Monday, 13 August 2012

Update: Probably Moving Again

Life continues to present challenges.  I continue to ask for your prayers.  Thank you for all the prayers you have offered for us thus far.  I am continuing to struggle with my health.  Plus, due to financial limitations, I will have to discontinue the treatments I have been receiving from my holistic doctor, Dr. Krop.  These treatments have helped me a bit - neurological/epileptic symptoms are gone.  Last year things were so desperate I almost needed nursing care.  I'm still very weak and struggle greatly, but I do not need nursing care, praise God!  We had decided to pursue these treatments in hopes to prevent the pricey need for longterm nursing and child daycare, and my husband and I are thankful that this was a success.  However, we are disappointed that I am still as weak as I am, but we seek to trust God's sovereignty in this situation and accept the bodily limitations I have for as long as God permits them, even if that is the rest of my life.

Besides the difficulties I already have with my health, I am now experiencing other troubles.  Our apartment's air quality is very poor and making it much worse for me. My throat is inflamed, lymph nodes swollen, inside of my mouth blistered, breathing laboured, chest constricted, voice very hoarse, along with other problems.  We have been advised by several people, including my family doctor to find a new place.  There is no hope of transferring to a different unit within this building complex, because there are already 2 other families ahead of us on the waiting list, and the have already been waiting for months.

Problems with the apartment:
-Triple layer of heavy duty high voc paint to cover up the filth of the previous tenant (chain smoker, among other things).  Both the toxins of the pain and of the smoke are off-gassing.
-Bad smoker below us.  This smoker just throws the cigarettes all over the floor.

My family doctor also highly recommends trying to find a new apartment for the sake of Karalise's health.

We are very sad.  We really like this neighbourhood, we LOVE being close to our church, and we were looking forward to connecting more with our neighbours.  We do not know of any other place nearby with such low rent, and we cannot afford anything pricier.  We are also very overwhelmed at the likely prospect of having to move all over again, especially since there is no guarantee that we won't run into the same problem with another apartment.

Please pray:
-that we will be driven to depend on God through this ordeal.
-that God will provide some resolution to our present problem.
-that God will sustain Lynette's health (especially her breathing) while we wait for resolution.
-that God will provide so we can get out of our 1 year lease contract.
-that God will provide a 'safe' and affordable place for our family to live in.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

What things to evaluate in your life when struggling with your health

Are you chronically tired?  Do you have chronic pain?  Are you getting frequent infections, flus, cold, etc?  Are you overweight or underweight?  Do you have high blood pressure?  Have you been diagnosed with depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic stress syndrome, chronic pain syndrome or other such things?  Have you been diagnosed with a disease, like cancer, MS, diabetes, etc?

Over the last several years, I have struggled with being 'sick', and it has been getting worse and worse.  This has given me years of experience in trying to be a good steward of my body, and do what I can to be healthier.  I have found some very helpful things, and some not very helpful things.  I have wasted money/resources/time, and I have spent money/resources/time profitably.

Because I have been so long sick, and tried so many things, several people have been asking me for advice regarding their various ailments.  Hopefully, the following considerations will help you learn how to evaluate the various influences that may be damaging your health.  Unfortunately, the answer to what is causing or worsening a particular ailment is rarely ever clear cut (even if the doctor has diagnosed you with cancer).  There are many things that may be harming your health, in many different ways.  Evaluating the following things carefully and methodically has vastly helped me deal with being sick and moving forward.  I just wish someone had given me this list of considerations 8 years ago!!!

So on with the list.  I will have to be brief in my points, so please contact me if you have questions.  Please don't be overwhelmed!  The goal is to systematically eliminate factors that are harming you.  Take aim at only a couple things at a time!

1.  Spiritual factors:

A) This is the most important one.  If your soul is not right with God, it really doesn't matter whether your body is healthy.  Plus, being in rebellion to God can cause great damage not only on the soul, but on the body.  If you are not a Christian, please read the following website:

B) If you are a Christian, is there unconfessed sin in your life?   (Anger, lust, deceit, immorality, etc)

C) Is your relationship with God as it should be, or have you been trying to be self-sufficient?

2.  Emotional factors: is there stress, anger, fear, depression, difficult circumstances in your life (at home, in your workplace, in relationships)?  Our bodies respond very poorly to such issues.

3.  Environmental factors: is there mould, allergens, chemical substances (even things like air fresheners, laundry detergents, and perfumes can be very harmful), gases, electro-magnetic stress in your workplace or home?  You will need to find out if you are sensitive to any of these things.  Even your drinking water can be a major problem to health!  You can figure these things out by seeing Dr. Krop. You can also get help from a company called Breathing Easy -

4.  Nutritional factors:
A)Is your diet clean (free of trans fats, preservatives, pesticides)?
B)  Is it well-balanced (proper portions of protein, starch, fat, veggies and fruits - by the way, I am not too keen on Health Canada's Food Guide - I will try to blog about this sometime)?
C)  Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities that are aggravating your body (you will need the help of a naturopath or nutritionist to figure this out)?
D)  Do you have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies (your doctor can do thorough blood work to evaluate this)?
E)  Do you have a candida overgrowth (you can find more information on candida just by googling it)?

5.  Fitness factors:
A) Do you exercise regularly (3+ times a week)?
B)  Do you exercise according to your unique physical needs?  Some people need vigorous exercise, and others need gentle exercises like yoga.  The ultimate goal is to make sure you are getting your heart rate up, and getting that blood circulating!

6.  Medical factors:  Do you have some kind of disease, physical ailment or psychological disorder disrupting your body's proper functions?  If you are struggling with your health chronically, make sure your doctor tests you thoroughly, and sends you to a variety of specialists.  If you are hitting a brick wall with your doctor, go and see an alternative doctor (like Dr. Krop or Dr. Jaconello if you live in Toronto). You want to make sure to rule out everything you possibly can.  Dr. Jaconello was far more thorough with me than any of my other doctors.
Also, if there is something structurally wrong in your body, you may benefit from a chiropractor, physiotherapist or massage therapist, etc.  Try to see the right kind of doctor/practitioner.

This is not everything, I'm sure, but it's a good starting point.  If one of these areas is a problem, it may create problems in all the other areas.  But sometimes, if you fix one area, all the other areas are cleared up.

It is good to do what we can, for the sake of our loved ones, in order to have or maintain good health.  However, ultimately we are in God's hands, and whether we are healthy or unhealthy is up to Him.  His strength is sufficient for us.  I praise God for allowing me to be sick, but that is a subject I will discuss further in another entry!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

When Severe Physical Limitations Restrict Normal Living...

This past weekend was my sister Leanne's wedding.  She was a stunning and radiant bride, and I am so thankful that despite my poor health, I was able to go.  However, because of my poor health, there were many things I was not able to do at the wedding: I was supposed to be in the wedding party, but had to step down because I would not have been able to manage that; I wanted to contribute by helping with wedding preparations, set up, clean up, etc but I was not able; I wanted at least to catch up with friends and family at the wedding and reception but I was so unwell, I could hardly stand, let alone hold a conversation. 

Those were just a few of the limitations I lived with this past weekend.  In everyday life, there are far more.  I do not do well in situations where there are lots of people, lights, sounds, smells, activity.  Lately, I seem to be suffering from neurological problems, possibly even epileptic-like episodes/seizures.  I feel like my brain starts flickering; I get very confused; although I am kind of aware of my surroundings, I struggle to communicate even simple things like 'help me'; I start to twitch uncontrollably; my eyesight seems to be affected somehow; my heart starts to beat rapidly; and I am rendered completely incapacitated.  As I have mentioned before, I also struggle with severe sensitivities to food, chemicals, fragrances; I suffer a great deal of widespread body pain; I am often fighting debilitating fatigue; my concentration levels are severely limited; I am very weak and unable to exert very much energy (thus unable to walk very far, or do very much - it can be even difficult to manage a smile when happy). 

These things obviously interrupt my daily life - my ability to function as normal people function.  However, these things also have also had drastic implications on my ambitions, hopes and dreams.  I wanted to be a missionary, or in full-time ministry helping the needy.  I wanted to help my husband in some kind of kids outreach program.  I wanted to do lots of activities with my daughter, and even start learning how to homeschool.  I wanted to pursue courses in nutrition or in Biblical counseling.  Now I know that even if my health had allowed me to pursue these things, I would not have been able to accomplish them all.  I just wanted to give you an idea of what has been given up, or put on hold.

We all have disappointments in life.  We all have hopes and dreams that have had to be given up.  We have all faced a set of circumstances that has changed the course of our lives.  I wanted to share what God has been teaching me at this time, and hopefully be an encouragement to you.

Although life is not the way I thought it would be, I presently know a great deal of peace and joy.  No, it is not always easy, and frustration and bitterness especially creep in on the days when there's extreme pain.  I hate pain, and do not like living with it.  However, for the most part, presently I am not frustrated or bitter about the lot that God has given to me.  Although my hopes and dreams were good, God is teaching me that accomplishing great things is not what life is all about.  Life is about submission to God's will, and loving Him no matter what life He call us to.  Even Jesus Christ prayed 'Not my will, but Yours be done.'  Jesus had more right than any of us to make demands.  But instead, He submitted to God and died a cruel and shameful death on a cross.  I know peace about my limitations and failed hopes and dreams because I know that God's purpose is being done in my life, even in my sickness.  God is graciously granting me the privilege of persevering through difficulty, so my life may be a testimony of faith to Him.  I still trust and love Him when everything I wanted to do has been taken away from me.  This glorifies God, and right now, this glorifies Him more than what I could 'do' for Him. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Understanding My Food Restrictions

Unfortunately, I don't even understand my food restrictions, but I thought it might be helpful to share what I do know about them.  I've had several people, even doctors, question whether my restrictions are necessary.  Some people are concerned that I am not getting enough nutrition or variety in my diet.  Others simply think I've put too much stock in alternative and naturopathic therapies, and should lighten up a bit - in other words, they think I've allowed certain naturopaths to convince me I have more food sensitivities than I really do - it's all in my head.  Others just don't understand how sensitive I am, and when trying to serve meals to me forget how important it is to be very careful to follow my restrictions.  I understand I'm the odd one out, and that although food sensitivities are increasing in our population, they are very uncommon.  This fact alone can lead to many misunderstandings and false judgments of my condition.  I hope I can shed some light for you on my experience of food sensitivities, especially since it is a growing problem and you may one day face this issue yourself or in your own family.

I first started discovering some of my food sensitivities in 2006 when I went on an elimination diet.  At the time I was very unwell, struggling with great amounts of fatigue, body pain and stomach pain.  I felt bloated all the time.  I even knew that something I was eating was hurting me, but had no idea where to begin to figure out what.  I went to a naturopath for the purpose of figuring out if I had any food sensitivities.  She eliminated all the most common food sensitivities from my diet for a couple months, then had me add each food back into my diet one at a time.  This is when I discovered my gluten intolerance (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut) and my tomato sensitivity.  When I added gluten back into my diet, I felt like I had eaten 2 cakes in one sitting (in other words I was very bloated) and was struck with a very intense and strange muscle weakness/fatigue that would last 4 days.  When I added tomato back into my diet, I experienced extreme muslce inflammation all over my body.  On the other hand, when I eliminated tomatoes, I stopped having knee pain (which I had had for years).  My reactions to these things are not in my head, because I have reacted to them when I didn't even know I had eaten them (I would discover after experiencing pain that the problem food had been a hidden ingredient).

As my health has declined, I have found my food sensitivities are increasing.  I have learned to be very aware of my body, and what causes it harm (whether it be food, environmental, electromagnetic, etc).  This is part of the reason I know what my restrictions are.  However, in the last couple years, I have also had some tests done through my naturopath which have verified that I am actually sensitive to the foods I have restricted from my diet.

Now, if I eat a food I am sensitive to, my body immediately pays the consequences.  I will usually be unable to sleep because the pain in my stomach is so severe.  I will suffer from constipation.  Sometimes, I feel as though I have been punched hard in the stomach.  I will often experience widespread muscle inflammation for a few days, and increased fatigue.  My mood will very often be affected, and I'll be more susceptible to anger.  The culprit food can debilitate my body for several days.  I keep trying to convince myself that if I just keep trying these foods, I will get over my sensitivities, so I cheat frequently.  Sadly, every time the reaction to that food gets worse and worse.  My husband Sony gets quite exasperated with my experiments, because he's the one who has to live with me when the pain hits.  He knows better than I do myself that these food restrictions are real and necessary.  Obviously, I'd prefer not to have would be SO much easier!!!  But I do have them, and even though some people doubt them, I need to stick to this strict diet and press on.  Thankfully God is gracious, and helps me bear with all these things, and gives me much hope for heaven where I will have my pick food for eternity!!!

Here's a list of my restrictions to give you an idea of all I have had to give up.  Some people have it far worse than I do, so I am thankful that it's not worse and so far I have been able to manage them.  It is a complicated business trying to prepare meals for myself, but I have learned and am learning.  So here's the list:

  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Soy
  • Caffeine (chocolate, coffee, tea)
  • Eggs
  • Lentils/beans
  • Seeds (chia, sunflower, sesame, etc)
  • Quinoa
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Preservatives
  • Additives
  • Food Colouring
  • Peanuts
  • Vegetable oil (really am only able to have olive and coconut oil)
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Shellfish
There's probably more, but you get the picture.   One thing all these restrictions have done for me is to actually force me to have a more balanced and healthy diet.  My husband tells me he doesn't know anyone who eats healthier than I do.  I eat a lot of veggies, and a variety of them.  I eat a variety of meat and other proteins (lamb, chicken, turkey, goat, bison, cornish hen, fish, nuts).  I eat whole grains, and very healthy ones at that with lots of protein and other good stuff in them (millet, buckwheat, rice, amaranth).  I eat several fruits, concentrating on the most potent ones nutritionally (berries, pomegranate).  I rarely eat sweet desserts, and when I do, they are made from very healthy ingredients (agave syrup, nuts, fruits, whole grains).  So in fact, I am thankful for my sensitivities and limitations because they have transformed what I put into my body, and taught me a lot about health and nutrition.  I hope all that information was helpful, and will give you a head start if ever you or someone close to you develops food sensitivities.  God bless!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Yesterday I wrote about how I had discovered some new foods and new flavours because of my dietary restrictions.  One of those foods was millet.  Millet is a gluten-free grain, that has a lovely nutty flavour.  It looks like little yellow pellets, smaller than rice.  You can find it in natural health food stores, and even in the natural food section of many grocery stores (Uncle Bob Brand).  For me, the discovery of millet was a wonderful surprise and comfort.  I had recently discovered that I was extremely sensitive even to gluten-free oats, and I was devastated.  You may think I'm weird, but I LOVE oatmeal porridge, as well as granola, and baked goods made with oats.  If I had to choose between being able to have wheat, or being able to have oats, there would be no contest!!!  Oats would be the hands down winner.  Anyway, I had a pretty heavy heart over this matter of losing oats from my diet when I tried millet.  Now, don't get me wrong, millet is NOTHING like oats.  However, the new flavour and texture of millet delighted me.  It was like a gift from heaven, God comforting my soul and telling me that my life wouldn't be completely devoid of enjoyment in food.  I realise I may seem a little melodramatic, but before you judge, please imagine your favourite food and then finding out it significantly hurts your body with great amounts of pain to the point of being unable to function when eating it.  Imagine your future without your favourite food, but having to see it all around you, enjoyed by everyone else but you.  It's a big deal, isn't it!!!  Well, God used millet to soothe my soul, and help me to submit to my circumstances.

You cook millet like you cook any other grain.  Put in a pot, put plenty of water over it, bring it to a boil, then let it simmer until the water is soaked up by the grain (just like with rice).  I usually add some salt and oil to the water to give the millet an extra fluffiness (otherwise it can be rather dry).

Ways I like to enjoy millet:

  1. I like it just straight, with a good dab of butter or oil (I use coconut oil) and some salt.  I'll eat it like this at any meal.
  2. For breakfast, my whole family likes it cooked with raisins, and then we add almond or peanut butter, and again some salt.  It's delicious!!!  If it seems dry, I'll also add some oil.
  3. As a salad, I love to add grated carrots, parsley, brocolli and a homemade lemon vinaigrette (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and sea salt).  Sometimes I add tahini to the vinaigrette which gives it a different flavour.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Food Restrictions: Trial or Blessing?

I have many food sensitivities that seem to be ever increasing.  This can make food preparation VERY challenging!!!  I have had to say goodbye to many of my favourite foods over the years, and trust me, the tragedy of this reality has been difficult to accept.  I keep pleading with God, 'Oh please just don't take away dairy from me', or 'Please don't take away honey, black tea, or maple syrup'.  The list goes on and on, and God's answer is, 'How much are you willing to deny for Me, will you gracefully give up your most beloved foods for My purposes even when you don't yet know what those purposes are?'  I could refuse, and cling to those foods, harming my body more and more so that I am harming the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Or I could give in to the food restrictions, but be filled with resentment, envying everyone who has the privilege of eating an ice cream cone, granola for breakfast, earl grey lattes, cheesecake, creamy pastas, croissants, vietnamese deep fried spring rolls, pad thai, green curry, and all my other favourite foods.  But that would be a miserable existence, especially since I am always around people who eat what I cannot eat.

God has called me to put these 'earthly treasures' on the altar, to sacrifice them, and peacefully submit to Him.  Therefore, I want to honour God by joyfully accepting even these small sufferings.  In God's grace, He has in turn blessed me by giving me access to a whole new realm of food.  It's like I've discovered new colours, each one uniquely beautiful and alive!!!  When people have food restrictions, they often try to replace what they used to like with something comparable (like replacing a grilled cheese sandwich with gluten free bread and soy cheese).  However, I've discovered that trying to mimic foods is often very disappointing, and only makes me want the original more.  Instead, God has shown me how to love to food I am able to eat, without comparing it to something else.  I am able to enjoy it for what it is, something filled with new flavours to experience!!!  I am learning to enjoy my new foods more than I every enjoyed the old foods.  These new foods are filled with flavour, but are also far healthier so they are guilt-free!!!  Now I rarely every feel guilty about what I have eaten, even when I have dessert!!!  The only time I feel guilty is if I have cheated, and had a bit what will hurt me (even 'healthy' things, like tomato, piece of cheese, lentils).  But this guilt is not so much because I fear weight gain or high cholesterol, but because I know I will experience lots of pain in my intestines, and will be prevented from giving all my attention to my family because it will take time to heal.

Anyway, I just wanted to praise God for teaching me submission in this matter, and blessing me with love for the broad spectrum of foods He has created!!!  If any of you like adventure, I challenge you to try some new ways of eating your foods!!!  It's amazing what variety is out there to be enjoyed!

Here is a recipe for a Cauliflower Pasta Sauce that I whipped up last night.  It is vegan for those who are vegetarians (I can't have dairy, and I am taking a small break from meat for the next couple weeks).  My whole family went crazy over it!!!  Very delicious, filling, and a new way to get in your veggies, as well as eat lighter.

Cauliflower Pasta Sauce
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • minced garlic 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • almond milk (or water, or other 'milk')
  • optional: onions, diced
Steam your head of cauliflower until it is just tender. Lightly saute your onions and garlic for a couple minutes.  Combine the cauliflower, onions and garlic into a blender.  Add remaining ingredients and blend. Add more liquid if too thick.  Pour on top of pasta (I used buckwheat noodles, which adds a lovely contrast in flavour.  Buckwheat noodles are high in protein, so you don't even need meat).  Enjoy!!!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Update - Some Test Results

It's been a long time since I have updated my blog, for which I apologise.  Although there has been some improvements in my health, I have found that every spare moment I have is spent napping or doing some small chore.  Praise God that I am now able to nap in the afternoons (my body rebelled against naps before) and that I am able to sometimes do light chores!!!  What a blessing and provision from my merciful Saviour!

The Christmas season was wonderful.  Although I was still very weak physically, the pain I usually endure was greatly reduced, which allowed me to enjoy the season of preparing for the holidays, and spending time with family.  January has been spent recovering from the Christmas season.  I was pretty tired out from those minor preparations, and small gatherings.  I've been resting quite a bit.

In that time, I have also had 2 tests MRI, and an EEG.  The test results have finally come in this week.  The MRI results were clear, which means that MS has been ruled out!!!  Praise God.  However, the EEG revealed some abnormal brain activity.  My family doctor is concerned that it may be myoclonic epilepsy (a milder form of epilepsy, that doesn't usually involve grand mal seizures, but does involve less severe seizure like symptoms).  I will see a neurologist in March, and he will decide on whether or not this is the diagnosis.

I am not sure what to think of these results.  I am relieved in a sense that the test results are evidence that something is not normal.  For the first time, my family doctor actually believed my descriptions of my symptoms.  Before he would always pass the symptoms off as depression which I could never understand.  How are things like uncontrollable twitching and oversensitivity to flashing lights in any way linked to depression?  Beats me!!!  So, yes, it is a wonderful relief to be taken seriously.  However, I have no idea what this diagnosis of epilepsy would mean for me or my family in my future.  I guess we will take it one step at a time.

I am still convinced that Lyme Disease is the ultimate culprit, and has caused these neurological disruptions.  However, I am not sure whether the damage done will be permanent or not.  Again, we will have to take it one step at a time, and trust God no matter what the future holds.

We covet your prayers, as Sony and I seek wisdom to know what treatments to pursue.