physically. He’s still losing weight, and will continue to do so until these various problems are finished healing, so that he can eat somewhat normally. I’m thankful that a lot of these diet restrictions are not permanent! The hardest one is his inability to have fruit. He LOVES fruit, and it’s been a good deal of his caloric and nutrient intake in a day. He also loves potatoes and carrots and rice and foods like that that are off the table now because of his banishment from carbs and sugars. But once the yeast and the SIBO and the infections are cured, and his body is ready to function again, I’ll be able to introduce everything back in, except for gluten, dairy, and certain egg/yeast combinations. I can’t wait for that day to be here; we’ve been on this path for a month now, and he’s already showing beginning signs of healing, but in the mean time…

Have I mentioned this is hard? It is. It’s been a huge challenge. But that being said, in another way it’s not in the least bit hard, because, well, I love my husband. He’s been suffering and bearing this illness with patience and strength for years, and I’d do anything to see him wake up with energy and have a zest for life again. It’s truly a joy to be able to serve him in this way, and support him in the emotional downs of this physical adjustment, and after all, I did say “in sickness and in health.” And I meant it. Whatever crosses our paths, whatever storm we weather, I’m in it for him. And honestly… with the character and love he shows he couldn’t make it easier.

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