Monday, January 1, 2018

It's Personal...

All the Christmas decor is pretty much put away by today. I packed things up in temporary plastic tubs because it's just too cold to go out and rummage around in the garage (my seasonal decor boxes are in one area) I replaced the Christmas things with "winter" things, because, well, it's winter, and I like winter when it's not 0 degrees outside. We're having an early burst of super cold, and I'm wandering around the house with multiple layers of long underwear and thermal/fleece things. Warmth and comfort, I'm all about that right now.

These 2 pics are of my old door in the kitchen sitting area right now. I love that old oval frame and the bird paper collage is from several years ago when I was feeling a bit more creative. I love playing with paper, and I'm hoping I can get a little bit of my creative "self" back soon. I'm going with a more neutral color palette in here for January. February will probably be a different story, but right now I thought since I love neutrals and various shades of white and cream I'd see what I could come up with.

Just so you'll know, this post contains some personal stuff I have been putting off sharing here on the blog. I mentioned it in my last post, and because it's now time and I have the head-nod from my kiddos, I'll bring you up to date. It's a long post, but important to read if you're suffering with any undiagnosed illness.

This past several years has not only been difficult because of my health stuff, but also because both of my sweet girlies have gone through deeply personal tough stuff as well. None of it was spur of the moment, but building throughout their marriages.

 Alyson, our younger daughter (on the right) divorced after a long separation, and then remarried a wonderful young man over a year ago. Normally I would have been sharing all this and showing pictures of their wedding, but Aly has been sick with essentially the same sort of AutoImmune problems I've been having for many years. Her symptoms just manifested in different ways. We always hate to see our kids go through hard health issues, and would trade places in a heartbeat. Thankfully, because I had been endlessly researching AutoImmune disease because of my own health situation, I was able to give her some information as she navigated her way through multiple doctors and medical tests. She's much better this last month, so I think she was able to enjoy Christmas without feeling like she'd been totally beaten up.

this Christmas

Our older daughter Erin had been with her husband for 20 years, including the time they'd been together in college. You see little by little, year by year, a person change. You try to communicate, but they are silent in some areas and you know there's a wall there that they are not letting down. Things you do not know because it's too difficult for them to open it all up. Then when it all happens you can look back and see the signs, but it's no less traumatic or gut wrenching. I can't get into the details but  there were no alternatives and Erin made the break by herself... and God. Both our girls are very spiritual young Christian women so they didn't make their decisions lightly. She is good, she has a great job so she can take care of herself financially, but the worst hurt she has suffered is the fact that she's had no children and that has become a desire of her heart. She knows at her age it will be more difficult, but she feels she needs to pursue this or she will regret it. So we will see. Just don't be surprised if one day I say with great Joy, "Hey everyone, I'm going to be a grandmommy!".

(photos from 2012 New Year's Tree)

Just this morning I was looking back through one of my posts that I was sharing a health update from October of 2016. Seems like forever ago. So much time of things not being right with my health, so many doctors, so many tests, so many procedures, so much money. It makes me angry in some ways because I feel like I've lost so much precious time, opportunities, and experiences. We've not been able to travel, heck, I haven't even been able to do much of anything, and it's been difficult for my husband who is a man with a lot of patience.

 Just to recap a little... In May of 2016 I had a heart procedure, called a CTO, short for Chronic Total Occlusion, which opened up my original arteries before my heart bypass surgery of 2004. I have a genetic type of cardiovascular disease which causes the arteries around the heart to become hardened and calcified at a young age. My dad had it, and so did my brother, both of whom who have passed due to heart attacks. My first heart attack(s) was at age 49, that left me with a lot of heart damage, and no clear answers as to why this had happened even though I was thin, ate healthy, and exercised. Stress was a big culprit, but who doesn't have some sort of stress in their life?

So fast forward to the CTO which literally has saved my life, but also caused so many issues. Just a few days after the procedure where I lost a lot of blood, I started feeling like I had the flu. My anxiety level was over the top, but I chalked it up to a ton of meds and the 4 hour procedure with a boat load of Heparin (industrial strength blood thinner). I felt worse and worse and my neck started hurting. I gave it time, but before long I started having the headache from hell, which would NOT go away. Not with all manner of pain killers including Valium, Tramadol and Oxycodone. I was dizzy and off balance most of the time. I struggled through, thinking that it would eventually go away... and I started seeing doctors. First a new GP, then a cervical spine specialist, then a Neurosurgeon, and Neurologist, my heart doctor, etc. We did all the typical tests, including an MRI and CAT scan. The MRI showed I had "white lesions" on my brain which are indicative of many diseases including MS (which runs in my family). They were tiny "micro bleeds" also known as ischemic strokes. We don't know when they happened, but probably during the CTO procedure when my blood had been so thin. That was and is scary, because I could tell my memory was fuzzy and I couldn't think of words or ways to express myself. And by the way, I'm trying to blog through all of this because I really need to have something normal to hang onto.

So a year goes by since the heart procedure and the headache doesn't lessen. I'm having more and more problems including sharp pains in my skull, behind my eyes, ears, my hands and wrists started being so painful I could hardly cook or iron. The pain pills maybe dulled it a little but not much. I started having ulcerations in my eyes, nose, any and all places where there were moisture ducts. My lymph nodes started swelling and I felt like someone was literally strangling me, while my neck and shoulders were painful and swollen. Knots in my Lymph nodes under my arms and all the while I was not getting much help except the occasional blood panels drawn and tests looking for possible illnesses.

I had started research as soon as I saw my first specialist, when cortisone shots in my neck weren't helping. There are a few reasons to have my symptoms, trauma, bacterial, viral or autoimmune. The first 2 were ruled out. I saw a young doctor who was a Rheumatologist, but she was Vietnamese and she had zero experience and unable to communicate well. She wrote me off because she had been fired and didn't want to be bothered trying to figure me out. That left me on my own again, even though my numbers were borderline Rheumatoid Arthritis.

In June of 2017 I was a worn-out mess. I was constantly in pain and not fun to be around. One Sunday in particular I had not eaten all day and my husband brought home a deepdish pizza. I was starved. I didn't usually eat bread since it made me bloated and feel yucky, but that night I had a few small pieces. In the morning I was in so much pain that I thought I had an aneurysm in my head and called my GP for help. Sorry they were booked, they'd get me in later in the week. I thought about going to the ER, but decided to try and think about what had been different over the weekend than before. It was the pizza.

Through all sorts of diagnosis and plans to discover what my problem might be I had started researching Gluten and AutoImmune. I shared a lot of information HERE, so I won't go back through it, but please read that post, if you or someone you know has ANY kind of Autoimmune illness (including Hashimoto's Thyroiditis) or chronic pain. Gluten is a known cause of inflammation, and now I realize that it was probably at the base of the inflammation that has caused my own and my family's heart problems. Inflammation can come from many places. Sugar, bad fats, high cholesterol, alcohol, but it can also come from food allergies and among other illnesses like diabetes. AutoImmune disease can come in what they call "flares"; some kind of trauma can act as a trigger to make your immune system go crazy. I think it was the CTO procedure.

Eighteen months after it started, my headache has now gotten so much better, it's not completely gone, but getting better. The other symptoms have basically subsided also. The longer I've been without Gluten, the better I've felt. It's called Gluten Ataxia when you have symptoms within the Central Nervous Symptoms, and it's what happens when someone has undiagnosed and untreated Celiac Disease. (If you want to read a really scary story, about Gluten Ataxia, read this when you have time.) It's important to be tested for the antibodies against Gluten which cause Celiac Disease, because once you're gluten-free your tests will not be accurate. My doctors all were either clueless or not believing my head and neck pain were anything other than standard cervical spine problems. I avoided CS surgery because a surgeon couldn't see my headache coming from where my spine problems were located. How horrible to go through that and still have the headache from hell!

There are times I feel a little sorry for myself because I can't eat store bought baked goods. And right now I'm also off dairy, corn, nitrates and eggs; at least until I can get past the headache and be seen by another Rheumatologist in the early Spring. Believe me, you couldn't pay me enough money to eat a Twinkie or cupcake. My joint pain is much better, but there is still some aspect of autoimmune that is in my system and causing problems. There are over a hundred known Autoimmune diseases and conditions, many of which have overlapping symptoms. AI is on the rise because our foods are being tampered with. GMOs, enriched flours, additives, chemicals, dyes and sugar substitutes are all causing our bodies to malfunction and rebel against itself, hence "auto-immune" (our bodies fighting and attacking it's own tissues).

OK, sorry this has been so long, but it's way overdue. I've waited to talk to you about my health for awhile, because I wanted to wait for more improvement. It's very slow going, but enough to know the cause of most of it. One big problem is that most doctors are not educated about AI and Gluten issues, so they discount it. More than one doctor has patted me on the head and changed the subject.

Thanks for taking the time to read and actually care. One thing has been tough, and that's that so many blogging friends literally dropped me, took me off their blog rolls and stopped visiting.

Many years I did a post on "My Word for the New Year" or something like that. I don't have "one word" this year, but I know that I'm just supposed to keep going; doing what I've been doing, and I'm trusting God to do the rest. If you don't feel like you can do it alone, and you want to give up, stay strong and keep fighting, stay informed, love your family, believe that good things are coming your way. Trust God and expect Him do miracles in your life and relationships.  He will!

Sending love and Blessings,

joining in here:

The Scoop at Worthing Court
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Share Your Style at 21 Rosemary Lane
Share Your Cup at Mrs. Olson's
Favorite Things Thursday at Follow the Yellow Brick Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage


  1. Well, first off, Happy New Year! I follow your blog, love it, and am filled with empathy after reading your post today. I know exactly what you have gone through, as I have been through much of the same healthwise. Although not as severely as you have! I am currently gluten free and dairy free due to AI disease. You and your daughters are strong, beautiful ladies, and I pray that you will all regain your health and find peace through these struggles. Thank you for sharing this post, it was very profound and I know it will help others going through similar issues. Stay positive and I know God will bless you all in 2018!

  2. Dearest Debra! Blessings for 2018 to you and your family!! I have been following your blog for a bit now...rarely, however, do I comment. Today, I feel different...I truly believe that you are handling all that life is tossing your way with grace and love. We want everything for our children to be perfect...accepting things that happen...that get in the way of that perfect can be difficult as the parent. You have given your daughters strength beyond understanding to deal with are there and they know that!! That can be may not feel like it...but it is! Holding you and your family in the Light as we head towards the new year. I shall be here...reading your blog. Blessings!!

  3. I've only been reading your blog for a year or so, can't remember how how I found your blog. Just commenting to say I continue to read & pray for your recovery. Wishing your family health & happiness in 2018.

  4. Dear Debra, I have been following you this last year or so. What hooked me was your amazing decorating skills. What keeps me is your strength to continue throughout your medical issues. No woman should have so many. You are a strong woman who has raised 2 strong daughters. You and I are very similar. My prayers and hugs follow you. Pat.

  5. I cannot even imagine what you've been through, but you truly have my empathy. I have my own little issues - minor comparatively - but have one sister and a niece who are plagued with AI issues. The niece is near kidney failure now, but the sister, after more than 10 yrs, is actually living a higher quality of life right now. Stress can definitely worsen any situation, and I know you must feel various levels of that just knowing your youngest daughter is also having issues. But stress's toll on physical well-being is so underrated in the medical profession, I think, that we simply must be our own best educators, advocates and cheerleaders. I will certainly remain your cheerleader. The key is hope, and perhaps that can be the word for 2018.
    As for your daughters, I wish them all the best in these next chapters. I was like your oldest daughter, married 21 yrs, but different in that I had 2 girls by then. I, too, was financially able to move on (my decision), and start a new life. Again, hope is key. And trust - trust that they've both made well-thought decisions for the good.
    I truly appreciate your genuine frankness, as I'm sure many readers do. Thank you for sharing. I know you're helping others by doing so, and HOPEfully we help you by caring. I wish I lived closer to be a better friend than through the web.

  6. Thank you, thank you for sharing. I'm 76, diabetic, but just now starting to have serious autoimmune stuff. My dad had a lot of autoimmune plus lupus. I just heard of a doctor who might be able to help me. I'm very active so I need to get a better handle on it. Your remarks made me decide to try and find that doc and see if I can get help. In the meantime, I am seeing a dermatologist but do not hold out much hope. They just want to put me on all the meds that have already failed. Enough about me, trust 2018 will be a better year for you and your girls.

  7. Wow, you are such a strong woman! I have days when I want to bury my head and let life pass by...and I have no where near the problems you have with your health...I feel you wrote this to give me day at a time.
    My oldest daughter has a severe auto immune issue...along with itp...It is so difficult watching her go through it all, she's 38 and a single mom of two teenagers...but like you she keeps going...
    I will pray for you and your beautiful daughters...
    And....I love love love your blog. Thank you for the inspiration with life health, and home.
    God bless

  8. When I first started reading this post esp. about your heart, I thought wow and I thought I had had a bad year with illnesses. I've had one thing after another but nothing terribly serious. I kept reading. And soon it was clear we have something in common. Celiac. I have a thyroid disorder, test positive for RA markers, and I have Celiac. I had a positive endoscopy but blood work was negative. This year I have had something every month. I was hospitalized in February with facial numbness and other issues. I developed a weird breast bump and lesion that lasted months. Three doctors and two radiologists all arguing over what it was. It ended in surgery that shouldn't have been done. I won't go through all thes rest but I am going on two weeks now of having strep. It's so interesting

  9. I wasn't finished but couldn't add more. The domino effect iis so real.
    I'm sorry about your daughters. They sound like strong women. I'm hoping they will go forward with their goals.
    Here's is to good health this year. ❤️

  10. Hello Debra. I am so sorry that you are going through such difficult health issues. I know you've been dealing with it for a long time and sometimes just letting it all out can be good medicine. It's so true that we often have to be our own physicians in order to get the answers we need. Not all doctors, but many, are quick to dismiss symptoms or just sit back and order tests and then tell you that tests show nothing. I have lost faith in our medical health professionals mainly due to the issue with my son's autoimmune disease, Crohns. So, I know where you are coming from. However, you are strong and still fighting and that's what we have to do!
    I am so sorry that your daughters are going through difficult times as well and as their Mother I know how bad you hurt for them.
    I will keep you all in my prayers and I hope for your continued improvement. Thanks for sharing your story because I believe it will help so many others in similar situations. Don't give up...hang in there.
    Also, my son is trying to be glutten free as well. It's hard but it does help with his symptoms.
    Happy New Year and may it bring you good health. BTW, you are still on my blog roll and will always be!


  11. Wishing you a Happy New Year Debby! I can't say enough how much I appreciate you, your blog, your sharing your personal journey with us, you speak from your heart. I experienced too the problems with doctors, friends and people, I was told it was all in my head for years. Thank you for the telling of your story, keeping us updated, sharing your faith, it helps us all so much knowing we are not alone. God bless you, you are in my prayers. Hugs, Debbie

  12. I love your blog and you!!! You write from the heart and I respect that.....

    You will have a wonderful New Year, God will continue to bless you, new adventures await and answers will arrive. Thank you for all that you share......xoxoxo

  13. Happy New Year Debbie!! Your Daughter's are beautiful and I, too, have followed you for a long time and prayed you would get pain relief....Hope 2018 will be a better year for you!

  14. Thank you for sharing your difficult personal issues. I know that must have been hard.I have Hashimoto's and insulin dependent DM. I did not realize there could be a connection because of them both being autoimmune.I will be researching it. I also want tomention how much I enjoy your decrating style and the beautiful pics of it. Thanks for that too.

  15. This has been such a terrible journey for you, I know. Thanks for sharing. I am also so sorry about your daughters. Yikes. Your decor looks wonderful as always. I can't believe that some have stopped visiting. I love your blog.

  16. I admire your courage, Debra. You have been through so much, and
    your strong faith inspires. Thanks for sharing on your wonderful blog.

    Happy wishes for you and your girls in 2018!

  17. Debra you have been on my mind and in my prayers for so long and today you shared how your health is currently as well as how your daughters are. I want to thank you for sharing how you have been a health detective as well as the changes your made that lessened some of the issues. What you are sharing will help the heath research of so many. I will keep your family in my prayers.

    I anticipate and read each post you write. Thank you for carrying on when you have been dealing with your pain and searches for solutions.

    Love and Hugs.


  18. So sorry to hear what you have been through. Sometimes when your suffering and it's not an illness someone can physically see it's hard for them to understand. But it's so wrong that you should loose friends and fellow bloggers over it. Those aren't friends! I think it's amazing what you have accomplished, and your desire for such a lovely and wonderful home is an inspiration to all of us that follow your blog. I'm so glad that you have found some relief on your own. It's a shame the medical professionals weren't able to help more. Stay strong, and be well. Susan B.

  19. Debra, I know that you have been in alot of pain for many years and I think about you so often! Five years ago our youngest daughter surprised us with a divorce from her husband of 5 years. No one saw it coming! We thought they were the perfect couple. She hid it well. I can see that she is much happier now, and I thank God that she had the courage to do it! I pray that both you and your daughter will see healthier days for '2018'. I can't understand how you can loose friends because of this. I guess they weren't friends after all! Happy New Year!

  20. We all have many struggles and health issues in this life ! Sooo very hard to understand it all ! Ask God to help us everyday and the Holy Spirit to guide us !! Take it one day and sometimes one moment at a time ! Our world is OUT OF CONTROL ! Your daughters are beautiful and I wish them a happy life as for all of us ! STAY STRONG !! And CARRY ON !

  21. I'm so glad you are sharing your health issues, as well as everything else you write about. I completely understand the frustration. I don't visit blogs or comment like I used to because of my vision difficulties from MS, not because I don't still love reading them, so please keep writing and sharing. I'll be visiting your blog whenever I'm able. Sending you, and your beautiful daughters, love and prayers!

  22. Happy new year! !
    I wish you a year filled with peace, good health and happiness.

  23. Debra, I just want to gather you up in my arms and make you all better. Your daughters have been through a lot and I wish them the best. Sending you and your beautiful daughters lots of prayer and hugs! xoxo

  24. Debra, I am so sorry to hear about all these health issues. It sounds like you are doing all you can and being an advocate for yourself. I swear sometimes that doctors have no clue when it comes to nutrition. I frequently check out the website, EarthClinic which shares tons of alternative remedies for things. You might be able to find something on there or even share your own ideas. I think our awful food system is to blame for so much. You never heard of half of these health problems before those dreaded GMOs came into our world. I try to eat organic as much as possible but GMOS are everywhere these days! I hope this country wakes up and realizes how our food is being manipulated before its too late! Sending you prayers and positive thoughts in your journey to get better! Best wishes for the new year!

  25. Prayers for a better year in 2018! I have been there...18+ years of being patted on the top of the head and being told to deal with it. Some even said it was all in my head. Those doctors do not know everything so yeah on you doing your own research. I do my own! Off of white flour, sugars and all the nasty things. Have you tried foods that take the toxins out of your system? Look them up! I have fibro, IBS, and working on TypeII diabetes- but I am not taking their meds now and doing better on my own! Whole grains! I found oatmeal bread and can do that. I have to cut all the crusts off. I am having trouble after Christmas dinner- so many foods I shouldn't have put in my mouth...still struggling but couldn't believe how bad they made me feel. Try accupressure and learn to dump your lymph nodes! There are YouTube videos and its really very easy to do. Take care.

  26. Oh Debra!...My thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughters. You truly have had such horrific pain in your life, both physically and mentally....cannot imagine trying to deal with your health issues and then dealing with the heartaches of your family.....obviously, you have remained strong for yourself and your family....every diet and nutrition issue that my hubby researches all pretty much say the same thing...stay away from gluten and foods that cause inflammation....he is studying the diet that emphasizes the omission of ketones I hope that you will continue to feel better. My prayers for a most happy and healthy 2018 for you and your family!

  27. Thank you so much for sharing Debra. I’ll be praying for you & your family and although I can’t even imagine all the trials you’ve gone through physically I’m amazed at your grace & strength to do the right thing and get through it. I’m impressed you’ve kept a presence on your blog & I always enjoy your posts. It’s important your readers know what you’re going through although I understand your apprehension in sharing too much. I’m so glad I read this and will continue to read. Your girls are beautiful and are very lucky to have such a strong & caring mom. Waiting for the grandmother announcement! xo- maryjo

  28. Hi Everyone, thankyou so much for all your comments with prayers and good thoughts. So many of you, and even me are registered as "no-reply" bloggers. I've tried and tried to fix this, taking steps over and over to make a change, but it never "sticks". so getting back with you via your comment thru email doesn't work. So I'm saying thank you again here in this comment. Your comments and thoughts mean so very much and I appreciate you all so very much! My hope is that something I've been through might help or give information to someone else going through similar situations. again, thanks for hanging in there with me. you all are the very best! xoxo Debra

  29. Hi Debra,
    I am so happy to hear you have found out what triggers complications with your health and have been able to change your eating etc. to help. You have had a rough time of it and I am happy you shared your story here. You will probably help others that are struggling with these kind of health issues. I am keeping you in my prayers for you to continue to find answers and get to a better place with your health. May 2018 bring much happiness, better health and lots of new adventures and good things for your family. Your daughters are beautiful girls and it is wonderful that they are finding joy and happiness again in their lives. Life can really throw us some heart wrenching hurdles. Continue to feel better.

  30. Debra I was just going to send you a private email to see how your holiday went, then I saw your pretty thumbnail at TFT and clicked and I am sorry to read all of the troubles. As usually you are creating beauty among the strife. I am now convinced you and your daughter both have Lyme disease, as my son and I have the same and went through nearly all the same things, and all the other things you have go along with it. I do have a MS diagnosis due to CNS involvement, but it is the longstanding Lyme infection that was never treated that caused all this. Lyme is carried by MOSQUITOES in addition to ticks, and nearly everyone has gotten eaten up by skeeters...meaning anyone can get any of the over 200 tick and mosquito borne illness that destroy the human body when left untreated. There are not even tests yet for many of them leaving them easy to misdiagnose. I would love to talk to you on the phone more about this sometime, I can help you. I was dying, until the Lord led me to my doctor. 25 years of misdiagnosis, doctor hopping and financial stress. Gluten and other food allergies develop in 100% of all Lyme cases. While cutting out the food sensitivities is a life changer, the bacteria must be killed and it isn't easy. The number one thing that saved my life was spiritual warfare followed by a zero sugar or carb diet to starve out the buggers. 4 years without sugar, and it was a terrible first two years of detox. I went from wheel chair to walking two miles. I now eat raw honey and some coconut sugar and fruits, but if I overindulge in those the fibromyalgia type symptoms come on strong. I am here to listen and help!
    Hugs and prayers my friend for you and all your family has been through.

  31. Debra--Bless you and your daughters! Life is hard, but our strength is in the Lord, and I'm so thankful we don't have to stand in our own strength! My daughter-in-law has spent the last ten years on much the same path as yours. She has an "as yet unnamed" (according to one specialist) auto-immune disorder, but has been semi-diagnosed with Chrones disease. She has refused the traditional therapy because she has learned to control her symptoms through her diet. Of course, no gluten, little meat, no dairy, little sugar, and all raw, organic vegetables, fruits, and grains. It's a hard diet to stick to, but it makes an amazing difference in her quality of life. She has a ten-year-old daughter, my granddaughter, who shows clear symptoms of developing the same disease. She falls off the wagon occasionally, and has to detox again--lots of juicing--but it is what heals her gut and clears most of her symptoms. I hope you can find your answers!

  32. Just wanted to reach out, to touch your arm and whisper that I wish you health this year...our health is our most precious possession. I am battling depression and am finding my way through a very difficult 2017. I realize now, after reading your post, that I had once complained that having something, "physical" seemed like it might be easier to handle, rather than dealing with emotional, mental issues. You have reminded me that one sickness isn't easier to cope with than another; in fact, I felt fortunate and grateful for my own health while reading. So, thank you for sharing and for helping me to be grateful for what I have. I hope that this year will be healthy, peaceful and filled with love for you and your family.

  33. I will be thinking of you every day and pray for relief from pain for you and peace of mind for your sweet girls.

  34. Hi Debra...I have kept you on my prayer list because I just thought I needed to—now I know why... I hope you continue to feel better and keep getting stronger... your girls are beautiful and know they will be alright with faith in God and His leadership... I think you do have a word for 2018– are going to get stronger, going to keep listening to what your heart tells you, and going to keep showing us your beautiful home & & hugs...

  35. Debra, I feel your pain. I too have suffered through Hasimotos disease then at age 65 I developed full blown Graves disease. I've been blessed with a wonderful doctor who diagnosed me and sent me to a wonderful endocrine specialist. I'm still having a few problems but nothing like before. During all this time my father died, both children went through traumatic experiences, and I've felt with my mother adjusting to a new normal. I relied on God as never before, as have you. I'll remember you in my prayers. Don't give up and know you have many loyal subscribers.


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