After a year or so of pursing a name for the physical torment I was experiencing since the birth of my kids, I finally got a diagnosis: “hashimoto’s thyroiditis.” Basically a form of underactive thyroid, which happens to run in my mom’s side of the family. I was actually pleased to receive a diagnosis (a blood test where my score was off the charts) and to have a name for the way I was feeling. I had visited several doctors in those early years that had made me feel that my symptoms were all in my head since I did not have the typical hypothyroid symptoms. But now armed with the knowledge of my ailment, I began a desperate pursuit of healing. More than anything, I just wanted to feel normal again.
Conventional treatments were not for me. I believed my body could heal itself given the right resources- not just the band aid affect most prescription drugs offer. A friend of mine gave me a brilliant book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms…? by Datis Kharrazian, who had developed an incredible protocol for helping thyroid patients get their lives back without prescription drugs. I adopted the strict gluten free diet and started taking some of the supplements he recommended. But I was still stuck. My symptoms did not get better. And I just wanted to feel normal again.
So finally I started seeing a wonderful Naturopath/Chiropractor who studied under Kharrazian. From day one he reiterated what the book said- I had to adhere to a strict gluten free diet the rest of my life. The allergy to gluten that I and my kids had (my kids tested positive through Enterolab.com tests) was not the typical food allergy. We had a delayed reaction which basically meant that our bodies recognized gluten as an enemy that needed to be fought off. So every time we ate a sandwich our bodies called out a red alert and unleashed antibodies to try to save us from foreign invaders (antibodies are normally reserved for diseases, not food). The doctor explained that I needed to be strictly gluten free in order to heal and my kids needed to be gluten free in order to prevent damage to their intestines, malabsorption of vitamins/minerals/fats, which could lead to an autoimmune disorder like I had.
We had already been gluten free for several years at that point and I was not intimidated by a lifelong curse of food restrictions. I just wanted to feel normal again. And I sure was not going to allow my kids to suffer the physical ailments that I had to deal with.
So I saw this doctor for about 9 months in which he sent me for multiple blood tests, put me on all sorts of supplements, and he did some weird chiropractic stuff. He even treated my son who has suffered from eczema for years (unfortunately he did not receive any relief from this doctor.)
Near the end of my 9 month treatment with this doctor I started to feel so much better- even, dare I say, normal. I was so pleased to have achieved some version of healing through natural means. But then this small, still voice said "are you really going to be ok with this the rest of your life?” (referring to strict, paranoid food restrictions). “Of course,” I thought. “After all this work with this doctor and eating obnoxiously healthy, I’m finally feeling good and somewhat normal.”
But the voice I so easily dismissed once kept coming back. Every time I would go and make our gluten free noodles. Every time we’d have to research a restaurant before eating there to make sure it had a gluten free menu. Every time I’d go to the grocery store and pay 6 bucks for a miniature size loaf of gluten free bread that we’d devour in one sitting. “Are you going to be ok with this the rest of your life?”
At my last doctor’s appointment I was marveling with him at how healthy and normal I felt. He was pleased that the treatment had been so successful too and said that I didn’t need to come back unless there was an issue. And then just as I was about to leave, he said “at some point you’ll probably need to be on thyroid medication. Your body is in a good state now, but people with hashimoto’s are extremely sensitive. A little gluten or even stress can send you back to experiencing the symptoms you first came in with.”
WHAT??!! I was livid. This doctor, this all natural method of “healing thyself” that I had trusted in so much was a not a way toward true healing. My body was functioning much better than it had in years but the truth was, there was still an underlying issue there that neither natural medicine nor any of my own efforts could ever heal. Autoimmune diseases are with you for life and just about anything can cause them to get worse. I had tamed the beast temporarily, not gotten rid of it.
So still enraged by my futile efforts at healing, I began to ponder and cry out to the Lord. "I need healing. I want it more than anything. I just want to feel NORMAL!" In the next few weeks I began to seek out sermons of preachers that talked about healing. I searched for healing Scriptures. I asked for so much prayer from people they got sick of me sounding like an 80 year old woman with all my ailments. Then I came across a marvelous verse from Exodus 23:25 “Worship the Lord, your God and I will bless your food and your water and I will take away sickness from among you…”
Now those were some words I needed to hear.
Exodus 23:25 became my battle cry. Every time we would eat as a family I would thank the Lord for blessing our food and water and taking away our sickness. And little by little that still, small voice became a statement of reality. I was not ok with being strictly gluten free the rest of our lives. So one day we went out to Red Robin after church with my parents and all ordered off the regular menu. Not gluten free. Understand that wheat had become a source of fear for me since it held the promise of disease in my mind. I trembled with each bite and desperately prayed that the Lord would see and honor my step of faith. That step of faith took place one year ago today.
So here we are a year later. I still feel normal. In fact, I was at a regular MD over the winter who insisted on running a thyroid panel (blood test) and my levels came back as NORMAL. Normal. My God is a God who heals.
I don’t know why I didn’t receive a dramatic healing when I first began to pray about my physical issues 5-6 years ago. But I do know that because of this experience, I have much more compassion and hope for those who have a chronic illness. And I know that in a prolonged process of healing God is able to reach into our hearts and pull out disease and dysfunction that we never would have known existed otherwise. He wants to grant our requests “to feel normal again” but He will make the most of each opportunity to refine us and make us people trustworthy with true healing and life. He is the God who heals.