Growing up, I was always the tall, thin girl and never thought twice about the food I ate. It seemed back then we didn’t need too. Meals were almost all handmade and prepared at home by mom or dad. On a rare and I say rare, occasion we were treated to McDonald’s for a treat on a Sunday for dinner during The Wonderful World of Disney.
I never thought that the day would come where I’d have to think about what I ate or gaining weight. At 19, that all changed! Out of nowhere, I started getting hives (urticaria) with angioedema so bad that it would incapacitate me for days or even weeks. If my extremities were affected, I usually couldn’t use them (hands and feet) and if it was a soft tissue area, I not only suffered the swelling pain and itching but also disfigurement. My eyes would swell shut, ears puff up, lips looked like I had horrible injections and private areas….well, not good! I literally looked as tho I had been in a fight and hid from anything public.
The doctors tried all allergy testing and every medication concoction they read in books to no avail. I was screwed! The only thing that worked was prednisone tapers and antihistamines. After awhile, I was just on prednisone all the time. I went from a size 0/3 to a 28W at my biggest! At first it was slowly but the predominant “moon face” was apparent and I started aching from the weight gain, water retention and eating more (side effect of prednisone). The only good thing at that point was, the hives were gone.
Years came and years went. From time to time my body would let me rest by going into remission and or feel better and lose some weight. Then sure as the next day was promised, they came back and with a vengeance! During each of my pregnancies they seemed to stay away but as soon as 6 weeks after came around, I was once again a mess and it was hell.
My mood sucked, I was depressed and lost a grandmother I adored. Six months later my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given 3-6 months! Soon after that devastating news, I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd. Six months later at a routine ultrasound I found out my son, Noah had no heartbeat. :(. Checking into the hospital and being induced knowing the outcome for 11 1/2 hours is nothing I would ever wish upon anyone! My mom, still alive and being my mom, rushed home from a trip to AR to visit my brother to be with me. I think Gods plan had something to do with it. The fact of what was happening and mom still being there for me was my blessing. Six months later, I was pregnant again and mom was looking forward to another grand baby. My son, Maxwell was born and my mom passed away 3 months after! In case you haven’t figured out, in three different cases here, doctors cannot predict anything!! Two years later I was clinically diagnosed BiPolar and placed on yet more hardcore, terrible medications.
Finally after having 4 children, 3 of whom walk the earth with me, we were a complete family and I again went back to more doctors, allergists and endocrinologists. It seemed progress was being made and I was able to try a few new medications. Most asthma medications were being used along with some pretty high tech, high priced immune suppressants. I tried them all! Including a $500 shot that was to last a month but after a month, it didn’t work. I then tried Cyclosporine. This is a very powerful drug used by transplant patients so they won’t reject their new organ. It was an immune suppressant but had drastic side effects. Being on it too long could cause liver damage or irreversible kidney failure. At this point, I didn’t care therefore I’d try anything!!! The other option I kept telling my doctor as he was stumped at Every appointment, was to take me out back and shoot me! My life was now defined by the severe chronic hives and I couldn’t plan anything!
The cyclosporine actually helped me but I had to be taken off of it before any signs of liver or kidney trouble started. The hives came back! As my doctor did more research he found that what I had going on in my body is an autoimmune disorder and most likely my antigens and IgE and/or IgA levels were out of whack. After major testing, I found out that I was definitely out of whack as my antigens (IgA and IgE) were actually fighting each other. In other words, I’m freaking allergic to myself!!!! Along the way however, I have a huge list of other things I’m allergic to and or cause hives!
This was about the time, I was still depressed and our insurance switched so I had to find all new doctors. What a pain in the arse! My new doctor was up to date on her research and took one look at me, looked at my endless chart and mentioned something called celiac disease. I had no clue but was interested. She herself was a celiac and knew all about it. Sure enough, all tests were run and sure enough, I came back positive. At that time I thought I was going to die! The restricted diet alone was killer and the whole contamination thing…..really!!!!??????? Yup…..at this point I wished my doctor years ago had taken me out back and put me down.
After a few weeks of hell and what felt like starving, I finally started to stop crying and grieving over the foods I’ll never eat again. I started feeling better, had more energy, had a much better attitude and most of all…..the hives were gone! What???? Yup!!!!
A few months passed but I wasn’t loosing weight or feeling better in that respect. Then I got the call. My dad had a major stroke while wintering in Gulf Shires, AL and was paralysed on one side. If anyone knew my father, one thing was forefront…..he was very Independant and very stubborn. My brother and nephew raced to be there and I made plans to fly out on that coming Monday. On Sunday, which just happened to be the Super Bowl and the Packers/Steelers, I got another call. The damage from the one side of the brain had migrated to the other side making it a “fatal” injury. My heart dropped to my stomach and I cried.
The whole time I sat watching the Packers win, I felt guilty because growing up and still my father was a die hard Bears fan and they had made it to the playoffs but lost to the Packers. Ironic??? Foreshadowing????? Dad passed at 3:30am and I was holding his hand. I was there to say goodbye to mom when she passed while holding her foot and my son Maxwell. Bittersweet…… Never would I trade being there!
My lightbulb moment came while shopping for the funeral. It was me, my thin and cute daughter, sister-in-law and 3 skinny nieces. I didn’t dress up and didn’t own anything to wear. We shopped and tried on stuff. I tried a few things on “wishing” they would fit and look good but they didn’t. I was fat, homely, unhappy and done! Everyone said graciously how “cute” or “nice” things looked but I knew better! I bought something but wasn’t going to like it.
The day after the funeral, I told my husband my feelings and plan to loose weight. He listened but didn’t believe me. I wrote my Bucket List and planned on crossing things off! I had a habit of saying this but never doing it or having several excuses not too. Not this time!! I started eating better and watching everything that I put in my mouth. I went out and bought a kick ass treadmill with google maps and ifit programs to loose weight and eventually step it up. I worked out daily, each day getting stronger and each day feeling better. Each day I lost weight and each day I smiled a bit more. After 4 months and dropping 8 sizes, I started checking off more things on my bucket list.
I’ve had some relapses with hives. Usually when I’m glutened, taking an antibiotic, find out I’m allergic to something new or whatever….. I deal with it because they always go away. I’m a certified Train Dirty Fitness Boot Camp and HIIT IT Instructor and taking classes to be a personal trainer and nutrition and fitness planner!
I’m healthier, stronger, lift heavy weights, do crossfire and HIIT exercises and have dropped 6 more sizes and am back to my graduating high school size. Sizes have changed over the years but one thing I know for sure is I graduated in 1987 and my total weight lost is 87 pounds as of yesterday. Today it was 88 but who’s counting…… 🙂