Welcome to my world...

Hi everyone and welcome to my little piece of the world!

It has been evident to me since I was in about seventh grade, that I love writing and it is a talent I have been blessed with . It wasn't until I reached the ripe old age of 28 though, that I realized God had a much bigger plan for the gift he had given me.

Through blogging on MySpace, I was able to reach not only those that I knew in my own life, but also complete strangers and was amazed at how just my "ramblings" had helped so many people to be inspired, encouraged, or just to think about things in a new way.

From there, it grew into an inspirational column in The Charlotte Observer, then a religious news column in The Statesville Record & Landmark, a speaking engagment for a women's church group and now, a gig as a religion news freelance writer for The Charlotte Observer.

The writing that is closest to my heart though is not the news reporting, but the words that come from my soul - the words that I know God puts there not only to help me to understand life better, but also those around me.

I hope you feel encouraged, enlightened and inspired but what you read here and of course, I look forward to hearing back from you too!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Are You Longing For More?

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Do you ever find yourself yearning for more? Even though you're not really sure what you want "more" of?

Do you keep thinking there has to be more to life than the monotonous routine you're stuck in day to day?

We've all had these feelings. Longing for more in our lives but not sure what it means or how to get it. That's because God wired us for a much richer experience than just bills, errands and work. He wants to have an intimate connection with us and to give us a life full of richness and blessings.

But it is a two way street and we need to pursue our relationship with God just as passionately as we would anything else we want in life. Often, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of pursuing the perfect job, the higher salary, the object of our romantic desires or the perfect home. But more importantly than any of these Earthly desires, is our soul's desire for a deeper experience.

As you go through your mundane daily activities, how aware are you of God's presence?

That's right! God is still there... when you're washing the dishes, picking up the kids at school or typing away at your desk. He never left your side and He wants you to do EVERYTHING for His glory. Even those daily activities that may seem trivial or insignificant.

So how can you be intentional about pursuing God every day and becoming more aware of His presence at all times?

  • Start off each day with at least 10-15 minutes of quiet time with God. It might not sound like a lot, but starting your day off EVERY day by talking to God puts you in a grateful state of mind and opens your ears to God's voice.
  • As you go through your daily activities, picture God right there beside you! That's right, visualize Him sitting in the cubicle next to you at work or in the car behind you in the carpool line. Remember, even though you cannot see Him, He is always with you. In fact, the more you tune in to His presence in this way, the more you will "see" and "hear" Him... in a song on the radio, the smile of a stranger passing by or the sun shining through your window.
  • Ask yourself how you can bring glory to God in everything you do. Although you might think there is no way your mundane tasks can mean anything to God, they can. If you answer phones for a living, you can convey the love and patience of Christ in how you treat the people on the other end of the phone. If you serve hamburgers, do it with a smile and be the light in someone's otherwise dark day.
  • Be grateful! God is always blessing us. All day, every day! But so often, we are too caught up in our busyness to realize it. Thank Him for every blessing you receive, both big and small. The parking spot close to the door or the highway free of traffic when you're running late to work. When you take the time to acknowledge your blessings and give thanks for them, you will find yourself not only closer to God's presence but enveloped in it.
  • Say goodnight to Him every night. Just as important as beginning your day with God, is ending your day with God. Put all your cares on Him, thank Him for the blessings of your day and ask Him to show up tomorrow. By beginning and ending all of your days with God, whether they're significant or mundane, you keep yourself in His presence.

Your were designed to be in close relationship with God.  Don't let the busyness of life steal that joy away.  You already have the power to quench what your soul is longing for... all you have to do is LOOK UP.

Saving the Children of Moldova

I recently attended the She Speaks Conference in Concord, NC and was privileged to meet the people of Children's HopeChest. They had a table set up in the lobby for the entire length of the conference but what really got my attention was a video that was played for us during a break-out session about serving out of your passion. Two of the ladies at the conference had won a mission trip to Moldova as part of a contest at last year's She Speaks. They went to Moldova, not knowing what exactly to expect or how they would be able to make a difference. Both of their stories brought everyone in the room to tears... how moved they were to meet the young girls that had been rescued from a life of sex trafficking and how God used each of their past experiences to help these girls in the present. When you have a moment, check them out at www.hopechest.org or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChildrensHopeChest.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tired of Putting Your Dog in a Kennel? Board With Me Instead!

You never have to go to a kennel again! Check out my home dog boarding profile on DogVacay.com and use my coupon code GIMMETEN to get $10 off your first booking.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I am many things.  I am a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, an aunt and a mother of four-legged children.  I am a Fourth of July baby, a thirtysomething, a Yankee and a fiesty redhead.

I am a child of God.  I am the daughter of a heavenly Father that loves me and speaks to me in a soft whisper.  I am the instrument He uses to reach others and help them through their trials, some that I have faced myself.  I am blessed to have what I do and I am humbled by the blessings He continues to give me.

I am a lover of all animals, most especially dogs.  I would run in front of a car to save a dog and not think twice.  I cover my face when I pass a truck carrying chicken coops.  I stop for injured or lost animals and will spend hours driving around until they get to safety.  I want to save every last animal in this world that is in danger, mistreated, neglected or in a shelter.  I cry inside (and sometimes outside) when I think of how many there are out there.  And then I hug my dogs tighter and tell them how much I love them.

I am a writer of words.  Sad words, happy words, funny words and inspired words.  I am an instrument for God who speaks through me.  I write for people I know and people I will never meet.  I write stories that need to be told, stories that inspire me and stories for those that need to be inspired.  I write about people that overcome adversity, people helping their neighbors and people just having fun.

I am a girly girl who loves make-up, clothes and hair.  I love glitter and my favorite colors are still purple and pink.  I like to dress up but my favorite outfit is still yoga pants and a t-shirt.  I love to shop, watch HGTV and read People magazine.  But I also love comic books, video games and NASCAR.  I'll yell at the TV during a UFC fight and have a heart attack during a football game.  I can recite the lines in Tombstone as easily as in The Princess Bride.  

Sometimes I still feel like a shy and reserved little girl, while other times I'll dance in front of a crowd, fly down a mountain on a zipline or go work in a foreign land.  I am an introvert, not one to be the center of attention.  I am always thinking, thinking, thinking and I have emotions for days.  I am intuitive sometimes more than I want to be and am very aware of what's going on with me, my family and my friends, sometimes before it's even happened.  

I am always trying to get people together because I value quality time.  I like to pick out the perfect gifts for people, making mental notes months ahead of time sometimes.  I like to catch up with friends in person, not text or email.  I love going out and experiencing new things, seeing new places and being active.  But I love a day in bed, wearing pj's and watching television with the blinds closed too.

I am a hopeless romantic and love spoiling my partner with little cards, gifts and surprises.  I love having jokes and stories that only we understand.  I love traveling, going out and celebrating with them.  And I love lazy, cuddle days.  I love with 100% of my being and do not even understand the concept of cheating.  I value honesty, respect, faithfulness and kindness in a partner.  I love with all my heart.

I am anxious and a worrier like my mom and run late and have a temper sometimes like my dad.  But I also can find you a great bargain or name just about any song from the 50's.  I can't make decisions to save my life and my house is maniacally neat.

I am a country girl, a city girl, a beach girl and a mountain girl, all rolled into one.  I am calmed by water and can just sit and stare at the ocean for hours.  I would love to live on a farm with lots of land for animals or in a bungalow on the beach.  I want to see Belgium, England, France, Italy and Australia.  I am still afraid of flying.

I want to help people that are where I have been.  I want to help victims of domestic violence and help bring about an understanding that is still severely lacking.  I want to comfort cancer patients and their families and those in hospice homes.  I want to reassure those that struggle with anxiety and depression.  I want to help people whose struggles I don't know... the homeless on the street, children in Africa and the elderly who feel alone.  

I want the world to slow down.  I want everyone to stop being obsessed with technology, social media and cell phones.  I want teachers and firefighters to be the ones we look up to, not actors and socialites.  I want people to be kinder to one another and take time for each other.  I want millionaires to donate their money to charity and not spend it all on cars and ridiculously expensive parties.  I want kids to be kids again and play with play dough, Lite Brite and My Little Pony, not laptops and TV's.  I want kids to stay kids and not have to think about sex, drugs or violence until they grow up.

I am not perfect but I am perfectly me.  I am as God created me and His life flows through my every strength and flaw.  I am ever-changing and yet still the same.  I am the sum of all of my life experiences, both the good and the bad.  I am the little girl my family called Jenny, the young adult named Jennifer, and the woman my friends call Jenn today.  

I am me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Repairvite Update #2

Sorry that it's taken me a little while to post another update about the diet.  Things have been busy lately but in a very good way.

So as for the diet, I don't feel like a whole lot has changed.  I had my follow-up appointment with the naturopathic doctor about a week and a half ago and he said he thought we were "on the right track."  I'm supposed to keep doing the supplements and restricted diet for 5 more weeks (ugh) and do bloodwork again in about 4 weeks, so we can check any progress at my next appointment.

Overall, I'd say my stomach is less audibly grumbly but that's about the only thing I've noticed.  Actually, that and I sleep through the night now.  Thankgoodness.  My GI system still seems pretty out of whack most of the time though and I always feel SO tired.  I barely have enough energy to stand in the shower, cook dinner or put clothes in the washing machine.  I have no clue how I'm supposed to start exercising.  BUT... apparently all of this is normal for what he thinks is going on.  So I just have to keep hoping that it will improve.  I have to say, Dr. Oz did an episode on Leaky Gut Syndrome the other day and it sounded like they were talking about me.  And I'm sure the lining in my gut won't be magically repaired in 8 weeks so I guess I have to just be patient.

As for the diet part though, I want to encourage anyone out there that's on the same diet or about to be and is struggling or worried, it's not as bad as you think!  The key definitely is being prepared and taking the time to prepare good meals.  I'll admit, that has been very hard for me.  I've always been a fan of "convenience" foods and not taking any longer than about 10 minutes to make a meal.  I don't like standing and cutting or chopping and I certainly don't like preparing a meal for 45 minutes that will take me all of 5 minutes to eat.  But, I haven't had a choice lately and it is definitely easier if I plan ahead and follow a recipe. 

I'll mention again that I found a website that has been a LIFESAVER for me.  It's www.allergyfreemenuplanners.com.  She has the best recipes, all geared toward people on restricted diets and they are all simple and fairly quick.  She even puts together a shopping list for you each week.  Since I really started putting forth the effort of trying more recipes and expanding the list of ingredients I can have, I have made some really yummy things including:

-Carob chip cookies
-Apple cinnamon pancakes
-Tomato free chili
-Grain free spaghetti with tomato free marinara sauce

I've even made bbq sauce, breakfast syrup and "chocolate" from scratch!  Sure it helped that I've been unemployed the past month and had a little more time than usual, but even when I start my new job on Monday, I still plan on following my menu plans each week and hopefully doing a lot of prep on the weekends.

So hang in there and please share your experiences if you are on the same diet.  Or even if you're not!  I'm going to try to keep posting updates as I continue to go along.  And hopefully one day soon, I will write the "I can't believe how great I feel" post!  :-)

Do You Hear That?

That's God moving you.

When you stop worrying, stop controlling, stop orchestrating, stop running around trying to "fix" everything.  That's when you hear it.  And feel it.

"Be still and know that I am God." -Psalm 46:10

Funny thing is, I honestly didn't think it was possible for me to be still or at least be quiet.  I'm still not too sure about that last part.  ;)  My mind is always going a hundred miles an hour and I'm always try to make sure everything is "under control."  Normally if I lost my job and main source of income, I'd be flipping out.  Applying at every KFC and Taco Bell and trolling Indeed.com into the wee hours of the morning.  BUT this time was different.  This time I knew God was moving me.  It was so obvious... to be literally plucked out of a job completely out of the blue, especially a job that I thought was my "calling," meant that was obviously NOT where I was supposed to be. 

I thought by taking a job at a small newspaper in the middle of nowhere, that I was being obedient and trusting.  Because I was using my God-given talent and I was trusting that the finances would work out even though I was being paid the equivalent of a fry cook at McDonald's.  I even endured the hour and half commute each way, sometimes at midnight, because this was what I was supposed to be doing, right?

The people I worked with were nice, I was getting great responses from my readers and I was getting good experience.  So when I was let go out of the blue, I honestly can say that I didn't even for a second, try to "fix" it.  Which seems really weird actually.  For someone who fixes by their very nature, it's amazing that I never once tried to fix this.  I think I allowed myself maybe two freak-out's in the past month and a half and that was only when I worried about my finances and each time only lasted about five minutes.  Other than that, I just steadily got up each day, sent out some resumes and emails and stayed busy.  But it wasn't like I was working hard to try to stay busy, I was busy.  In fact, I've been busy ever since I lost the newspaper job.  New volunteer opportunities came my way that I am more than excited about and my freelance work took off.  Suddenly, I had several articles in the works for the newspaper (the Observer), a new client to write news articles for, a new blogging client and another client that reappeared from my past... I had written an article on her for the Observer and she had loved the story when it came out.  She reached out to me because she wanted to write a book and said I was the first person she thought of.  After speaking with her on the phone, we signed an agreement for weekly blog work, several press releases, two e-books and the book.  AND she was going to share my information with her whole network of colleagues who may need my help as well.

I noticed even my job searching felt different this time.  Whereas before I would've been more concerned with what the salary was for a job or where it was located, this time it was about how it felt.  Having always been too concerned about what others thought of me, I would have also just interviewed for (and taken) any job that came my way because I'd think, "People will wonder who I think I am being picky when I don't even have a job!"  But this time, I didn't care.  That was HUGE.  And my instincts were stronger than ever.  Let me clarify that, my instincts a.k.a. the voice of the Holy Spirit within me.  The employment agencies would call me about a job (and this should be a good thing) and my stomach would turn.  Well that's a big ol' red flag.  If your stomach is turning at the thought of even interviewing for a job, you probably don't want the job.  Yet in the past, I would've gone and taken the job and then wondered why I'd flake out after only 6 months or a year.  I never even wanted to be there in the first place.  And you know what?  All of those old habits just didn't fit anymore.  That's not who I am and where I am going.  So I took a deep breath, declined those interviews and kept on plugging.  Being selective about what I even applied to, not running out the door to get some random retail job and most importantly trusting that God would provide to cover my bills.  And provide He did.

He got me through the entire time since Jan. 7th without having to borrow any extra money from anyone or miss any bills.  The day I was let go, I came home to a 401k check in the mail that got me through the first month.  Right when February's bills became due and I was down to literally my last $1, my unemployment was approved and I got a deposit that was retroactive for several weeks.  Just enough to pay all of my bills that were due.  And every single time in between, when I'd get to the bottom of my account and need food or another small expense, I'd get a payment from a freelance job, or like today, another small 401k check that I didn't even know I had.  Do you think these are all coincidences?  It is God providing every step of the way.  And I am so grateful for Him loving me so much.  I am grateful that I finally stopped moving long enough to let Him and I'm excited about where I'm going now.

During this same time, I've had several other "puzzle pieces" fit together... my naturopathic doctor "prescribed" me a book to read that I already owned but had never read.  My therapist suggested a movie that I also already owned and couldn't remember if I ever even had watched.  All the pieces were already there and I just needed to put them together.  Even this job that I just got the other day working as a personal assistant.  The movie that my therapist had suggested?  The Secret.  The movie that is about the law of attraction.  One of the main things this entrepreneur that I'll be working for focuses on?  The art of attraction.  Hmm.  Not to mention that she focuses on healthy eating and recipes, which has become my life lately.  I also just was talking to my mother about how I seem to do better with jobs that don't have a "traditional" structure and that's exactly what I found, a flexible job that's fun and can be worked around my writing.

It's as if all these people and events that have been in my life over the past year were all starting to fit together.  Click.

Do you hear it?

Do you feel it?

That's God trying to move you.  All you have to do is be still, be quiet and be moved.

Monday, January 14, 2013

What now?

So, the title of this post has a double meaning.  Both "what, now?" as in say what?  And "what now?" as in what in the world am I supposed to do now?

As some of you may have already seen on Facebook, I was laid off this morning.  Totally out of the blue, completely shocked, let go.  Now this is the newspaper job that I just started a month ago, that I thought was me finally getting in line with God's will, getting to do what I love, a "meant to be" kinda job.  After I interviewed for it, I KNEW he was going to offer it to me.  The interview went really well but also the editor and I had very similar values, interests and outlooks on writing.  I was sure as day that this is what God had been wanting me to wait for, month after month, at that miserable last job I was at.  Or was it?

I came in to work this morning, feeling pretty bleh actually.  I thought it was just the usual fatigue/blood sugar stuff but who knows, maybe I was having a premonition.  Anyway, I had barely been there 20 minutes... came in, put my lunch away, used the restroom, booted up my computer and talked to my editor for a minute, when the publisher (my boss' boss) stopped me and asked me to come into her office.  So I went in and noticed our accounting/hr person was in there too (but still thought nothing of it) and she says, "Well we've come to the 30 day mark of the 90 probationary period and we're going to let you go."


I swear I think I was in shock or something cuz I didn't even know what to say.  I know I was completely poised and polite and I think I said something along the lines of "I understand" and "Thank you for the opportunity."  The reason I was given is that they "needed someone with more experience, whose more familiar with AP style" and that my stories "needed to be edited too much."

Now, let me say here, that #1) they were 100% aware of who I was and how much experience I had when they hired me, #2) AP style basically just refers to punctuation/grammar/capitalization kinda rules and I keep a guide on my desk for reference anyway and 3) my editor doesn't even change my stories that much!  Also, this woman who was speaking to me is the publisher, not the editor.  I don't think she's even edited one of my stories.

So after I left her office, I went straight back to the editor's office.  Now, let me pause again here to clarify, this is NOT the editor that hired me.  The man that interviewed me, that I felt like I bonded with, that was such a great guy, had left and gone to another publication at the end of my first week there.  I was kinda bummed but figured it'd be okay cuz the man who ended up taking over the position was the other reporter and he seemed like a good guy too.  Also, the publisher had nothing to do with my hiring, at least as far as I never met her until after I was hired.  She was out of town when I came in for the interview.

Back to me stopping in the editor's office... I said "so I guess you already know about that" and he just said what?  When I said what [publisher - I won't use her name] just talked to me about, he just said "about updating your hours for Saturday?"  So then I realized even he didn't know and I said no, she just let me go. His jaw literally dropped and he just looked at me in shock and said "what??"  So I told him what she had said and he said he thought I was doing a good job and that he wasn't making that many changes to my stories and that he had already seen improvement in the couple weeks I had been there.  (On a side note, this editor had also said several times that I was a better writer than him, that I had written for bigger papers than he ever had and that on one story that we co-wrote together, that my portion was more compelling than his.)  So by this time, I had lost control of the waterworks and he said to me, "Well if it makes you feel better, I'm not the editor anymore."  Now it was my turn to say what??  Apparently, right before me, she had him behind closed doors and told him that he wasn't ready for the responsibility of being editor and that they had jumped the gun (hmmm... same thing she said to me about the other editor hiring me).  So now he was going back to being the other reporter.

I was shocked too but it all started to be a little clearer when he mentioned that there was some other guy who had already interviewed for the reporter position but didn't take it because of the money, who now apparently had come back into the picture and wanted to take the job.  I guess originally he was going to fill the editor's open reporter slot but with him being demoted back to reporter, I was one person too many!  I didn't even say anything to the publisher after he told me this but it seemed pretty cut and dry (and crappy) to me at that point.  I went back to my desk and told the photographer who sits across from me and same reaction... jaw literally dropped and what??  Told my friend who works right next to me... her jaw dropped and what??  No one could believe it.  The photographer shook his head and just kept saying how stupid it was and then said something like "you know what, that's par for the course around here" so I guess maybe stuff like this has happened before?  The lady that works next to me had to leave (she's an ad sales rep) but she got my email/phone number (with tears in her eyes) and then the photographer invited me to lunch with his fiance (the poor accounting/hr woman who sat uncomfortably in the publisher's office with me) and another coworker.

When I was at lunch with them, I found out that apparently two other people were "behind closed doors" after they left for lunch, so who knows what happened with them.  But personally, I just feel like the publisher must've wanted someone else for my position for awhile and not liked that the other editor that hired me.  At first, she was sweet as pie to me and even told me I could stay at her house on nights with bad weather since she lived close by.  But then these past couple weeks, I noticed she didn't talk to me or hardly even acknowledge me in the office and she never got my business cards which I had asked for like my first week there.  Guess maybe the wheels were already churning at that point.

Like I said, I'm not an editor, but I would think that your readers expressing their enjoyment and approval of a writer's work would be important.  Not to mention other editors of papers that are a lot larger and a lot more successful than yours.  But hey, what do I know?

So I guess tonight I am feeling a mix of emotions.  First it was shock, then it was sadness, then it was anger on my drive home, then just pretty much... nothing?  I don't know if that's the right word for it or not, but after those initial feelings earlier today, I still find myself playing with the dogs, making my dinner and well... just going about my regular activities.  I guess that's a good thing?  Now, of course, if I even let myself start to think about the financial part and start to wonder how I'm going to pay all of my bills, then I freak out.  But I'm not as freaked out about the job as I would've thought I'd be.  It still sucks and I'm still all kinds of confused, but what's that thing about being broken down until you have nothing left to do but look up and depend FULLY on God?  Maybe I've reached that point cuz all I'm really thinking at this point is wow, this definitely happened for a reason.  Now I just have to find out (not figure out) what that is.

Overall, I have learned that I unfortunately expect the worst most of the time.  I know that's awful to say and I don't want to be that way, cuz generally I TRY to be a positive person.  But I mean on a subconscious level, if I'm totally honest, I've realized that I do expect good things not to last and bad things to happen.  I'm sure that's the product of a not-so-happy home environment growing up, then thinking I found the love of my life and picturing wedding/babies/happy ever after and having that go horribly wrong, plus losing my dad, my sweet puppy and a bunch of other craziness... I think I got groomed that way without even noticing.  BUT I don't want to be that way, so I will intentionally continue to purposefully think the opposite way, even in cases like this.  Honestly, I didn't expect this to turn out this way at all.  But now that it has, I am choosing to not see it as another good thing coming to an end, but instead something okay getting out of the way to make room for something better.

Who knows?  My sister mentioned on the phone tonight that maybe I should look into jobs with animals since I have such an overwhelming love for them.  It's funny cuz this whole time I've been thinking that I was going to look into something with animals for my PT 2nd job, but maybe it will end up being the other way around and animals will be my FT job and writing will go back to being PT freelance.  I do know that I have literally been bombarded with animals for over a year now.  At my last job, I kept finding animals in the parking garage (seriously, who does that??) and then at this job, I kept seeing dogs on the road that I traveled back and forth to Lenoir.  Several right on the edge of the road that I drove myself crazy praying for their safety and one just this past Saturday that I pulled off the road and attempted to save (eventually some guy came out of the brush and called the dog over to him, after it had almost gotten run over not once, but twice!).  Maybe that has been God talking to me, as I was driving to what I thought I was supposed to be doing, revealing to me literally from all sides, what I need to be doing.  I do know without a doubt my love for animals is pretty much THE strongest 100% tied to my heart emotion that I have.  Guess I'll see...

I'm just going to pray, try to be quiet and listen, and of course... job search yet again.  I know for sure God has blessed me to love/be good at:

*Event planning

There are other things I am good at and other jobs I can do, but I know these are my strengths and passions so hopefully I will still end up doing one of these things or maybe all of them!  Only God knows for sure.

I know I'm not strong enough to be,
everything that I'm supposed to be.
I give up.
I'm not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won't you cover me,
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough,
Strong enough
For the both of us.

-Matthew West, Strong Enough

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Repairvite Update #1

So today is Day #9 of the diet .  I can't say there's a whole heckuva lot to report so far.  But I'm sure it takes a lot longer than 9 days for things to start changing for the better.

One thing I have noticed is my fatigue/tiredness seems to be even worse, if possible.  I can barely get moving in the morning when I wake up, I feel completely EXHAUSTED and it takes a couple hours for that lead-weight feeling to wear off.  I'm thinking that might be because I haven't mastered the art of keeping my blood sugar level on this diet though.  Not sure.  Good thing for me that I have a job with flexible hours. 

On the good side, I have noticed less "gurgliness" on a day to day basis.  There's been a couple nights where my stomach felt a little grumbley after dinner but not nearly like what I was used to on a daily basis before this diet.

As for the pain in my side, unfortunately that's still there and is still as sporadic as usual.  Interestingly, my urologist (for the ridiculous # of pee trips I take) said the pain MAY be associated with the IC (interstitial cystitis).  So who knows maybe he'll be able to help with the mystery pain. 

Speaking of Dr. P... I had an exploratory procedure this morning and had to take a valium for it so I'd be relaxed.  If you've never taken a valium, holy shnikes, that's some pill.  They tell you not to drive but I made the mistake of running one more errand after I picked up and took said pill.  Whoa!  That was an interesting trip back to my house. 

Anyhoo... it wasn't anything too terribly bad and basically he just ended up saying he's pretty sure it's IC and prescribed a pill to take.  Now even though I've been pretty anti-medication lately, I figure I will give this one a try because it actually is supposed to fix the actual problem and not just put a band-aid on the symptoms.  Course, the two possible side effects are stomach upset - yea, like I don't have enough issues with that, and possible hair thinning - um, no.  I already feel like my hair is thinner from all this stuff that's been going on with me this past year (my stylist thinks I'm imagining it) but you bet your butt I will have a close eye on the hairbrush!

Right now my stomach is not too happy with me, but since it's actually been better since I've on this diet, I'm thinking it's probably the antibiotic they made me take after the procedure.  See why I don't like medicine?  So I'm not going to jump to any conclusions just yet.

On the food front... I have become quite a fan of avacados, flavored olive oils and sea salt.  I made a good meal tonight - italian vegetables with artichoke hearts.  Yum!  And the other night, made a rosemary chuck roast in the crock pot.  YUM!  Both were recipes I got off of a menu planner from this website I happened upon last week called Heart of Cooking (http://allergyfreemenuplanners.com/).  Such an awesome site!  And talk about weird, she lives in Frederick, my hometown!

Welp that's it for now, I'm still kinda sleepy so it's lights out for me.  Hopefully this new medication won't mess things up and the diet will keep doing what it's supposed to do!  In the meantime, I will continue to dream of cinnamon toast, red velvet cupcakes and fro yo.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Repairvite Diet... crazy or miracle?

Well I'm about a week late in posting this since I wanted to start a blog about my restricted diet starting on Day 1.  But it's only Day 6 so that's not too bad.  ;)

For those of you that don't know, I've been having some strange health issues for the past year, since about Jan/Feb of 2012.  I've been to my PCP, a gastroenterologist (actually 2 GI docs and a GI nurse practicitioner) and an endocrinologist.  I've been prescribed about ten different medications (not to mention the ones that I didn't even bother filling), none of which did a thing to help me.  Which on a side note, can I just mention how disturbing it is how many times you are offered anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications, etc. as a treatment option for real physical symptoms?  It's crazy.  Anyway, I now owe the hospital system several hundred dollars for absolutely NOTHING. 

It started in January when I started having a dull pain under my last rib on the left side.  It was sporatic and not too intense so I didn't pay it much attention at first.  In fact, I went on a mission trip in end of Feb/beginning of March and was fine.  But by the time I came back from the trip, the pain had gotten more frequent and soon I started having problems with constipation, bloating and a lot of "gurgliness" in my side and stomach.  When I went to the GI doctor that had done my colonoscopy in December (which was just a preventative measure at that point... I didn't even have any of my symptoms yet) and told him about the pain in my side, he said he thought I had pulled a muscle and to put ice on it and take Advil.  WOW.  So eventually in May, I saw a GI nurse practicitioner in the doctor's office where I worked.  She did x-rays, had me drink several lovely concoctions, take several medications and even go for a not-so-fun "cleaning out" and literally 15 minutes after I left that procedure, clean as a whistle, I had the pain in my side while standing in line at a grocery store.  Hmm... guess that had nothing to do with the pain, huh?  The GI doctor that she worked with then prescribed me more medications and did an ultrasound, said he saw nothing and sent me on my merry way.  I went to the endocrinologist to see if any of it could be thyroid-related since my symptoms seemed to match up with that and was again told, everything looks normal.  At this point, I had pretty much given up although my symptoms hadn't gotten any better, in fact, they actually got worse.

Besides the pain in my side, the constipation, bloating and gurgliness, my anxiety has come back, I feel strangely down/blah most of the time, I have shakiness/tremors, frequent urination, trouble sleeping, can't concentrate or focus like normal and am SO TIRED 24/7, I can hardly do my normal routine much less anything like exercise.  I never sleep through the night anymore, I get winded just bending over to pull the laundry out of the washer and when I stand (yes, just stand) for too long... say, like the time it takes me to take a shower, my legs feel so tired you would think I had just run a marathon.  I'll wake up in the morning and feel like I haven't slept in days.  I don't have an "afternoon crash", I basically have a morning one, an afternoon one and a night one cuz I'm tired ALL day.   I can't remember anything anymore without writing it down and just focusing on something is an effort.  Not to mention the time I left for work in the morning and couldn't figure out where to turn onto the highway.  Yes, the highway I drive every single day... it's like my brain forgot where the entrance ramp was.

At first, I gained like 15lbs out of nowhere too, although I'm not sure if it's all still there (I don't own a working scale) but my stomach/waist is always distended so all of my clothes that just fit me last season don't fit me this year.  And the worst part is, you get so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, that you stop wanting to even do anything.  I worry that my friends won't even ask me to do anything anymore because of how many times I've said no or cancelled at the last minute from not feeling good.  It sucks because I'm sure to just look at me, I probably look fine (although I can tell the difference when I look at myself in the mirror) but half the time, I just feel BLEH.  I think I understand what people with chronic pain must feel like.  Not that I at all compare my issues with theirs, but that I can understand what it feels like to not have "visible" symptoms.  And then of course, I start to feel bad for feeling bad because I know how much worse it could be and how people with terminal illnesses can only wish to have the "issues" that I do.  And so the cycle goes round and round.

So about a month and a half ago, I decided to go to a naturopathic doctor.  Pretty much as a last resort.  At the first meeting, I had a better feeling than I ever had at one of the "conventional" doctor's offices.  He gave me SO much information that most of it went over my head but I felt like he at least had a clue.  He sent me for a couple blood tests and I got all of my records from the other docs for my next appt.  At that appt, he again gave me more information than my brain could handle, but he said my bloodwork clearly matched up with the symptoms I was complaining of and... surprise! I wasn't crazy.  Well hallelujah.  He said he could tell off the bat, I have issues with my blood sugar, have an autoimmune disorder (although he couldn't say for sure which one specifically without further testing), have adrenal/thyroid issues (yes, the numbers traditional doctors use when they decide what's "normal" are not always accurate) and he thinks I have what's called "leaky gut syndrome."  I didn't quite get all of what that is but something about the membrane that lines my intestinal tract is not intact so things get across it that shouldn't.  So basically, bad things can get in and good things can get out.  He said my body doesn't break down nutrients properly so I'm barely getting any essential nutrients from my food and on top of that, he thinks I may have some food allergies so my body is most likely wasting a ton of energy attacking itself every time I eat the "wrong" thing.  Oh and, my white blood cell count is elevated (which again, all the other doctors missed) which is a sign of a chronic infection.  He wasn't sure exactly what it was again without further testing.

HUH.  Gee I wonder why I've been feeling like crap lately.

So what's the solution?  Well to start with , there are supplements.  I'm taking a probiotic, two other oral supplements, a lotion supplement and drinking a lovely concoction called Repairvite that is like caramel-flavored sand that dissolves in hot water.  Yum.  Then there's the diet.  I wasn't the ideal patient since I decided to wait until after Christmas/New Years to start the diet.  I figured it would just be too hard with all the parties and food everywhere.  So I started on January 1 and this will be my life for the next 2 months:

What I can eat:
-Meat (antibiotic free, hormone free, grass fed beef, chicken, turkey and fish)
-Certain veggies
-Certain fruits
-Fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha tea)
-Yam noodles
-Olive oil

And THAT'S IT.  So to make that more clear, here's what I can't eat:

-Other vegetables like potatoes, peas, green beans, etc.
-Other fruits like bananas, pineapples, mangoes, etc.
-Any dairy products
-Any grains including oats, quinoa, wheat, etc.
-Any sugars including agave, honey, chocolate, etc.
-Nightshade foods including tomatoes, eggplant, tobasco, peppers, etc.

Yea basically, 95% of the grocery store.  So for this week, I have mostly been eating berries, turkey sausage, avacados, chicken, spinach, sweet potatoes and broccoli.  And I have come to the conclusion that I am just going to eat to sustain my life for the next 2 months, not to enjoy it.  ;)  And if it works and it actually changes how I feel, IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

I read a bunch of posts about this diet on the internet the other night and I was inspired.  Most people that said they had done this diet said it was awesome or "life changing" and all of them said they had the same symptoms as me... GI problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, brain fog, etc.  I found one girl who said she was going to blog about her experience but never posted again after the first day.  So that gave me the idea to do this.  I love to write and I'm doing the diet, so I may as well share it!  I'm not very educated on how to get my blog out there to the people at large though, so I hope maybe it will come up for them in a search like it did for me cuz I'd love to hear from other people that have had similar experiences or are doing the diet too!  And I hope to keep up with updates about how it's going for me.

So goodnight for now... wish me luck!