All Of That Struggle, and Such a Simple Solution

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I found Mark’s Daily Apple through a fortuitous and random conversation one morning with the guy I was seeing sometime around 2010. We were lying in bed, dreaming up delicious Sunday breakfast ideas and started talking about bacon, which then led to a heated argument about bacon, cardiovascular disease, dietary fat… oh boy! He name-dropped yours and MDA, and it made me step down from my high horse (I was a recent doctor of physical therapy graduate) and take a whole new look at nutrition that has- no exaggeration- completely changed my life.

Here is my story:

I had been swimming competitively since age 10, so I knew my body. I had always been tall, thin, and full of enthusiasm for whatever I pursued. Back in 2002, as a senior in high school, I started to feel something quite different. If I approached my physical limits, I would feel sluggish and weak and there was no way to push through. Each week, I swam slower. A few months later, I started noticing more and more of my hair falling in the shower drain and in my hair brush. As someone who had always been a night owl, I found it strange that even during matinee movies the second I sat down I would feel tired and fall asleep, like turning a switch. I could sleep ten to twelve hours and still would wake up exhausted. I even passed out a few times for no apparent reason. At this point I felt fatigued constantly, was having trouble finding enough energy to pay attention in class, and I knew something was wrong. I told my mom (a nurse), and we decided to wait out the end of the school semester. After graduation, I took a solid week off and basically slept and rested all day, after which I felt completely normal. I shrugged it off, and headed off to college a few months feeling healthy.

As a frame of reference, my diet at this time was atrocious. I didn’t like most meat, so I would eat processed meat approximately once a week. I hated eggs. I didn’t have much of a taste for any vegetables, so again, maybe once a week one would make it to my plate. I liked bananas, kiwis, and a few fruits. I loved processed food and would primarily eat cereal, bread, crackers, cookies, and pasta. I also struggled with having very little musculature on my body despite being active. At 5’10” my calves were so narrow that speciality narrow boots looked like fishermen’s boots on me! My abdomen fluctuated between being completely concave and sunken or distended to the extent that people would ask me if I was pregnant. My face had a constant red rash and break outs of both acne and rosacea. All of these things made me self-conscious.

When I went off to college, unexplained symptoms struck again. Except this time once I got to the point where I was passing out and fatigued, I kept going. My immune system went nuts. I acquired very bad strep throat, pink eye in both eyes, an ear infection, and a bad UTI all at once. Every week for the rest of the semester I felt worse despite several courses of antibiotics. Fast forward to end of semester: I finished finals, I rested for our 2 week holiday—100% better.

This became the pattern. Three more semesters exactly like this. It started to take a toll on my endurance, and I could not even walk up the stairs to get to my classes without stopping and resting for several minutes. I was embarrassed to be in social situations because I couldn’t focus and didn’t feel like myself physically and mentally. I was struggling in my classes for the first time in my life. I decided that fall semester my junior year would be different: no matter how sick I felt, I would push even harder.

That didn’t go well. I crossed into the next threshold of bodily rebellion. I started feeling sharp abdominal pains as if I were being poisoned followed by bouts of vomiting after taking my birth control, drinking milk, eating anything fatty, taking even a sip of alcohol, and sometimes after indecipherable aggravations. I stopped getting my period. One morning I woke up and could barely open my eyes. I felt confused to the point where I was staring at people talking and pretending to understand what was going on. Morning classes were a blur, and as I sat in my French class, I somehow fell asleep in the front row. My professor woke me up—not too happy—and sent me to the school doctor. Even though there was an entire waiting room full of students, she took me right away. I didn’t question it, but the second she sat me down she explained why: I had yellow skin, yellow eyes, and that awful, unmistakable death-like look of jaundice. She diagnosed me with mono (many of the other times I had been to the health center they suspected mono but the test was always negative). I was put on immediate bed rest until my liver started to cooperate. I could barely stomach eating, so I would munch on saltine crackers and eat unseasoned ramen but little else. My liver enzymes actually tested worse and worse, despite the rest. I got to the point where I could barely eat anything, but then slowly, I started feeling better. Hallelujah.

Spoiler alert, that’s not the end of my story. The very next semester it started happening. Again. Despite being told that you could only get mono once. I was emotionally devastated, scared, and yet determined. I gathered all of my medical records and went to see a doctor off-campus. He was dismissive and cold and told me that I was a woman, and women get depressed. That was his medical advice. End stop.

I was embarrassed to the point I didn’t seek further medical attention and tried to make some changes on my own, this time being a bit kinder to my body. I cut my work hours to almost zero, my class schedule in half, my workouts out altogether, and I just tried to get by. I was able to finish my last few semesters of college with fatigue, constant infections, and poor mental clarity, but I finished! I started working as a physical therapy aid full-time and teaching swim lessons to make money before grad school, and suddenly I was thrown off balance again. I could feel my body crashing as it had before, and I ended up making the radical decision to take 3 months off before physical therapy school to convalesce. This seemed to work, because I made it through 3 years of graduate school with only occasional and much less dramatic periods of illness.

That brings me to 2010, lying in bed, chatting about bacon. This little argument inspired me to read from the amazing Michael Pollen and delve into the wonders of the MDA blog. Mark’s words hit home as I had already begun to understand the importance of rest and recovery, listening to my body instead of overriding its messages (a work in progress), and the way food could make me feel. I drank the kool aid. I was inspired by the large body of evidence in the primal diet and primal lifestyle. Little by little, I started learning how to love vegetables and to prepare them well, to embrace fats, to eliminate grains, and to enjoy delicious meat and eggs. I started eating real food. Relationships don’t change over-night, so neither did mine with food. I had a long way to go, but I could feel a difference in my digestion and my energy. My acne and rosacea disappeared completely, and I felt like I had at least some control in my health.

Unfortunately though, my health continued to decline. It was not exactly the same as it had been before. I was constantly fatigued, but rarely did I have the ear/eye/throat/bladder infection extravaganzas as I had in the past, nor would the symptoms go away anymore with a little extra rest for a week or two. Instead, I started having random, scary symptoms. Over the course of the next four years, several times I would develop excessive water retention, followed by coughing up liquid deep in my chest, followed by pneumonia, followed by waking up in the middle of the night barely able to breathe. I would prop myself up on four pillows so that I was almost sitting up so that I could breathe. I would have fevers in excess of 104 degrees sometimes every Friday after a long week of work and would lie in bed until Monday morning. One time I felt desperately thirsty and was drinking water by the liter until I collapsed with squeezing in my chest. My left arm would randomly swell up. I had strange ulcers in my mouth. Other times my right eye would randomly start dilating, once to the point where I could not see anything out of it for hours. I would have sharp abdominal pain every time I was on my period that caused me to double over. I could keep listing crazy symptoms all day. I lived in fear. In addition, the years of being ill had led to metabolic damage. I could barely eat 1000 calories a day without gaining weight, so I slowly started gaining more and more weight. I had prided myself on being fit, so this crushed my self-confidence.

Doctors led me down many rabbit holes. Some were dismissive, cold, and made me feel embarrassed or crazy for telling them what was happening. Others were compassionate and did what they could to help, but they could only put small pieces of the puzzle together. I tested positive for several antibodies that suggested autoimmune disease and was told it was likely lupus, and steroids seemed to help my “infections” better than antibiotics which was quite telling, but my symptoms never stopped recurring and every day was a struggle.

I also attempted to conquer my body by running marathons, hiking mountains, and portraying a life of a “healthy woman.” These outward goals always led to me being very sick, sometimes for months, but for some reason I continued to fight my body every step of the way. I climbed Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States (with a broken tailbone no-less). Two weeks later I came down with a kidney infection that wouldn’t respond to antibiotics or steroids and kept me in bed for 2 months with fever, fatigue, and brain fog as well a complete loss of appetite. I kept frozen salmon, avocado, fresh orange juice, and almond butter in my kitchen and if I ate ONE of those things each day, I felt accomplished. I became scared that I was losing too much weight, but surprisingly, I felt stronger each day. Slowly, my appetite returned.

Finally, two months later I felt completely healthy, and I decided to go out to celebrate my birthday. My first day out. My first day with food outside of my kitchen. I ate fried chicken, drank beer, and polished it off with a birthday cupcake.  The next morning I woke up with 104 fever, vomiting, the works. It started all over again, and I had an emotional break down.

All of these years I had tried to be patient and to trust my doctors, my body, God, and the universe to somehow fix this, but I could no longer handle living my life in constant fear and confusion, and I had reached a breaking point. The merry-go-round of looking for outside help, finding no clear solution, giving up, and then starting all over again was getting old. I truly believed I needed to accept that I  would never have the health and energy of a “healthy” person, so I should start adapting my life to live with my limitations as best as possible. I started tracking every symptom each day, I started dialing back my work hours, my social time, and my exercise, and this seemed to help. I started eating much cleaner according to the Primal Blueprint, maybe 90/10. I slept 10 hours every day. I felt “ok,” but I was depressed at the outlook of my future.

One fateful day, June 21, 2014, I decided to try keto, which I had recently read about on Mark’s blog. It was actually easy for me to get into ketosis for the first time, because my diet had been consistently clean for the six months preceding it. I woke up on day 3, and it was crazy. I could see clearly. I felt well-rested in a way that I didn’t remember existed. I felt boundless energy. I was strong. I could breathe better. I still remember that feeling so clearly. I actually feel healthy! Even when I felt “ok,” I didn’t realize I was never actually feeling well.  It had been so long. I peed on the stick, and it was purple: ketosis was achieved. After a week of eating keto, which I had never intended to maintain permanently, I decided that I would add one half piece of whole wheat pita bread to my diet (I know not primal at all but I feel lucky I made that random exception to my diet) every other week and to attempt to cycle into and out of ketosis. The next morning I woke up with mouth ulcers, a fever, brain fog, and the beginnings of a UTI.

It hit me. The writing had always been on the wall but I hadn’t I seen it. This was clear, objective measures I couldn’t ignore: Do I have celiac disease? I got back into ketosis over the next few days, and all of the symptoms cleared. Like magic. I grabbed a beer, walked down to my hot tub, and cracked it open. This would be my test (and with bittersweet sadness my final beer). As I enjoyed the crisp, cool refreshing beverage, all of the things I had been through over the past 12 years ran through my mind. Even if you reread my story, it seems so obvious once you know. All of that struggle and such a simple solution. Yes, the ulcers and the fever came back the next day. I did a week of completely primal, gluten free, but not keto to test out my theory. I remained healthy. (I have the genetic marker and antibody for celiac but am unable/unwilling to do a 12 week challenge).

Over the next four years, I gained muscle I never knew I could gain. I can wear narrow boots quite well now, and I have muscle in my core and arms. I live a completely normal life. I can run, jump, and play, so I do! I have slowly forgotten the feeling of that daily struggle and fear. I have continued to change my relationship with food. While I am always gluten-free, I am 90/10 with primal eating and cycle in and out of keto. I can finally say that when my body tells me something, I listen. Whether it’s to fully recover between workouts, to limit chronic cardio, to sleep, to get fresh air and daylight, to eat more, or to reach out and connect socially, I no longer try to fight those impulses for my own ego’s sake. I preach this to all of my patients and all of my friends.

Here is a picture of me on Halloween dressed as the iconic Leia finally with some lean muscle!

Most importantly, I have learned to open the discussion of this diet and lifestyle to people around me.  Not everyone has celiac disease, but 1% of the population does and most are not diagnosed. Many people have autoimmune conditions, and we have connected deeply on how similar food journeys have changed their lives. Many people simply have weight to lose and insulin resistance. My next goals in my personal journey are to gain a six pack (something that symbolizes both inner and physical strength to me) and to share this lifestyle with as many people as I can.  Keep spreading the light Mark!

– Maureen


About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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44 thoughts on “All Of That Struggle, and Such a Simple Solution”

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  1. Wow, so sad you had to go through so much suffering to find out what was going on. Happy to hear you are finally free to live your life at its fullest!
    I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at an early age, but there were so many other things wrong with me that were just dismissed by doctors. When I finally found out I also have lupus, it made so much sense! Now I knew what the problem was and could act on it. I now live a happy keto lifestyle with NO meds! Amazing.

    1. Happy to hear you are healthy now too Katrin! It’s surprising/disturbing/quite overwhelming to learn how many people suffer needlessly simply from the food we put in our bodies. I hope this message continues to spread

    2. Katrin, thank you for reading and responding to my story. It sounds like we have a few things in common in our journey. The fact that you have 2 different autoimmune diseases and are living happy and healthy with no meds is really everything. I hope the more we share, the more other people can take control of their own health

  2. Congrats on your health! I too struggled for years before I found keto/primal, although probably not as bad as you had it!

  3. This story is incredible. It is crazy what you went through for all those years. You look fantastic, and it is great to hear how much better you feel. I also am trying to achieve ketosis but I struggle with what to eat daily. Do you have a typical day you can share with us?

    1. Mishelle, thank you so much! My best advice for starting out: track your macros on an app like Cronometer because you can be surprised how off your macro count can be, keep net carbs under 20g and watch your protein, and try to keep your day to day meal plan simple until you slowly figure out recipes you like and what works for you. An example of a pretty standard day of keto eating for me:

      Breakfast: Coffee (usually black, occasionally with cream or coconut milk), eggs, avocado, cooked spinach all cooked in coconut oil

      Lunch: salad with arugula, shrimp grilled in coconut oil, pine nuts, homemade vinaigrette

      Snack: peanut butter mixed with hemp seeds (sounds weird, but tastes great)

      Dinner: grilled salmon and asparagus (again using coconut oil)

  4. Thanks for sharing your story! You are an inspiration! I’m so glad you figured out what was going on with your body. It’s so frustrating the way doctors treat people, especially women.

    I, myself, had appendicitis for 30 years before being properly diagnosed. They kept blaming it on one female problem after another and performed more surgeries on me than I can count. I almost died before they got it right and I got my life back.

    It can be hard to keep fighting. I’m glad you won your life back, too.

    1. I know chronic appendicitis is pretty rare, but having had acute appendicitis… I can’t even imagine dealing with that for 30 years. You must be a saint!

      Yes I totally had to include the very dismissive doctor for a few reasons: 1. to explain why I was shamed into not seeking help for awhile and 2. to let other women know it happens. He was by far not the only jerk doctor, and I also had some amazing, analytical, open-minded, brilliant, compassionate doctors that just couldn’t put all of the pieces together because of how poorly our medical model is able to diagnose autoimmune disease and how poorly nutrition is understood.

    1. Seriously, thank you! It feels pretty naked to share my personal story, and I have gone back and forth about sending this to Mark for years, so that is great to hear

  5. Yes to the unexplained mouth ulcers! I didn’t develop serious-enough symptoms of gluten intolerance until I was pregnant with my first daughter. I had a mouthful of ulcers all the time when I was pregnant and the doctors just chalked it up to hormones. No one mentioned it could be an allergy to something I was eating. Once my daughter was born, she had reflux like symptoms and urped after every feed. She wasn’t unhappy, so doctors called her a happy-urper and said it would go away on its own once she could sit up. Uh whatever. We went to a few different doctors and finally found a naturopath who sent us for allergy panels. Of course, gluten/gliadin came back for both of us. Looking back at my entire life, I’ve had mouth ulcers since I was kid and no one knew why. No gluten, no bananas, no more mouth ulcers. It was ridiculously easy. I just had some grain free banana bread a week ago (just to test the theory, you know!) and voila–one mouth ulcer. I generally don’t need to check much any more, but sometimes I wonder if my gut will someday heal enough to eat a banana without a reaction. It’s sad you had to go though so much sickness to figure it out, but it’s great you figured it out before having kids (if you go that route someday!). I’d rather live with my “weird” diet than all the other weird side effects of the SAD.

    1. Crazy to hear you had the infamous mouth ulcers too. Happy to know that you are now healthy and free from them! The crazy thing is I had them for 12 years, and the only time any doctor even seemed remotely concerned with this symptom ( I guess it’s more minor sounding than others), she just told me it was probably stress related. I never took them seriously.

      And now, every time I share my story whether written or casually in real life… it is the symptom that the most people tell me YES I HAVE/HAD THAT TOO. It seems to be a clear message from the body that the immune system isn’t happy

  6. Oh my goodness, amazing!
    It’s so crazy how dismissive others, even beyond doctors, can be of the reality of wild symptoms. I had suspected a sensitivity to cocoa, which I had eliminated for about a year. So I ate a 100% chocolate bar. The next day I could hardly move from a severe exhaustion I had never before experienced. And no one except my 6 yo daughter (who witnessed the whole thing and had to bring me water as I couldn’t even get up) believed me.
    Brava on your transformation.

    1. Thank you Megan! It’s amazing that you were able to figure out such a specific trigger as cocoa on your own. I think your experience speaks for a lot of people.

      I think that’s a great bit of incite that a lot of people’s first reaction is to be dismissive. I’m guessing it’s because these types of symptoms and autoimmune reactions just aren’t well-understood yet, so it sounds a little like hocus pocus when it’s not happening to you? I remember rolling my eyes at people who believed in nutrition as medicine back in the day myself haha. Feeling is believing though

  7. Unbelievable how many people dismissed you. Having only gone through about half of your symptoms in the last two months, it’s looking like Crohn’s Disease for me. I plan on managing it with the paleo lifestyle and seeing how my body responds. Good on you for being your own best advocate!!

    1. Kelly, thank you! Best wishes for you in your health journey! I pray that you find health and answers and support.

  8. Wow, what an inspiring and emotional story Maureen. No one should have to go through everything you have. The good news is you have your whole life ahead and can live it to the fullest.

    Thanks for sharing your incredible journey!

    1. Thank you for that! It’s crazy, but the average time from onset to diagnosis for celiac disease is 12.5 years, which is on the nose how long it took for me. No one should have to suffer like that, and I really hope the Primal lifestyle, research, and public policy on nutrition make stories like this ancient history in the next decade

  9. Great story, and you’re not alone – that combination of squeaky-clean pristine eating for extended periods of time, followed by beer, is exactly what’s needed to decide gluten is a problem. Should have known from previous experiments with baked goods, etc., but the beer made it undeniable. So Cheers for not denying it several times after that!

    1. Yes, cheers to beer haha! It’s kind of interesting that you have found that pattern with other people. I think part of the reason I didn’t connect my symptoms with food is that they typically were not GI symptoms and in general had no real pattern related to when I ate (until my diet changed and it became noticeable). Beer was a tough one to give up. My boyfriend’s family at the time owned a beer company of all things too

  10. Congratulations! It is so sad that it is almost impossible to get help from doctors when struggling with issues like this. Your story is such a perfect example of the broken and harmful health care system. So many women (and men) have devastating symptoms, only to be dismissed and judged so often we despair. The obvious truth that what we put in our bodies is crucial to our health, and that some people cannot tolerate some foods seems to be only mildly grasped by our medical community. It’s pretty appalling and completely mind boggling. Keep spreading the word, your healthy and strong life is a shining example.

    1. Colleen, thank you for reading and your well wishes! Our healthcare system/medical model has some big issues. You are so right. Besides being sick for 12 years without a proper diagnosis, I have worked in the system for the past 12 years. The hardworking healthcare providers in general aren’t to blame, but there have been many jerk doctors (and others) I have experienced that shamed me, didn’t listen at all, and some I would say were even incompetent. I am grateful for the good ones, and I am refocusing my own career to help change our system for the better!

  11. Wow, Maureen, what a story! So happy for you…you look great and it sounds like you feel amazing! It’s scary to think that with all the doctors you saw over the years no one ever tested you for celiac. Excited for your future!

  12. This is such a great success story. I’m blown away by what you went through and by the fact that you YOURSELF put the pieces together and found your health. So inspiring!.

    Also, on the mouth ulcers, as I’ve seen some comments from people who have them. I suffered with them on and off for years before I tracked it down to the toothpaste I was using. I don’t know which ingredient it is, as some mass produced toothpastes produced them and some did not. Now I stick to all natural toothpastes and never have a problem.

    Thanks again for sharing this inspirational story! Congratulations!

    1. Thank you Susan! It took me awhile to decide to share my story, so it is great to hear positive feedback. I’ve noticed since I have started to share my story and talk with more and more people that mouth ulcers as an immune/autoimmune response seem to be REALLY common. At the time, it was not at the top of my complaints list, but now they always alert me when I eat something I shouldn’t. Happy you discovered the source of yours as well!

  13. Wow Maureen. Quite to ordeal. Thank you for sharing your story. So inspiring. You look great! You look healthy! Congratulations!

  14. Have you heard of seasonal mouth ulcers? My kiddo seems to get them in the fall and spring. What are your thoughts on IgG testing to discover unknown sensitivies?

    1. Hi Sarah. Yes, it is possible that mouth ulcers or other symptoms have a seasonal pattern, and that could mean one of many causes from seasonal changes in the environment around you, to the changes in food, or from other factors that changes the immune response in that pattern. You need a good detective to help you and your child, perhaps a functional medicine doctor? I can say that you child is very lucky to have you as an advocate.

  15. Oh gosh, do I relate to your story! Thank goodness you discovered your celiac diagnosis.

    1. Those words are everything. Thanks for relating and the great feedback!

  16. Thanks, Mark for sharing another real life success story that inspires many to follow a healthy diet to live healthily. This shared story teaches so much about bacon and the celiac disease, which is a very low percentage of its patients.

    1. Happy to participate in illuminating the joys of bacon and the perils of celiac. Mark saved my life

  17. Wow, what a strong story! Thank you very much for sharing your story! Congratulations on finding your health and working relationship with your body. Wishing you health on your way forward.

  18. I’m so glad you found what was wrong with your health.
    I was sick for 10 years before I was diagnosed Hashimoto’s disease. I have heard it all: I was making it up, depressed, trying to get attention, trying to justify a poor lifestyle, just getting old, etc. A dr. told me “There is nothing wrong with you. You are just a fat, sad woman.” Another dr. told me I had to get a dietitian. When I told her I was following the food piramid to a T, she said “I am under no obligation to believe what my patients say.”
    One year I walked for 4 hours a day, for the whole year, and still got fatter (and tendinitis in both ankles, that took years to heal). I tried a 1200 calorie diet, and still got fatter. I tried to accept I was going to get fatter and fatter. Then to accept I would be bold, or that I would have to spend all afternoons in my life resting for my normal morning activity.
    Going to the dr. was a torture, so I just stopped. When my cousin recommended the dr. who had diagnosed her Hashimoto’s, just thinking of going gave me tachichardia, cold sweat and anxiety. Yes, I had developped PTSD. Thankfully, my father talked me into going and I got my diagnosis.
    Meds improved my energy level, but going Paleo has made all the difference. I also discovered that I am intolerant to nightshades and casein, so I have my own brand of Paleo. Mental clarity, no joint pain, normal energy, weight loss and no bloating! I never feel heavy after a meal anymore. I can add ans substract numbers in my head as I did before I got sick. But most of all, I’m optimistic about my future. I’m not getting old, I’m getting younger!!
    So, yes, ladies, if your dr. contradicts your gut, take the side of the gut. And don’t give up!

    1. Lucia, I’m sorry for your earlier experiences as you tried to make sense of your health. I wish I could say I’ve never heard many versions of this kind of interactions with physicians, but it’s all too common I’m afraid. I’m thrilled you’ve found a path that has healed you and given you the vitality you deserve. If you’re ever up for sharing your full story in our Friday spot, I’d love to share it. I think many readers would identify – and you never know who you’ll inspire. Thanks – M

    2. Lucia, thank you so much for sharing this with me and all of us. It sounds like many of our symptoms overlapped, and knowing that fear and sense of hopelessness makes my heart drop in my chest while reading your comment. I am so happy that you found some answers and are living the life you were meant to have now. I agree with Mark, if you are comfortable sharing more this will inspire others who were in the dark like you and I both were! It took my years to get the courage to share my own story, although I have always wanted to find a way to thank him.

  19. What a great success story! Really spoke to me as I went through similar myself, but not as severe (I’m in the UK, on the NHS you have to be referred to any specialists after seeing your GP, so if they don’t believe you, your only choices are to try to convince them, ask for a second opinion or change GP, which isn’t always easy depending on your location as you have to be within a certain distance of the surgery to sign up as a new patient). As I was reading your symptoms I was mentally screaming at the screen ‘its gluten!’ But I had exactly the same experience that, as a former veggie on a high carb diet, I felt awful all the time, then one day I thought “this isn’t working, I’ll try eating meat, maybe I’m low on protein/iron” so started researching whether it might make a difference and stumbled on this site. Went strict paleo for most of the time but whenever I cheated it involved gluten and I felt bad again. Finally put the pieces together after a weekend away where I drank all the beer and ate all the pizza! I haven’t been paleo/primal ever since, in fact I went back to pescatarianism until recently but I’m back on board now and already feeling the benefits! So happy that you figured it out, sorry for the huge post!

    1. Faye, thank you for the kind words! I am happy to know it resonated with you, and I feel for the struggle you had to experience yourself. I feel like all of us who have who have suffered for years and years with illness, confusion, shame, you name it and then have “found the light” are a bit of a support group and pep squad for each other and for those still lost. I love that you were screaming at the screen for me! I also really appreciate you sharing about how your health system works with chronic/unexplained symptoms. In the US, we are critical (and rightly so) of our healthcare model and medical model, but it seems that we are not alone. Y’all obviously have a much different insurance system that addresses many of our problems, but it’s important to remember the weaknesses of any system when we try to design a better solution in the future.

  20. Thank You Maureen. Sometimes it takes a big hit on the head for us to see what was always in front of us. And sometimes we need that hit to remind us what we already knew. I have stayed away from gluten for years and it never fails to remind me if I should slip. The massive fatigue that nearly immediately hits my body, the inability to barely walk with full body pain, and of course the stomach pain that starts. Last night was a slip for me with Pizza with a friend. I knew I would suffer consequences but nowhere did I think it would hit me so hard. HIt real hard before we even left the restaurant. He asked why I agreed, I said I forget how bad it effects me. He said “How do you forget this?” Hopefully I don’t ever forget after last night again.
    I know I can live happily without it, but there is always this thing in the back of my mind that wants to be normal and eat what others eat. Even knowing that what most people eat is not healthy. And I steer clear of it majority of the time.