My journey. Takayasu's Arteritis. Feeding my Family. Health. The Paleo Choice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Starting From the Beginning.

My Story. From the beginning. Literally.

I was born in Pontiac, Michigan. You may have seen it on your nightly news. A dying city.
My Mother was a Teen Mom, but not the whiny MTV Teen Mom you are thinking of. She was the work 3 jobs, never on welfare, kind of Mom. We started out in a Trailer park, next to the railroad tracks. I mean FEET from it. And she moved us on up to a town house, with a basement! I was a child of the 80's and I guess she was too. We ate a LOT of fast food. My Mom took us out to restaurants and gave my brother and I, money to eat all week. 
We mostly ate from the convenience store. By that I mean 7-11. 
When my Mom had time to cook, rarely, we had box meals. 
I have two amazing Grandmother's who can throw down in the kitchen.
My Southern Granny who makes the meanest dessert around, and my Mexican Abuelita that tears it up every Sunday still. This is relevant because, I can cook and cook well... Dessert and Mexican food! Ha.
At 13, my Mom married and her new husband sent me to his Alma Mater... a private high school. Pretty big deal for me. I met my husband there. So we have known each other since we were 13, and started dating at 16.
At 23, my husband and I, had moved to South Carolina and were expecting our first child. A son. I was horribly, horribly ill through the whole thing. My doctors were baffled. If it was possible to go wrong, it did. I still have visible broken blood vessels in my face from being physically ill. 
And delivery was impossible. My doctors were not sure why, when it came to the point where my child and I, were both in danger... I had an emergency C-section. 
We were fine afterward, but it was a scary event. Afterward, I was still vomiting daily. My doctor diagnosed me with Acid Reflux and gave me pills. yuck. It helped. I had damage so badly, you could see it from the back of my throat. 
Three years later, I started to get migraines. I had never experienced anything so painful in my life. My left eye was in severe distress. I could not see out of it. I did not go to the doctor for it, I did not want to be on any medication. I tried a few things and it seemed to help a little. Did I mention I am not a fan of medicine??? ha. 
Then one day, My Dad died. Suddenly. Leaving us all devastated. As his oldest child, I had to fly home and bury my Dad, instead of burying myself under the biggest cover possible. Heartbreaking in the worst way. But I am a warrior, right???
My Migraines became worse during this time, and I was vomiting uncontrollably. I had my wheel chair bound Granny with MS staying with me, and she had broken her hip! Requiring a hospital stay and physical therapy and a Husband who was off to Spain for work. But after a short time things settled a little. I decided, life is so short and my family need to grow. I was soon pregnant again with my beautiful Daughter. If it was possible to have a worse pregnancy than the first. . . it was, it was possible. Iron shots 3 times a week. Trips to the hematologist. GERD. Gestational Diabetes. PrEclampsia. And the list goes on and on. My poor Doctor was so worried, the 6"2' linebacker hugged me every time I came to the office, which was often. After I unsuccessfully went into labor again, early, after my water breaking while violently vomiting... we turned out alright after an emergency C-section.
My Doctor says to me, "I have never said this before, but I am not sure what is wrong with you, but you should not have any more children. please. I am not sure you would make it."
At this point, I had planned on not having any more natural children anyway, but it was crazy to hear.
Afterward, I quickly dropped down to 90 something pounds. And I was consistently ill, kidney, liver and other problems. My doctor still baffled, and having tested me for all the usual, decided it could just be the ole stand by... Gallbladder.
My Gallbladder was not functioning... at all really. So, out it came. Ahhh, relief. 
For a minute. 
Later, I started to have some pretty serious pain in my right side. Now, at this point pain is no thing for me really. I can hang with pain. But not this time. It was bad news. I wanted to leave my body behind and float away. No relief. 
My doctor gave me serious pain pills, and scheduled some tests. But as a Stay at home Mommy with two small kids... and a husband who was away on business at the time, I had to wait a week or so to get in there. 
So the pills took the edge off, and I never in my life needed a pain pill so badly.
My husband got home, and I went in the next day. Alone to my CT, leaving him with the kids.
I have had a few CT scans, but nothing ever turned up. This time, the technician had a strange hunch. 
And he did more than his job required that day. He moved the machine up and took a look at a few things no one had before.
He came out and told me to go straight back to my Doctor's office, and do not stop anywhere.
My diagnosis. Takayasu's Arteritis. 
The main Artery to my intestines was fully occluded, my liver and kidney were trying to shut down on me. Pain. 
I had to check straight into the hospital. Having never left my kids alone for the night.
A 29 year old Mother, with 2 small children. And a crappy diagnosis. Not one that could be cured, a life long crapfest. poop. 
My family and I, moved to Texas to be near more advanced Medical care. It has been 2 years, with daily prednisone, immune suppressants, heart medication and many many many more pills. Did I mention I hate medication? ha. At some points, I have been on 21 pills. 
I have never in 2 years gone a day without medication. After my diagnosis, My doctor said, if I had waited one more week... I would not have made it. Did I mention I have 2 kids???
I have aneurism, intestinal issues, the artery to my eye - you guessed it... cutting off my left eye from the blood supply! And kidney disease, liver disease and heart disease in my arteries. I have some serious inflammation. 
And last week, my most recent test showed what I have been feeling after my last major flare up... my common carotid artery (in my neck, right side) is what I will refer to as NOT HAPPY. 
I am very blessed, and have not had to have any heart valve or other surgeries as of yet. It is my goal to keep it that way.
Now, What does this have to do with the Paleo Diet? 
My husband, is a natural frenemy of the carbohydrate. He loves them, they hate him, he hates them. 
He discovered the Paleo diet, and has been on it for 2 months. First it helped him drop those pesky 10 lbs that everyone wants to get rid of, and then it helped him feel overall healthier and happier. He has tried the Atkins before, and it was hell on his body. The Paleo has been more in tune with his needs.
So I try to help out and cook tasty things to keep him on track and motivated to live the lifestyle he wants. 
This means that I am cooking meals solely for him, and then meals for the kids and I. Silly right?

I have been very intrigued about the health benefits that the Paleo Lifestyle boasts. 
I will do anything, I mean anything to improve my health and well being. 
This is my journey. It will not be perfect.
Do not come for expert anything. 
I will share my adventure with you.
All of it.Unedited.


  1. YOU GO RAchel! I'm in the beginnings of a natural/organic/whole foods lifestyle change too... you can do it!

    1. Thanks Anita! It feels good, doesn't it?

  2. Rachel I am sorry to hear of your struggles but encouraged by your triumphs. Jan gave me the web address to your blog as tomorrow I am trying to take a little piece of control back of my life and beginning a healthier organic real food lifestyle.