Wilderness

UPDATE: Please go to this link to read how I have recovered my health using The Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS)! https://mariahshealthjourney.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/a-day-to-remember/

Dear Friends and Family,

Hello, and welcome to my WordPress site! I am delighted that you are here! Thank you for coming and sharing in my life! This is an avenue for Travis and me to share with you my health journey, tell you our story, and invite you deeper into our life. Many of you know about the road we have walked regarding my health. You may know something about the years of seeing doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist, going to clinic after clinic, trying medication after medication, and implementing diet after diet. You may have heard about the variety of doctors, naturopaths, dietitians, visits to U of M, medications, supplements, protocols, procedures, tests, and diets I have done – and that I continue to struggle daily in profound ways due to my health. I have been very ill for 12 years and we hope, by God’s grace, that these years of frustration will come to an end and that my health will be restored.

Many times we have felt like Israel, wandering around in the desert with no clear way out, yet we know God has not abandoned us. We trust that He will not waste these years of waiting, learning, and pressing forward in faith. This journey has been long, isolating, and difficult, yet we have not walked it alone. Many of you have been there with us and for us, and we hope that you will continue to walk alongside us in the upcoming months and years as we continue to search for answers and for healing.

Many of you know parts of my health journey, but few of you know all of it. I’d like to share more of my story with you below.  I will begin with pictures, and then tell the story.

This is me before I got sick.  I was robustly healthy.  I was about to go spelunking (cave diving) in the picture on the left!  In the picture on the right, I had just finished hiking the Grand Canyon!  I was an avid hiker and walker!  I loved being outdoors!

Healthy Rye1          Health Rye2

We had no idea, but we both had a very intense case of mononucleosis at our wedding!  Our vows of “in sickness and in health” have been cemented over the last 12 years.

Wedding1

The photo below was taken a year after we were married.  I was rediagnosed with mono just a few days before this photo was taken, but this time it was called “Chronic Mono” or “Chronic Fatigue”.  We were on a family vacation, and I was too exhausted to walk around the site that we were visiting, hence the wheelchair.

Sick2

This is me at 95 pounds. Compare this to the photo next to it, when I was feeling great.  IBS and Chronic Fatigue can do that to a person!  You waste away from the inside out.

Rye Thin1          Healthy Rye1

These were my first and second visits to U of M for doctors’ visits, tests, labs, and dietician meetings.  To date, I have seen 42 doctors and practitioners over the past 12 years in regards to my health issues!  I have three new specialist visits scheduled over the next few months as well!  We would like this number to not grow too much more!  Wouldn’t you?!

UofMSIBO3          IMG_0341

We have not been able to have our own children because of my health, yet God has provided children for us through nieces, nephews and friends.  We are so grateful for the perspective and whimsy of children!  They have been a gift to us in the midst of some very trying years.

_MG_1010          IMG_3927

IMG_0982          IMG_1548

IMG_0003_2

This is us now.  Worn out and hopeful.  Waiting for answers and for healing.  Trusting God to provide for our needs and believing that his timing is perfect.  Will you hope, wait, and trust with us?

IMG_3661

And now the written story.

The story of my ill health begins in 2003, on our honeymoon.

In July of 2003, a week after our wedding, Travis and I discovered that I had a very deep case of Mononucleosis. As it turned out, we both had mono and were incapacitated for almost 4 months (!) and could not work. Thank God, Travis recovered and has been able to work and study ever since! Unfortunately, the mono triggered something in my body that has resulted in major health issues ever since. The current diagnosis for me is post-infectious-IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Chronic Fatigue (aka “Chronic Mono”), and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune condition where your immune system tags your thyroid as an invader and attempts to destroy it).

Shortly after I was diagnosed with mono, I developed severe digestive symptoms and then a couple years after that I developed Hashimoto’s. For a few years I was able to work part-time, but in early 2008 my body came to a place where working was no longer an option.

I have done just about every diet in the book as I have tried to restore my digestive health. I have tested negative three times for Celiac Disease.  I have had ultrasounds, MRIs, acupuncture, chiropractic work, biopsies, and more tests than I can count.

People will often ask me how I feel. They know that I am sick, but don’t know how that plays out on a daily basis. The best way to describe it is that I feel as though I am one day removed from the stomach flu all the time.  Exhausted.  My stomach is always upset and sick feeling. As much as I would like to eat normal foods, my experience has shown me that most foods make me feel worse, because my digestive system simply does not work properly. This could be due to many factors, such as a hidden gut infection, an undetected parasite, a bacterial imbalance in the gut, or something else.  I am in the middle of many more tests right now so that we can figure out what is going on in there!

If you have ever had the stomach flu, or have spent the night vomiting, you know a bit of how I feel. Though I almost never vomit, I have no appetite, I am frequently exhausted, often dizzy, I have tons of brain fog, and I have many, many dietary restrictions. The exhaustion is unlike anything I have ever experienced before this illness. It is a deep, deep exhaustion that I cannot express in words.

These health issues have enormous social implications, as you might imagine. Enjoying a shared meal with friends, cooking, (which is a huge passion of mine), going for hikes or bike rides or long walks, traveling with Travis, and driving any significant distance on my own are simply not options for me.

Yet we hope for more for me and for us! We thoroughly believe that this is possible and we are asking you to partner with us to get me to that place of health!

In the past year we have discovered the world of functional medicine, which lies somewhere along the spectrum between conventional (main stream) medicine and alternative medicine. Rather than conventional medicine (which treats patients according to their symptoms), functional medicine looks at the patient as a whole, taking into account lifestyle, stress, relationships, sleep habits, diet, toxins, as well as symptoms.  Functional medicine doctors are conventionally trained just like any other MD or DO, but they approach healthcare from a different angle.  They have all of the knowledge and expertise of any mainstream physician, and then some.

Functional medicine considers the interconnectedness of all of the patient’s symptoms. This has been eye-opening for both Travis and me, and seems to be the future of healthcare. (Keep your eyes peeled, because in 15 to 20 years, it will be much more widely utilized as a mainstream method of doing healthcare!) Rather than reducing a person to symptoms to be treated, the patient is looked at as a whole being, in which each system affects the others in profound ways. Thus, we are seeing that all of my health issues are interrelated. My thyroid issues are connected to my digestive system and my fatigue is related to the other issues as well.  Now if we can get to the root of my health issues!

In the upcoming months, we hope to exhaust every avenue of healing that is available to us until we get an answer to my health conundrum, and we invite you to partner with us as we continue to press on.

What does “pressing on” mean for us?

More doctors’ visits, more tests, more diets, more protocols, more supplements and medications, more hoping, and more waiting! We have searched and have found some highly qualified doctors who specialize in helping people with longstanding and mysterious chronic diseases get to the root cause(s) of their health issues. Over the next months we have appointments scheduled with several of these doctors. We press on with great hope and trust that God has health and incredible vitality for me!

What might partnering with us mean for you?

ASK: Please ask us about our journey and how these visits are going. Also, and even more importantly, ask us how we are holding up emotionally, as these visits, diets, and protocols take a toll on us emotionally and we are both exhausted right now because of the length and depth of this illness.

PRAY: Ask us how you can pray for us. Let us know how you are praying for us and thinking of us, because sometimes we need to be reminded of these things. Sometimes we cannot pray for ourselves.

STAND: Stand with us in hope that I will be given answers to my mysterious and lengthy illness.

PROVIDE: Over the past 12 years, we have explored an incredible amount of doctors and tests within the parameters of what our insurance will cover. Now we have begun to look outside of these parameters at tests that look for less common illnesses, parasites, bacteria, and infections that often go undetected by mainstream medicine. There are many more tests that my functional medicine MD, nutritionist, and thyroid doctor have advised me to order recently, and the majority of these are not covered by insurance. The doctors’ visits themselves are also very costly, and are not covered by insurance. The dietary and supplemental protocols that my current doctors are suggesting are very well researched and are proven to be wonderfully effective, and they are also quite expensive.

The costs for all of this are far beyond what we can afford on our own. Your financial contributions to the cost of my healthcare would help us exhaust every possible option so that finances would no longer be a barrier to my health.

How can you help? We have set up a funding website to help us pay for these healthcare costs! The site is:

http://www.payitsquare.com/fundraiser/63792

Our fundraising goal is $32,000. Perhaps the sticker shock is as strong for you as it is for us. This amount is determined by the costs associated with doctor’s visits, tests, procedures, medical protocols, travel expenses, supplements, and anything else prescribed by my practitioners that goes beyond what we are able to pay from our own budget. And if, by God’s grace, we exceed our goal, any additional funds will allow us to do a number of things that have been recommended, but we did not identify as first-tier priorities. Every dollar you give, no matter how much, will go toward getting me better and restoring my quality of life!

We trust that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50.10, 24.1), that God can multiply loaves and fishes (Matt. 14.13-21), and indefinitely extend the oil poured from a small jar into empty jugs (2 Kings 4.1-7). Will you partner with us as we wait in hope for our oil jar to fill all the jugs that lay empty before us?  Just as God used the widow’s community to accomplish the miracle in her life, so too can God take your gift and multiply it into rivers of oil in our life! We cannot do this on our own.

Will you join us on this path to healing and help us find the answers we so deeply desire to find?

Thank you for all your love and care! We will keep you updated through this WordPress site as my health journey continues. There are many tests and doctor’s visits coming up soon! Please subscribe if you would like to keep updated on our journey.

We would also love to hear from you! Tell us your story and how we can pray for you too! Our email addresses are below, if you would like to connect with us through email. You can also leave a comment below.  Thank you so much for your support and love, we would not be where we are without your support, and we cannot get to where we hope to be without it either!

We would like to leave you with a passage from Scripture that has been a source of hope and inspiration to us over the last several years, as we look forward to my body being restored:

“The land will be overgrown with thorns and briers…until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest!”  Isaiah 32:13, 15

It currently is a vast and dreadful wilderness, but we are looking forward to this wilderness being turned into a forest!

With much love and great hope,
Mariah and Travis

mariahdaniellewest@gmail.com
travis@westernsem.edu

Advertisements

Categories: Uncategorized

15 Comments »

  1. Thank you for allowing us to join you on this journey and letting us know specifically how to support you through this. It is truly a vulnerable place to be and I’m proud of you for your transparency in sharing your heart and your needs. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! I pray for you both every night. I wish I do more. I would love to hear about your journey. I am going through my own struggle with my sister and her illness, the doctors only help her symptoms and she is very depressed. I would love to hear about what hospitals, procedures you go through. Maybe I could recommend it to her.
    Love and Hugs,
    Carol B.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for putting this together, Mariah! I am grateful to have the opportunity to keep up on your story and support you in prayer and love. And I can’t wait to see you in less than a month!! Lots of love, Larissa

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for your honesty, hope, trust in God, and love for each other that are so evident in the lines of your health journey.
    We promise to pray for divine wisdom and healing as you walk this difficult path with the love and support of many friends.
    I can identify with you, Mariah, in a small way, since I also have numerous food intolerances, believed to result from parasites, and have also turned to non traditional solutions in a search for holistic health.
    Our love and prayers for both of you will continue,
    Carla Sterk

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carla, Thank you for your response! You two mean so much to us. THANK YOU for lifting us up in prayer! I did not know that you have food intolerances too! Yes, there is this whole world of non-traditional medicine out there that can be deeply effective and healing! May God bless your body as you explore this avenue as well!
      Much Love, Mariah

      Like

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! Reading this, I felt through most of it that you were telling MY story…..remarkably similar in many ways!
    Don and I will be praying for you both, and share in other ways as we are able…And I think we need to “share notes” very soon. Thank you again for reaching out and re-connecting on Wednesday– it has been a blessing to me!
    ❤ Jean

    ps.I LOVE the Isaiah passage 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mariah,
    I felt a connection upon meeting you in more ways than one 🙂 Really good to read through your blog and “hear” your voice. Though my health trials are not quite as challenging as yours currently are (!), I have recently been struggling with how to view limitations, how to deal with pain, how to find joy, how to balance acceptance vs optimism, etc etc!
    I see you and raise you (card shark term, but i think it applies :)) (for ‘raise’, read ‘lift up’ :))
    Sending much love and peace to both of you
    Arjenna

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for allowing us to journey alongside of you. I am so grateful our paths have crossed and I’m eager for future conversation and community together!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I never thought that you, who bring a deep level of peace, hope and assurance to all who know you were battling such deep physical, mental and emotional challenges. You are a light and we are here to keep your lamps full of oil. I love you friend. Jenn

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m a friend of Heather and Gratton’s. I will be praying for you as you continue your journey. I am going to try to figure out how to subscribe, but if I can’t, I’ll try to stay updated through Heather. I pray God blesses you abundantly as you step out in faith.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s