OK…I have been thinking about this post for months, and been writing and re-writing and re-reading it for a month. This feels by far the most vulnerable thing I have ever written and I don’t use the word “vulnerable” lightly. I talked about it the other day with a friend and expressed my hopes and also fears for it, and ultimately the hopes won out. I hesitate to write it because I do not want pity or to draw attention to myself. But even if that happens, if this helps anyone, then it will have been worth it.
I chose to write this and want to share for 2 groups of people:
1. For anyone who is unknowingly struggling with any of these health problems, I want you to be aware of what could be going on with your body. There are things I have struggled with for years that I am just now treating, because for years those problems were missed. We simply did not even know to test for these things and I do NOT want someone else suffering with something just because they are unaware of it. If you have health problems, THESE COULD BE UNDERLYING ISSUES TO TEST FOR.
2. If you are dealing with any of these ailments, or any illness similar, the latter half is filled with with some practical things that I do and things I tell myself. It sounds cliche, but you’re not alone. I have always found comfort in being understood by people with the same things. I have been blessed to have friends put in my life who I can relate to. I know so many people suffer alone, so hopefully this can bring comfort and you might even meet other people in the comments!!
My prayer is for this simply to reach who it needs to reach and that the Lord will bring physical and spiritual healing through it.
So here we go…
I’m here with what I guess is a health update? A practical health update and maybe some tips to offer you, and what I’m learning through it. I just had someone ask for a practical side of helping lyme, so I’m going to share a few things I have found helpful, for my physical and emotional well-being. Honestly this all does feel weird to share though, but I want to use this platform of my blog to reach anyone out there looking for help or reassurance or connection. Chronic illness is a lonely weird world, and I feel such comfort talking to friends or people who are in the same boat. It brings so much validation to me when I read someone else’s story and I’m like “Me too! I’m not crazy!” or just feeling like I can handle it because someone else is!
A year ago I started going to a new doctor and I am so thankful I found her. Her name is Jeanine Talty and she is in Roanoke,Virginia. She’s a holistic doctor and I have appreciated her so much. WOW. So much. Right off the bat we did blood work and boy was I surprised by my results.
First off, yes lyme came back positive along with some co-infections. I think babesia was one of the co-infections. And also Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
A B-12 deficiency was reaffirmed.
We also discovered some hormonal imbalances and hypothyroidism.
This is just a random thing, but I explained to her how my back ALWAYS hurt and under 5 minutes she figured out that the arches in my feet were different, causing my hips to be out of place and causing my spine to be out of place. She gave me inserts for my shoes and here I am a year later and my back feels 99% better!!! Such an easy fix!
She also ran a food allergy test (cannot recommend doing this enough!! It’s a lab that tests like 60 or something different types of food!) and turns out I am allergic to quite a lot of things. I would have had no idea otherwise because the allergic reactions can take 1-3 days to start.
We also discovered I am carrying mold in my body. Apparently if you have Lyme disease you are very likely to be sensitive to mold.
She also discovered I had candida overgrowth throughout my whole body.
So being vulnerable with you guys because I want you to consider some of these tests if you’ve already got some health problems or have not been feeling right for a long period of time! So many issues went under the radar for me and I wish I could have found them years ago!
I’m treating a lot of these things right now and honestly its been really hard, physically and emotionally, but I am SO hopeful. Last February I started my food allergy diet. At first it was really difficult and I felt like I wasn’t seeing any results. About 3 months in I could tell a huge difference. All of those foods had been causing allergic reactions that left my whole body feeling inflamed and exhausted and irritable among other things. I cut gluten out about 7 years ago and cut dairy out 2 years ago, and would definitely suggest that to pretty much anyone, but I saw really big changes with the food allergy diet and thats going to vary person-to-person. Like for example, I have a severe allergy to pineapple (!?) and a moderate allergy to green beans (?!?!)…so weird.
Our diets play a HUGE part in how we feel (I still haven’t watched it but my family is obsessed with the Magic Pill). You can try different diets out and see how you feel- I tried vegan for a while. It only made me feel worse but I’ve heard it does wonders for others. BUT the food allergy lab can tell you exactly what you can and can’t eat for YOUR body. I am not kidding when I say I have recommended this to nearly every person I know. Totally worth it.
Being on the candida diet, my already short “allowed food” list was cut in half, so right now my diet is superrrr strict. If you’re in the same boat and doing a candida cleanse I’ve got a ton of recipes on my Pinterest! If you do this, I’ll go ahead and warn you that it’s not easy, but it does get easier after the first week!
So what are some practical things I do?
Recommending doctors gets tricky because everyone responds differently to different treatment. I really speak from watching my dad who has suffered horribly with this for over 10 years. He’s gone to doctors all over the country and has not improved, through I have had lots of people recommend those same doctors, saying they worked for them. I am liking my current doctor, Dr. Jeanine Talty. My dad has actually been living in Mexico and receiving treatment there for the past month or so. He is at Lyme Mexico and he is very hopeful. To quote him when asked if I could share this: “Heck yes! I don’t think theres anywhere better.” I can come back with an update on him in the months to come, but we have heard very good testimonials from that place. Some of the top lyme doctors in the world are in Germany, and they work with the clinic in Mexico.
In the past year I’ve learned to give myself grace. I’m still learning it, but it feels good when you finally give it to yourself. This time marks a year that I had to stop working out. I’ve always enjoyed being active. I liked to do the Sweat with Kayla circuit workouts. I also loved going to classes at the gym and cycling there. I also would go on short runs and do body weight exercises. Over the past several years the workouts started to take more and more of a toll on me. Last fall semester I would go to a fitness class but the day after the workout I was pretty much nonexistent to the world- I could barely go to school and after those couple hours at school I was just kind of stuck on the couch for the rest of the day. I’m kind of hard-headed though so I kept pushing through it. I did know that my sister, who is also sick, couldn’t work out. I had seen short hikes do bad things for her. For a healthy person exercising will give them more energy. For a lyme patient, it zaps the little you have. I was so freaking determined though to keep going haha. I felt like I was lazy if I wasn’t working out and on top of that had struggled for years with body-image issues and my view of food. Finally I told my doctor and she told me I needed to stop. No more high-intensity or cardio workouts. Honestly it was a relief hearing her say that. It felt like she wrote me a permission slip that I had been too prideful to write to myself even though I knew I needed it. Now I just walk in the mountains behind my house and I turn around when I need to. I don’t push my limits with that. I’ve learned to give my body what it needs.
I am learning to tell people what I need. If I need rest I tell people. I used to make up excuses because I think I was in denial about being sick, but honestly now I just say “Hey I’m so sorry, but honestly I’m feeling bad right now, can we hang out another day?” My friend Annie called me out because she could see me struggling internally. John Luke and I were deciding if we’d go out one night or stay in and Annie was standing beside us. I SO badly wanted to go on to sleep because I was exhausted, but I could tell John Luke wanted to go, so we kept going back and forth on it because I didn’t want to go but wanted him to be able to go (long story short: particular situation where we needed to stay together). Finally Annie just said, “Mary Kate what do you need?” I needed to go to sleep. I honestly needed to go to sleep about 5 hours ago. So I said it and of course John Luke was fine with it and we went back. We had talked about the enneagram earlier that day and realized me and Annie were both 2s. She knew I struggled with telling people what I need because she does too. I am a people-pleaser and often times I put everyone else’s needs above my own. It’s totally not a bad thing to help people (I mean its Biblical!) but when I never stop to take care of myself I eventually have a breaking point and thats not good for me or anyone around me. I can’t expect others to know what I need if I won’t tell them myself. Most of the time the people around me have my best interest at heart and want me to be functioning the best I can. If they don’t, then those are opinions I don’t need, because I am already my own worst critic and the one who best understands the needs of my body.
One thing I am still working on and just wrote a blog post about, is being ok with being misunderstood. I have had my illness mistaken as me “not being any fun,” or “boring” and me “being too serious,” or “in a bad mood.” This is one of the hardest things for me, but I’m coming to realize I have to be coming from a place of being so immersed in the thoughts and love of God that I am ok with being misunderstood. I simply try my best to love others and be kind. That’s all I can do. As longs as I am doing that I’m learning that I have done everything in my power. If someone is seeking to understand I am more than happy to explain things and tell them what’s going on, but I cannot be upset with someone for their lack of understanding. I can’t wait until someone understands me to love them.
So I will sit on the couch and watch a show or movie and I won’t feel bad for sitting and resting. I guess this falls into giving yourself grace. I try not to compare my lives to others. It’s in the low and lonely valleys where I have learned a lot about myself. I realized I put a lot of my worth into how well I perform. There are things I have to do and things I want to do, and in my head I can do it all- I want to do it all! But I’ve learned not to spread myself too thin and if I’ve got too much on my plate I can scoot something off. Right now I am finishing school and thats got to be a priority.
Although I make sure I rest, I also make sure I get out. There have been times in the past where I didn’t want to leave my house, but then I would get lonely and have that as an issue. So I make sure to see my friends! They encourage me so much and I so appreciate their encouragement. Especially if I am having a bad day. My friend Rachel is always willing to listen and always has a word of encouragement. I also obviously still travel. It’s not that I magically feel better, but honestly I do believe God has blessed me with “good days” a lot of times we travel! But I go into a trip with the mindset, “Ok if we get there and I need a break I can spend a day in the hotel room.” It would probably be much more difficult if I couldn’t sleep on planes. Or buses. One time I sleep 13 hours on a 16 hour flight haha. Eating is harder when we travel, but I do my best.
I also have found it vital to talk with people who are also dealing with chronic illness. They don’t have to have the same illness, but suffering brings about a bond and that understanding is just such a comfort. If you don’t know anyone personally, 1) if you open up about what you’ve got going on, you’re bound to find someone else. 2) listen to podcasts or books by someone with health issues! ALSO, listening to Dr. Caroline Leaf has been HUGE for me. She’s got a podcast and is on Youtube. I’d recommend starting with her 4-part YouTube series- “How to Detox You Brain” parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Also speaking from a place of watching my family struggle with their health…be there for them. Pray for them. Speak life in to them. Encourage them. Show them that you care. Don’t forget about them.
And then ultimately, I believe the Lord is redeeming everything. My relationship with Him is what truly carries me through. Such a beautiful book that I recommend is Hinds’ Feet on High Places. I believe even in the ugliest and darkest situations, He is working things out for my good and His glory. As a human I so badly want comfort and would settle for that, but He is working on my holiness and my making me more like Him. It’s always painful situations that brings out beautiful and good things. Grapes are crushed for wine; wheat is ground into flour, and gold is refined in the furnace. Something my friend Katherine told me that I think of often is “Good and hard aren’t two separate things…good and hard can go together.” Just because there is something hard going on in your life, does not mean that you cannot live a good life. It may look different than you imagined, and it may look different from people’s lives around you, but it can still be GOOD.
This is so awesome thank you so much!!❤️❤️
Thank you for writing this! I’ve been having seizures for almost a year now and still have barely figured anything out yet! I’m also no gluten and no dairy and have had a ton of tests done like you have! I’m glad I have someone to relate to!
wow, i’m reading this as o lay in bed feeling guilty for not doing things i should be doing. this really spoke to me, i needed to hear this today!! thank you for being vulnerable, and reminding me to have grace for myself through chronic illness
Thank you for your vulnerability, and encouraging words MaryKate! I am suffering from chronic Lyme disease as well, hoping to start treatments in the next month, but it has truly taken such a toll on my life especially while being in college.
My mom also has dealt with it for years too.
You are not alone in it! And this reminded me that I am not either!
Praying for strength sister in Christ! ❤️
Ahh thank you for sharing!! I have hypothyroidism (hashimatos) which is so hard with the fatigue + food sensitivitivies
Thank you so much for your vulnerability, and encouraging words!
I am in college and am suffering with Chronic Lyme Disease as well. It truly has taken a toll on my life. I am starting treatments in the next month. My mom also has dealt with Lyme for years too. This post was so relatable.. you are not alone! And this reminded me that I am not either!
Commiting to praying for you and your family sweet sister in Christ! ❤️
Love this! Very encouraging even for someone without experience with a chronic illness. Love the last part about gold being refined in the furnace 🙂
I just hit my one year mark three days ago since I started my elimination diet. I did it for three months and then started introducing some foods back in to see what I was intolerant to. Turns out that cane sugar is one of my intolerance’s, and that has been the hardest for me to stay away from for sure. It is so hard not to compare your life to others in this way for sure. I have struggled so much with body image and an unhealthy relationship with food, that it led so close to an eating disorder. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am super passionate about this topic, and related to so much of this.
Thank you for being so raw MaryKate!! For being vulnerable and sharing this!! I needed this. Hope all is well! ?
Do you mind if I ask what the symptoms of Lime disease are?
Thank you for this!!! I have candida overgrowth (and leaky gut) along with so many food sesitivites and can only talk to my mom or family about it…it’s a hard diet to stick to, keep it up girl!!
Hey Mary Kate!
I’d like to share something with you that has blessed my family and I a lot. A few years ago, a friend introduced my Mom to Andrew Wommack Ministries. Andrew is very down-to-earth and backs up everything he teaches with scripture. After listening to his videos myself, I am amazed at what I have missed out on because I was brought up “in the church”, yet never really understood God or the intimate relationship we can have with him. Andrew may come across as bold, but after searching the scriptures, the lessons he shares truly reveal the true nature of God and the authority He has given us in our spirit as believers. I pray that your heart will be open to listen or read what God has spoken through Andrew. I am currently reading through his book “The True Nature of God”, and some other great titles are “God Wants You Well” and “Living in God’s Best”. His free online video teachings go with the books, and they’re such a blessing!
I just want you to know that I will be praying for you, and I say all of this in love and not criticism. You are very brave to talk openly about your health. <3
"And he said unto her, 'Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.' "
MaryKate! Thank you so much for writing this vulnerable post. It was beautiful to read the authenticity in it. I’ve struggled with a lot of symptoms the majority of my life and haven’t found many answers. It feels lonely and isolating at times, but today I cried out to God for some encouragement and then I found your post. I also bought Hinds Feet last winter when you shared it on Instagram then—it is now one of my all time favorite books. I’m also a 2 on the enneagram, so it’s so cool to have someone to relate. Keep sharing, keep giving yourself grace. God is doing a beautiful work in you.
Thank you so much for having the courage to write this!! After years of many misdiagnoses, I was tested for food allergies a little less than a year ago. It was my sophomore year of college when I began a very strict elimination diet of many foods. At the same time, I was being tapered off medication I had been on for the misdiagnosis which really took a toll on my body. This has been an incredibly isolating and frustrating season of life, and especially in the beginning I felt like no one understood what I was going through or why it was a big deal to me. Even a year later I still struggle with giving myself grace and telling people what I need. This was such an amazing reminder that we aren’t alone in this and I am so sure that many people will be blessed by this post!! Thank you so much for sharing!
I love your blog posts!! Do you think you could write a blog post on how/why you started your blog?
Mary Kate, this post was JUST what I needed to read. Our stories are SO SO similar it almost amazes me. I have been sick for so long with no answers until now when I finally went to see a lyme specialist. Not having a lot of people who understand lyme and how horrible it is to your mind and body can be challenging at times, but looking to God has helped carry me through as well. He is amazing and no matter what season of health we are in, God is working through us for his better good and that is definitely something I have learned to love during this journey. Also that food sensitivity test was one of the hardest things I have ever gotten back… COFFEE is on mine, I understand the struggle with these diets, but youre right pintrest is a life saver!! Praying for you and your families health through this incredibly rough journey. Keep giving yourself grace. Its the best thing we can do.
Thank you, MaryKate, thank you. Thank you thank you so much. I was recently diagnosed with both Lyme and celiac disease, which finally answered so many questions I’ve had for years. It’s so hard though, to receive an answer that you didn’t really want.
Thank you for so honestly and vulnerably sharing your journey and encouraging others along the way. I can’t say it enough how encouraging this is haha thank you thank you!
This speaks so much truth to me. Thank you so much for this post.
I love that no matter how different our circumstances are, the way we feel about them is always so similar. It gives me a hope for the future knowing that, I’m not alone, that some else out there goes through the same emotional roller coaster that I am. Thank you for showing your vulnerability, it makes me feel brave, almost like I could do it for someone else.
Thank you soo much for this! I was disagnosed with asthma when I was 3 years old, but I’ve had it mostly under control for almost 10 years. This year has been absolutely horrible for my asthma, and I’m also struggling with trying to push myself to do more than I am capable of doing right now. I definitely needed this reminder to give myself grace and my life can still be good, even if it has to be different than the others around me.
Thank you so much for sharing!! I was diagnosed with Lyme last year and I’ve had lots of mold toxicity that I’m having to detox from this year. It’s been a hard journey but I’m so glad to know that there’s many people who all understand and I love the part about giving yourself enough grace. I needed that! I also do love how God works on us while we are in difficult season and how he uses our stories to enourage others!! Praying for you!
I was at a Restoration Clinic on Thursday and Friday and something was said that struck a cord. They said being vulnerable shows strength because “Jesus is the ultimate example of vulnerability in his death which was ultimate strength by being the sacrifice we all need and he did it in the most vulnerable way possible. So, vulnerability is not a weakness, it is a weapon.” I also struggle with a seemingly unknown allergy that causes illness. I know being vulnerable is difficult, especially with those who don’t seem to want to understand. Thanks for showing strength in your vulnerability. It’s always great to know I’m not alone. 🙂
thank you so much for posting this MaryKate! I do not have a chronic illness, but my mom does & I got to share this with her (which she loved). As I’m sure you well know, having family members sick is almost, if not even harder than being the ill one. I have to remind myself and remind her sometimes that she can’t always keep up with our busy schedules or her own and that is perfectly okay. I think what you said about having grace with yourself is so so spot on and valuable and it goes both ways for the sick person and the people close to them. Your vulnerability is admirable and reaches so far for the kingdom of God. Thank you<3
thank you so much for this Mary Kate! I don’t have a chronic illness, but my mom does and I was able to share this with her (which she loved). As I’m sure you well know, sometimes having family members that are sick is just as hard, if not harder than being the ill one. I have to remind myself and her sometimes that she just can’t keep up at the same pace as our crazy schedules and that is perfectly okay. I think what you said about having grace with yourself is so so spot on for the person that is sick, but also for the people close to them. I’m always asking God to give me more grace because sometimes I just can’t understand how she is feeling. your posts are always so encouraging, this one especially because it touches close to my heart and many other out there. your vulnerability is admirable and reaches so far for the kingdom. thank you <3
Thank you for sharing! Your posts really make my day.
Bless your heart. I think you’ll find that this message is going to hit home for many people, myself included. I’m encouraged to go get some bloodwork done now. I’ve been struggling for seven years, ever since a traumatic event and I think it’s time for some answers. Every night I get in bed I remind myself it’s the Lord who makes me dwell in safety and therefore I can lie down in peace and sleep. Panic attacks used to be common for me in the middle of the night- so much fear for my health always thinking something is wrong with me! No matter what, I know the Lord has it in control, but thank you for the encouragement to seek answers!
Lord, thank you for this incredible young woman’s words that bring healing in and of themselves. Thank you for giving her the courage to speak out about chronic illness. I pray that you would continue to work in her life, using all trials for her good and your glory. I pray that all those who read her story and relate would be encouraged and feel peace knowing they are one of many. We love you Lord. Amen ?
Thank you so much for stepping out in courage and writing this post! I really needed the reminder that it’s neccessary to rest and that it’s neccessary to give myself grace – especially when I don’t meet my own “performance” goals. Am praying that God would continue to bless you and that He would continue to bring good out of the hard <3
The reason why I love following along with your cute little life is cause you are so darn relatable. Now in the phase of instagram it’s all about being “real” and “vulnerable” and I don’t mean to belittle any one but most the time I feel myself unable to connect. As though it feels disingenuous. It’s never that way when I read your posts/blogs. You always share from the depths of your heart and it shows! From one type 2 to another, I really relate to your words even if I can’t relate to your situation. Although I don’t have any real health issues I’m gonna take some of this to mind and get something’s checked out. All the best to you and yours ?
Thanks so so much for going out on a limb and sharing what you have and are going through!
I have been on a health journey myself and was diagnosed with lyme about 2 1/2 years ago. I have gained so much progress going holistic and changing my diet, but primarily trusting in God. I’ve grown tremendously in my relationship with Him. I fee you sister and know exactly how you feel. You will continue to see healing as you believe God’s faithful word and trust Him!
Love you girl!!
This is exactly what I needed today!! I just discovered I have a mold issue as well as some other issues on top of previous food allergies and I was feeling very depressed with what life would look like now that I have more food restrictions and environmental restrictions. It’s easy to feel like a social pariah when you can’t eat everything everyone else can eat but this was so encouraging and uplifting. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️
Mary Kate, thanks for not only being so vulnerable about your struggles with illness, but also for sharing godly wisdom about how you cope with your symptoms and how you keep a peaceful heart. I have Celiac Disease, Hypothyroidism, and digestive problems, and I know how sometimes you can feel alone in it. I am struggling to figure out what foods trigger fatigue and digestive pain, and I was wondering if you or anyone reading would be willing to share what foods you stay away from to feel better? Also, love the double name 🙂
I had to comment, too. I just wrote down the whole last section in my journal so I can refer to it often. I just read it to my husband, too. As someone with a chronic illness, I really needed to hear this. Many thanks to you and your friend Katherine. Thank you for sharing your life with us so that we can grow closer to Him through your witness …and find hope amongst friends on this often challenging journey towards Heaven. Love from a 37 year old homeschooling Mom of 4 who continues to learn so much and be so inspired by you!!!
Would you be willing to write a post on if/how chronic illness has affected your marriage? I am just wondering how you and John Luke have navigated this road and dealt with struggles/encouraged each other and grown through it. Did you both enter into marriage knowing you would face these challenges, or has your illness worsened and struggles arisen that you didn’t anticipate? Would love your thoughts on this.
Good idea! I will work on that. But to answer you in short here…my health did worsen after we got married and it was something we knew was a possibly but didn’t really anticipate. We knew it was possible I could get sicker and he had accepted that but we didn’t know what it would entail. So as the problems arose it definitely brought new challenges to our marriage. I touched on it in this post, but I think I was in denial about my health for a long time….kind of like if I didn’t pay attention to it, it would go away, but I think once we finally accepted it for what it was we were able to set new expectations for things. I was better able to communicate how I was feeling. I tend to feel like he should already know what I am needing or wanting, but I had to learn to communicate those things, and try to do that in a loving manner. Communication really has been a big part of it I believe. When I began to realize certain issues were stemming from my health, I could explain that to John Luke, and then he seemed to be able to understand it. For example- I can’t stay out super late because of my fatigue. In our first year of marriage John Luke couldnt understand that I was literally just so tired. He thought we had the same energy level, and assumed I was just wanting to stay in all the time for whatever reason. But when he understood that it was because of my health he was able to see where I was coming from and give me extra grace in that and care for me. So communication has been big. But also, John Luke has always been extremely patient, kind, and selfless, and I am really thankful for that.
Hi Mary Kate,
I’ve been struggling with Lyme disease for a while and was just wondering what exactly is your diet? I cut out all sugar from my diet a while ago and that really helped my health. Did you cut out gluten because you are allergic to it or because it helps you feel better not eating it?
Thanks for sharing! You listed some things I haven’t thought to check but I certainly will now. I hope Bruce is doing well with his treatments! (Delh person here and have known him my whole life).
Having dealt with Chronic Lyme, I think that probably the two most helpful things in chronic illness journeys are: hope and community. Hope seen through not only through physical healing that others experience, but even more so through seeing how others cope with the same battle. Hope in Christ through the midst of struggle. And community to share it all with – to let you know you’re not alone. Thank you for your openness and vulnerability and willingness to let God shine his light to others through the hard times.
As a mother to daughters with Lyme I totally understand your battle. It can seem endless. But, if you don’t give up, you will make it to the other side . Consider looking up DNRS. Annie Hoppers program for retaining our limbic system. These infections mess up our brain which keeps us from healing . Blessings !
I meant to say retraining .:not retaining :). It seems too good to be true. But for many it works 🙂
I’m not even sure if you will see this since this post is from so long ago. But I have a disorder called PCOS and its been a roller coaster. Right now, I am going through one of the downs and have felt defeated and alone. I remembered you wrote this post a while back and scoured through your blog to find it. You’re right, its such a blessing to simply not feel alone. And even months after you’ve posted this, it still managed to help me lift my head up. So for that, thank you.