It all started about 7 years ago in late 2004. Tim started getting very sick, going to doctor after doctor, being put through test after test. He had symptoms of Crones disease, IBS, Fibromyalgia, cancer, MS, the list went on. He was diagnosed with gastro paresis, paralysis of the stomach. His stomach muscles weren’t working the way they were supposed to, causing him to get very sick every time he ate. When it came to MS, there was one more test the doctors needed him to do, the spinal tap. By this time his color was horrible, he had to walk with a cane. He was dizzy all the time, terrible stomach pains, lower back pain, had what they call a brain fog, his memory was getting worse, he was tired all the time and never felt well. He was only 41 years old. I, we, really thought this was it. I thought I was losing him. We started planning for my future without him. I was terrified.
We had 7 children all still at home. Our oldest had just turned 13. So came the day of the spinal tap. During the test oxygen was placed over his face to help with the discomfort. Tim then realized that the oxygen lessened the pain. The spinal tap was horrible to say the least. I took him home, barely able to walk. He wasn’t doing well and continued to get worse over the next hour or two. I called my mother in law in tears not knowing what to do. He was having severe muscle spasms. The pain was so bad he couldn’t talk to me. I was scared so bad I was shaking. His mother told me to get him to the emergency room and she would meet me there. No one knew what was wrong. No doctor could tell us anything. With still had no answers, he was drugged up and sent home. I watch Tim continue to go downhill not being able to do anything for him. A subsequent doctor’s visit got him put on oxygen fulltime.
Tim, still frustrated with no answers, looked into the Mayo Clinic and got accepted for testing there. He called me every night to give me the update. Every night I was expecting to hear they had found cancer. It was an awful, long week. After that week of poking and prodding, they actually told him there was nothing they could do. Another let down. They told him he had fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease in his lower back among other things. They told him he was going to suffer for the rest of his life.
I have an older sister who was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, celiac disease, several years prior. She kept telling us we should get Tim tested for Celiac disease. We shrugged it off several times. We didn’t know anything about it really. The doctors never suggested it. We were told the blood test wasn’t very reliable. We gave up on the medical community and decided to go our way and we were introduced to a gentleman who later became a wonderful friend. Our friend does what is called bio-meridian feedback testing. Some say it is a farce. As for us, it was heaven sent. After a year or so of test after test from the medical world we walked into his office and had the whole family tested that day. We found what we were so desperately searching for, answers. Tim tested positive for gluten intolerance as did 5 of our 7 children.
Tim was later told and with some research realized he had the full blown auto immune disease, Celiac Sprue. The disease had done its damage. He would live with fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease, or in other words pain, the rest of his life.
This diagnosis brought with it some new challenges. What is gluten and how do I now feed my family? My sister was a great resource and my only support group at the time. I learned to substitute what I needed to in my cooking. There were some things I didn’t do among them being baking bread. What was I going to do? I tried new recipe after new recipe. The things I did bake came out very grainy or they would look good until they were taken out of the oven. My bread would collapse. I was reduced to making buns, flat and unattractive.
I tried to find gluten free products out there in the stores but was left pretty much empty handed. I found a few things, but expensive and disgusting were two words we used to describe them. I had to read the label on everything before putting it in my cart at the grocery store. It was a whole new lifestyle. No one had heard of “Gluten Free”. It was all so new. My children longed for “real” bread, pancakes, waffles, cookies… As a mother it breaks your heart when you can’t provide these simple things. They would go to birthday parties and not be able to eat cake and pizza. It was killing me. That was it. I set out on a mission.
I turned my kitchen into a testing zone. The things didn’t taste or look very good at first but at least they were edible. Tim just went without all those things that fell into the bread category. If he couldn’t eat the “real thing” he wasn’t going to eat it at all. After about 2 years, lots of trial and lots of error things started to turn around. We had found the secret sauce of gluten free baking. We started sharing our products with family and friends with gluten intolerance. The word started to spread and all who tasted our baked goods kept telling us we needed to market it. We did our research on starting a bakery in our home. We ran into some small stumbling blocks but for the most part we felt like we were being led through the process. Lots of inspiration and lots of blessings have led us to this point. We have a lot of family and friends to thank for their love and support. We did it!
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