Monday, August 23, 2010

Celiac Disease linked to Neurological Illnesses

A friend of mine, whose husband is a Chiropractor in CA, read my blog and told me that her husband had just returned from a conference that emphasized Celiac Disease being linked to Neurological Problems.  I'd like to copy a little bit of what she told me - so I can share this with you...

"Ryan just got back from a chiropractic neurology seminar. Its main emphasis was on celiac and how bad of a nerve disease it is. Ryan came home motivated to go gluten free... Anyway---just from the little Ryan told me about (the seminar) ---you sound like a typical case of major nerve damage caused by gluten".

My friend is right.  Celiac Disease is linked to many neurological diseases like Schizophrenia, Multiple Sclerosis and if mothers have Celiac and continue eating a highly processed food diet, Down Syndrome is the result - it's proven scientifically.

For more information on the Diseases Associated please read the book "Celiac Disease A Hidden Epidemic" by Peter H.R. Green, M.D (Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University)

The book is AMAZING and explains a lot of the various symptoms experience with Celiac Disease.  My blog is to get MY STORY out there...in hopes that it will help someone.  Before I found the answer myself by finding out about someone with Celiac who had my SAME symptoms I put myself on a gluten-free diet and got well.   There were two people before this time who told me I had symptoms of "A Wheat Allergy".  At the time, and because a "Wheat Allergy"  seemed so ridiculous to me - and the people who had the wheat allergy didn't have my same exact symptoms I didn't listen - or I wasn't humble enough...or perhaps I wasn't ready to be well...perhaps I didn't want it bad enough. 

Anyway....the below examples are some of "My Symptoms"....I hope it helps someone.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about the "Mom" that my kids experience when I've had Gluten.  I feel like I have several different personalities due to the different levels of gluten I've "accidentally" taken.

Mom Example #1 (The Vagabond Mom).  Prolonged exposure to gluten....can't find the cause...

This type of Mom barely has enough strength to get herself out of bed, to get kids off to school and food eaten - she doesn't put on makeup and puts her hair in a pony tail....she moves slowly...thinks slowly....can't worry about all the kid disasters happening around her...if she lies down then it's possible it would take most of the day to get enough strength to get back up.  She's too weak to prepare very healthy meals and eats whatever is quick and convenient...the kids run around with dirty faces, in their pajamas and have complete freedom of the house.

Example:  A friend of mine, who has now moved to Colorado, grew up with a Mom very similar to the above case example.  The mother has now decided to be a Vagabond.  She lives alone wherever she can - and is sleeping away her life.  The friend of mine, being the oldest in her family, had to take the "Mom" role and cared for her 5 younger siblings, cleaned, cooked, helped with homework etc. 

My Example:  Gluten DOES effect the MIND.  When I'm sick like the above first "Mom Example" it is Hell in my home and in my Mind.  My mind goes crazy with thoughts like "My family would be better without me"....I try to think of ways to take care of my kids - without me being there.  I have thoughts that "my husband would be better off and happier with someone else".  I'm extremely lonely when he's out of town I struggle with depression.  NOT BECAUSE I HAVE DEPRESSION- that needs medication, but because I got Gluten on accident.  A couple days after being off of gluten is like the feeling of re-birth of body and mind - just as spring comes after winter.  When I have my "Mind Back" I look back on the experience and am baffled by how the gluten effected my ability to see clearly.  It's as if I was swimming in a beautiful crystal clear water (like the waters in Cancun) and suddenly the water turns a dark grey, I'm far from shore and I can't see my hands in front of me and have to prayerfully try to get to shore as the fears of danger, sharks, dangerous snakes swim about in my mind.  It is a huge relief for my family to get "Mom Back".  I spend the next few days not only recovering physically, but mentally.  My paternal Grandmother was diagnosed a couple years ago with Celiac.  She has the typical, easily identifiable symptoms of weight loss and diarrhea, but she says that the hardest part of the recovery is getting her mind back.  I totally agree....it's like I've been through a very traumatic experience of danger, death and illness and am trying to deal with ordinary life after going through such pain and anxiety.

Before I give the next example I want to make a point very clear that was explained to me over and over when I attended the support group in SLC.  YOUR SYMPTOMS AND SENSITIVITY CHANGE OVER TIME.  I'll explain later about becoming sensitive to breathing in gluten....thus the reason for several different "Mom Examples".

Mom Example #2 (Explosive, Angry Mom)

This Mom is the one that scares me to death and is actually the one that comes out currently when I've been exposed to gluten.  I can use this morning as an example.  My kids were playing and making messes and everything was fine.  Shane was making everyone his "Sponge Bob Square Pants Breakfast" which is basically where a circular whole is cut in the bread and he cooks the egg in the circle of the bread.  He joked with the kids that the egg is the color of Sponge Bob and the toast are his "Square Pants".  (Not very funny - as most of his jokes...but you have to know Shane to appreciate his dry humor).  We all gave him a charity laugh.  So I asked Shane to make me an egg as well.  When he hands it to me I ask if he used a separate pan.  He said that he cleaned off the pan really well.  Needless to say I start feeling the energy flow out of me about 15 minutes later...just as a balloon with a slow leak begins to deflate I could feel my energy quickly leaving me and I began to feel irritable and angry.  I thought of sending Shane an email full of swear words letting him know about his negligence and insensitivity, but I "breathed through the anger".  I know other Mom's have had experiences where they've felt so much anger that they've had to lock themselves in their rooms to save their kids from themselves.  I've felt that anger and with the anger, or the crazy feelings of depression I have one thing to say.....

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT THERE IS A GOD TO TURN TO FOR HELP.  BREATHE in and out slowly AND PRAY.  I am so grateful that my parents were never abusive.  I can thank my Dad for the yelling and swearing skills, but just as my dad used his two favorite H and D words I knew that he still loved me and I could help him joke through the anger.  I've explained this to my kids how my siblings and I would try to get Dad to laugh when he was angry and have told them to tell me my Dad's name when I get upset so I can remember and stop being so mad.  They are cute and it makes me want to cry, more than laugh, when they use the sacred name of my Father who is no longer on this earth as it is a painful reminder as to how he died.  He was an undiagnosed Celiac.  I wish he had held on a little longer until I could have got him on a Gluten-Free Diet - a gluten-free diet that was NATURALLY gluten free - not the highly processed imitations of real food.

Mom #3 (Mom with Dementia)

I was at a Mission Reunion several years ago when I was asked to introduce my family.  I remember the horror I felt as I stood there in the doorway with my 3 little kids...unable to remember their names and ages.  A flood of embarrassment swept through me when I read the faces of my mission friends who looked deeply concerned.  I wanted to run away and cry.  I knew that I was feeling weak before going to the reunion.  I was late arriving and struggled in with the kids and was trembling as I stood in the door way.  At this time I hadn't experienced going paralyzed or hadn't lost my vision, but a couple of years later I was able to recall this event at another mission reunion and explain my change in diet and how my life had been extremely blessed by the change as I referred back to the time they remembered when I couldn't introduce my own kids to the present moment as I stood before them a little teary eyed, but confident in my ability to speak in front of the group.

In my profession I work a lot with numbers, reports, balance sheets, profit and loss reports etc. and help supervise many individuals and they come to me for advice.  If I've been sick with gluten it takes me a couple of days to get my mind back completely.  The first day after being sick it's really difficult to compute numbers.  I would much rather grab a broom and clean.  I'd rather be given a toilet scrubber and wash down the bathroom walls and floors than try to think up numbers.  This is why I usually spend the first day back on my feet running errands or cleaning or organizing.

A friend of mine at BYU was getting his Masters in Electrical Engineering.  He was a self-diagnosed Celiac.  He told me that before he put himself on a gluten-free diet that it he would have to take several extra hours than most people to complete his projects every single day.  He would study for a couple of hours....take breaks often...and then study over and over again.  I ran into him several years later at a health foods store.  He looked so healthy and he seemed much more confident in conversation.  As he was talking to me I couldn't help but get lost in my thoughts while I marveled at how healthy he looked, and how articulate he was in conversation.  He explained his diet currently and it was very similar to the changes I had made with my own diet.  People who eat a gluten-free diet that is still highly processed have a somewhat "pasty look in their face".  I hate my wedding pictures and the pictures I have of Deseret Dance Theatre because my face looks so bloated, dis-colored and pasty.  Another friend from BYU recently got in contact with me and when we went out to dinner together she commented that my face looked very different.  She said "not to be rude....but your face use to look out of proportion with your body.  She said "you were always so thin, but your face looked a little puffy"...."now you can see your cheek bones and you look so great".  My sister-in-law stopped eating processed foods and she too  has the "healthy glow".  She gets comments all the time about how healthy she looks.  Food DOES make a difference.  Lots of healthy fruits....lots of vegetables....lots of pure clean water....a little meat used very sparingly....dairy used sparingly...plenty of nuts, seeds, and beans.  The closer you can get to eating raw food - the more healthy you will look.

There are other "Mom Examples" that I don't have time to go into now.  Mom's that are "always sick with something" (from a compromised immune system).  Mom's who have fertility problems....Mom's with Thyroid problems....

I'll end with an excerpt from the book "Celiac Disease A Hidden Epidemic", by Peter H.R. Green, M.D. and Rory Jones  (Peter is the Director of the celiac Disease Center at Columbia University)

Note: I let someone borrow my book, listed above, before I finished writing this blog entry.  This entry has been in "storage" waiting to be posted once I was able to get the quote I needed from the book.  The individual has not returned the book yet. I need to probably purchase another book, but for now, I will post this blog entry and insert the quote once I get the book back.  I'll just recap the Dr. by saying...

Celiac Disease IS a hidden epidemic.  The symptoms are so varied that it is very difficult for a Dr. to properly diagnose you with Celiac Disease.

When in doubt...try the gluten-free diet and make it Naturally Gluten-Free.

Lots of love!

-Steffanie

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear Friend,

Dear Friend,

I have never met you before, but I hear that you are having struggles in your marriage.  My husband informed me that your spouse is living downstairs in an a-part-ment right now.  You have been struggling with your health and you have NOT been ok with your husband's choice of business friends, of the work he has to do out of town, and haven't been able to be strict with your diet.

You are struggling mentally, physically, emotionally ....and I assume spiritually.

I believe the information on this blog will help you...


Dear Friend,

You told me that your Mother has chosen to be a vagabond on the streets.  She had 6 children, you took care of them and acted like the Mother all of your life.  You have resentment towards her...

I look at the pictures, in my mind, of the image of your Mother - based off of the stories you've told me.  She is homeless.  Not because she drinks, is a harlot, or is into drugs... she is this way simply because she is tired of everyone taking care of her.  She sleeps nearly all the time, her heart is heavy, she feels like a failure as a human being, and especially as a wife and mother.  Her beliefs in God keep her from ending her life...so she keeps struggling every day...mentally, physically, emotionally.....and I assume spiritually also.

If only my friend would feed her mother the way that I reccommend....I know this information would help her....


Dear Friend,

Your on again off again health has left you feeling worthless.  It's hard to commit to much at work, at church, with friends etc. because sometimes you feel well mentally, physically and even spiritually, but there are other days that you cannot think clearly, the ordinary tasks seem difficult, you are impatient or sullen, explosive or withdrawn.  You don't want to explain things to everyone, you don't want to make excuses....you just want to be left alone.

It is really frightening how many neurological problems and health disorders are caused or aggravated by food sensitivities...  you may be thinking about giving up...

I know that the information in this blog will help you... please keep reading...


Dear Friend,

Please choose to save your marriage...

Please choose to take care of your family...

Please choose to live.


I hope you find something on here that may give you an answer you are looking for...


With love,

-Steff E

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you for taking a moment to post comments, for calling me on the phone or for emailing me.

I really appreciate hearing that my blog has helped you and that you feel like there is someone that can relate to what you have been through or something your loved one is experiencing right now or has experienced.

I love answering posts.  Several of the blog posts have been in response to a question someone has asked.

I received an email from one of my clients today and also received a phone call from a man who said that his wife was really grateful for the information that was gained on the blog. 

The phone call and the email really made my day.  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yummy Almond Milk

Last night I soaked a handful of dates and figs in water in preparation for making almond milk this morning.  I also soaked a tall glass full of almonds.

This morning I heated up the almonds with some water on the skillet for a couple minutes and then let them cool so that I could easily remove the skins.  (Blanched Almonds)

The dates already had the pits removed from them last night and so I blended together...

1 3/4 cups of blanched almonds (brown skin of almond removed)
7 cups of filtered water
1 cup of figs and date mixture that had been soaked overnight (pits removed already)

I put the items listed above in the Vitamix blender until it was creamy. 

I hadn't added enough dates and so I added about 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup.

I absolutely LOVED it!  It made enough that the kids and I drank it throughout the day.

The Vitamix made the drink really warm and so it would have been yummy to add some chocolate smoothie powder, or some vanilla, or to spice it up a bit I've been adding cinnamon and cayenne to my drinks.   We added ice to cool it down a bit.

It felt really good as I drank the slightly sweet, super creamy almond milk.  I could feel my body happily absorbing the calcium, phosphorus and other wonderful vitamins and minerals from the almonds, figs and dates.

This tasted MUCH BETTER than milk.  Also, I felt much better after drinking it - in comparison to how I feel after drinking milk.

There are great recipes for Almond milk online if you'd like to try other options.

-Steff E

Coaching you on a Gluten-Free Diet...

This evening I went to a restraunt where they had gluten-free entrees.  I ordered three entrees off of the gluten-free menu for the kids and a salad for myself off of the gluten-free menu that the waiter had given me.  When the meal arrived, I (for some strange reason) asked the waiter if the pasta for the kids was made out of rice.  The waiter said "oh...you didn't specify that you wanted rice noodles".  "Oh" I answered..."what are these made of?"  "Are they gluten-free?" The waiter then said (and I'm not making this up) "They're not gluten-free...you needed to specify that you wanted rice noodles."

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!

I order something DIRECTLY from the GLUTEN-FREE menu and expect GLUTEN-FREE items will arrive at my table.  No wonder I still get sick occassionally.  If I hadn't asked that question, and had taken a bite of the kids meal (thinking it was gluten-free) then I wouldn't be typing this and I may have had to call someone for help since I may have been too weak to drive myself and the kids home. Those noodles they served us were WHEAT Noodles!  Seriously...and the waiter was the one who had handed me the gluten-free menu I had requested, took the order and then personally brought us the plate of wheat noodles.  YIKES!!!  (No worries...In the 10 years I've been on a gluten-free diet I've never had a waiter so ignorant.) 

What if my children had gluten-intollerance or wheat sensitivities (which my two oldest show signs of)... Can you picture a Mom getting a meal she thinks is gluten-free, for her child, and then being frustrated with that child when they become tired, irritable or angry after eating.  It's hard for an adult to drag through the day when they are "glutenized" (as we call it), imagine a child trying to cope when no nourishment is making it to their body or brain!  It's really hard to cope!!!

You can usually find Laura Bars, Raw Nuts or Seeds, and water in my vehicle at all times.  Since I had been in a hurry to meet my husband to get something notarized before the bank closed, I hadn't prepared like I should have, and hadn't replenished my bags that usually have the snacks in them before rushing out the door.  So, when everything took longer than I had expected and everyone was crying that they were hungry I took the risk...I ate somewhere where I had to trust the person preparing the meal for us.

Years ago, when I was dating my husband, he took me over to his Grandma's in Tooele several times.  She always offered us food (assuring me it was gluten-free) and I ALWAYS got sick!  The last time I went over there, before she passed away, I had politely declined the offer she made to serve me something.  After she begged and pleaded, I finally consented. I remember taking in a large breath of air and letting out a "sigh" at the thoughts of giving up an entire day of "life" in order to make my future Grandma happy.  So, with resolve NOT to get sick, I got up from the chair, followed Grandma into the kitchen and SURVEYED the process....it wasn't long before I discovered the problem.  AH HA!!!!! She was cooking my husband's flour covered meat in the same pan as my supposively "gluten free" meat.  She was using the same utinsels and the same spatula.  Good grief!!!  I gave her a quick Gluten-Free 101 cooking lesson and that day I didn't get sick.  You have to be really careful who you trust to cook for you.  Sometimes we assume that people understand the sensitivity levels, but most people are really quite clueless.

Some Celiac's use gloves or masks when making NON gluten-free meals.  I thought this was rediculous when I heard about it at the National Celiac Convention in SLC, UT many years ago.  But when I kept getting sick on accident I had some testing done and was told that I was sensitive to "airborne" gluten as well.  So, every time I was grinding up wheat for my kids in the Vitamix and was breathing in the flour dust in the air, it was making me sick.  I'd get the kids dressed for church, make them breakfast and then because my husband was active with the military, I'd call my wonderful babysitter to please take the kids to church for me...I had somehow gotten sick.  That mystery took many, many months to figure out. Crazy, crazy...
So, I keep going back to eating food that is NATURALLY GLUTEN-FREE.  I've been asked to teach classes on health and wellness with an emphasis on Gluten-Free diets.  I enjoy teaching people about how to become well and to prevent other - more serious illnesses by changing their diet.
Welcome to my Shack...my wonderful, not entirely perfect....work in progress....Celiac Shack.

Here you will learn how to be well 99.99% of the time.  I can't protect you from the stupidity of waiters if you order something gluten free and then they serve you something that's not gluten-free, or from Grandma's that cook food for you and contaminate it....hahaha.  For this reason, and for other countless blunders that happen when we rely on others to prepare our food for us, I cannot guarantee you will be well 100% of the time :)  That is my goal...but I can't put that in writing.

For those of you who simply want to be healthy...please continue reading my posts.  There are so many illnesses that people are able to recover from by changing to a naturally gluten-free (not GF processed food) diet. 

Good luck to you!!!

-Steff E

Monday, August 9, 2010

OLDER POSTS

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the screen to read the older posts.  Pay attention to the ones YOU feel drawn to.  Perhaps you or someone you love needs the information.  There is a LOT of information on here.  Some of the blog entries are very personal.  I hope those that do not need to hear the information will become bored quickly.

To those of you who are searching for answers, I pray that you will be lead to the posts that will give you the answers that you are seeking.  I only make a blog entry when I feel "inspired - per say" to make an entry.  I basically sit at my computer, type my thoughts and hit publish.  It's more important to me to get the information out to someone who needs to read it, than it is to fully polish my grammar etc.

Love,

Steffi

Monday, August 2, 2010

A work in Progress...

Looking Good...

If you want junkfood, talk to Shane...he'll pick up some at Good Earth on his way home from work :)

Right now there's fruit on the table, seeds and nuts in a bowl on the counter, lara bars in the fridge, a veggie tray has just been put back into the fridge that the kids nearly finished...

Dagoba chocolate....hummmm I think someone ate it all.  There is frozen fruit and almond milk and Super Vital Foods Smoothing Blend to make smoothies... Ultimate Greens and lemons to make a green drink...

Seeds are soaking in a water/sea salt mixture on the counter in preparation to be dried in the dehydrator tomorrow...

We ate the rest of the cantelope, strawberries and apples this morning...

White beans are boiling slowly on the stove in preparation for the evening meal...

The air smells of cooked brown rice, dill (from the vegetable dip) and the smell of soup being prepared...

Hopefully Shane won't stop at Good Earth to buy Gluten-Free cereal on his way home from work.

The kitchen feels good.  Still a work in progress, but I'm getting there...

Rice Paper Wraps


Top Left:  Spinach, Sprouts, Mint, Basil, Green Onions and Carrots (Ingredients for Wrap Filling)
Top Right: Soak the Rice Paper Sheet in Water until soft.  Put on a non-stick surface and add filling to the center.
Bottom Left: Fold in three sides of the Rice Paper to cover the ingredients.
Bottom Right: Roll the Folded portion of the Rice Paper Roll to the remaining side of the paper.

Whalah...Yummy Rice Paper Rolls

Variation:  You could shred Cabbage, Carrots, and onions, add them to the center of the rice paper, roll them up and then fry them in coconut oil (like you would an egg roll).  There are many other ways to use the rice paper wraps.  I put cucumber, avocado, and cabbage in them sometimes.  We've even used ingredients like sliced turkey or sliced raw cheese in them as well. 

Dips:  We love the peanut dip from SAN.J   The bonus... it's Gluten-Free!

or

Try Bragg's Liquid Aminos (Gluten-Free Soy Sauce) for the dipping. 

This afternoon I was looking in the fridge for a quick meal.  It was wonderful to spot a plate with about 5 of these left on it.  I love making a plate full of them, with plastic wrap between layers and have about 3 layers already pre-made.  It makes a great snack for the kids.  My 5 year old loves them!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Scream

"What did you do when your father died?"  (asked a friend)

My answer...

"I screamed until I lost my voice".

Tears come to my eyes at the memory of that horrid, black, terrible night.

Granddaddy had called me...

"Steffi?" he had said hesitating and with his voice cracking he informed me... "Your father is dead..." 

Holding my breath he went on to explain how it wasn't just him that had died...there were others...two others...

I don't remember ending the conversation with Granddad....I dropped the phone....collapsed to my knees...I screamed as loud and as long and as hard as I'd ever done in my entire life..I screamed and screamed...

Grandma Jean tried to console me, but couldn't.  I folded in half, collapsed to the floor - still screaming...

My husband cried as he stood there watching me in agony.... they let me scream and scream and scream.   Grandma would leave for a moment to call the bishop for help.  It was late in the evening.  I would scream until I needed air again and then scream again, and again, and again, and again and again....

A little while later, the entire bishopric from our church ward, would knock on the door and be led downstairs to where I was.

I was still curled up on the floor with my arms wrapped around my waist.  My head hurt, I felt like vomiting....

The people....my step-mom...the innocent other man I didn't know....my sisters, where did the police take them?  I was the oldest...what, why, how, when, is this real, how could this be....no it couldn't, yes it could.....how.....why.....oh dear God.....he's a murderer......

Through tears streaming down my face I leaned my back to the wall, tried to appear sane, and recounted the story that my Grandfather had told me to the concerned men crouched down to face me as I sat there completely lifeless...

Feeling somewhat removed from the situation, I told them what I knew 3rd party, as if I was a reporter who didn't really believe the story....I retold what had been told to me...but it was so hard to believe....

They gave me a priesthood blessing....

I pleaded over and over to those great spiritual leaders...."DO NOT tell ANYONE in the church what has happened.  Not even my visiting teachers!"  So over the next several months I would try to appear as if "nothing had happened".

A black plague now loomed over my maiden name.  My ancestors....the generals, the colonels, the brigadier generals....such incredible men and women...my great-great grandmother "Who's Who among American Women"...she was in that book...

Now my name, I dared not tell people my last name - they would make the link to the terrible tragedy.  Even now I avoid anyone I know is from that same town...they'd make the connection...

The pain is still with me.  Tears still flow freely sometimes when I'm at church.  One day an older man, the father of a friend of ours, came to visit and sat in front of me at church.  I stared at that white/grey haired/balding man with the tan head on top and cried the entire hour silently.  He reminded me of my Dad.  Tears streamed down my cheeks nonstop.  I miss my father - that funny, funny wonderfully crazy man- that generous, loving, kind man.  I miss him so much. 

My pain is still great and my heart still aches at the loss.

My distant family does not know the details of the death.  They only know of the suicide.  Perhaps reading this post will be the first time they learn the truth. 

It was tragic....very tragic.

At times I feel like throwing up.  Throwing up the sickness I feel in my soul. 

Whenever I eat processed food containing gluten, and sometimes when I just eat processed food, the depression hits...it hits hard enough to scare me away from the contaminated food.  I don't want to die like my father did.

For me the answers have been in the food I eat and the water I drink....I'm opening my life up to the healing powers of the earth and the sun....to any truth I can find...to the healing power of herbs and essential oils.

I'm beginning to open my heart to the healing powers of the Savior.  Today I went to church without excitement.  I went through the motions.  As I sat there and listened to the testimonies of the savior, was greeted by happy people and felt their love, my hard cold heart opened a little.  It will someday become soft.  To keep going forward I will need to forgive those who may judge my lack of excitement and lack of joy.... forgive me...I'm still grieving.  It has come in waves.  I stuff it in for years and then let a little bit of the pain out...a little at a time.

Perhaps by writing this post is a sign that I'm getting well.  I'm becoming prepared to tell his story.

If you know my Grandparents, please DO NOT discuss this blog with them.  DO NOT...it is too painful and they are very private.  DO NOT! DO NOT!  The pain would be too great for them. 

Direct only those to this blog site that you think it could help.

My thoughts are with you!

-Steff E

A Conversation with a Concerned Mother

I had a wonderful time talking to an old friend. All of us mothers gathered together in the living room, our kids ran off to play with the other kids their ages, and the guys (funny enough) all went into the garage to look at guns.  Typical guy conversation...they love their guns.

When my husband told me about what they had been doing in the garage, and how their conversation was all about the guns, and arranging a time to meet together at the gun range to practice shooting etc. I cringed.

What is it with men and guns?  During the deer hunt a couple years ago, my husband left very early in the morning (around 5am) and returned very late each day - each time with no success, and without a deer.  One morning, a couple hours after my husband had left in search of a deer "buck" to shoot, I opened the trailer door to find a HUGE BUCK staring right at me.  It was extremely close to the trailer.  Quietly I told the kids to come out to see something.  The buck waited there long enough for the kids to come and see what I had seen.  There in the middle of the small country town, on our property, was a buck.  "Too bad Dad isn't here", laughed my oldest son.  We thought it ironic that Shane would be out scouring the countryside looking for the perfect "kill" when what he needed was right back in the middle of town, on our property (that was under construction).  Due to what happened one terrible night, with a gun, I too say all the time "Too bad Dad isn't here"... and whenever I see a gun I cringe.

I'm going to make up a fictitious story, but will use the events from last night and other conversations I've had with others to create the story.

So, imagine there is a mother talking to you.  She has a 14 year old son.  This son has ADD, but he starts to have other symptoms - scary symptoms that are unpredictable.

Imagine there is a wife who loves her husband dearly, has several children, but the husband has started to act a little bit "crazy" lately.  He makes rash decisions.  He spends money quickly, he angers easily, is extremely jovial one moment and then withdrawn and angry the next.  You fear for yourself, and you fear for your children.

As I looked at the pictures in the house that night I looked at the children in those pictures.  They were about the same age that my brother, sister and I were when my parents were divorced.  My heart ached as I wondered what it would be like if these children didn't have their Dad with them - like me and my siblings had experienced. Imagine if the father of the family has bi-polar disorder.  Imagine if the mother was the one with bi-polar disorder...

There was no one who could make me laugh like my Dad could.  He loved to embarrass me.  One time I commented to him that I felt a little self-conscious going into the store with my track uniform on. It was sleeveless and I wasn't use to wearing shirts like that outside of track events and here we were in a big city and were walking towards a nice clothing store.  My Dad started to talk to me loudly as if he was retarded. (Please don't be offended when I use this word - I can't think of another word to portray what he was acting like) So, Dad starts dragging one of his legs, puts one of his hands to his chest in a bent deformed way and starts talking with one side of his mouth in a forced, contorted way.  He started announcing loudly to everyone that they should look at my shirt.  Absolutely horrified, I ran into the store and hid behind a clothes rack.  I watched with amusement when my Dad entered the automatic glass doors dragging his leg on the ground, walking awkwardly, and still in his changed voice yelling out "Has anyone seen my daughter?" 

Seriously, this couldn't be real.... I started to laugh.  "My Dad is CRAZY!"  I can't remember all the details, but eventually he would begin to laugh like he always did where it starts like a little burst (as if he can't contain himself any longer - like a geyser about to erupt) and then with the force of a geyser at Yellowstone, the suppressed laugh explodes.  His body would shake at the thoughts of how hilarious the situation was.  I'm sure those guys packing boxes in the very back of the store heard my Dad as he couldn't contain the hilarity of the situation any longer.  He laughed, and laughed and laughed. 

As the laugh subsides, and my Dad's physical form returns to normal, I quietly peer over the clothes rack, like a meercat, looking out of its little hole in the ground to see if it's safe.   I venture out and my Dad probably gave me a big hug as I struggle to suppress my laugh.  He was funny, but I was always the one to roll my eyes or act annoyed at his jokes. At times I felt like I was the adult and he was the child. Looking back I wish I had relaxed and just been thankful for every "crazy" instance I had with him.  It's those "crazy moments" that I cherish.

While at the same store, Dad instructed me to get "whatever I wanted".  I knew better than to take advantage of his sporadic buying.  I knew that he really would buy me anything and everything I'd ask for, but I chose a couple of items and then remembered watching his grey short haired nearly-bald, tan head bend as he searched in his wallet for the cash to pay for the items.  My heart swelled with love for that crazy gray haired / almost bald man.  He was such a good Dad.  I thought to myself how grateful I was that he wasn't like "the other people with Bi-Polar Depression".  Mom had told me about individuals who would jump out of buildings thinking they could fly.  Thank goodness my Dad was different.... how could I ever possibly imagine how his life would end...I couldn't.  He was too good of a Dad to ever imagine something so terrible. 

I never knew that crazy man that my Mom had divorced.  I have only one memory of my Dad when my parents were together- and when Dad wasn't on medication for his bi-polar depression and it wasn't a good one. I don't remember what it was that made me mad, but I had gone into my room and wrapped my arms around one of the beams that separated the open space into two rooms.  I was only 5 years old, but I remember actually biting the beam as if it was my father.  I heard a voice...  the voice asked me if I was trying to kill my father.  The voice then asked me if I really wanted my father to die...  The tenseness in my tiny little body let go of the anger.  I put my head down in embarrassment.  No, I didn't want my Dad to die I replied in my mind in answer to the question of the unseen voice.

The memory of the above situation would help me to understand later on in life why it was that my Mom divorced my Dad.  She did it for us kids.  She feared for herself, she feared for us kids.

Growing up, my Dad would never once spank me.  I don't know anything that happened before that one memory, but I know my Mom well enough- and the love she still has this day for my father, to know that it wasn't an easy choice to make, but one she felt she needed to do for our safety.  The Dad I knew was very different from the one my Mom had divorced.

Dad spent several years trying to understand his depression.  It was his greatest fear in life.  He told me this once, and said that he feared the depression so much because he never knew when it would come on and he never knew how long it would last. 

I knew when Dad was going through one of his bouts with depression when I wouldn't hear from him.  One time he called me briefly and simply explained "it's really bad this time".  Taking time off from my college classes for a day, I went to his tiny rental house and cut some roses and put them in a glass pop bottle and filled it with flowers and other various leaves etc. making a bouquet.  I left him a little note that probably read "I love you" - Steff.  This was all that Dad's cards ever said... "I love you" - Dad.  To this day, I try to carry on that simplicity with the cards, because although I knew it was just a few words - a simple sentence, my Dad had the capacity to love us with a love I hadn't seen other fathers show for their children.  Dad would go without his shoes if it meant giving us something we needed that he could provide.

I was going to go on to describe some of the manic moments, some of the fun times, but I'll stop there with the memories.  Dad is gone now - it's been nearly 9 years.  It's all memories now.

My thoughts go back to that cute little family, the grandmother, the wife and the father that I spent time with last night.  He is struggling with the same illness my father had.  Of course there are various degrees of illness, but I pray that the gun that he has in his garage will forever and always be used only for target practice.  Chills run down my back, and my stomach churns at thoughts of it being used another way.

Please stop the problem before the children even have it.

I pray that my children will not suffer the hell that my Dad experienced.  I pray that their mind will not catch the illness, the bipolar depression that my Dad had.  I pray that they will be kept well.

None of us know what our trials in life will be.  A friend of mine all of a sudden developed seizures when he was a teenager.  He barely rested from a seizure before another one would come on.  They (he and his mother) went from Dr. to Dr. seeking for relief without receiving answers.  Eventually they would be lead to a chiropractor that would be able to test him and discover that the river water he swam in regularly was filled with deadly toxins that had been absorbed through his skin and had traveled to his brain.  A diet change and natural remedies would finally reverse his condition.  He is lucky that he is alive and that the toxins that leaked from a nearby manufacturing plant hadn't killed him.

When I was living in another town, there was a man that was a little frightening to me.  He seemed to always be staring at me, when he thought I wasn't looking.  It made me feel uncomfortable and I always wanted my husband close to me whenever he was in our home.  When my husband worked out of town for several days at a time, there were several nights that the spirit would tell me to leave the house quickly.  I would gather up my kids, get in my car - my heart racing, and would feel peace as I drove away. This was a difficult time for me.

In the bible, Cain did kill Able...their food was not adulterated like ours is.  Evil does exist in the world and we can't blame everything on food and water contamination or environmental influences. 

Now, to continue with the story of the man that made me feel uncomfortable...and the possible link to food that was causing his "crazy behavior"....

The wife of this individual, who has since divorced her husband, told me (while they were still married) that the Mom of this man had told her (the soon to be bride) that she should NOT feed him processed food.  The Mom had instructed her about how his personality would change when he didn't eat the way she fed him.  The mom knew her son and would feed him fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains etc.  The wife, unknowing how she was contributing to her husband's insanity, was not purchasing or preparing the foods like the mother had instructed her to do.  At that particular time in my life I had not experienced my trials with my health relating to MS...I wish I could tell her now what I know...of all that I understand as it relates to food, water etc.

Even if we feed our children the very purest water and food etc., it is not a guarantee that we will be free from illness -just like teaching our children the gospel is not a guarantee to be free from spiritual illness.  We may read the scriptures together, say prayers together, go to church together, serve others etc.  What if the child decides to stop praying, stop studying the scriptures, and decides to stop going to church? What if the child does something wrong and they end up in jail?

There are people that will influence our children besides us.  My Mom told me how there was a man from Las Vegas who had visited our tiny little country town when my brother was only 12.  It was this man who introduced so many of the kids in this community to drugs.  How sad would be 10-20 years in these kid's lives to overcome the addictions that were made so many years ago from someone who came to that little town with an evil purpose, who stayed there with relatives for only a couple of weeks. 

We do not know what our kids will be exposed to.  We can only do the best we know how.  Pray to have the humility to accept the truths you need to learn and the courage to implement those truths despite the inconvenience it may cause.

The mother that I spoke to last night made me think of my Grandmother.  The Mom explained about going from Dr. to Dr. when the son started having the symptoms of bipolar disorder.  At that day and age there was little known of the illness.  When my Grandmother was experiencing the trials with my father there was even less known about the illness.  The mother talked about not feeling right about particular prescriptions, about praying and being led to people that saved her from devastating mistakes with regards to medication etc. etc.

My father would eventually end his life after going off of medication.  My blog is NOT meant to have individuals stop seeking the advice and care of their doctor.  My blog is meant to prevent our children from getting ill.  As I struggle with my health I have been able to hopefully stop the degeneration that was happening in my body.  I am still working to have the strength that I was born to have in this life.  My prayer is that those who read this blog will make the change, if not for them - then for their children and grandchildren. 

Now that I am strong physically and mentally (because of the food choices we've made) I can know dedicate time to getting strong spiritually.  Some may argue that spiritual comes before the others - which I agree in many ways, but let me tell you about something I learned when I was a missionary...

When I was a missionary, during my time in the missionary training center, I was paired with another sister missionary who was going to Panama on her mission.  We were told one day that because I was paired with someone serving in Panama, I would need to accompany her to the "humanitarian classes".  For several weeks, in addition to learning Spanish, I would learn from the humanitarian class that individuals need food and water and shelter and clothing before they would be in a position to accept and live the gospel.

As I've lacked strength to barely care for myself and my family, it was impossible for me to serve in the church.  My relief society president came to my home one day and told me that she didn't want me to be a visiting teacher any more.  Please know that to be a visiting teacher requires caring or "keeping watch" on 2 or 3 women in the ward.  You teach them a lesson once a month that comes from the prophet and apostles in the Ensign (church magazine sent to your home each month with messages from the prophets, apostles etc.)  You make sure that their spiritual, physical and emotional needs are being met and if there are problems then you notify the Relief Society President who then works with Priesthood leaders to provide the necessary care or protection. Being a "Visiting Teacher" is one of the most important parts of "mourning with those who morn, comforting those that need comfort" that you promise to do each Sunday when you partake of the sacrament. It was like I had "failed" as a Mormon when I was "relieved of being visiting teacher".  Since that time, as I've struggled with health issues (they come in waves), I've had to find peace even though I wasn't attending church as regularly as I wanted to or serving for very long in a particular calling.  It's ok to take care of yourself, your children and your husband's physical needs first....then when you have strength you can reach out to serve others. I feel the greatest service we can do is in our own families.  Be well.  Make sure your children and spouse are healthy also.

If you've been disabled in any way, please look to the Lord to lift you up, to bear your burdens and to make them light.  As I spent several years so weak that I had to rely on others to help me walk and to drive me places, I felt a variety of emotions.  Whenever I worried about the future, or worried about what others were thinking I felt anxiety and fear.  When I looked to the Lord and prayed, I felt peace....complete peace.

My thoughts and prayers are with you!

I realized last night, from talking with the mother/grandmother, that not everyone has a computer.  Not everyone reads blogs.  And those who need to read this information most probably don't even have the strength to hold up a book by themselves.  Hopefully someday I can put something together than can be read to the one needing to hear the information.

In college, I had a roommate (during the time I was sick and searching for answers) who brought into my room some story books. It was a little silly at first, but I put aside feelings of pride and listened like a little child as this amazing sister (in the spirit) read to me - like a mother would.  I felt so loved and felt so happy.  Although I had to stay behind whenever my friends went out together, it meant the world to me for my sweet, kind friend to read to me.

I'm so grateful for friends.

Please be a friend.  My motto is becoming "all we can do is simply love them....never judge them".

Service without love is harassment.

My thoughts and prayers are with you!

-Steff E