The following guest blog is by Emma King of The Bacon Mum. Emma is a Brit who has been living State side for many years. She is healing herself of Rheumatoid Arthritis and helping her daughter effectively manage an Autism Spectrum disorder, using the Autoimmune Protocol. She is also a professional Learning Strategist and will soon, after deciding through her own journey that she wanted to help other families impacted by autoimmune disease and behavioral/learning difficulties onset by food sensitivities, be a certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. You can find Emma here:
Single Mother to an amazing six-year-old, Health Coach, Virtual Learning Strategist, British, Type A Personality, Resident Alien . . . yes, seriously I hold the credential of an Alien, and multiple Autoimmune Disease Sufferer! Yup that’s quite the list of credentials, but until March 2014, Autoimmune Disease Suffer was what physically defined me!
Since the age of 14, when I contracted Glandular Fever (Mono), I have been on a roller coaster of medical issues which have helped define me, break me, and rebuild me . . . Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Encephalitis from a reaction to a Yellow Fever vaccination, West Nile Virus (of course that infected mosquito found me), Rheumatoid Arthritis and Thyroid issues . . . the road nobody should want or have to travel – I have traveled. And the reality for millions of people (a recorded 50 million in the US), autoimmune conditions can control our lives.
My Rheumatoid Arthritis onset after the birth of my daughter when I was trying to build a Learning Strategy Consulting Business, facing life as a single mother, and dealing with a failed relationship! Stress levels were up there! I knew about the Mind, Body, Gut Connection and I needed to find a way to manage this debilitating pain without immune suppressing drugs (total oxymoron to me), because I could not afford as a single mother to drop the ball . . . Yes, I set that expectation for myself. I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO DROP THE BALL EVER!!
I had been gluten-free for several years at this point, but I stopped dairy, caffeine, alcohol (who can handle a hangover with a three-month-old anyway, LOL!) in an effort keep the disease at bay, and manage it I did . . . but I lived in constant excruciating pain, worked long 70+ hour weeks with disrupted sleep patterns while trying to raise a child single handed – I constantly felt defeated . . . but my stubborn pride would never allow me to admit I was suffering. I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO DROP THE BALL EVER!! I will admit here (isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?) for all my family, my ex, past, present, and future friends, and blog followers I was, at times, not in the most forgiving of moods. It was my way or the highway people! (Can I cringe here?) The reality was that my way was the easiest route for me to cope.
Internally, I was at rock bottom driven by the nonsensical notion that if I stopped, slowed down, slept during the day, admitted I was sick, took time for me, the world would crumble . . . (it doesn’t by the way) I drove myself hard! I had a job to do, I had several jobs to do, there was nobody else to do those jobs, I had to keep going! I was constantly fighting with myself, to push myself harder, to raise my game. It was my sole responsibility to keep a roof over our heads. I could not drop the ball ever!!
That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself, but it’s something inherent to parents. We drive ourselves hard!
Parenting is about highs, lows, challenges, triumphs and many sleepless nights. Our kids are on their own journey, learning and growing and developing their personalities. They will echo and learn from behaviors around them, so my daughter was developing a very driven, stubborn, feisty, sarcastic (she does have a British Mum…), sassy personality and oh how we clashed!! Now along with these traits she also has the funniest of mannerisms, a vocabulary beyond her years, phenomenal comical timing and a passion for dinosaurs, dancing and dragons! But this combination of personality traits, at times, required patience, understanding and tough boundaries. Patience with my pain seemed to elude me.
My pain would compound at the end of the day. We loved to read together, but I would grit my teeth, as she snuggled up, her closeness kept my sanity, but sometimes if she clambered onto me the wrong way, I would flinch and involuntarily shout out . . . she would draw back from me, terrified of my reaction, and it broke my heart. I would adjust, pick her up and place her carefully on me and we would continue our snuggles, but the look in her eyes of rejection would haunt me. That same look would also appear if I lost my temper – I had such a short fuse, if my reserves were low, I often could not count to 10 and when the words “I hate you” came out of her mouth at five-years-old, I felt like I had failed and that I had dropped the ball!
I had to find a way to stop this pain, it wasn’t only destroying me, it was destroying her! I HAD to find an answer, and as I knew foods such as excessive sugar and gluten certainly triggered me, I started to eat a low-sugar, grain-free, dairy-free diet. As a result of eating a Paleo diet our dynamic improved for the better, however it was becoming clearer from reports from school, behavioral reports from her father, as well difficulty learning to read and write, that her behaivor wasn’t improving elsewhere.
I knew that food had to be culprit, and after a lot of coaxing I got her Dad to agree to some allergy tests by Cyrex Labs. The results overwhelmed me, despite my improved relationship with food . . . my daughter was heading into the Autism Spectrum with patterns of Cerebellar Dysfunction. She was allergic to ALL grains, dairy, casein and nightshades. We started a phased elimination diet (phasing out foods got her adjusted and made the transition so much easier) and we saw results almost instantly – my five-year-old brought a book to me, opened the page and fluently read to me just two weeks later!!
My own journey also continued I had been attempting to follow the Autoimmune Protocol for several months, I felt it was the missing puzzle in my disease and behavioral management, but it was my daughter’s diagnosis that drove to take the next step. I had to be pain free to help her through her own journey; it had to start with me! So I started AIP in March 2014 with the health coaching of Angie and it’s been the key to unlocking a life that I look forward to living every day! I can honestly say that my relationship with my daughter has improved tenfold, we laugh, we dance, we play and sing, and the joy and mood in our house has lifted from hurricane force winds to sunny with a chance of light showers . . . Hey come on there is always the reality that the family dynamic can never 100% sunny . . . so when you hear your child say “I like the new you” you know you’ve got it right!