15 Jan Beauty From Ashes – A Daughter’s Diagnosis
Beauty From Ashes – A Diagnosis, but Not a Life Sentence
By: Brandie Ray
When our middle daughter, “M” was around 10 1/2, she was struggling with headaches. On top of that, she had foot pain, no energy, and just didn’t ever want to run around and play like most kids her age. She also would get super frustrated and the simplest of things would set her off. She had a hard time letting go and moving on once she was so upset. Lastly, you could see she was putting on weight quite quickly. However, as a mama of three girls, weight wasn’t something we discussed, because let’s be honest, as a girl mom, I don’t ever want my girls to struggle with eating disorders and all the junk that comes with that. Society, sadly already puts enough emphasis on it. So we just kept trucking along. I prayed like crazy asking God for the guidance to help me figure out what was going on with our sweet girl
Well as time progressed and her 11 year wellness visit was coming, I knew it was something I wanted to discuss with her pediatrician. My mama gut was on high alert. When I took her in, I shared some of my concerns with the pediatrician. I requested blood work to be done so that I could review all her levels. The pediatrician agreed with my concerns and obliged. Now let me tell you having blood work done on this girl of mine, that’s a whole other adventure in itself. Out of all my girls, this one “loathes” the doctor and/or anything medically related and getting blood work was heart-wrenching. Go figure with her mama being a nurse and all, I’d have one that struggled with it. HAH.
A Life-Threatening Diagnosis
A couple days after her blood work was done, the pediatrician’s office called me. They told me that they were diagnosing “M” with hyperinsulinemia. If you’re not familiar with hyperinsulinemia, it’s the body’s overproduction of insulin to the point that it doesn’t know what to do, so it stores it as fat. On top of that, if it’s not addressed, that fat won’t know where else to go, so it will accumulate on vital organs, slowly but surely shutting them down over time. This information was a punch in the gut. I realize it’s not as bad as some diagnoses that parents receive, however, it can still be life threatening over time and no one ever wants to have their kiddos sick and struggling. I went into a full-fledged fight mode for my girl to figure this out and prayed like crazy for God’s help and guidance.
At that point we were referred to a pediatric endocrinologist to dig in deeper. We met with the endocrinologist, who requested even more blood work. We discussed all the results and she was interested in putting M on medication. I said, “NO WAY!” As a nurse, I’m familiar with those medications and I am a firm believer that most of the time other things can be tried – I wanted medication to be a last resort. So, I stood my ground and asked if we could try other options first. The endocrinologist said she would like our diets changed to see if we could fix things.
We went out, got a notebook to keep a food journal, and we started with a low fat, whole grains diet, as suggested by the doctor. Let me tell you, we did that for a few months and I could visibly watch M getting worse. I was getting so frustrated. Finally after a few months, I had blood work done again and went in for a follow-up with the endocrinologist. Things looked slightly worse. I was so upset. I told her that summer would be starting soon and the girls would be out of school. At that point, I was going to do my own research and see what I could do to help my baby girl. The endocrinologist said we could give it a little more time, but to schedule a followup again in a month.
Honestly, I felt like I had failed as a mama. I had let my baby girl and the rest of our family eat junk, I had made excuses, etc… But, deep down, I knew that was a straight lie from the enemy. I had to pause and pray for God’s guidance. Our family has been through some pretty trying times and I was reminded of that. In spite of the fear, I was reminded to look at how He has always been there and He always has a plan. I continued to pray that He’d send help for my girl.
God Sent Help through… a YouTube Account?
Now, maybe you’re thinking, “she’s a nurse why wouldn’t she have the answers?!” You have to keep in mind, in nursing school you get very little nutrition teaching. They try and save that for dieticians. Nutrition can be a vicious pond to wade in. But, I dove head first and started researching anything and everything I could get my hands on with regards to nutrition. I came across a woman by the name of Cristy “Code Red” Nickel. She had a book, YouTube videos, etc… I researched the heck out of her and what she was doing. I reached out to her and her sister (who is her COO and holds a Master’s degree in nursing). I asked them a million questions and they responded to every single one of them. What I learned is that Cristy helps people learn that eating real food, drinking a gallon of water a day, getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, not eating after 6:30pm, having no sugar, no grains, no shakes, no pills, and no exercise (that will come later, but NOT for weight-loss, but for mental well-being) can help them lose weight and get healthy. I also learned that you absolutely can not lose weight and get healthy in the presence of insulin (especially an overproduction). With everything that she shared with me, I decided I was going to try what she was suggesting. She was helping clients and changing their lives. I read her book in one sitting and knew this was going to work. I look back now and know that there’s no doubt that God placed her and her sister in my path for a reason.
Although I’m an RN, I couldn’t help but feel convicted to try to find an alternative method of treatment, and I absolutely know now that it was God that convicted me to seek alternative methods. He placed the right people, books, websites, research, etc… in my path at just the perfect time to help guide me and make us successful. I also knew that I needed to be ready and He knew when I would be. Or better yet, when our family would be ready to all 100% commit. I prayed for Him to help me to get our entire family on board, for help on the tough days when we would be tempted with junk food or stress (that would cause us to want to turn to “comfort food”), and for a miraculous healing. I prayed for strength often. I really leaned into God’s word.
The Family Commitment
Shortly after, the girls got out of school for summer break and we all committed to making a change. We knew that we couldn’t help M be successful if we didn’t all do this together as a family. We literally emptied out our fridge, freezer, and pantry of anything that wasn’t approved. I mean it, literally! I went shopping for all approved foods and we went ALL IN!
Was it hard, heck yes. Almost all of us went through a detox, some worse than others. However, once we got through that and rid our bodies of all the junk, it was like a fog had been lifted. We ate our real food, drank our water, got our sleep, excluded non-approved foods, didn’t eat after 6:30 pm, and our lives drastically changed.
A Walking Miracle
Three short weeks after we began our journey, I took M in for follow-up blood work. Not only had she lost 12lbs in that short amount of time, but her insulin level had gone from a life-threatening 41 to a 7! A 7, people!!! The endocrinologist was floored and asked if I was doing what she had mentioned. I told her no, that her way didn’t work and we found our own way. I explained and she didn’t have much to say, the proof was in the numbers and “M’s” appearance. She said, “well, I guess keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working. Oh and come back and follow-up in a couple months.” I said, “We got this and God’s guiding the way.” Here’s the best news – Our doctor said that M could no longer be diagnosed with hyperinsulinemia and that, had we not had the prior bloodwork, you would never have known she even had it at one point!
Since then, M has lost a total of 37lbs. She has no more foot pain, no more headaches (unless she hasn’t had enough water, which she can now recognize), she absolutely LOVES to play outside, is a healthy, is active, is full of life, is confident, and her temperament is like day and night. She’s a completely different young lady and so incredibly happy. Sometimes I catch myself standing at the window watching her play with her sister and just cry with joy and happiness. I’m so grateful.
We’ve now been at this lifestyle since June of 2018. It’s how we choose to live each and every day. This lifestyle 100% saved our daughter’s life as well as all of us. Our girls have learned that food is fuel, not to be an emotional crutch.
I have seen God – His plan, His goodness and even His divine design for humanity, food and health – in so many ways through this journey. I think one of the biggest things He’s shown me is that the world overcomplicates things and tries to make things such a big deal. If we just strip everything back to the way He initially created them to be, that is what is important. Sticking to real foods, drinking our water, and getting our sleep, is how He created it in the beginning. Keeping it simple the way I know He has always planned was, and is, key. Our society has just turned away from Him and or His ways in so many areas. Seeing Him heal our daughter and our family and reminding us that He’s always with us, always faithful, and always stands by His Word. We are blessed, grateful, and our hearts are so full.
I’ve been asked if I’d do it all again and, honestly, I would absolutely do it all over again. Do I like the idea of my daughter or really any of us suffering from sickness due to foods? No. But, God was so good and so faithful. I’m grateful and I give Him ALL the glory! He is working in and through us.