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!
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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?
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:
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