Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creating A Welcoming Home...

{above awareness sticker from www.zazzle.com}

.....When You Have A Chronic Illness.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that my passion is inspiring women to Create Welcoming Homes! You may have seen a recipe or two that were gluten-free as well. But I've never shared with you my story. And I had done this on purpose. Ain't no disease out there that's pretty, people. However, I know that there are millions of women out there who have a chronic illness of some kind, who desperately want to Create A Welcoming Home for their family even though it may be difficult, and just might be inspired to know that they are not alone. And that's why I'm sharing with you today.

(And if you are blessed to be healthy, then read on anyway...it may give you an understanding heart for a friend.)

Hello, my name is Stacey...and I have Celiac Disease.

Here's my story:

I was blessed to be a happy, healthy child and teenager. I was active & energetic through college, when I first started noticing that something was definitely wrong with me.
I started to drastically lose weight. I had always been thin, but doctors were stumped. A couple of months later Hubby & I were engaged, & I had gotten down to 100 lbs, was drinking 3 "shakes" a day full of calories to put on weight (SO disgusting, by the way), eating non-stop, and could.not.put.on.weight.

They did all sorts of tests, checking everything from full-panel bloodwork to check my thyroid or for anemia, all the way to drinking barium and having scans done to check if I had cancer. Nothing showed up.
They said that they didn't know. And chalked it up to stress.

By my wedding day, I had gotten back up to 110.

Fast forward a year, literally just after our 1 year anniversary.
I had gotten terribly sick with "the flu". I couldn't keep anything in me, was passing out from dehydration, and had gone to the ER twice already. I was taking a medicine cocktail of several different things, but nothing was working.
I was having diarrhea up to 20 times a day. And I knew for sure that my husband of one year would keep his vow and love me forever "in sickness and in health" when he quietly and lovingly cleaned up a messy bed and mattress when I was too sick to even wake up to make it to the bathroom.
A week in the hospital, a colonoscopy, some unsure signs and symptoms, and once again....doctors said "I don't know" and sent me home. It took another 3 weeks before I was better.

In the years that followed, I had been told "I don't know" and sent on my way more times than I could count.

After my daughters were born (only 15 mo apart), I couldn't shake the tiredness and nausea that I had felt during my pregnancies. I felt sick to my stomach much of the time, and was exhausted, but we thought maybe it was just hormones out of control. But, it didn't go away after I gave birth.
In fact, it had gotten worse.

By now, my days were filled with 2 little babies...and then as time passed, 2 little toddlers...draining what little energy I had out of me. I spent most of my time at home on the couch, trying to get a migraine to go away, or trying not to throw up, or trying to catch a few minutes of sleep since I was just always so exhausted. Some days were pretty normal, and some were not. I put on a happy face for the world to see. Friends and family were mostly unaware that I felt so badly. Who wants to hang out with a "sicky"? I got really good at faking like all was well.

I had to teach my husband to cook, since I could no longer function well enough to do that everyday anymore. Some days I'd be so ill that I would tell my toddlers to "bring Momma a bowl and bring me some cereal/or a snack, and I'll pour it for you". I cried a lot about that.

After having finally had enough, I cried when I went to an allergist who said that I was allergic to several things, one of which was wheat. Praise the Lord! Finally, an answer!! After some more testing during the next 2 years, I was officially diagnosed by a gastroenterologist as having Celiac Disease.

How am I better now?
Well, I eat Gluten-Free. It's the only way to stay healthy. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, & rye, and oats are avoided due to contamination issues as well.
I still have some health issues due to being undiagnosed for so long (around 10 years). But overall, I am lightyears better than before!
(for more info: www.celiac.org)

Why am I sharing this with you??

Honestly, I didn't really want to. But it was on my heart to share anyway!

I do want to encourage many of you out there who do have health problems, yet desperately want to create a haven for your family. You want a Welcoming Home! But I know that it may be harder for you than for others. I know. I understand. And I want to tell you that
"You are not alone!"

It is very possible to Create A Welcoming Home!
It takes LOVE, most of all. That's what your family needs most!!
Do what you can, when you can, the Lord knows your limitations & your strengths.
Don't fall into the trap of blaming your illness for not doing anything around your home.
Keep things simple & easy. De-clutter & simplify in every area.
Your "to-do list" for the day won't look the same as most people's list, and that's ok.

Whether it's arthritis, migraines, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, diabetes, cancer, celiac disease, etc. know that you aren't alone...that I care...and most of all that God cares about you!
If you desire a Welcoming Home, then He will honor that desire!!

Find a Bible verse that gives you encouragement!
Here's one of mine:
"...Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord". Deut. 8:3

Thanks for listening to me today! I know that this varies from my usual posts, but it was on my heart!

For more encouraging posts, check out (in)courage, a new incredible website, like a little home away from home, all for encouraging women!


The Nester said...

Wow, I cannot imagine having to deal with nausia or however you spell it, two small children and the worst part, just not knowing what was wrong with you. I'm so glad that you now know what's going on and that you have found some relief!

heart you girl!

Shanda said...

"Ain't no disease out there that's pretty, people." Amen to that Stacey!

Yet so many people struggle and suffer with them. I'm glad that you shared so openly. My husband has Crohn's disease. It becomes a part of your life - like it or not.

God has most definitely blessed your desire to create a welcoming atmosphere - both at home and here on the web!

Amber B. said...

My sister has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, also. It's been hard to watch her suffer, but now she is on the right track and is feeling so much better. So sorry to hear about your 10 years of suffering, and so glad that you are now getting better. :-)

Stacey said...

Stacey, I know several people with celiac disease. I have one friend who's 10 year old daughter was just diagnosed with it. They were told that it is on the rise and doctors are unsure of the reason. I'm glad you are better able to control it now. I'm sure there are residual effects after not knowing and having those terrible symptoms. Thanks for sharing!!

Victoria@WhimsybyVictoria said...

Stacey, thank you for sharing your heart and soul on this post. I have had to go through some of my own medical problems for the last 5 years and many days just try to live with it. Still no diagnosis for mine, so I can relate to how frustrated you must have felt. I agree, we just have to do the best we can where we can. I am glad that they finally found what the problem was and you are much better than you were. I have learned that through our trials Heavenly Father is testing our faith and we have to remember Christ suffered much more than any of us can ever know...but, he is always with us. That for me is the peace I have. I hope your day is wonderful and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Hugs to you,

Janet said...

Hi, Stacey. My family is a strange one...all of us, except for my husband, have celiac disease. We also have secondary allergies to things like corn, soy, potatoes, ginger, pineapple. (Who's allergic to pineapple? That's just weird!)

Anyway, I can relate to your story. I just wanted to tell you that part of having a welcoming home is recognizing that guests may have allergies, and trying to accommodate them. I can't tell you how much of a blessing it is to have a shared meal at our church, and to see all the care that goes into the preparations so that our strange family doesn't get sick.

It takes a lot of love to do that.

emily said...

wow. Thank you for sharing this difficult story. I can't imagine. I love your heart of wanting to create a welcoming home for your family no matter what. That means so much more knowing your story!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I had no idea, Stacey! Thank you so much for sharing this. My sister-in-law is trying to find out if she might be allergic to wheat as well, and is on a gluten free diet. This gives me so much more insight into what she must be going through.

I don't have any diseases at all, and my excuses for not having worked on a more welcoming home environment are just lame when I read a story like yours. You have done such an amazing job!!! :)

I don't know if you'd have anything to post, but my Decorating Dilemmas Party will be up tonight after 10. I'd love it if you could stop by.

Keep doing what you're doing, girl. You are a wonderful wife, mom, decorator, and friend. :) I'm blessed to read what you share with us here. :)

Richella said...

Stacey. I bless you for sharing this. More important, God will bless you for sharing this. Just as He blesses your sincere desire to make your home the welcoming place you want it to be.

What an encouragement.

ALVN of WhisperWood Cottage and Junkologie said...

Well-written, Stacey. Thanks for sharing what's on your heart. I'm so glad to know you!!


Shilo said...

Thanks so much for opening up your heart to bless others, Stacey! You are a jewel!
Stop by my blog when you can and see our new home! Would love to know what you think! :)
Blessings, Shilo

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

I have a daughter that is allergic to wheat, eggs and peanuts. We were lucky enough to find out when she was three months old, and although the symptoms and reactions are completely different than that of celiac disease, I understand the isolation that comes when you don't participate in the social eating. Thanks for sharing.

Stacy said...

Hello, my name is Stacy and I too have celiac disease. I stumbled upon your blog today and when I saw the green ribbon, I gasped. Then I saw you were also a Stacey!

Wendy said...

Thanks for sharing! I have Crohn's Disease and understand how you feel. My girls are very independent because of it (getting there own snacks, playing quietly when mommy is sick...). I have just started feeling my best in this past year (thanks to new medication and a healthier diet).

Wendy said...

Thanks for sharing! I have Crohn's Disease and understand how you feel. My girls are very independent because of it (getting there own snacks, playing quietly when mommy is sick...). I have just started feeling my best in this past year (thanks to new medication and a healthier diet).

St. Michael's Wife said...

Thank you, sweet sista, for your transparency in sharing what I know was a very difficult post for you to write. We are blessed by those, like you, who are willing to be vulnerable in their openess and honesty . . . it enables us to think that perhaps we, too, can risk opening our hearts and souls to others.

Grins and blessings!

Tina said...

I believe that you've helped alot of people by sharing your story. God's grace is all over it.
Thanks for sharing it.

A Love Worth Waiting For said...

Wow! Bless your heart! Thanks for sharing your story....

Cheryl said...

bless your heart for sharing this with everyone. you may just have helped someone out that might have it. So glad you were finally diagnosed and are better now.

Sandy Toes said...

Thanks for sharing!
sandy toe

Marge said...

Stacey, you are an angel for sharing your story. I am so sorry that it took so long for a diagnosis, but am happy to hear you are doing well now.

Girl with the Curlz said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story. As I started reading and the more you explained your symptoms I said to my self she is alergic to wheat. About 10 years ago I dated someone for 6 years who also had celiac. He had gone through the exact same things as you did until they found it. It is amazing how drastically your symptoms can change with just changing what you eat. It can be a hassle sometimes with the food but there is so many gluten free things out there these days it makes it easier.

Rachel said...

I found you through Raining Pearls literally about 10 minutes ago! I saw this post & was instantly connected. Being that I too have a disease, Endo, that I have just chosen to chalk up as normal and be happy, it really does affect the person that I am just to do menial tasks. My husband also has Crohn's so we're "one sick family" - and by sick I mean really cool!! HA We've even struggled with the thought of having a family, if we can even get pregnant in the 1st place, due to the concern of will we be able to give our children what they need and deserve. Thanks for the inspiring post!

chunnym said...

Thank you for sharing your story Stacey. I am so happy to know you are so much better now! Thank you for also putting things in perspective for me. Now, I need to get in gear and get some projects done! : )

Elizabeth (blue clear sky) said...

I am very moved by your post today. It must have been hard to share it but I'm sure it will offer others encouragement. I have long admired your blog and your decorating style. Little did I know how many difficulties you must have faced. God bless you (and your great husband) as you continue to provide your family with a welcoming home.

Holley - (in)courage said...

Wow, thank you for sharing your story!
And thank you for helping others create a welcoming home. I appreciated what you said--"It takes LOVE, most of all." That's so reassuring to me (I'm decorating challenged, shh, don't tell The Nester...I've already confessed to her that I can't use hot glue).
So glad to be (in) with you!

Young Wife said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad that they figured out what the problem was. And thank you for showing hospitality even though you have a chronic illness. My husband has severe arthritis, so we can relate to the fatigue part.

Melissa Lester said...

What a journey you have had! My aunt has celiac disease also, but has a difficult time sticking to her recommended diet. It is tough to make adjustments in lifestyle, but it is definitely worth it to enjoy a better quality of life. Thanks for sharing!

Lora said...

My best friend has this disease. She was sick for months before she was diagnosed. It was very scary for her because she started thinking it was all in her head because there was no diagnosis. She's doing well now. Thanks for sharing this.

Amy Jo:) said...

Wow! I about flipped out of my chair when I just read this post! I have been reading your blog for about six months now and LOVE it. I love your style! I have noticed your gluten free recipes and was surprised by them, but figured it was because you had a family member or something that was gf for some reason.... but I really never thought about the fact that you could have CD. Anyways, I too have Celiac and it is nice to know that tidbit about you! Thanks for sharing it with us and for educating so many readers about it!

Kristen said...

It is so great to read your post about this! My son (autistic) was just diagnosed with a wheat allergy and we are struggling with being gluten free. Thanks for your encouraging story. I'm glad you shared!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this story. It sounds much like my own journey with systemic lupus.
We are blessed to be LIVING with a disease not DYING of it.

Triumphant said...

Bless you for sharing your story! I too suffer from an "unseen" illness too Gaucher Disease. I can certainly relate to putting on a healthy face done that more times than I can count!

Cara Beth said...

I am CD too! I'm glad I found your blog!

Ali said...

Your post was inspiring. I know that you wrote this post awhile ago, but I just had the time to read it today ( 9-24). You have inpired me and given me a sense of hope. I also have a chronic illness. I have been dealing with crohns disease for a couple of years. It started around the time that My husband and I got married, so your words are far too real. Thanks for sharing your story. It meant something to me! :)

Brenda said...

Thank you for posting this. I have Celiac too and also had trouble getting diagnosed. The more we can educate others, the better off we will all be.

Mariah said...

I don't have Celiac, but have lived with the stress that comes with undiagnosed debilitating health. I also praise God that He's revealed the wisdom that brought vitality back to my health, and too have "residual" issues. But I know exactly why you share. And though we don't have Celiac, we're mostly gluten free for other reasons, too. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! My sister and youngest son are gluten free. Once we received my sons dx, I decided our entire family would go gluten free to make life easier for me. My husband travels frequently so he can eat whatever he wants away from home.
Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one dealing with it.

Cherdecor said...

I am so glad that I found your blog. I have been looking around and I absolutely love it.

I am 65 years old and I think that most of my life, I have not been able to digest wheat, however, I didn't know it. In the past ten years, doctors have said to me, "We cannot help you. We do not know what it wrong." It is a terrible feeling to be sick, but it is even worse when doctors have no idea what is wrong.

I do not have the same symptoms you had, so my doctors were confused. My neighbor is a doctor and she suggested that maybe I have Celiac's. I stopped eating wheat and in a week, I was so much better, even though I never had symptoms typical of Celiac's.

I am still going through tests at the moment, but I am trusting the Lord. I know that He walks with me on this journey called life.

Bless you,
Cheryl from Cherdecor