We all arrive at this moment at different times in our lives. I’m referring to the moment when you realize that you have to change EVERYTHING. Making little changes aren’t going to cut it anymore.
This moment arrived for me two years after I started getting sick, about one year after I had my gallbladder removed.
Around April of 2014 I started suffering from intense bouts of nausea. I would feel sick for days at a time. I would also have the worst heartburn. What I remember most is that despite feeling so sick, it felt like if I just ate something, that the nausea would go away. It didn’t. One spell lasted 2 weeks, and I lost 20lbs. The only thing that “saved” me was a trip to the chiropractor. He told me that my gallbladder appeared weak, and gave me a liquid to mix with water and sip on throughout the day. It was disgusting, but within 10 minutes of my first sip, I felt relief that I hadn’t felt in weeks. I bought a couple more bottles and over the course of the next year, I made sure to keep it on hand in case that feeling started to creep back up on me. I also started to do a lot of research on gallbladder heath. I drank unfiltered apple juice every day with a spoon full of unfiltered apple cider vinegar. As a side note, the apple cider vinegar works wonders on my heartburn associated with my hiatal hernia!
My nausea seemed to be under control, but I was also having pain in my abdomen. My gynecologist ordered an ultrasound. By coincidence they noticed gallstones in my gallbladder. Fast forward a year. By April of 2015 the abdominal pain was becoming so intense and happening about every other day. I had been to multiple doctors about this, and because I had an ultrasound a year earlier that had detected gallstones, none of the doctors would consider any other possibilities besides my gallbladder. I insisted that I really didn’t think it was my gallbladder, after all I had been doing cleanses for a year now. They all told me the same thing, “It is impossible to pass gallstones. The only way to get rid of them is to remove them surgically.” Which is complete bullshit. I had read countless accounts online from people who had done cleanses and passed stones. My doctors referred me to a surgeon who ordered an endoscopy and colonoscopy, and when nothing showed up there, he too, said I needed my gallbladder removed. “Can’t we do a HIDA scan first to make sure I still have stones?”, I pleaded. And again, I heard the same explanation I had heard again and again.
One morning I was curled up in pain again, missing another day of work, and I gave in. I went to my surgeon’s office and said, “You win, schedule me for surgery.” Everyone kept telling me how much better I would feel.
The day came, and to everyone’s surprise but me, my gallbladder had been removed–a perfectly healthy gallbladder–no stones, no sludge, perfect size, perfect color. I cried for days. And to this day, it’s my biggest regret I have in regards to my health. (So wait, if it wasn’t my gallbladder, what was wrong with me? Find out that story here.)
Since that April day in 2015, my stomach hasn’t been able to tolerate anything. Forget avoiding fatty foods, try avoiding all foods. A lot of days, even crackers and water would send me to the bathroom within minutes. I tried staying positive, thinking my body just needed time to adjust. Months passed. Eight months after surgery, I was still suffering from digestive issues. I quit eating out with friends. I eventually quit eating while at work. I had to plan my whole day around when I would eat. If I had errands to run, I would have to get them all done before eating, so that when I did eat, it would be at home, and I could stay in for the rest of the day. During this time span, my calorie intake wasn’t very much, especially considering there seemed to be a lot more going out of me than going in. Ironically, I didn’t lose any weight. In fact, I had gained 12lbs since having my gallbladder removed.
And then I reached that moment I mentioned earlier. We had a Christmas potluck at work. I ate slowly. I tried a few bites of several items, and about 10 minutes into my meal, I felt my stomach churning. After 3-4 trips to the bathroom, I felt weak and gross. I couldn’t live the rest of my life like this. I couldn’t live in fear of eating and worrying about when and where I would be when I’d “get sick”.
So I did my research. I decided that I was going to make all of the necessary changes to get my body back on track. I looked in my kitchen to analyze the foods I was eating.
On the left I had my staple foods that would always be found in my kitchen. Meat was always frozen. Vegetables were either frozen or canned. Potatoes and rice and pasta sides ready in just minutes, just add water. And of course, my frozen “Smart Ones” and “Lean Cuisine” microwavable meals–I had probably 20 in the freezer.
On the right were my “healthy” foods. The “as close to healthy as I can get” foods, and I had these sorts of food in my kitchen, maybe one week out of the month. When I ran out, I ran out, and they weren’t replaced until the next grocery trip. Eggs already boiled and packaged, the chicken, arguably decently healthy, but the taco meat packaged and preserved. The only thing organic in the group was the spring mix and the coconut oil.
And that’s when I decided, okay this isn’t going to cut it. Sure I wasn’t eating McDonald’s every night. And I wasn’t frying everything in grease. I had turkey bacon, and shrimp, and salmon, and my frozen meals were labeled as “healthy”. I had argued with myself for years that these types of foods were healthy food choices. But no longer. I decided that when all of my frozen, packaged meals, and meat are gone and my refrigerator is filled with organic produce and meat instead, that’s what will cut it.