What it's like to live with undiagnosable, chronic illness.

Had I Lost a Limb

September 23, 2017lectinfreemama

My symptoms have flared up again. Despite eating all the right things, doing all the right activities, taking all the right supplements, and getting all the right amount of sleep.

I can’t do my jobs again. I can’t sing without pain, I can’t relax without gagging, and I can’t eat without hurting. I feel like I’m back at square one. Two more doctors’ appointments, six physical therapy appointments, two misogynistic doctors who think I’m faking, a blood test, speech therapy referral (again), MRI.

As they slide me into the MRI machine, initial anxiety of the enclosed space gives way to warmth and deep relaxation, and I wish I could stay there forever, listening to the acoustic knocks. The hums and the vibrations hypnotize me. It’s a place where I can think without distraction. A place where I can dream of the healthy life I could have had, had I not taken too many painkillers, had I not taken too many antacids, had I never gotten pregnant, had I not eaten corn, had I not eaten so much sugar, had I not been born in America…

Had I lost a limb.

I saw a man missing an arm at the grocery store the other day. He could do everything I could. He pushed the cart with one hand and picked up items with his other limb. He carried things in both arms. He could pay for his groceries, he could carry his bags, he could drive, he could live his life knowing that despite missing an arm, he could do things again. Each day he could learn how to do something new. Each day he could work toward being as functional as he was before the arm was gone.

I yearned to be in his shoes. To have the luxury of knowing what was wrong. To have physical, tangible evidence of what is happening inside my body. To be able to touch and see and feel what’s going on, and to take scientifically proven strides toward healing. To stumble and fall, but know that, if I try it again tomorrow, I might be able to do something I thought I could never do again…

Had I lost a limb.

I watch as my 1-year-old daughter picks romaine lettuce out of my salad bowl and spends the next 5 minutes visibly grinding it with her teeth, then swallows it. She does an energetic little dance in place, then reaches for more. Tears gather in my eyes to see her eating real food, enjoying it. We can share this moment together. I can sit on the couch and eat raw salad greens with my toddler.

Had I lost a limb.

I don’t have the stamina to continue singing at my choir rehearsal, so I drop out and listen. I listen to the voices swell around me, and blend into harmonies that only the most beautiful things in life could have inspired. And this is only the rehearsal. No one is around to hear its perfection from the outside, because we are all part of its creation. How blessed I am to be positioned in the middle of such audibly fascinating surroundings. What I must have done with my life to experience this moment with this choir making this music.

Had I lost a limb.

The leaves and the acorns are starting to fall on the neighborhood streets. This used to be my favorite time of year to go running. Now I walk down to the end of the street with my toddler. She stops and picks up every single leaf. She searches for every single acorn. She starts to make a pile of acorns on the curb. I am grateful to simply watch her and be on the look out for the occasional car. I am grateful she takes it slow, for my sake.

Had I lost a limb.

I blend salad and water in the blender with half an avocado, some ginger, and some lemon juice. I think of all the creatures living inside of me that will enjoy this concoction. I sip it. I actually enjoy the taste. I wonder if my body will like it or if it will cry out to me again with its painful protests. I pray for the former, because I won’t know how to respond to the latter. I won’t know how to answer it. I won’t know what else to give it. I won’t know how to heal it. I don’t know how to heal it.

Had I lost a limb.

I look at the array of half empty bottles of vitamins and supplements. I’ve given them all up. They’ve failed me. I ponder which one I should start again. I guess which one might be the key. Which one might be the answer. Which one the cure. I decide on the probiotic, but as I swallow it, the tightness in my throat makes me gag when I’m swallowing. I cough, and it comes shooting out onto the table. I throw it away.

Had I lost a limb.

I sit at my computer. I look in the picture folder for the dozen recipe pictures that need editing, I look at the emails that need to be answered, I look at the Facebook notifications, I look at the half written word documents, and the traffic stats, and the affiliate dashboards. I exit. I start to type. I get to the end, and I decide to read the emails:

Just want to say thank u so much for your generous spirit.
Bless you,

I am loving reading your recipes!
Appreciate your time,

I’m very grateful to have your recipes in hand, especially starting out. Many thanks for the gift!

This is awesome!!

Thank you so much!

These beautiful people haven’t lost their limbs. They are right here where I am, with me, on this same frustrating journey. We haven’t given up hope. Each day we gain insight, we gain knowledge, and we gather the determination to keep going, to keep trying. There is nothing else but this–here and now. And what we do here and now may change our lives. Or not. All we know is we can never stop trying. There is so much to live for still.

Had I Lost a Limb: What It's Like to Live With Chronic Illness by Lectin Free Mama



  • Diana Schultz

    September 24, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    So vety heartbreaking for a parent over and over again. Living this moment, but hoping for a moment in the near future when we see a smile on your face and a bounce in your step. A time for renewed health which you are so deserving of Autumn. ❤ Mom & Dad

  • BJ Crouse

    October 2, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Thank you for writing with truth & feeling. Others who have like problems can relate with your words. I encourage you today to keep on, keeping on. Looking back on what you wrote, there are so many things that you can be thankful for in the place where you stand today. Be sure to dwell on the blessings you can be thankful for in each moment of your day, and not focus the hard places….for we all have hard places and they will always be there.
    They are our growing places, those things that stretch us and help us relate to others, or them to us. I wish you good things today and every day, and thank you again for being real and sharing.

    1. Autumn.m.boyle@gmail.com

      October 2, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      There are many, many things to be thankful for!

  • Lynda

    October 2, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    I am grateful for the recipes you have created that are Plant Paradox compliant. It is a real service to the rest of us. I am hoping for your recovery and continued good health thereafter. We love you.

    1. Autumn.m.boyle@gmail.com

      October 3, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you so much! I am humbled and grateful that so many are concerned. I hope to continue doing this for a long time!

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