A Piece of Me

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.

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.

Your story is as inspiring as your tasty recipes!


399 responses to “A Piece of Me”

  1. I’ve been battling MS also since my diagnosis in 2014. I’ve also got Hashimoto’s and this combo makes for some weird days, indeed. Your message has sparked me and please know you are NOT ALONE! Praise God for your eloquence and purpose. God is in this place!

  2. Thank you Elena. I have been living with MS for 8 years and doing okay. Something has shifted and I am much worse. I was relieved to read that you were able to recover from that health set-back you experienced.
    I really appreciate your honesty in how we deal with the unknown of this disease.
    Food is medicine, but so is connection. I just found your website and I look foward to sharing this journey together.

    • Shanti, thanks for your touching comment! Connection is such an important part of healing and I’m so glad we’re on this path together :-)

  3. Dear Elana,
    I’ve been reading your blog since you started and felt compelled to write today, just to say thank you for YOU! I admire and appreciate your strength, courage, wisdom and knowledge that you share with your communities.
    I know that adorable restaurant you refer to as I grew up in Davis and graduated a few years before you : ) Keep up the great work and inspiration. We enjoy your recipes very much!

    Blessings, jean

  4. Hi Elayna

    I was recently diagnosed with MS and finding your website has been both inspiring and comforting. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs. There are so many struggling with diseases and you have given us important information that helps to guide us in the right direction. Keep doing what you do I am grateful.

  5. You have sure been through a lot!
    I have ms and celiac but never have been in the shape that you have!
    You are a very strong person!
    I truly look up to you.
    And thank you for the yummy recipes!
    Carlene Wilson

  6. Elana,
    You remain a beacon of hope for me in the midst of my struggles with my medical issues including MTHFR.
    EVERYTHING seems to be more complicated due to this awareness of how my body reacts to just about everything.
    Thank you for your honestly and reminders that we are not alone in this effort to improve our health and live a joyful life.
    Keep on doing what you do, as you help and encourage many of us.
    Blessings to you.

    • Estella, thanks for your comment! I really needed to hear it today! And thanks for being on this healing journey with me :-)

  7. Elana,

    I recently subscribed to your email list, but later realized that I hadn’t seen a pledge that you will never share my email address. Could you please assure me that you will never sell, barter or share my email?


  8. Elana, your determination and ongoing battle for health is an inspiration, to say the least. And your generosity seems to know no bounds. Love your cookbooks, recipes and your simple, no-nonsense approach. I’ve been paleo for about 4 years. Your recipes are approachable and appealing to all people with good food sense, not just those who follow a paleo diet.

    And I had no idea that you hail from Davis, a great little town about an hour+ away from my home. Next time you’re back in Davis, check out the Mondavi Center at UCD — I recently attended a very interesting lecture and tasting at their Honey and Bee Pollination Center. Their artisan honeys are TDF.

  9. Dear Elana,
    My husband (age 77) and I (age 67) have been enjoying your recipes for years now. I have several auto-immune illnesses. Your story is as inspiring as your tasty recipes! Just wanted to say -Thanks so much for all your hard work. Your website is one I can always rely on for good food advice and helpful health hints and tips. As we are almost to Erev Yom Kippur, Jeff and I wish you and your family an easy fast and L’Shana Tovah ! Warmly, Elizabeth Hurwitz Ann Arbor, MI

    • Elizabeth, Shana Tovah to you and your husband, Jeff! I’m so grateful for your warm words and good wishes! Thanks for being longtime loyal readers :-)

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