It Begins with Me

Posts tagged ‘children’

Being Me: This is how it Starts


I took the picture you see, with all the multicolored string. It’s a self portrait of sorts, stemming from a class I took at Iowa State during my time striving for my Bachelor degree in Design.

If I could be anything I wanted, I’d be an art photographer and a writer.

I turn 50 this year and it feels a bit surreal. I don’t feel 50. Does anyone feel 50? I don’t look 50 and I suppose that’s a good thing. When I was young, I was told I had an “old soul” and a wise mind. I never felt old or wise. I still don’t. I keep wondering when that will kick in.

I have four children, one through adoption and 3 from my body. My oldest was adopted in a previous relationship which ended badly and he wanted nothing to do with our son afterward. He has special needs and requires round-the-clock care. When J came into my life as more than a friend, he accepted my oldest as his and became in every way his father. That was part of what drew me to him, to be honest – I saw in him the most amazing ability to be a dad. And he certainly is.

He gave me three children who are now 14, 12, and 6. My oldest is 22 and will be 23 by year’s end. It truly is strange how time passes quick yet slow, and then you blink and it’s 20 years past. I can remember their first steps, their first laugh, their first true tears. I remember it all and watching them grow up has been both a joy and a terrible pain. As I understand it, that is simply how parenthood goes.

I have been many things in my life. I have done just about every kind of job imaginable in the service industry, spanning food service to administration. I have driven trucks and buses. I have run businesses and I have worked for others. I have handed out tools and I have processed pigs into meat. I am a jack of all trades.

I used to think that was an insult when I was young. Now, it feels like a badge of honor. There’s not much I can’t do or learn to do. I am not afraid of challenges. I have lived without running water and I have left signs of civilization behind to camp and hunt. I was taught to take care of myself: I can hunt, sew, clean, cook, and gather. I know how to make soap and I know how to chop wood. I love technology but can walk away from it and just be. I love to drink and I love to be sober. I have always been of at least two minds about everything. I like myself.

I set out as a young adult to be myself. I had no idea what that meant. In the last 30 years of tears, struggles, and triumphs, and quite a few disastrous failures, I have learned who I am and I have proven to myself that I am stronger, and weaker, than I could ever imagine. I am not going to live forever, despite my young assurances to the contrary. I am flawed. I am imperfect. I am a pain in the ass, but I am me.

I am coming to the realization that if I want to change things, I’m going to have to get out there and do it. It’s a terrifying thought that my opinions and what I am driven to say and do could get me killed, but it’s worse to think my children would be harmed. I’ve been living carefully since they were born, walking that fine line between being involved and being too involved. I need to raise my children.

The other night, one of my sons – the 12 year old – said he was surprised I didn’t attend the women’s march in DC. I told him I wanted to, but it wasn’t something that I could realistically do. He asked me why. I said, we can’t afford it and I can’t leave you guys alone that long – what would your father do? He gave me an odd look and said, “Pretty sure we’d be fine. We do fine in the summer when you travel. Maybe you just don’t really want to go and we’re an easy excuse.”

It gave me pause. Was he right? I suppose on some level, perhaps. I realized that I am sending a message by my inaction and I’m not sure it’s one that I want my children to learn. I suppose I will just have to jump in, and land where I can. I worry that my choices will hurt my children, either from action or inaction. I worry constantly if I am putting them first and being a good mother. I worry often that I put too much on my plate and then fall short of my goals, which puts a strain on our finances and on my husband. He never complains however, and has never fallen short in his support of me, my dreams, goals, and plans.

I’m slowly inching toward the idea of striving for human rights and change within the government, running for office and seeking to get face to face with the people that I have spent half my life angry at. I have no money and I am not a professional anything – can I run for office and do any good whatsoever? These are the questions that plague my mind late at night.

In the end, I suspect I will simply be laying the groundwork for my children to strive forward into the fight. There is pride in knowing I am raising good, decent, strong men for the next generation. I teach them patience and compassion. I enforce the idea that they are people and I don’t have a right to destroy their ability to choose, whether or not I agree with them. I feel strongly that these young men I am raising will one day rattle the status quo and challenge the world.

For now, that’s where I am and where I start my fight. We shall see where it goes from here.



Fuel the Machine


There is a radical notion making its way around dietary circles that states we are affected and effected by what we eat. It’s been spinning around the airwaves for about 30 years, gaining momentum over the last 10. The whole movement got traction when auto-immune disorders became more regularly spoken of and diagnosed by the medical and pseudo-medical communities. At first, people in general scoffed at the notion that the food we eat might be the reason for a host of issues ranging from skin conditions to mood disorders – yet it persists and has become cemented into the informed person’s diatribe.

I was never all that convinced myself as a 20-something. I was immortal and was going to live forever. While I had always struggled with weight, I accepted it was my own fault and my own doing, in that I lacked the self-control to keep the bad things out of my mouth. The self-hate became part of who I was.

That began to change around 2005, as I struggled with mild petite mal seizures and a sort of sleeping-sickness that I could not explain any better than my doctors. The doctors told me nothing was wrong yet there clearly was something happening to me that even they admitted they could see and even reproduce. However, lacking any solid explanation, I went without a diagnosis for over 10 years after my first initial symptoms were identified as being problematic.

I had abnormal EEGs and an abnormal psyche profile. In their desperation to pin my issues on something, they decided to pin them on my psyche and didn’t really look into anything that might have been wrong with me physically. Even if they had, there was no tool available at that time to catch what we now know is Celiac’s disease in mainstream midwest-centered medicine.

That’s not to say that it didn’t exist. It did.

Celiac’s Disease has existed for around 2000 years – it’s not new and it’s not complicated. The gut simply cannot digest gluten and produces toxins, which the body reacts to via an auto-immune response, attacking the gut and damaging the small intestine. This reaction causes nutritional deficiencies that can be damaging in the short and long term. It’s not a fad and it’s not made up. It’s not something that can easily be fixed and there’s no cure. It effects 1 in 100 people worldwide, with most sufferers not diagnosed and open to an entire array of health issues.

1 in 100.

With 7 Billion people living on this earth currently, that means that over 70 MILLION people are suffering from this disorder currently.

7o. Million. People. Worldwide.

The United States population is roughly 318 Million people. That means that over 3 million people in the USA alone have this issue.

3. Million. People.

This isn’t made up and this isn’t exaggerated. Put 100 people in the room and 1 of them will have Celiac’s and that’s not counting the ones with simple sensitivity. That’s the ones with actual Celiac’s. Fill Michigan Stadium to capacity (107K) and you’d have roughly 1000 people with Celiac’s.

Over 80% of those in the US with Celiac’s are not diagnosed.

That’s 2.4 million people are suffering from Celiac’s and don’t even know it.

This isn’t about adaptation, per se. This isn’t about anything but genetics and that some people are BORN with this issue. You either can or can’t digest gluten. It’s as simple as that. It can be debated that some guts simply couldn’t adapt to the influx of grain or it could be argued that it is simply the way things work. We’re not cookie cutter humans and neither should our diet be created to fit just one type.

Another argument to be made is that perhaps we were never designed to consume the large amount of carbohydrate and grains that we forced our bodies to ingest due to loss of the hunter/gatherer culture and a slow progression toward farming and stationary cultures. It can also be argued that the ability to digest this overabundance of grains is the aberration, rather than the inability to do so – and those that couldn’t adapt simply died as our cultural norms swung the way of farming grains and living with less meat and vegetable consumption.

The poor were always forced to eat less. In any culture you look at, the working poor at the worst diet, and lived as cheaply and simply as possible. They lived hard lives and died young. A host of diseases afflicted the poor that the wealthier seemed immune to – largely due to their diet. This fact is glossed over for a whole litany of reasons, the least of which is the necessity of keeping the poor underfed, exhausted, and unable to fight back.

But that’s another piece for another day.

Today, we discuss how what you eat is making you sick. 3 million of you in the USA alone. That’s a lot of sick people – so let’s talk about what that means.

In children, Celiac’s looks like a lot of issues including the flu.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Decreased hearing
  • Diarrhea
  • Earache
  • Eye discomfort and redness
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain or muscle pain
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Skin rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Urinary problems
  • Vision problems
  • Wheezing

It’s important to understand as well that your doctor may diagnose your child by accident or ignorance with something other than what is wrong. How? Well, here is how and why:

When a child is under stress, their bodies respond to it just like adults. However, they lack the ability to communicate that stress effectively and act out or react, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some of these are:

  • Accident proneness
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite Loss
  • Baby Talk
  • Bed-wetting
  • Biting
  • Crying Spells
  • Detachment
  • Excessive Aggressiveness
  • Excessive Laziness
  • Fingernail Biting
  • Grinding Teeth
  • Hitting
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Kicking
  • Pounding Heart
  • Respiratory Tract Illness
  • Stuttering
  • Tattling
  • Thumb sucking

Makes you think, doesn’t it? What is A.D.D or O.D.D if not half these symptoms? How many of our children are simply sick and reacting to what they are eating? That is an excellent question of which there currently is no easy answer.

Let’s move on to adults, as it’s far easier to quantify and face head on.

Adults and children both experience stress, and that can be caused by their environment, their bodies, or their mind. When the human body is under stress, it has a few set reactions that some physicians, more every year, are realizing are important when gauging what may or may not be actually going on.

Here are a few bodily clues that you are undergoing more stress than your body, mind, and psyche can handle:

  • Blood Issues / Blood Panel Oddities
  • Brain Dysfuntion / Disruption
    • Migraines
    • Seizures
  • Emotional Disturbances
    • Depression
    • Rage Issues
    • Mental / Emotional Disruption / Instability
  • Heart / Lung Issues
    • Heart Arrhythmia / Rapid Heartbeat
    • High Blood Pressure / Low Blood Pressure
  • Immuno-Reaction / Immuno-Overreaction / Immuno-Inaction
  • Insomnia / Sleeping Issues
  • Liver Issues
    • Digestion issues / Indigestion
    • Gas (intestinal or flatulence)
    • Heartburn / Reflux
    • Stomachache / Nausea / Vomiting
  • Overreaction or Reaction without Stimuli of Fight/Flight Response
    • Anxiety attacks
    • Apnea / Holding your Breath
    • Needing “fresh air”
    • Needing to Pace / Restlessness
    • Nervous habits (hair pulling, twitching, etc)
    • Panic attacks
    • Rapid Breathing / Out of breath
  • Sexual Affect / Effect
    • Infertility / Miscarriage
    • Irregular Menstrual Cycle / Missing Cycle
    • Sexual Disinterest / Sexual Dysfunction / Sexual Overstimulation

Yes, all these come from stress. Nothing more or less. This is what happens when your body is under more stress than it can handle and it’s actually a shortened list. Scary, right? So if you are not feeding yourself right, or getting enough rest, or dealing with a stressful world, stressful situations, or a stressful relationship, all these things, these symptoms, come into play. Read that list again, will you. Yes, it applies to everyone. So even if you don’t have Celiac’s or any other sickness, this is your body on stress.

Now, let’s throw in an auto-immune response to eating certain foods. Or coming into contact with a food that triggers a serious reaction such as an allergic response.

We live in the most stressful point in human history and it’s not a shock to anyone that studies these things that we are seeing an rapid and alarming uptick in auto-immune disorders, stress-related reactions, and overall declining health in a large portion of the population. Throw in physically debilitating illness such as Celiac’s or the daily stress of simply making enough money to survive, and you have the perfect storm for cancer and a host of illnesses that we see every day around us.

In the end, the crux of the argument is this: What we eat may not make or break survival long term, but combined with stress it certainly ranks in the top five ways to end up dead much too early.

So how do we fix this?

For me – I have joined the thousands across the country striving to get my gut back to health by avoiding anything that might piss it off. The list is long and the challenge of staying on the diet is the most difficult part of it. I feel better already, with more energy and less malaise. Before I started the gluten diet, I hit just about every one of the symptoms. Now, I hit about 4 or 5. I’m striving to get that number to zero.

For you – analyze your diet. If you have insurance and can afford it, seek out the necessary tests. Find out if this is what is happening to you. If you have insurance, make sure you get more than just a blood test, as the blood test is somewhat inaccurate and sometimes completely incorrect, particularly when the person is already avoiding gluten either consciously or unconsciously.

If you truly want to know for sure, a genetic test and a biopsy of your gut can be done. I recommend both. Most doctors will agree to both tests if your blood test is inconclusive or your symptoms disagree with the test results.

Over the next few weeks in will be focusing on the AIP and a gluten free life, including recipes and cooking strategies that will help you focus on your new lifestyle. Please do understand that if you do not need to be gluten free, there is zero reason to do any of this. You are far better off to simply choose one of many alternative diets (low carb, low sugar, etc.) if your sole goal is to lose weight.

Thank you for reading, and know there is more to come.



What is Celiac’s Disease

History of Celiac’s Disease

Science and Your Gut

Symptom Checker

Stress and Reactions (in children)

Stress on the Body (adults)


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