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I share a lot of personal things on this blog, my health status being one of them. Bloggers (and all people) have every single right to keep things private. You may not know it, but I DO keep a lot of things private. I share what I find valuable and hopefully helpful to others. Not that I’m hiding crazy big things, but I’m generally more open and specific with my family and friends, for obvious reasons.
That being said, without going into too many details, I had a leaky gut/autoimmune flare-up. Does it suck? Yes. Is it the worst thing in the world? No. In fact, this flare-up led to some new tests that uncovered information to hopefully help me more longterm. I’m grateful there is a “solution,” even if the overall healing will take longer than I had hoped.
I’ve decided to change the focus of the post away from gut healing because my health ‘setback/flare-up’ has turned into life lessons, go figure. I do have a more concrete, action-oriented gut health post planned for later this month (think products/food/lifestyle modifications) based on my experience…stay tuned!
What I’ve Learned From A Health Flare-Up
1. Setbacks and flare-ups (within reason) are normal
Once you overcome health issues it’s discouraging to take step backward, albeit a small step. I was pain-free for two months so when things started getting out of whack again, I was discouraged, mad and confused. I now know that occasional health flare-ups are common, even more so when you have an autoimmune disease. Even if my situation isn’t directly related to celiac, that will always play a role in my overall health (I’m more susceptible to inflammation).
What’s important is learning how to manage and survive these setbacks without letting them completely control my life…or always writing a blog post about it :) Not that I have a system down pat right now, but I think it will get easier with time. Side note: I’m fortunate in the sense that other autoimmune diseases have more intense, life-changing flare-ups, like Crohn’s/UC.
2. It’s Not Always My Fault
I’m quick to blame myself for things, in life and health. What did I do to cause this? Was it something I ate? Was this because I ran the stop light two years ago? While there are certain things that help ease my symptoms (a few diet modifications, for example) a lot of it is beyond my control. <–A hard concept to grasp as a Type-A. I admittedly still have a way to go with this and my mom constantly reminds me to ease off my self-judgment.
3. There is not a concrete formula for optimal health
Again, not fun to hear as a Type-A. I want my doctor to tell me “this is exactly what you have to do to feel better for the rest of your life.” There are dozens of different methods, diets, supplements and lifestyle changes you can follow. Not every method will work for me. More than that, whatever does works for me might not work for you. It’s trial and error and so individual.
Ok, a lot of it is science, which I happen to find really interesting (and overwhelming, which is a post in itself). I’m sure we can all agree on the basics: sleep is good, stress is bad and too much alcohol and added sugar aren’t the best for solving most health issues. Yet for most things, I try to dissect the information and then choose what to apply to my life.
4. Not everyone will understand
Everyone has an opinion on what you/I should and shouldn’t do. Some will think I’m too restrictive with my diet, others might think I’m not restrictive enough for my symptoms. Some will think I should go back to traditional medicine, others will say to continue with functional. Some will say more supplements, others will say prescriptions. Blah, blah, blah.
It goes on and on…and this is the case for all aspects of health (pregnancy, injuries, weight loss/gain, chronic conditions, even the common cold). For the most part I don’t mind hearing what other people believe because, again, I do find this interesting. But I don’t expect everyone to agree with me or my doctor’s approach, just as I won’t agree with everyone else.
5. There are people who will understand
For me, I’m fortunate that those people are in my daily life…my family and close friends. They act as a voice of reason and source of comfort (the combination of the two is much-needed and appreciated). From my tears and frustrations to having to set alarms to remember to take medicine throughout the day, my people get what I’m going through.
But even if you feel you are alone, please know that is not the case. I’m right here saying “I’m with you!” The situations might not be identical, but you’d be surprised how many people can relate and empathize, even if they aren’t in your daily life.
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To summarize: I’m progressing in the right direction. Daily progress might not be monumental, but just making the effort and keeping perspective has gone a long way. Woe is NOT me. Me is grateful for good health care, time and support.
There’s no such thing as a perfect healing journey.
Susie @ SuzLyfe says
The first (or second) thing that I usually try to tell people when they are having a rough health go is that they are not alone. Maybe no one that you know right now is going through it, but there are people out there that have and are, and having that support system is so crucial. I am always, always, always there for you, Emily, as a coach, but also as a friend. There is no fee for that!
Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Becoming Confident as a Runner (Running Coaches Corner)
The “you are not alone” sentiment helped me a lot! I’m really lucky to have so many people who “get it” and reach out to see how I’m doing. Thank YOU for your continual care <3
I wanted to share here before I shared your post how much it resonated with me. Mine is different – – back back back – – but the lessons learned are all the same.
Carla recently posted…Im the eight percent.
Thank you so much, Carla. Lessons to keep and remember for the future!
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie says
I blame myself and my actions so much when I have any sort of health issue. Some of the time it is something (like something I ate) I caused, but often times things happen to our bodies that are totally out of our control… unfortunately. It can be so hard when something happens that we weren’t expecting but as with other things, that is life, I guess. I am so happy you are still progressing in the right direction and are using this flare up as a learning experience!
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie recently posted…Paleo Almond Butter Mug Cake
Thanks, Brie <3 This has been a huge lesson in releasing control and learning patience.
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
O, sweetheart yes! I was doing SO well on the health front the last few months and then about 4ish weeks ago I hit a flare up, but I think I’m finally understanding my triggers (stress is a BIG one for me). So I’m just trying to take it easy again and make it through. The flare ups do pass, but they can be so hard and disruptive to our lives :/ xo
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Frosty Coconut Mint Green Tea Mocktail
I’m so sorry you had a flare-up too :( I know that stress contributes to my pain as well. I’m thankful that I’m on the mend from this flare-up and hopefully more knowledgeable and prepared (mentally and physically) for the future.
heather @Lunging Through Life says
Lol from a stop light 2 years ago, haha Made me laugh but I am CONSTANTLY second guessing myself with everything. When I have a flare up, I try to look back and see what I did, usually to blame myself but sometimes to really discover if something isn’t working for me and how I can change it. It’s really hard to get lessons from a flare up because at the time, it feels like the worst thing. I’m so glad you’re feeling a bit better and maybe found out some new info!
heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…July Fitness Goals
At the time, a flare-up really does feel like the worst thing! At my lowest point, nothing else mattered but getting better. Now I’m grateful for small progress and the reminder that patience and time work wonders. Thanks, Heather!
Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl says
#3 is what’s hardest as I struggle with issues similar to yours. Not having a concrete answer as to what I can do to fix my stomach is difficult because if there was an answer I’d be living by its tenets so fast. Even when I did my elimination and discovered some sensitivities (to grains other than wheat, mostly) staying away from those hasn’t really fixed the problems in the way I’d like, and thus far I haven’t had any more guidance on what I can do, except figuring it out day by day.
Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl recently posted…WIAW #63
I’ve said so many times to doctors “ok, so NOW can you give me the magic pill?” I’m so sorry you are feeling similarly…it’s frustrating. I’m trying to focus on small progress, which I know is there.
Liv @ Healthy Liv says
I’m sure having flare ups are so frustrating when you already take such good care of yourself, eating well and exercising, and following a gluten-free diet. I love how you take frustrating situations and always reflect and learn from them, Emily!
Liv @ Healthy Liv recently posted…One Skillet Sweet Potatoes & Eggs
It is frustrating, that’s for sure. But yes, I’m trying to hone in on the important lessons to carry for the future :) Thanks, Liv!
Sarah @pickyrunner says
Self-judgement —> YEP. I thankfully don’t have an autoimmune disease (yet… it runs in the family and my mom’s didn’t flare until she was 50) so I can’t imagine the pain and discomfort that is associated with it, but I do love that you’re applying these lessons to everyday life. I’m a control freak and it can be hard when things like your health are out of your control, but I’m glad you have the support behind you that you need.
Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted…July 4th Weekend
I’m so grateful for the support from my family and this “interim” time in my life to figure things out. That has been a blessing in disguise!
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday says
I’m sooo good at blaming myself for health flare-ups. I take care of myself and then I feel good, so if I suddenly start feeling bad, that must be my fault, right? Wrong – sometimes my body just does it’s own thing. And I’m learning that every day. I’m glad that even if it’s not linear, you’re still making progress. That’s worth a ton, even if it’s not that satisfying day to day.
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…Five Friday Favorites 07/01/16
It’s discouraging to feel like I’m not in control of the situation. Time and patience and more time and patience have helped. I’m glad for small progress too. Thanks for your support, as always <3
Wow, Emily, this is such a gift to read this, because I struggle with some digestive issues, and sometimes there just isn’t an explanation, and it isn’t something I did. Learning that it takes time and that there is no one size fits all for healing is encouraging, because then we don’t pressure ourselves into a certain timeline of healing. Thank you for sharing what you want to share. I understand reserving the right things and sharing the right things.
Emily recently posted…WIAW: Why I Don’t Like Low Calorie Labels
Giving my body time to heal has been crucial. I want immediacy, but that’s not how life works. Thank you for your support :)
Casey the College Celiac says
YES YES AND YES! #2 is such an important tip. It’s infuriating when I eat the exact same food one day as the other and for, whatever reasons, by stomach hates me that second day. I can literally drive myself crazy searching for “what I did” when, in reality, that stress only makes everything worse. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone.
Casey the College Celiac recently posted…How to Love Your Body When it Doesn’t Love You Back
That’s exactly it! You’re right about stress, too. It only adds to the issue. Thank YOU for your comment <3
Jamie @ Dishing Out Health says
I’m so glad to hear that you are progressing in the right direction, despite the recent flare up. Our bodies are such dynamic, mysterious things. If only we could understand exactly what to do/not do, eat or not eat to feel our best. I think it’s so important that you’re staying optimistic and strong through the tough times, not to mention inspiring many others with similar issues to do the same. Sending lots of love, girl! Xo
Mysterious is a good word! I feel like I (and my doctors) do so much research that I should know everything (<--Jokes). Thank you so much, Jamie <3
Kristy from Southern In Law says
Health flare ups suck (I know it all too well!) but you’re so right in using it to learn from! For me, I always try to remind myself that a flare up is a reminder not to take good health for granted!
Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: Vegan Soft Pretzel Bites with Creamy Peanut Butter Dip (GF!)
I love that! So true! And I really don’t anymore. Even if it’s only one “good” day, I’m grateful.
Louann Kristy says
Wow, what a great and put together list !! I suffer from stomach issues from time to time and you know – sometimes I know what causes it but greediness is a hell of a thing. lol
I really should pay more attention to myself and my health cause the suffering after isn’t fun.
I’m sorry you have occasional stomach issues, Louann. It’s been a long process getting to the root of the issue for me.
Ah, #2 is so hard! I so want to believe that every time I have a flare up there was a trigger for it that I can avoid in the future, but sometimes things just happen.
Hannah recently posted…Traveled trails: (not) training and weekend misadventures
Exactly! It’s frustrating but I’m learning this stuff happens in life.
I’m sorry about your flare up girl but I am glad you’ve been able to take away some life lessons from your struggle. I really like #3.. it’s a very important point! Glad to hear you are making progress.
Thank you, Sarah <3 It's been trying but there are better times ahead.
Mollie Sweet says
Oh man, I can definitely relate to “everyone having an opinion.” I’m going through that right now with my second pregnancy, my doctor suggested a scheduled c-section because I had to have an emergency one last time. While I still haven’t made up my mind, ultimately, unless it’s another emergency, it’s my decision. I can’t believe the amount of people who try to force their own opinions/thoughts/beliefs on me. Especially the people WITHOUT kids.
I hope you continue to make progress! Have a great weekend. :)
Mollie Sweet recently posted…Thursday Thoughts
I made a point to mention pregnancy as a health topic because I think it’s a time when EVERYONE chimes in on what to do or not to do. Even, like you said, people who don’t have kids. It’s tough and I hope you are able to tune out the noise and make a decision that suits you best :) Thank you for your wishes!
Leslie McDonald says
This really hit home for me as I can totally relate to everything you shared. I recently had a flare-up and felt like I had taken 20 steps backwards. I felt defeated. Like all my hard work was for nothing because now I was feeling even worse than before. I kept asking what I ate or blaming myself. It wasn’t until the flare-up passed that I realized I did nothing differently, it was out of my control and sometimes it happens and that’s life. Stay strong! Always here to support you if you need anything <3
Leslie McDonald recently posted…6 Ingredient Coconut Crusted Tilapia
Oh Leslie, I’m so sorry you went through similar issues. I felt exactly the same way: defeated and discouraged. But as this flare-up passes (hopefully) I’m seeing that it’s possible to get back to a happy/healthy place. Thank you for your support <3
Akansha @ Citrus & Gold says
Emily! This is one of your first posts I’ve read and then proceeded on reading many more related to your health story. I’ve been suffering through some health issues too and it’s so nice to hear someone else opening up about what they are going through.
So THANK YOU. I’m officially a huge fan of your blog and you <3.
Hi Akansha! I’m sorry you are experiencing health issues too. It can be such a lonely, isolating time so I’m glad you found comfort in this post. Please reach out if you ever need some support :)
Dani @ Dani California Cooks says
Ugh, I’m super sorry to hear about this but glad you’re taking the opportunity to learn more about yourself and your health. I always feel annoying when I explain my health stuff to other people, so I’ve learned that there are some people who are interested and others who just want the high level summary!
Dani @ Dani California Cooks recently posted…Summer of CARBS!