I started this site shortly after I received a terrifying diagnosis. My goal was simple. To be of service. To make life easier for people with celiac disease and other digestive disorders. Helping others was the perfect distraction. When I started out, I wanted to cheer people up, not bring them down.
I realize now that while I mentioned the diagnosis several years ago, I haven’t shared a piece of myself that matters. The part that went into shock the day I was told I had multiple sclerosis. I’ve dealt with this neurological condition every day since I was diagnosed in 2006. But the feelings that come up are something I haven’t spoken about. Something I’ve been holding in for a long time.
When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I entered a strange limbo. For 8 years, my health was good enough. Then, in 2014 things took a turn for the worse and my life since has been full of ups and downs.
Things got bad last year after a trip to Mexico with my husband. Upon returning, I ended up in the hospital with transverse myelitis, numb from the neck down. I remained that way for months.
I’ve spent the entire last year rebuilding my health. Going to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments 6 days per week, getting physical therapy 3 days per week, receiving intravenous nutrients 1 to 2 days per week, and occupational therapy to regain use of my left hand (my dominant hand) 1 day per week. It was a grueling rehabilitation, and thankfully it mostly worked.
I stuck to my schedule week-in-and-week-out. I missed almost every winter weekend trip to the mountains with my family. I entirely skipped trips to Denver for work. Events such as book signings, TV appearances, and fundraising dinners went out the window. I haven’t been to Denver in well over a year. The geography of my life became extremely small.
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In addition to local trips, I also gave up air travel because each time I’ve had an MS attack has been right after an airplane flight. My doctors think the low pressure in planes might affect my brain and nervous system, or that it might be the radiation. Frustratingly, no one understands it. So they told me to avoid air travel. I wasn’t happy about that, but I didn’t set foot on an airplane for over a year.
Last week I went on my first trip in 13 months. My husband and I flew to California. We ate our way through Napa, then we met up with the boys and threw my Dad an 80th birthday party at an adorable restaurant in my hometown, Davis.
It was challenging to take more than a year off and truly slow down. Many people could not understand it and questioned my decision. It took all of both my willpower and my ability to surrender to get well. To give myself the space I needed to heal. To say no to countless invitations for work and play.
I wanted to write about this to give you all a real update of where I am. It might look neat and tidy, and even perfect on social media, but that is far from the reality. Like so many of you, I have struggles both large and small everyday that can’t be conveyed through a photo. I live in limbo, dealing with a major neurological illness, on top of celiac disease, hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis, and several other challenging medical issues.
Although I’m continuing to rest and heal, I live not knowing what’s around the corner. I hope that by sharing this piece of myself I can provide comfort to others walking their own tightrope. Those in the darkest days, dealing with something we are told to hold in. Thank you for supporting me since I started this blog in 2006. I’m so grateful we are on this path together.
Jane Zatlin says
I have been so grateful for your posts, and your recipes, which have helped me navigate celiac disease. I have become a caregiver to my husband, who is fragile, and has memory issues. I just had cataract surgery. After, my hip became so painful, I could hardly walk, as though my body was just saying STOP! Medicine is a disaster. No one answers the phone, medical records don’t show up, in the meantime I am in so much pain. It has been hard to accept my limitations. You are a beacon to me and others. I think I have always just been pretty healthy. And now, I am not. I have specific limits. I’m trying to do the right things. Patience. No one tells us how to deal with our body’s failings. Because of my husband my world had become much smaller. And the pandemic. We find joy in each day. Very grateful.
Jane, right there with you on so many of the things you mention in your incredible comment. I am so amazed that we can be together here to share the ups and downs of our healing. Sending you so much love.