Oliver’s Story: Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I had been sick for years. I tried everything and nothing worked. My misery didn’t seem to be limited to any particular system in my body; the whole thing was falling apart: sinus issues, no energy, poor memory, inflamed erupting skin. I had peripheral neuropathy and horrible gastro-intestinal issues. There were days it was so bad I couldn’t leave the house. I lived on antacids.

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I was also sick and tired of the medical system that generated diagnoses for me without any resolution of the pain. What did I care if they could tell me the Latin name for each of my problems; I needed relief! I poured my money and energy into pursuing the top doctors and treatments, but over the years I found that they not only failed to get to the bottom of the problem, they were treating the symptoms with pills for all ills and actually causing new problems. And what was worse, they pooh-poohed the role of nutrition, costing me valuable years when I could have been healing. Ultimately, I took back responsibility for my own health and started doing my own research. They were wrong. Nutrition played a huge role. Depending on how you look at it, I was lucky to get diagnosed with celiac disease. “All” I had to do was never eat one particle of gluten again for my entire life.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to never eat one particle of gluten again for the rest of your life? I had no idea what I was up against; I only knew that I had to do it. I was completely overwhelmed. I’m a guy; I don’t know how to cook. I didn’t know where to begin eliminating gluten because I didn’t know where it is to begin with. The answer is everywhere! It was so discouraging, like landing in a foreign country and not knowing the language; that’s how at odds I felt. On top of feeling desperately unwell, I had this huge learning curve I had to manage, living in a community of people who had no more understanding than I had of how to avoid every single particle of gluten.

I learned about Suppers at an event at our local library. When I first started going to meetings, I knew nothing about cooking. Slowly, bit by bit I made progress. I saw others cooking and got a little bit of experience at each meeting which gave me the encouragement to start cooking some of my own food at home. I started eating real food, eating more vegetables. I learned to listen to my body. Now instead of relying on pills, I search for what I can do to improve my health – spiritually, environmentally, and nutritionally. And I only take prescriptions as a last resort and at the lowest dose possible.

It took a lot longer to heal than I thought it would. Instead of a revolution, it was more like an evolution. My body was the battle ground of lifelong inflammation, with my immune system defending itself like crazy against food triggers. It took time to heal. It also took time to deal with the social fall out. Gluten is ubiquitous in the food supply. Not being able to share food is a big social barrier, and it required me to do a lot of embarrassing explaining about why I seem to be such a picky eater. It made it harder to connect with others, except of course at Suppers where there are no gluten products at any of the meetings and people wouldn’t be allowed to judge me anyway.

It was interesting to see how some of my friends and family reacted. Some of them were curious about Suppers. Others were stuck in denial and ignorance. By my understanding, they were the ones who had addictive relationships with the foods they loved. I’m not sure they liked the stronger new me and they certainly didn’t care for my new way of eating. They reacted to my success by finding fault with Suppers. Fortunately, I didn’t waste too much energy fretting about my naysayers; I was too well-schooled in the importance of nonjudgment and honoring each person’s biological individuality.

In the end, the most important thing I learned at Suppers is to honor my body’s inner wisdom and listen for its messages. I’m off all but one medication, and the one I still take is at a greatly reduced dosage. Now that my body doesn’t have to scream at me in the language of inflammation, I can hear it whispering to me in the quiet tones of satisfaction and good digestion.