Kristen’s Story-The Journey to Healing

13 Mar
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  37 Comments

It all started on Feb. 17, 2010.  I was at the hospital welcoming my twin niece and nephew into this world, and I casually showed my mom the bumps on my hands around the knuckles, asking her what she thought they could be.  My mom has always been a worry-free mom, so of course she said it was nothing.  Over the next few weeks, my hands started aching pretty badly, and the pain continued to get worse until one night I woke up with extremely stiff hands; this went on for weeks, which turned into months.  Waking up in tears almost every night as I was in excruciating pain and fearful for what was happening to me.  I couldn’t bend the fingers in my left hand.  I remember countless nights that consisted of pain, crying, and waking up my husband, Eric, and asking him to pray for healing.

At first, my doctor just gave me a prescription NSAID (anti-inflammatory) to see if that would take the pain and inflammation away. (It didn’t.)  At my next visit, he took an x-ray of my hand to see if anything could possibly be broken. (It wasn’t.)  I asked him to do a complete blood work-up on me, and he agreed as he was then concerned that what I had could be several things: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, parvovirus, & other diseases that scared me to death.  While waiting on my blood results, I did exactly what I shouldn’t have done; I went home and researched every disease that he mentioned I “could” have. Now this was also a time when my husband worked almost every night, so I was home alone a lot and didn’t have anyone to take my mind off of all my fears.  Panic, depression, and worry all filled my mind, especially after reading articles that talked about fertility problems being linked to some of these diseases.  More than anything, I want to be a mom someday, and my mind kept going back to “what if I can’t have children?” “Will I have to live in pain the rest of my life?”  The information you read online is downright scary.  My results came in and the doctor couldn’t tell me much except that my ANA levels were high and that he wanted me to see a specialist, a rheumatologist.  Unfortunately for me, the first appointment available was weeks away, so the waiting and worrying continued….along with the pain.

By the time my husband and I went to see the rheumatologist, I had talked to several people about what was going on with my health and from my own research, I decided to ask the doctor if he thought I should go on a gluten free diet to help my pain.  He said absolutely not, and that the only people who need to go on a gluten free diet are those who have celiac disease and since I was not having intestinal pain/diarrhea, that I didn’t have celiac disease. (He was misinformed).  Check out the symptoms of celiac disease here. I also talked to the doctor about whether I should try eating an anti-inflammatory diet to see if that would help.  He told me that changing someone’s diet could not change inflammation in the body.  (As a dietitian, I was shocked that he said and believed this).  So I asked him what he though was wrong with me, and while he wouldn’t admit that he “didn’t know,” he said he wasn’t convinced it was Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus because all of my symptoms didn’t seem to match up perfectly. He said, “Well, you have arthritic pain. Here are steroids for you to take, and come back in a month.”  This is the problem I had with all my doctors, and I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I was with the fact that these doctors were giving me a drug to treat the symptoms, but didn’t try at all to find the CAUSE of the symptoms.  Honestly, what hurt me worse was not the pain; it was not knowing what was wrong with me and not knowing if I was going to be okay.  The unknown hurts a lot worse than physical pain.

So I reluctantly took the steroids everyday and hated that my appetite increased quite a bit (side effect of steroids).  Some people take steroids the rest of their lives, and I just couldn’t do it.  I’m not sure if this was a good or bad thing, but they didn’t work.  The pain, stiffness, and swelling continued.  Not only that, but when I would wash my hands, my fingers would get this burning, tingling sensation.  Scary.  When hurting that badly and not knowing what was causing my body to fall apart, I couldn’t help but let my mind go places I didn’t want it to go. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to be healthy again. I wanted the pain to go away.  And most of all, I wanted answers.  Someone please just give me some answers!

In the midst of all this, I did get a blood test done for celiac disease. (I had to BEG my doctor to perform this test.)  The doctor called me and said I did not have celiac disease, but I had him fax me my results anyway.  Being a health care professional, I know how to analyze labs, and one of the antibodies in this panel was slightly positive.  Therefore, while I may not have celiac disease, I could possibly be sensitive to gluten.  Unfortunately for most people, blood tests are inaccurate a lot of times.   Biopsies are also sometimes falsely negative because it is easy to miss the damaged spots of the small intestines.

On May 5, 2010, I decided to do the elimination test myself to see if I would feel better without gluten.  I don’t know exactly how long I was gluten free until I started to feel better, but I would say approximately one month.  My joints became less stiff and the pain started to ease up.  I wasn’t completely better, but any improvement was fine by me.  Not only did I remove gluten from my life, but I also did my best at removing chemicals from my home.  I’m still doing this, but slowly as I would run out of a cleaning product or beauty product, I would replace it with a natural product, free of harsh chemicals and toxins.  Financially, we didn’t have the means to completely throw out everything and buy all new, so this worked for us.  My sweet husband, Eric, was extremely supportive through all of this.  He would even eat some things gluten free with me.

Just when I think all my prayers are answered because I’m starting to feel better, I start having twitching in different parts of my body.  This wasn’t minor twitching that you get in your eyelid every once in awhile.  This was every 10 seconds of spasms, twitching, or whatever you want to call it all over my body.  Eric told me that every night while I was sleeping, he would wake up and feel what was happening to my body.  He said it felt like a wave traveling down from my back to my feet.  Eric also described the waves as very faint, but that they would move so fast down my body that he knew it wasn’t anything I could possibly control.

So I went to two more doctors who couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and then I ended up at a neurologist.  He performed a nerve study and an MRI on my brain to see if I had MS.  Both were negative, and he said he could give me a muscle relaxer but I declined.  The twitching and spasms continued, along with tingling that shot up my arms.  My body was out of control.  I remember crying out to God and begging him to heal me.  There were numerous times when I was home by myself and just lost it.  As a dietitian, I so valued health and wellness, and the fact that I was sick and didn’t have answers killed me.  I wanted to be healthy and feel good again.

God did answer my prayers by providing just the right people and resources that would help lead me to healing.  On October 27, 2010, I went to an alternative doctor here in Nashville.  To make this already long story a bit shorter, he agreed I should stay clear of gluten (1 in 7 people have a gluten sensitivity) and he also took lots of blood work and did a stool test.  Several things were off, but the main things were my elevated ANA, which I already knew, my thyroid levels were low, and my stool test showed very high amounts of heavy metals in my body (which he says lots of people have).  He started me on a chelation process which consisted of me taking supplements to rid my body of the heavy metals.  A very healthy diet would speed the process up of detoxifying my body.  “Eat healthy? I’m good at this, but I can be even better.”  Eric and I switched to organic for most foods, and we ate more vegetables than ever before (still do).  My doctor also gave me Armour, which is a natural form of thyroid hormone, unlike the synthetic kinds that drug companies and most conventional doctors prescribe.

I am a new woman and have never felt better!  I go back in May 2011 for more blood work, and I’m just praying that my ANA and thyroid levels are normal again.  What matters most right now is how I feel, and I can tell you that I have never been so thankful for my health.  I could have continued letting all my doctors tell me to continue taking drugs (that weren’t working) and go on with my life, but I wanted to get to the root issue.  I healed myself naturally and so can YOU.

Naturally Yours,
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

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37 Responses to Kristen’s Story-The Journey to Healing

  1. Kristen, what a story! You are so inspiring. Love seeing someone turn from traditional route of pills, pills, and more pills… and deal with it naturally. Thanks for telling your powerful story!!

  2. Suzanne

    Well said, Kristen! I also believe that most people should avoid gluten for many reasons. Doctors are not gods – they don’t know everyting especially how to “prevent” illness! They mostly try to cure with medication. I applaud you in knowing and taking care of your own body! Suzanne (mom of twins ;) )

  3. Kristen, your story is inspiring and will resonate with so many people, especially those for whom doctors did not hold the answer and had to heal themselves through their diets. Whether or not a person is “Diagnosed with Celiac Disease,” gluten could be harmful to them. No, not everyone needs to go off of gluten, but for people who have not found answers through traditional medicine, what does it hurt to try? If people feel better as you did, what a miracle and a blessing. Thanks for sharing your story and your work for all of us in our gluten-free community!

  4. Kristen, I am so excited for you and your natural healing! 80% of the children I work with for feeding & swallowing therapy are GFCF or GFCFSF. I have had children covered with sores, swollen bellies, hyperactive and anxious go on a GF diet and within a month they are a new kiddo! Thank you for showing others the GF way!
    GF Blessings,
    Dawn Winkelmann, MS, CCC-SLP
    Speech Language Pathologist/Feeding Therapist

  5. Ann Grider

    Hi, Kristen- My family has been going to a holistic MD for 6 years now. She helped my daughter, who has PCOS, cut her cholesterol and tri-glycerides in half, and lose 26 pounds, just with eliminating foods and adding supplements. My husband went to a traditional doctor for hyperthyroidism and, of course, this doctor wanted to nuke and destroy his thyroid. Instead, the Holistic MD eliminated certain foods and put him on supplements and his thyroid is back to normal. I find it truly offensive and amazing that traditional doctors don’t recognize that the food we eat might influence our overall health. Good for you for listening to your instincts and getting the correct help. May you continue on your path of health and well-being. Ann

  6. Donna Ortner

    A very inspiring story ! You were so wise to take you health into your own hands. Do you mind giving the name of the doctor you saw in Nashville? I live in the area and am looking for a doctor to treat my thyroid disorder. thanks

    • Kristen

      Thank you so much! The name of the doctor is Dr. Chapdelaine in Brentwood, TN. He’s definitely known for his knowledge & expertise, not necessarily his outgoing spirit. :)

      • Donna Ortner

        Thank you! I have definitely heard of him and have considered making an appointment. We are fortunate to have his practice in our area. Looking forward to following your journey.

        • Kristen

          So glad you are going to see him! He will definitely help you! If you want to start getting all my posts, you can “subscribe to RSS” on my home page. Have a fabulous rest of your week! And if you ever need help nutritionally, feel free to contact me and we can set up an appt!

  7. I know exactly how you feel: I went through a very similar story but my diagnosis was IBS (which really isn’t a diagnosis in my opinion, just a cover all for abdominal pain). I had 6 doctors, was prescribed all kinds of meds and went through almost every GI testing you can think of. When I started researching IBS for myself and trying alternative ideas with my doctors, I was treated like a child meddling in adult business. After all other major GI diseases were finally ruled out, I gave up. I tried to manage my symptoms with my diet, meaning I didn’t eat anything with fiber since it would run through me. I didn’t eat veggies, fruit, beans etc for about 2 years so I didn’t miss work. I still missed work and was harassed by my employer since they didn’t believe I was sick (I was only 25 years old). I was finally fired which was a relief (due to the stress they caused me) and continued to eat what wouldn’t affect me as badly. About a year later, my Mom introduced me to a way to lose weight. I’m VERY skeptical of diets and I wouldn’t listen to her for quite some time. Once I saw that she had lost weight, I finally looked into it and had hope. I was 290 lbs when I started and I wasn’t going on a ‘diet’ to get healthy, but to lose weight. What surprised me was the ‘side effects’ of losing over 100 lbs: I have no more IBS symptoms, my eczema went away completely and all my medications are eliminated. I’m also off my CPAP (the machine you use when you have sleep apnea). I have lost 104 lbs and I have 46 more to go and I’m excited to have my life back!!!
    I can completely relate to the desperation and hopelessness that you have when no one can give you answers as to why you are sick. It’s very scary and isolating (even with a spouse).
    Good luck on your journey!!!

    • Kristen

      Wow! What a story you have! That’s so wonderful that you lost that much weight and that you’re feeling so much better! You are also an inspiration by taking your health into your own hands and being your own health advocate! So happy for you! xoxo Kristen

  8. Brittnie Wells

    I had no idea you were going through all this. God was with you the whole time and gave you the tools through your education to tackle this on your own. What an amazing feeling. I am very happy to hear that you feel great and are doing well. Lots of love to you and Eric!!!

  9. Kay

    I am glad you are doing better but it was irresponsible for your practitioner to state that every one should stay away from gluten. While some people have sensitivities it is simply not true that everyone need obtain. Eating a varied diet helps to prevent allergies from developing.

    • Kristen

      Kay, I agree w/ you that not everyone should stay clear of gluten. I think I worded that sentence wrongly. My Dr basically said that a lot of ppl should stay away from gluten (since 1 in 7 ppl have a gluten sensitivity these days). But yes, you’re right that not everyone should go gluten free.

  10. Dana

    This sounds like what is wrong with me!! I have been battling your same symptoms for 8-10 years now, and for the 1st 2 years the Dr.s couldn’t tell me anything except maybe I had MS..though they kept ruling it out with MRI’s. I finally went to a Neurologist at Washington University at Barnes in St. Louis who diagnosed me with Ideopathic Peripheral Neuropathy, which means peripheral neuropathy of unknown origins. They still have not been able to tell me what is causing it. I have been on Neurontin in mega doses for the past several years. I have all kinds of strange symptoms like burning in my face, tongue and feet, tingling in my feet, hands, face and torso, muscle pains and twitches, pain in my eyes and abdomen, unexplained rashes on the backs of my knees and wrists, unsteadiness at times, and bowel and urinary inconsistencies, gas, bloating. and on and on. Not once has anyone ever tested me for Celiacs Disease. My ANA blood tests have come back positive in every blood test I’ve taken since my symptoms came on. Unfortunately I am without insurance since 2009, and haven’t been able to follow up like I should. I had just convinced myself that I was going to have to take meds the rest of my life..your story gives me hope that maybe there’s another test out there that can be done to get to the bottom of this. After all kinds of blood tests and MRI’s over and over, and nerve conduction tests and EEG’s, I had given up hope that they would find out what is causing my problems…Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  11. Merritt

    Wow! I am so glad you were persistent and found a natural cure all on your own. And you are so new to the gf diet; I never would have guessed! I hope you continue to feel better and share your knowledge.


  12. Hi Kristen! I’m glad you’re feeling better, what a relief! I’ll look forward to reading more on your blog.

  13. trying to find you on facebook, wats your profile

    • Kristen

      If you go to my homepage on this website, look to the right and you can “Like” my page. Click that – Naturally Free RD is the name of the page

  14. Kristen, your blog looks awesome. I am so excited about your new adventure and I love you very much. See you tomorrow, Tammy

  15. Heidi

    WOW! You are blessed to have been led to the right answer! SO many people don’t find what you have and sadly spend their adult lives in pain and discomfort. A couple years ago, I got ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’ and started to see that I needed to take control of my own research. I also realized that all dr’s are not created equally! My health history is extremely long (and I’m only 40) but suffice it to say that I’ve been through it all, including nearly dying 9 years ago this month. I have different meds for different issues (mostly because of GI and clotting disorders) but some were seeming to just be ‘band aids’ for real problems. I was blessed to find what worked best for me. It’s a company called Arbonne, and it’s a 100% vegan wellness and skin care company. I have been able to get off of 3 of my meds and am working towards another, just because of the vitamins!!! The protein shakes, fiber, supplements, etc are formulated without gluten!! They are a constant in my life now, and of course I now am a Wellness Consultant with Arbonne…I wanted to be able to shout it from the rooftops and hopefully help many many others! Everything in this company is Swiss formulated…meaning they are way better than what we find here in the US because of the strict regulations the Swiss have. This is a company that would go along with your organic and gluten-free lifestyle, and I encourage you to look into it further!!! God’s blessings on your continued journey…I am now a follower! : )

    • Kristen

      SO happy to hear that you’re feeling better! What a relief! I know exactly how you feel with all the unanswered questions. I have heard a lot about Arbonne and have even used their skincare products before. I currently already have wonderful protein powder and supplements that I take everyday, but I will definitely look into Arbonne’s as well. I hope you have a wonderful day & so thankful for your passion for health! We’re all in this together to raise awareness for healing! xoxo Kristen

  16. Vivian

    Kristen, you have done a great job in developing your webpage. It was so good to see you again! Needless to say, I have a very personal interest in what you are doing. I’ve had lupus for 15 years and fibromylgia for 20. Now my 19 year old daughter is following a very similar path. She is in constant pain. The only thing that gives her true relief is accupuncture, but she is unable to have it as often as needed. She has been gluten-free for a year but tested positive for numerous food allergies and every tree you can think of.

  17. Vivian

    Kristen, I accidentally hit “submit” before I finished the previous comment . . .

    I look forward to staying in touch with you as I read your blog. I’ll let you know what the two new doctors have to say about my daughter after we see them during her spring break.
    We would appreciate your prayers for her.

    • Kristen

      Vivian, It was so good to see you the other night as well. I will definitely be praying for your daughter. I know exactly how it feels to be hopeless and to not understand what’s going on. If those Dr’s don’t find the solution for her, I went to Dr. Chapdelaine in Brentwood (over by maryland farms YMCA). He is extremely knowledgeable about nutrition and testing blood/stool/hormones etc to find the cause of all these problems. I also have another alternative practitioner that I see regularly & they are able to test for food allergies in a complete different way (In Green Hills). Anyway, those are some options for you if the other Dr’s don’t work (I hope they do though). Keep me updated on how everything goes.

  18. Kristin, what a story. I am so impressed with your strength and how you searched for the truth/were your own advocate. My sister has MS and getting a diagnosis or a doctor to listen is sadly not easy. Look forward to hearing more about your recovery and tips.

  19. You blog is GORGEOUS! I’m so proud of you! You are going to help so many people through this site. Blessings!

    • Kristen

      Aw, thank you so much Heather! You are so so sweet & encouraging! I absolutely LOVE your blog as well..we should definitely do guest postings for each other in the next month or two! (still trying to get used to blogging :)

  20. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

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  23. Wow Kristen. Reading your story was like looking into my own life. I actually had some very similar issues and had great results from seeing Dr. Chapdelaine back in 2007. Unfortunately it went downhill for me when we moved to Florida and my doctors down here refused to continue prescribing me Armour thyroid. They substituted synthroid and it was all haywire from that point on. I began a gluten free lifestyle on my own this past year and have had phenomenal results. Your story gives me a lot of hope and is very inspiring to see that we are not alone in the world. Some doctors make you feel like its all in your head but in reality they just fail to look for real solutions. Thank you for sharing and I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog.

    • Kristen

      Hi Melanie,
      Thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your story. I wish that you still lived in Nashville so that we could get together for coffee or lunch. I hope that you find a great alternative doctor or holistic dietitian in your area soon. Best wishes to you and your health!

  24. Holly

    Hi Kristen,
    I’ve tested high for heavy metals and am seeing
    Dr. Chapdelaine as well! Were you placed on DMSA?
    I’m on DMSA and EDTA and have has major
    stomach pains. Hoping to be good as new very soon!

    • Kristen

      I’m so glad that you are getting help to chelate your heavy metals. You should feel much better after. At least getting them out will improve your immune system and help prevent further damage to your organs. Yes, I was on both of those supplements to help rid my body of heavy metals.

  25. Nancy

    Would you please update us on your progress? Your story was fascinating to me and also encouraging.

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