At first glance you may not picture someone with chronic illness or autoimmune disease as the model student for natural living. The two just don’t seem to go hand in hand.
When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was a breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping mama. I preferred going to the chiropractor over my family physician. I spoke with other natural minded mamas. I was a part of that circle.
My youngest daughter was about 19 months old when I was diagnosed and enjoyed her "mommy milks" and was not ready to wean. My Rheumatologist did not understand what the big deal was, and why I was prolonging treatment that would ease my suffering. In her eyes my daughter was 19 months old at the time and should have been just fine with stopping our breastfeeding sessions. Starting treatment meant I would have had to immediately wean my daughter, as the treatment could harm her. It was a very difficult position to be in.
It was at that time I started to investigate root causes of autoimmune disease. I joined groups that discussed how to treat my RA naturally. I was going to DO THIS. I experimented with different diets that eliminated foods like sugar and gluten and dairy. I took supplements and tried and tried some more- and made it another 8 months.
When my daughter was around 27 months old I could barely walk. My ankles hurt so bad. I remember the night when I was tearfully nursing her, knowing I had to start treatment as I was not getting better with dietary changes, or anything else I was trying at the time.
I had to “cold turkey” wean her- meaning-we just ended it. The guilt that came along with that was two-fold. I felt like I failed her and I felt like I failed myself. That was when the grief came. The grief over ending my breastfeeding relationship like that. I should have mentioned that right before I was diagnosed I suffered a miscarriage, so I was also grieving that I was ending my pregnancy journeys with a loss. Just so much grief but mostly the grief over the loss of my “healthy, crunchy self”.
Once I started treatment I felt strange in those “natural” groups I had been in. We were not allowed to discuss medications so I felt really alone during this time. I still really loved learning about natural living. I still wanted to support my body with the foods that could nourish support healing. I still wanted to learn about oils and how they worked- I still felt part of that circle.
I love that I have been able to incorporate my love for natural living by educating others on the toxins in their home that can contribute to illness. Through the use of non-toxic products and essential oils- I've been able to maintain a sense of control with what enters my home, with what goes ON my body and my Children's bodies. I am slowly becoming a DIY mama and I love it.
This has all given me great joy and has allowed me to continue in my love for all things crunchy, except now I call myself 3’4’s crunchy.