Guest Post from Megan Everitt Ancheta: When Giving Up Gluten Is Not Enough

Today we get to hear my friend Megan Everitt Ancheta’s personal story through her guest post. Megan left a comment on my blog just over a year ago. After I replied, I quickly headed over to check out her blog, MAID in Alaska, where she shares gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, potato-free, tomato-free, peanut-free, and (mostly) refined sugar-free recipes. We immediately become “virtual” friends and have enjoyed connecting with each other ever since. Megan is a beautiful person in so many ways. She consistently amazes me with her kind and generous ways, positive spirit, and love of life … not to mention some amazing recipes. Have your seen her gluten-free, rice-free Multigrain Bread or her grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites? It’s no surprise that those Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites were deemed Readers’ Choice in the sweet category in Ricki’s (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) Wellness Weekend event recently. I’m so honored and grateful that Megan has agreed to share her story with us all.

As most of you know I believe that personal stories are one of the most powerful tools, if not the most powerful, for getting people diagnosed as celiac/non-celiac gluten sensitive, or getting others better if they are already diagnosed or may have other related diagnoses. Sometimes simply giving up gluten is not a complete “fix” but for many it’s a big, big step forward. Personal stories can provide the missing pieces of the puzzle, validation, encouragement, and much more. I know that Megan’s story will be as valuable as all the other personal stories that have been shared on gfe. (Note:  You can find all the personal stories on my sidebar under gfe’s essential posts under the Personal Stories tab. Refresh your screen to see additional personal stories as not all are shown at once.) 

Megan Everitt Ancheta is a stay at home mom to two little girls (Kylie-6, Abbi-3) who are gluten, dairy, and mostly corn free. She is a homeschooler, the new owner of a rambunctious yellow lab puppy named Thor, and the author of the gluten free and allergy friendly blog, MAID in Alaska.  Megan grew up in Kodiak, Alaska but now lives in Wasilla with her family. When she is not attempting to chase her girls, moose out of her yard, or the dog, she is perfecting her gluten-free/allergy friendly recipes for her upcoming cookbook, drinking coffee, and spending time with her favorite guy, her husband.

When Shirley asked me if I would write a guest post for GFE titled “When Giving Up Gluten Isn’t Enough” I was honored she asked me to share my story. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was the difficulty I would experience writing about it. Thinking about everything I’ve been through over the last several years made me very emotional. There were some feelings that surfaced I didn’t realize were present and I needed to work through. I love talking about food. It’s my passion and something I can talk about all day long, but if you ask me about my diseases I begin to build up walls and shut down. I’m okay answering simple questions, but when someone wants to know how I’m really feeling it’s very difficult for me to be genuinely honest.

Thank you, Shirley, for allowing me to share my story with your readers, and for giving me the opportunity to be brutally honest with others and myself. You inspired me to do some much needed soul searching and self examination!

I have a chronic illness called Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA for short), which is a combination of psoriasis and arthritis. It is a chronic, systemic (whole body), inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects my skin, joints, connective and soft tissues, and even organs. With PsA, my immune system malfunctions and attacks itself. I experience pain in my feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower back, spine, chest, shoulders, neck, and eyes (just to name a few).

I also suffer from Secondary Raynaud’s Phenomenon (also an autoimmune disease). My body limits the flow of blood to my hands and feet. It makes my fingers and toes feel cold and numb, turning them white, blue, or purple (even in 70 to 80 degree weather).

I am a relatively “healthy looking” 31 year old woman. Just by looking at me you would never know I battle chronic illness, that’s why these types of diseases are also called “invisible chronic illnesses.”

Here is the brutally honest run down of my body:

  • Right now, both of my feet are swollen, especially my left foot. It has been swollen for nearly 7 years now. Walking and being on my feet for long periods of time causes me severe pain.
  • My right Achilles tendon is inflamed and has been inflamed for over a year. My rheumatologist is worried it will rupture over time due to stress inflammation has put on it. Any type of hiking is completely out of the question because of it.
  • I can’t sit in one position for long periods of time because my knees become very sore and stiff, nor can I easily walk up or down a flight of stairs. My husband and I are discussing selling our house (which we absolutely love) sometime within the next 5 years because the stairs are an issue when I’m having a bad arthritis day.
  • I have dull aches and stiffness in my hips, spine, neck, shoulders, wrists, and hands. Some days I have to ask my 6 year old daughter to help me open things like jars and packages of lunch meat. Other than jotting down grocery lists, taking messages, or making notes on a recipe I’m working on, I usually don’t write because my hands will cramp up and become very stiff and sore (thankfully typing is not an issue… on most days anyways).
  • I have psoriasis patches on the back of my scalp, behind my ear, on my chest, my left leg, and the base of my spine.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel some sort of pain, although my pain varies from annoying to very painful, depending on weather, stress, and what I’ve eaten. Thankfully, my quality of life has improved tremendously by simply changing my diet and I have been able to stay mostly medication free. I’ve had this disease now for nearly 7 years, yet I don’t have any joint damage (which is such an incredible blessing)!

When I was first diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis by a rheumatologist in 2009 I was prescribed a few different oral medications to alleviate my symptoms (first sulfasalazine and then methotrexate, both are low dose chemotherapy drugs). They did not work for me and my arthritis continued to progress. My doctor wanted to then try Humira or Embrel (both are genetically engineered drugs given by injection and are very expensive), but after reading the list of side effects (suppressing the immune system, cancer, hepatitis B, etc.) I decided they weren’t for me.

At that point in time, I was in so much pain I could hardly get out of bed in the morning to get my daughter from her crib. It was awful. I remember lying in bed sobbing, in horrible pain, and feeling absolutely helpless and incapable of taking care of my own children. On a whim and a prayer, I made an appointment with a naturopathic physician I found online. I was so incredibly desperate for help when I walked in Dr. Amy Chadwick’s office at Soaring Crane Clinic. I was prepared to do/give up whatever she wanted me to (coffee being my only exception). Dr. Amy put me on what’s called the “Anti-Inflammatory” diet. I went from eating anything and everything I wanted to becoming gluten, dairy, soy, corn, tomato, potato, orange/grapefruit, peanut, white rice, and refined sugar free overnight – totally cold turkey. It was a shock to my system to say the least, but Dr. Amy also loaded me up with probiotics and other homeopathics to try to boost and balance out my system.

My body went through an intensive detox period, but after about two weeks, I started gradually feeling better and gaining more energy. Getting out of bed in the morning wasn’t such a chore. As more time went on, I continued to feel better. I still had pain and inflammation, but the pain wasn’t as great as what it was prior to starting my new “diet.” It wasn’t a cure, but it gave me the ability to function!

Looking back on my life, there have always been obvious signs of gluten intolerance and other food sensitivities, but only now am I able to make the connection. In my pre-teens, I remember diarrhea and other IBS symptoms being an everyday occurrence. Psoriasis first made its appearance on the back of my scalp when I was 14 years old, symptoms of Raynaud’s appeared over the years(although I didn’t know what it was then), and I was clinically diagnosed with moderate post-partum depression a year and a half after the birth of my first child in 2005.

IBS symptoms, autoimmune disease, depression… I contribute all of these to gluten sensitivity and overall poor gut health, although I also believe my own genetics had a hand in it too (my grandma and great grandma both had psoriasis). I have been sick and my gut has been damaged for a long time now, which is one of the reasons I’m on such a restricted diet; my gut is going to take a while to heal.

In addition to healing my gut, the pain and joint inflammation produced by corn, potatoes, and tomatoes is another driving force for me to stay well away from them. I don’t know what the future holds for my body (joint replacement surgeries, a ruptured Achilles, a blown out knee, etc.), but I have peace in knowing I’m not causing further damage to my system by using heavy duty genetically engineered drugs. This isn’t a diet for me anymore; it’s a lifestyle – something I will have to continue for the rest of my life.

It can be hard to consider a disease a blessing, but there have been so many positives that have come about because of my PsA.  My family eats clean, mostly organic, whole foods now instead of the processed, modified, sugar filled foods we were eating before. I’ve discovered my real passion in life – helping people eat well on restricted diets, which is something I would have never considered 5 years ago! Not to mention some of the lifelong friendships I’ve gained over the years with others on restricted diets and those battling various autoimmune diseases. I really am blessed!

Hugs,

Megan

Just a note to all of you reading this who may be taking (or know someone who is taking) Embrel, Humira, or another biologic drug or medication. Please understand I don’t think badly of anyone taking medication to treat their disease. Autoimmune diseases are very serious, incredibly painful, disabling, and sometimes life threatening. Treatment is a personal decision and one that I feel should be respected.  Megan

Shirley
Not just gf, but gfe!

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Comments

59 Responses to “Guest Post from Megan Everitt Ancheta: When Giving Up Gluten Is Not Enough”

  1. Emily on March 15th, 2012 4:29 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Megan. SO much of it sounds too familiar to me. Keep up the courage and strength you clearly use every day, because you are making a difference for yourself, your family, and countless other people who get to learn from your example. You are truly an inspiration :)

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 20th, 2012 8:26 pm

      Thank you, Emily, for leaving me such a sweet comment! I am finding there are many of us with similiar stories!
      xo
      Megan

  2. Toadey on March 15th, 2012 6:14 pm

    Hi Megan it’s like reading my own medical history with a bit missing (plus I older 58) I am at the stage where I was diagnosed 8months ago and still adding more illnesses each a every week. I think I’m seeing to many different doctors I have CVID (autoimmune I.G.g) RA Fibromalgia /polymialgia/ insulin dependent diabetic on high dose steroids, swollen feet and need a new knee, and to add injury to insult, two days ago I had to have Kidney stones removed in the Er.I am at the end of my rope. If there was a cliff in Florida I may be taking a jump,that’s how bad it is, there is never a single moment in a day when I don’t hurt.I have to give my self 3 sub,q shots a week plus I infuse antibodies.I try not to moan but it
    s not easy. To find someone out there with similar problems is a blessing,maybe I can learn from watch & listening to you I hopes.Any info you can give me I would be very grateful.This Gluten free/Sugar free is confusing.My husband is trying to make our own bread,it’s OK but not good.I not a fussy eater but of course the thing that you can’t have as always are the thing you crave.I am lucky because my husband is willing to go on the life style as well.I look forward to following you and learning.You truly are an Inspiration. Many thank for listening.

    • Paula B on March 19th, 2012 4:35 pm

      Toady, when I read your post, I wanted to encourage you and your husband to do what we did and try a 30 or 45 day “Paleo Challenge.” You can find lots of information online & in books (Mark’s Daily Apple, Whole9life.com , Elana’s Pantry, Everyday Paleo, Paleo Solution, Wheat Belly) but basically what you do is to “Eat Real Food” such as meat, chicken, fish, lots of vegetables, some fruits & nuts and good fats such as coconut oil and olive oil. For 30 days, no grains at all, even gluten free. No dairy except for ghee. No artificial sweeteners and refined sugar and only a small amount of natural sweeteners. With your severe health issues, also avoid the nightshades as Megan describes. Try this for a month or two and see how you feel. If you are like many people, you will begin to see quite a bit of improvement and you won’t want to go back, but by that time you can begin to add a few things back one at a time or occasionally and you’ll be able to see how you feel with a little dairy, some rice or rice pasta, etc.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 20th, 2012 8:51 pm

      Hi Toadey,
      I am sorry you are going through such a difficult time right now. I know the last thing you probably want to do is see another doctor, but have you thought of seeing a naturopathic doctor (ND)? From my experience, ND’s generally have more experience when it comes to food allergies/sensitivities and holistic treatment. I don’t know what I would have done had I not seen Dr. Amy (my ND) when I did.

      It was very difficult for me to go gluten/sugar free – I suffered with cravings for a long time, but it was so worth it. Eventually the cravings do subside, and you begin to crave healthier foods.

      There is also a book that I found extremely helpful when I first started this diet – it’s called “The Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Recipe Book” by Jessica K. Black. You might want to check it out when you have the opportunity.

      Are you on Facebook? If you are, please friend me so we can keep in touch, and I will add you to a private psoriatic arthritis support group I’m part of. It’s a great, safe, place to vent, share our feelings, and get support from others battling this disease.

      Sending you lots of hugs from Alaska,
      xo
      Megan

  3. Cindy W. on March 15th, 2012 8:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story, Megan. I will keep you and your beautiful family in my prayers.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 20th, 2012 8:53 pm

      Thank you so much, Cindy. Prayers are always needed and much appreciated!
      xo
      Megan

  4. Ina Gawne on March 16th, 2012 12:49 am

    Bless your heart Shirley! I love all that you do for people through your blog! Hugs to you! :)
    Megan – thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine the pain you have had to suffer. I too have psoriasis, scalp, behind the ears, and occasionally on my forehead. We have been having Organic Kefir milk – I have heard that it does help. It has been 9 months of Kefir – I think it has helped a little bit?
    But my real reason for writing: Have you ever tried Foot Reflexology? As a Reflexologist, I have seen many a debilitating, painful illness have huge success with regular Reflexology Sessions. I would be happy to share some of my knowledge on Reflexology with you – in terms of how it may help you. If you wish to contact me via my blog for further information, please do. Many blessings, Ina
    http://glutenfreedelightfullydelicious.com

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 20th, 2012 9:05 pm

      Hi Ina,
      I have to be really careful of dairy. I sometimes can stomach yogurt, but if I can it is in very small quantities.

      Thank you for the reflexology suggestion. I will have to check in to it and discuss it with my naturopathic physician. :)
      Hugs,
      Megan

  5. Tammy Studebaker on March 16th, 2012 9:29 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, your’s sounds very similar to my son’s. He has Lymes disease, and his conditions have slowly began to fade. He was tested 3xs and was told he had so many other things, such as RA and also has Reynauds which has gotten better with Lymes treatment’s. Just wondering if Lymes had ever been put in picture for you as most of the standard tests come back negative. My son who was 10 at the time and is now 13 had mornings his ankles and knees and hands were so swollen, he could not hold a pencil, he could not walk, he missed almost an entire year of school. We went to 8 specialists before I could diagnose him and did not use the standard Lymes test. I have testified with his story to help get laws passed to better understand the dangers of Lymes. My son also has Celiac disease.I wish you well on your journey. If you would like more information please feel free to contact me.

    • Krista on March 19th, 2012 10:15 pm

      Hi, in response to the posting about Lyme- thanks for bringing this up. My sister was very very ill and was diagnosed with literally 20 different things before getting the correct diagnosis of Lyme. After being diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease she had to go through so many doctors before she found a specialist who ACTUALLY knew what he was talking about! It’s believed that Lyme Disease is the underlying factor when it comes to many chronic diseases such as MS- people just don’t know. Also, most Lyme tests do not work, and Lyme can be dormant and not show on a test- anyways, worth looking into.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 20th, 2012 9:48 pm

      Hi Tammy,
      Wow, you and your son have really been through a lot! I’m so thankful you were finally able to get a correct diagnosis for him!

      Although our symptoms are somewhat similiar, I think it is highly unlikely I have Lyme disease. Ticks are not native to Alaska (I’ve lived up here my whole life)and it is very rare they are ever found here.

      Kudos to you for raising awareness for Lyme – thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  6. Moe on March 16th, 2012 9:05 pm

    Megan,
    Your story sounds a lot like mine (no Reynauds though), doctors told me for years it was stress, my weight problem, nerves ect. Now I am finding out this past week that I have food allergies. I accidently went gluten free a year ago in May, I got sick with Diverticulitus and was on a diet of Jell-O and 7-up and all the sudden got feeling really well, dispite being sick…..lol. And then when I drank some broth I got violently ill. A nurse friend told me it was probably gluten. Tried it again and was sick again. I’ve had such a wonderful year since being GF.
    Now I have found that I am also allergic to tomato, sweet potato, corn, almonds, watermelon, red apples, pears, peaches, grapes, bananas, apricot, strawberry, raspberry. I feel pretty well if I stay away from potatoes those really seem to cause me to flare up. Giving up the corn has pretty much stopped my remaining stomach issues, gluten free really helped those a lot. As for the fruits the only thing I suffered with eating those before was intense itching of my lips, mouth and throat.

    I freaked out after having the allergy testing and thought that there was nothing to eat. So you being a guest blogger on GFE – Gluten Free Easily has been my blessing of the week!!
    I can’t wait to check out your blog. I am so excited to have read your story, though I am sorry that you are suffering so.
    Moe
    http://adoptivemomhomeschoolinganonlychild.blogspot.com/

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 21st, 2012 5:50 pm

      Hi Moe,
      Thank you for sharing your story with me. I’m sorry you have so many allergies – I know they can be hard to deal with! I hope eliminating these new foods will get you feeling better!
      Hugs,
      Megan

      • Moe on March 21st, 2012 11:05 pm

        Thanks Megan,
        I do feel better, but I get pouty sometimes over not being able to just grab something and eat it. I am trying not to be like the Israelites in the Bible Numbers chapters 11 & 12. There is food that I can eat, just might not be what I want :O)
        Moe

  7. Linda on March 18th, 2012 10:36 pm

    Megan,I had no idea you had all that going on. I think it’s wonderful that you have a good attitude and see the blessing in it. I LOVE your family and animal photos. Your family is beautiful, that moose made me gasp, and the puppy looks so sweet (I have a soft spot for puppies). Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 21st, 2012 6:01 pm

      Hi Linda,
      Thank you for all of your sweet comments! :)

      I’ve told others about my disease before, but this is the first time I’ve really opened up about it and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I’m so thankful Shirley asked me to write this – it’s been a great stepping stone for me emotionally.

      Big Hugs,
      Megan

  8. Lillian @ lillianstestkitchen on March 19th, 2012 9:04 am

    It’s so great to read your story. I had psoriasis on my scalp and behind my ears growing up, but once I went grain-free (dairy-free, sugar-free, and soy-free) it went away. The other symptoms that I had from the food allergies were so dominant that I didn’t even really notice that my scalp is healed until recently. It’s amazing how many dots I need to connect before I can really appreciate the full impact of the auto-immune responses and food allergies…
    Thank you!

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 22nd, 2012 2:42 am

      Hi Lillian,
      I am so glad a grain free diet worked for you! I have become more grain free (although not completely). It is amazing the dots we are able to connect after time… I only wish more people would realize the impact their diet has on their health!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  9. Melissa @ glutenfreeforgood on March 19th, 2012 9:48 am

    Megan,

    Thanks for sharing your heartfelt story with Shirley and her readers. I am compelled to mention the achilles tendon issue. I have felt like there’s a connection between celiac (or gluten sensitivity) and achilles tendon weakness for 7 or 8 years now. Long story as to why, but I’m glad you brought this up. I do think sharing personal stories brings this chronic disease process into the light and hopefully people can also share remedies and we can learn from each other. I will keep this in mind going forward. Good luck in your journey to greater health. BTW, I love your little doggie. What a cutie. And the moose, wow! I’ve had a few encounters with moose and they can be mean. =)
    Wishing you the best!
    Melissa

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 22nd, 2012 2:53 am

      Hi Melissa,
      Yes – moose can be very mean, and pesky! We’ve had a momma and her two calves camped out in our back yard for the last couple months. Beautiful creatures to look at from a distance, but not a great animal to have around when we have to take the puppy out to pee!

      When I first started having problems with my Achilles tendon my rheumatologist told me it was completely normal for a PsA patient – it’s one of the traits of the disease. Now that you mention the possible link with gluten I’m curious to ask him what his thoughts are!

      Thanks so much!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  10. Heidi on March 19th, 2012 10:37 am

    Oh Megan, thank you so much for sharing your story. I don’t know much about PsA, but I was diagnosed with Guttate Psoriasis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001825/) when I was 16. Luckily, after a year in light therapy, I went into spontaneous remission and haven’t had a recurrence in 22 years (my other skin issues are another matter).

    I am so proud of you for all you’ve done and I absolutely agree with your sentiments about the blessings that come out of chronic illness. Our children now have the gift of a bright future because we are giving them a healthy foundation.

    We are breaking the vicious standard American diet cycle for our family trees.

    Hugs!
    Heidi

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 23rd, 2012 4:56 pm

      Thank you, Heidi! And thank you for sharing your experience with light therapy. I’ve often wondered about it, but have never looked in to it because I’ve been so focused on the arthritis side of things. The two are related though (psoriasis and autoimmune arthritis), so you have me wondering if I focused more attention on my plaque psoriasis and got it to go into true remission if the arthritis would too?

      Hmm… something for me to think about and do some research on (and hope for).

      :) Big hugs to you!!
      Megan

  11. Deanna on March 19th, 2012 10:53 am

    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m sure that wasn’t easy!

    You’re doing amazing things for yourself and your family by modifying your diet. Excellent work!

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 23rd, 2012 4:58 pm

      Thank you, Deanna! It wasn’t easy, but I am so thankful I did it! :)
      Hugs,
      Megan

  12. Tessa on March 19th, 2012 11:42 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have a friend who is experiencing similar symptoms and who has been difficult to diagnose. I shared your story with her in hopes that it helps. I too experience autoimmune issues, Hashimoto’s, celiac, & secondary Raynaud’s. My feet look exactly like yours – the dust bunnies too! haha

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 26th, 2012 12:32 pm

      Hi Tessa,
      Hopefully this article will help your friend. I know how frustrating it can be not to have a proper diagnosis!

      I really debated on whether or not I should share the picture of my foot – because of the dust bunnies (I really did try to brush them off)! Thank you for sharing in a laugh over it with me! =)
      Hugs,
      Megan

  13. Moriah on March 19th, 2012 11:53 am

    Shirley – Thanks for all you do for the GFree community! You’re the best :)

    Megan – Thanks for sharing your story. It was both heart-touching and inspiring. Loved the pics and I know exactly what you mean about having an “invisible illness” and finding it difficult to simply be a mom on some days as well as share your pain as I have Lyme, Celiac, etc…. I am glad you are finding some relief (I did, too, with the change in diet) and your family is in my prayers :)

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 26th, 2012 12:42 pm

      Hi Moriah,
      I totally agree – I think Shirley is the best too! :)

      It is wonderful to be understood by others also sharing a similiar story. Thank you – and thank you for your prayers. I too wish you the best on your journey to healing!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  14. Alisa on March 19th, 2012 2:01 pm

    Wow, so wonderful that you have shared this Megan. I think more “healthy-looking” people than we know are suffering with autoimmune diseases. Some of my friends who I thought were the picture of health and hearty living have secretly asked me about gluten-free and dairy-free living because they have psoriasis, pain, or otherwise.

    That said, I hadn’t heard of the condition you have and really feel for you. I have Raynaud’s, but I don’t think as seriously as yours. It flares up most with cooler temperatures, isn’t very severe in summer and dry climates, and actually seems to have improved in the last couple of years (maybe it’s that gluten-free diet Shirley – wink, wink).

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Every person that puts their life out there like this helps a hundred more.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 27th, 2012 3:13 am

      Hi Alisa,
      Thank you so much. You are sweet to say so!

      When I’m having a bad day I sometimes wish I looked like I was sick. :) Just so others might possibly understand a bit better!

      My Raynauds is definitely much worse in the winter too, and I think you are right – a GF diet seems to have helped. I don’t have as many “attacks” as I used to.

      Lots of hugs to you,
      Megan

  15. Joey on March 19th, 2012 3:38 pm

    Megan…..thank you for sharing your story.
    I, too, have an autoimmune disease, scleroderma, the CREST variety, which includes Raynaud’s. I can truly sympathize with you in dealing with all the issues, but also in dealing with keeping positive. I look forward to learning more from you, as you seem to be a few steps ahead of me on the healthy nutrition quest. God bless you, Joey

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 27th, 2012 3:20 am

      Hi Joey,
      I had never heard of the CREST variety (so I Googled it). Thanks for sharing that with me.

      I think keeping positive is so important for people in chronic pain. Not always easy, but laughing or saying “oh well” to certain things makes everything more bearable (for me anyways).

      I wish you all the best on your journey to health!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  16. Paula B on March 19th, 2012 4:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! The title, “When Giving Up Gluten Isn’t Enough” is so spot on for many people! For those with autoimmune issues (or GERD, acne, any inflammation-related conditions), I’d suggest doing some reading on nightshade vegetables/fruits–potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and tobacco (another reason to quit smoking if you haven’t already!). As you have found, eliminating or avoiding those is an important piece of the health puzzle for many.
    Another reason just giving up gluten isn’t enough is that there are so many processed foods that are “gluten free” that still have all kinds of not-so-healthy ingredients. I have found that adopting a “paleo/primal” eating plan has greatly helped my numerous health issues and would encourage anyone looking for answers to investigate the many books/blogs about that topic in addition to the great gluten free information out there.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 27th, 2012 3:31 am

      Hi Paula,
      Eliminating some nightshades has definitely helped me. Some of them are more bothersome than others, so I steer clear of those that really cause me inflammation.

      Although I do not fully follow the Paleo/Primal way of eating I do believe it’s an excellent choice for some people. I’m not grain free, but have really tried hard over the last few months to become more grain free. I still do enjoy using/eating grains, and believe as long as I try to keep “everything in moderation” I’ll do okay. That said, when you live with an autoimmune disease it’s always one day at a time. What works for me today may not work for me tomorrow. ;) I still may try out the full blown Paleo diet one of these days!

      Hugs,
      Megan

  17. cheryl on March 19th, 2012 7:08 pm

    Love this post, and I’m so delighted that you found something that works for you and helps you live more wonderfully. And I especially love the comment at the end–we often forget to mention that.
    Thanks to Shirley for sharing this story!

  18. Elena on March 19th, 2012 10:09 pm

    When I’m truly moved, I surprise myself as I cry. I’m not big on emotions, but reading through your struggles, I couldn’t help but react so strongly. I forget I’m not the only one with so many restrictions and limitations to overcome, and have to find a new way to view food and life. I pretty much have the same exact food allergies as you mention, autoimmune conditions they are still in the process of pinning down..mirror images of what you describe. I appreciate that I can relate to you and that many others might come here to your website and say..oh, that’s what I have. That’s exactly what I didn’t know how to describe, or..I need to try doing my diet like that.
    I’m proud of you (though I don’t know you) because you represent those of us who fight every single day. Thank you.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on April 2nd, 2012 12:25 am

      Hi Elena,
      When I first read your comment weeks ago I cried (I’m just a little behind in responding). It is so easy to feel alone and isolated, but it is such an incredible relief to realize we really aren’t alone. Thank you so much for leaving me a comment – I’m so glad we were able to connect and I look forward to getting to know you better through your blog.
      Lots of hugs,
      Megan

  19. Barbara Walkington on March 19th, 2012 10:56 pm

    Dear Megan,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You have helped many in the process. I have many food sensitivities as diagnosed 2 years ago. I’ve been working on healing my gut, but it is a slow process. I listened to Natasha Campbell-McBride with Dr. Mercola today and think I now know why it isn’t happening any faster. You may want to listen to this and consider the GAPS diet.
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/18/mcbride-and-barringer-interview.aspx?e_cid=20120318_SNL_Art_1
    Love to you and your family.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on April 2nd, 2012 12:28 am

      Hi Barbara,
      Thank you – and thanks so much for the suggestion!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  20. Nadya on March 20th, 2012 1:15 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, Megan! And for talking about he hard it was, emotionally, to do so! A friend at work (also gluten & nightshade free, only OG coffee, etc) is still wrestling w/ joint pain and other “extra” symptoms! We’re massage therapists, and long days are really hard on her. Though I’m older, I don’t (fortunately!) Have as many issues, but am continually studying & refining my own GF lifestyle! Also focus on whole foods, beginning w/ fresh, local OG veggies.
    love the name of your ND’s clinic, as I do Soaring Crane qigong! Is that (or another form) something you’ve explored? I love qi-building exercise!
    And for your Achilles tendon, have you tried clay poultices? I love dancing, but my Rt Achilles complains at times …. I put a couple of Tbsp dry green clay & = amount water in a small jar & let it sit, then smear clay on the sore area, cover w/ a tissue, then a sock! Leave it on all night, add another layer in the AM, or flake/ wash it off. The little book “the clay cure” has some great healing stories!
    I’ve used it since my son was “spurred” by a mean rooster, about 30 years ago, and my friend who doctored her goats w/ clay suggested it! Great for knees, etc as well!
    Blessings!

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on April 2nd, 2012 12:31 am

      Hi Nadya,
      No, I’ve never tried clay poultices. I’ll have to look in to it – thank you for the suggestion!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  21. Sharon on March 20th, 2012 2:10 am

    I admire all that you are doing for yourself. My father had PsA and took Humira, Embrel and other medications. Because of this he got Acute Leukemia and died.

    My daughter has Raynauds and also is allergic to gluten. So, she (at 20 years old) is battling her diet to be well.

    I am glad that you (because of your diet) are better.

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on March 20th, 2012 8:04 pm

      Sharon,
      I am so incredibly sorry to hear about your father’s death. Nothing about this disease is easy and it breaks my heart to hear stories such as your father’s.

      Lots of love to you and your daughter.
      Megan

  22. Kay Guest on March 20th, 2012 6:57 pm

    Megan,
    May I first just say this…you are such a beautiful woman! What a great looking family you have! I hate that you have to endure such pain in your life and I thank you for your honesty in sharing it here.
    My husband has celiac disease and was diagnosed in 1959, so he has had to live with it for many years. We have been married since 1983 and I can promise you that no one in the USA knew gluten free from glue! I love that I can point people to blogs like Shirly from glutenfreeeasily and now, I can point them to yours, maid in alaska!

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on April 2nd, 2012 12:39 am

      Hi Kay,
      Thank you so much – you are sweet!

      I truly can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to be diagnosed with celiac disease in 1959 (bless your husband’s heart)!

      Shirley is such a positive resource… I love her site too!

      Thanks again, Kay!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  23. Kim Maes on March 20th, 2012 10:42 pm

    Megan,your story is heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. I am so sad to know what you have gone through and will still always battle, but I am so amazed to see how far you have come in treating your illnesses through diet and whole foods. Thank you so much for opening up to all of us. Your story can help so many others who have gone through, or are going through, similar health issues.

  24. Carol Kicinski on March 21st, 2012 2:48 pm

    I so agree with Kim, your story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I know that the telling of your story will help so many others, thanks for sharing!

  25. Ellen (Gluten Free Diva) on March 21st, 2012 9:45 pm

    What a brave woman you are Megan. Thank you for sharing your story. I read it with great compassion for what you have been through. Please know that you are setting such a fine example for others by your putting one foot in front of the other and advocating for yourself. Keep up the good work!

  26. Lexie on March 22nd, 2012 11:05 pm

    Megan … Wow! What a journey you are one. Just sharing your story as you have will inspire others to take a closer look at how they might go about changing their diet and lifestyle in hopes of finding healing. It is one thing at a time isn’t it? We are chelating now … getting rid of those nasty heavy metals that have wrecked havoc on certain systems in our kiddos body. We are hopeful. Thanks for sharing with us. xoLexie

    • Megan @ MAID in Alaska on April 4th, 2012 3:12 am

      Hi Lexie, :) Yes, it is definitely one thing at a time. I hope the chelating helps your kiddo. He sure has an awesome mommy!!
      xo
      Megan

  27. Janet on March 26th, 2012 9:49 am

    Hi Megan (again)
    I just read your article and I can’t believe how similar our situations are. Funny, I don’t tell anyone what I am going through either but can (but won’t, to spare others) talk about food all day! Did you go in remission in your pregnancies or did it all really come out because of pregancy? My arthritis started in my early twenties but always dismissed because “I look so healthy” and it was more in my mind despite the swelling. ???? was always my thought of that, especially since I did have psoriasis and the trademark pitted nails but I was too young, as they kept telling me. Keep up the good work. I was at the spot with the immense pain, unable to pick up my baby, sit for too long, stand for too long etc. I now can have cheat days and have whatever I want but truthfully it doesn’t taste as good as it used to and isn’t worth it so much. If I cheat for too long the symptoms come back. I too am very happy to be off medications. Good luck in your journey.

  28. Megan @ MAID in Alaska on April 4th, 2012 2:41 pm

    Hi Janet,
    Sounds like you and I would have lots to talk about over a cup of coffee! :)

    I wasn’t diagnosed with my PsA until after I had both of my girls, but my symptoms began 6 months after the birth of my first daughter. During my second pregnancy, my foot was still swollen and painful (and the psoriasis never changed), and I remember being in pain and uncomfortable quite a bit (but whether or not it was from being pregnant or having PsA I’m not really sure).

    I too had the trademark pitted nails early on. They look much healthier now, but I can’t let them grow out too long because they curl down.

    Good luck to you too! It’s nice to connect with others on similar journeys. :)
    Big Hugs,
    Megan

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