Well, the last few months have been a bit crazy with all my classes and everything going on right now. So the blog has pretty much been pushed aside while I dealt with everything and got my school work done. However, in answer to the email I received today, the blog is still active and actually the next few months will be very busy with reading for my consuming family and public as I begin to edit and post my assignments and writings from my classes. I have writings on human behavior, racism, genocide, history, eugenics, gender studies and more... so for those of you who have been waiting… don’t stress! More is coming…. ;)

I love you all and look forward to trying to share and continuing introspection in the new year. Anything you want me to research, share, etc… feel free to ask. I might be willing to do so. :)


Do You have Sensory Problems?

I do... have for as long as I can remember. I didn't always understand why some parts of me were different from other people nor do I always understand some of the ways I respond now. Some ways that my body may respond to a stimulus I still do not understand... but I accept it and sometimes laugh about it... and sometimes cry about it... and sometimes I just shake my head and shrug. In the end, my processing challenges are a part of me and make me the unique and wonderful individual that I am. That said, I was in my thirties before I was even heard the term sensory processing disorder / sensory integration disorder and researchers are still trying to understand how these disorders work. I thought that I would take a few minutes to talk about the basic human sensory system and leave you with a small list of questions that you can read and, if interested, can use to look at your own behavior and responses to different stimuli and determine if you too, might have some sensory processing challenges. :)

When I was growing up, I learned about the five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell. The sense of touch as processed through our skin and taste processed inside of our mouths.... the sense of sight which is processed through our eyes and sound through our ears... and the sense of smell through our nose. And each of these organs sends the information to the brain for final processing so that we can use the information. In the processing the information is organized in the brain so that we can use it to make appropriate responses to external stimuli. For those with disorders of the sensory system, the organized information may not create the correct responses.... the child who reaches toward a snarling cat and is genuinely confused when the cat hurts it... the person in whom fear causes hyperactivity or out of control behavior, etc...

So let's start with some basic questions. Here is how the questions work. Each question should be looked at by thinking of how often you perform the behavior in question. The more often you do it, the more likely it is that your brain is having some difficulty processing the information in a 'neuro-typical way'. Is that a problem? Not necessarily... it really depends on how my your behavior in this regard affects your quality of life.

1. Do you prefer the dark, happily avoid bright light and feel happier in dim light? Do you find that you are bothered by light when others feel comfortable?

2. Is it difficult for you to accurately visualize images or objects in messy or cluttered backgrounds? Do you end up staring at objects overly long to process the information?

3. Do you find it more challenging or impossible to complete tasks with noise or music in the background? Do you find yourself easily distracted by noise or even seek out noise or make sounds simply to have noise around you?

4. Do you avoid noise or sounds? Are you slow to respond to sounds around you that are relevant and important... an inability to recognize what sounds are important and to block out sounds that are not?

5. Do you have difficulty processing really strong smells? An inability to smell odors that the people around you can?

6. Do you find yourself feeling large amounts of anxiety or anger when your expectations or your routine has to change? Do you find yourself doing tasks in inefficient ways because it feels more comfortable to you? Do you move from one activity to another not completing any of them very quickly?

7. Do you prefer to be alone? Prefer quiet activities? Quiet areas and places?

8. Do you have problems with textures in food and limit what you eat based on what the food feels like? Do you crave certain foods due to flavor or strong smells or will you only eat certain foods?

9. Do you have problems with touching or being touched? Do you react emotionally when being touched by people or things such as water, unnatural fabrics, etc.. or do you crave touch and will touch too much and too often?

10. If something touches you such as clothing, are you able to 'forget' the touch.... or do you feel the clothing and its touch all day in part of your mind? Do you go barefoot because shoes feel uncomfortable? Do you fill your hands with things so avoid people touching your hands?

11. Do you seem to have an awareness – or lack of awareness- to pain or temperature that is different from most other people? Can you injure yourself and find that the pain is not at the level that it should be for the injury? Do you feel comfortable in a snowy environment in short sleeves?

I could definitely go on and healthcare providers who try to help their patients with sensory issues will ask many more questions than this.

One challenge that comes with sensory problems is that as someone struggles with them and they find the way they respond is so different from other people, it affects the individual's emotional well being. People with sensory problems appears to be more likely to develop low self esteem and self critical behavior. They are more likely to exhibit socially inappropriate behavior as well as difficulty expressing emotions in a healthy way. The odds of having problems with anxiety are a lot higher in this population making a challenging situation sometimes worse. I will admit that I find it challenging sometimes myself.

This post is so basic that I beg of you to not make any diagnosis or take to much out of it. I just wanted to take a little time to introduce the topic to start a little basic awareness. If you want more information, please feel free to leave any questions you want answered in the comments or speak to a medical professional about your thoughts. Both of these diagnoses are still debated by healthcare professionals so if you would like more information, be sure to find a provider who has studied and has knowledge of both sensory processing disorder and sensory integration disorder and the nuances between them. Thanks for sharing. :)


A Visit to Birds Acre.... :)

I took the time the a few Sunday's ago to do something really fun. I agreed to babysit that day and so I knew that the day would be crazy busy. I knew I had church which would include two hours of a full and active nursery and then some cooking and babysitting at a missionary farewell. So after my service at the farewell was done- it was a wonderful party I must say- I took my cute Tessa by the hand and we got in the car to go meet her mother... who also had probably had a very busy day. As we reached Ellsworth, I realized that we were a bit early and I didn't want to sit and sit in the car waiting and I just didn't feel like that would be good for Tessa either, but as it was Sunday I wasn't sure what we could do that would still appropriate for the day. Then I had a brilliant idea and ... Tessa and I spent the next forty five minutes at Bird's Acre in Ellsworth.

For those of you who do not know, Birdsacre is a pretty neat place. It is a wildlife refuge that helps to save hurt animals, has some awesome nature walks and in small ways tries to teach conservation and educate people about birds and other wildlife. I used to go with Brock a bit and I have had pretty good experiences there- see this post for my latest interaction a few weeks ago. So Tessa and I found the slightly hidden driveway and headed in. And it was a load of fun! I love looking at birds and I also enjoy watching the joy and wonder in a child's eyes as they are able to get pretty close to some large birds that they might not see in any other place. Hurt or disabled owls are their specialty and so we got to see a few fun animals. Here is a small picture summary of our visit:

The first birds that we saw was a red tailed hawk:

Then a weeny saw whet owl....

Then a barred owl...

I'm not sure what this one is.... but he's cute!

Our next handsome one was a broad winged hawk

and last in the large cages was a great horned owl...

or two!

We spent the rest of the time looking at the waterfowl hanging out around a pond next to one of the nature walks. We saw a ….

Chinese Goose!

And a Toulouse hanging out with his Canadian buddy :)

I think that hanging out with Tessa and looking at birds may have been the highlight of my week! It was just a wonderful, peaceful time and I have been finding myself hoping to go back soon. For any local readers, you should take the opportunity to check it out! You won't regret it and maybe you might see me there... I have to go back soon. :)


The Day of the Bird... and the Cheating of Crows

Is it just me or am I suddenly running into all the hurt and still living creatures I can lately? Before anyone thinks that statement is a complaint, I want to stress that it's not... just an observation that disturbs me a little. Mostly because if one person is finding so many injured animals, how many are out there right now? It's like for a brief moment in time a window has opened up in my mind to a different way of seeing and like the boy Cole in “The Sixth Sense” who finds his vision and what he sees is different from the people around him... “I see hurt animals.”

So the first Sunday in July started out like a fairly normal fast Sunday. I had prepared and packed the car the day before for an easy morning. I gauged whether I could fast without throwing up or if I needed to eat to even make getting to church possible. I had even set out my clothing the night before. And so pretty early and quickly I was driving down the road towards the church listening to some inspirational music – well, inspirational to me anyway. ;) I had managed to almost get to church when I saw an obstacle in the road and as I slowed the car down I realized the obstacle in the road was a dog. Shoulders bowed and just sitting in the very middle of the road, he didn't even look up or flinch as I came to a stop. I pulled over for a good look, and the dog let me get pretty close. I gave it some of the dried shrimp in my car and called the police and I slowly doled out the food until a nice officer showed up and I completed my journey to church. I came with quite a few things to take into church and so I started unloading and making my several trips in and out of the building. It was during one of those trips to the car that I was distracted again.

I walked out of the building at one point and the noise from overhead was pretty loud. I could hear the distinct cawing of the crows- loud and raucous and the anxious twittering of a smaller bird. So my footsteps walked past my car to the side of the building and I found myself standing under the canopy of the trees watching the drama above. Three crows were actively irritating a pair of robins who were desperately trying to protect their nest and their young. I watched as one or two of the crows would lure both of the parents away from the nest and then the last crow would nip in and steal one of the robin fledglings and fly away as quickly as possible. The parents would return desperate and full of anxiety and then the crows would begin when another would show up. Slowly but surely, they were emptying the nest. I stood there, wishing I could change something and knowing that I could do nothing, when the last fledgling was captured and the crow turned in midair and flew in my direction. I must have been so quiet that the crow hadn't even noticed my presence because when it caught sight of me, the crow tried to change direction too abruptly and dropped its hard won package at my feet. I didn't even hesitate and leaned down, scooped it up in my hands and looking up at the crow, I quickly walked away. Back into the church with my hands carefully closed and cupped, my mind racing trying to determine a path forward. I remembered some boxes that were waiting to be thrown away in the library and headed there and within a few minutes the bird was sitting in a box in the dark, quiet nursery to calm down and rest.

I had hopes that I could return it to the nest but during the hour before Sacrament meeting started, I realized that was no longer an option. After several trips outside I realized the robins in their sorrow and loss had totally abandoned the nest, but two crows were waiting right next too it. For people who think birds have no brains, they are certainly at least incorrect when thinking of crows and ravens. They can plan and work together quite well (as can be seen by their brilliant and successful attack on the nest.) When I would walk over and look up into the trees, they simply watched me and waited. When Sacrament meeting started, it found the bird still resting quietly in the nursery and my bum settled into a pew. A quick glance outside during the meeting confirmed that the crows were planning on continuing to wait- whether they knew I wanted to return the bird or they just knew the fledgling was still around I do not know. It was clear however that I now had a bird. A very needy, hungry bird.

So nursery began and I introduced my youngsters to the bird and several times we carefully broke off tiny slivers of our grapes and dropped it into its open and begging mouth. The fledgling would cry and we would feed it. The kids were pleased, the fledgling didn't seem too worried and our lesson on appreciating God's creatures seemed to be more easily cemented into the young one's heads. And with the help of my helper, I made a quick call to Birds Acre and found an opening for the wee robin. This is the second time that I have used this resource over my life to help a bird and I am so grateful for its existence. After church, all the youth came and took a quick look and then my good friend Michael hopped into the car to lovingly cradle the box in his lap. We drove to Bird Acre and I was able to stand back while Michael talked with the volunteer and they both wandered towards a cage with some robins and fledglings. When they returned, Michael and the volunteer were all smiles and said that their disabled mother had happily started almost immediately to feed the little fledgling with the other foster birds. So with some handshakes and smiles, we departed and left the unintentional orphan to its new fate.

What an unusual day. I feel so much distress an anxiety over the hurt but I left feeling a bit of peace. I dd the best that I could do and I am aware that many people would have heard the loud caws and cries and not known what they meant- there was a blissful time in my life that I wouldn't have known either and would have just found the sounds annoying and would have moved in the opposite direction. As with the poem of the starfish, I couldn't help them all and at least four fledglings were taken and happily eaten by the crows... but my actions and my service mattered to this one... and that has made all the difference. I hope he makes it! :)


Crazy Dreams....

Boy, have I been having them lately. The good thing about not having a full time job right now is that I am actually getting sleep and therefore I am able to dream again. The good news is that most of them are not the bad, shaking, panic builders that I have been more likely to have over the last few years. If dreams are windows into what someone is thinking... well, Father help me! So if you can stand it, here's a taste...

… dressed in black climbing through by bedroom window. I'm clearly in a big city again, maybe even Vegas, and I am walking down the street desperate not to be seen. I enter a store and buy some croissants and quickly leave slipping into the shadows. I seem to immediately find a park with large hedges and I sit in the dark, stuffing myself with the croissants. I feel the lightness and softness melt on my tongue and I wake up... happy it was a dream so I didn't 'really' do it and so I am not sick, but also feeling a bit bereft. It feels so real and I miss that sensation a lot....

… sitting in the dirt, a small brush in my hand. My hands are digging, softly pulling up the dirt. Carefully sifting through it and slowing down when a flash of dirty yellow-white is seen. Carefully removing the bits of bone from the ground, I brush them off and then set them aside. My interest and horror wanes after the bone is clean and so I continue to dig... continue to sift through the soft lomb..... and repeat the process.

… sitting Indian style upon the ground, back to the wall in the corner.... A bread bowl in my hand, warm and fragrant, full of a thick onion soup, brown and and full. I sit silently and watch the man leaning against the table starting at his food and after a long time of both of us sitting in silence, he pushes his bread bowl away, uneaten. While I know he is there, he seems to not know of my presence... almost like I entered his memories in a pensieve so I could view, but not be known. While there is silence inside this room, outside the door the noise of horses and men preparing for battle is filling the air. And so King Richard stands, looks around the room and exits.... and I sit thinking, knowing that he will lose the Battle of Bosworth and the thought comes into my head “Richard III had to die so the world could move forward”... and the world does move forward in the early 1500's with the Renaissance and the Tudors and the Enlightenment. So I watch images flow through my mind.... the sneaky Henry and his beautiful ancestress Catherine of Valois, the Regal Elizabeth I.... and the redrawing of maps and steam engines and horses running across the plans and child labor and trees falling and border fences and anger and groups protesting and the middle east on fire.....

...sitting at a table with a plate of shrimp alfredo in front of me in a quiet restaurant. The walls had dark word panels on them and the table had a lacy tablecloth with a small candle and a few flowers sprinkled around the table. And there I sit, chatting and smiling with Nick Frost. I can't hear what either of us is saying but it just seems nice and calm and fun....

Those are the ones that I remember... how funny are they?!? I am not someone who knows how to analyze dreams very well- I need to have dreams that are very specific for me to do that with any kind of accuracy. :) The only things that I do get from these dreams is that I am being silly enough to wish for food I can not have, I might be ready to casually date and that I might be finally getting to the bottom of the last of my feelings about the divorce and finding ways to deal with it. Who knows...? Maybe I just want a croissant... Anyone have an extra? ; )


Dangerous Rhetoric

Yesterday, I found myself in an unusual situation in more ways than one. As I couldn't sleep, I went to the gym before work... way too early in the morning and found myself running on a treadmill in front of four television screens. The irony is of course that I haven't owned a television in over a decade and so experiences with one are few and far between... but four! It's a bit like being offered piles of riches that you don't think you need and are confused as to why others think they are valuable. This opportunity gave me an interesting opportunity for reflection and experimentation.

As most everyone in the first world probably knows by now, an airplane manned by pilots employed by Malaysian Air was shot down and crashed near Grabovo, Ukraine. With 298 people on board flight MH370 - all who perished- the only thing that seemed known immediately was that everyone on the plane died and that the plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine along the border to Russia. So as I jogged on the treadmill, I looked up at the screens and over the next few minutes I realized my opportunity- all four televisions were showing news from four different stations; ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC. So for a girl who doesn't watch news, I was able over the course of over a hour to watch all of them at once and really compare their coverage of the situation. And even from a lack of experience as a news hound, what I found wasn't really surprising.

On three of the stations, the story seemed to be covered pretty thoroughly, but also with some caveats. As the news was raw, the situation just unfolding and with very little confirmed information. Only the confirmed facts were given definition and were described in definitive terms – all passengers were dead, the flight, where it went down, etc... After that, the language was was more vague... “Investigations are underway, the black box might be, etc... There were pictures... frankly, terrible and devastating photos and descriptions from eyewitnesses that felt so painful and hard to hear. But not a lot of speculation or opinion. And there would be breaks from this tragedy- each station took time to talk about other events such as wildfires, the situation in Israel and Gaza (just as horrible a problem I might say), the indictment of FedEx over shipping medications illegally and gold found in a shipwreck off the coast of South Carolina. And more such as a court overturning another gay marriage ban, the typhoon headed toward China... The world is a big place with much going on in it.

The same could not be said of FOX news. While they seemed to have the same details, it was pretty astonishing to me with how they used them. Small lettering on the bottom of the screen would say the 'facts', but the people talking didn't give any facts without a lot of supposition and even things that were only opinion.... Most of he time they didn't bother to mention any facts that I was learning from the other stations. I felt the anger of the commentators but I was also impressed by how neatly they could draw me in and if I hadn't been able to see the facts from other sources at the same time, I may never had gotten them. The wording that was used was also extreme and violent in its own right. It is no exaggeration to say that every sentence spoken, every word that was said seemed conveyed to expressed three points and only those three points.

1. That this tragedy was caused by the Russians and ordered by Vladimir Putin himself.

2. That President Obama must 'break' Russia and Putin to show the Russians and the rest of the world that we are the mightiest and must be feared and obeyed. That war, violence, 'blood', all have been caused by the evil that is Russia and we the good must vanquish it.

3. If we as America do not do this, we will all die and only terror will win.... with Russia and Putin as its leaders.

All the rhetoric made me think... and with was terrible. Some of the words still burn in my head over twenty four hours later. “Russia has their fingers printed all over this all ways”.... Really? How do we know? (Don't get me wrong, I suspect that in many ways this comment is true about this situation, but...) And then pictures of John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan would show up on the screen with some of their words in quotes about bringing down Russia, tearing down communism and its evils... and then “The President must, he must... Eye to eye, toe to toe, he must stop them... whatever means are necessary.” “President Obama must show them what happens when Putin sheds the blood of innocents... and perhaps the most ironic quote that sticks in my
mind came from Geraldo Rivera- “I told you yesterday Putin has blood on his hands.” Yup, the same guy that my friends and I used to laugh at in high school who five days a week make the term 'talk show' synonymous with interviewed strippers, skinheads, white supremacists, families who hated each other, etc.... He's now reinvented himself as a political commentator. So I was able to listen to him wax poetic on the evils and wrongs by Putin- many of which must have been exaggerated...something he used to do on his talk show... he was well known for it.

I am no friend of Vladimir Putin. I do not know him and am aware that living in this country I will not have many opportunities. It has been obvious to me for years that as America and Russia are enemies, the media in this country can never really see anything that has to do with Russia unbiasedly. We as a people are still trying to understand their history and their culture without coloring it through the lenses of our biases and prejudice. And we are doing it poorly. This experiment cemented two things into my head. First of all, I have heard to the polls and studies that show that those who get the majority of their information from Fox news are more ignorant of the reality of the world than people who get their news from anywhere else. But it also explained the constant fear and anger I sense in so many of the people I know who are 'die hard' FOX news fans. How can you not be when you sit and listen to so much anger... and so much falsehood or at least unproven accusations that when they are proved false ... will never be redacted. That language is dangerous for all of us- even those of us who do not hear it. We have to live with the pain and anger it causes in others, many of whom we care about. After over an hour yesterday of interaction and attention, I will avoid giving any of my time to that station again. I only wish that so many others could see it for what it is. There is enough hate and anger in the world as it is without manufacturing more.

Yesterday so many died in a plane crash.... in the conflicts in Gaza, in Africa from malaria, in Syria... everywhere. So many people are frightened and sad and unsure what to do in their lives. In fact, some numbers suggest that 1 in five of the dead in Gaza are children- children may sometimes be called little terrors but very few people would call them terrorists worthy of death. Instead of creating anger, fear and division, couldn't we work together to grieve and to fight it, fight the terror and the pain with an equal amount of love and good will as well as the basic law enforcement stuff? I can only hope.....


Thoughts on Courage- Sacrament talk 7/13/14

So, I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting this morning. For those of you who were unable to attend this morning and are interested this is a basic outline of the talk. Have a wonderful Sabbath day. :)

Good morning, Brothers and Sisters. I am not up here very often so I ask that you please bear with me as I struggle to find a way to articulate the ideas that I feel impressed to share today. When I was asked a few weeks ago to speak and was given a topic, I felt many things but my most overwhelming feeling was sadness. I do not feel that I have a good understanding of the topic nor do I believe it is an attribute that I have much of. After prayer and much reflection, I feel a little more able to discuss some aspects of it. As such, I wish to take a few moments of your time to speak about courage.

Courage is defined as the ability and willingness to do something that frightens you. All of us at some point in our lives have had to figuratively reach into the recesses of our soul to find the motivation and strength to confront or act in ways that we perceive and feel inspired are right and just... but are not easy choices and may come with consequences that are not always positive and joyful. It is this quality of heart and mind that may enable us to do the 'hard' things in the face of intimidation, fear and even physical pain and death. One thing that I feel like I have discovered in my reflections on courage is that, at least for me, it is easier to see and recognize courage in other people. The scriptures and history books are fairly riddled with individuals that we describe as courageous and we look up to for their actions... some of which have given a voice and freedoms as well as rights to all of us that we sometimes take for granted and do not always recognize often the pure blessings that we have been given and the pain, sweat and tears that have been sacrificed by others so that we may have fewer obstacles and challenges in our daily lives. To be frank, courage is sometimes being scared to death.... but doing the right thing anyway.

However, it feels important to take some time to recognize courage in its less celebrated and recognized forms... because to do so helps us to see and cherish it in ourselves and others. Brothers and Sisters, please take this opportunity to not only look inward but to look around you and you will not be able to ignore the clear but unspoken signs of courage around you. For some of our members, it takes significant and unmistakeable courage to accept a calling that they fear, to attend church or other social functions. For some of our friends and family, it may take all the hope and strength they possess to do what many of us consider a simple task- the ability to get out of bed in the morning.... the will to eat... the struggle to get through daily tasks that may sometimes appear insurmountable. For many people, courage is not just a byword or a famous name, but an unnamed part of their daily struggle. Lucius Seneca once wrote “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” Lauren Raffio is also quoted as saying “ Sometimes the biggest act of courage is a small one.” I know that I have felt so blessed and have gained strength for myself in my struggles as I have watched the courage of other members and tried to help them in their trials. I remember a talk in general conference a year or so back that discussed how trials are not always meant for the individual but for those around them... to help the community and the family of the afflicted to gain strength, understanding and more love. It comes to mind that we can only gain these things... the knowledge needed for more understanding, the ability to love more, and to find the power and motivation to gain strength if we are willing to use courage and to step into a situation and a pain that frightens us. Only by opening ourselves up can we gain these great blessings.

C.S. Lewis once wrote “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point which means at the point of highest reality.” When we look at courage through this lens, we can more easily recognize its presence in our hearts, our minds and in many of the choices we make. So it is important to stop and recognize why Heavenly Father has given his children the ability of courage to begin with. When human beings are presented with a different perspective, we usually initially react with either fear or love. These two powerful emotions are contradictory to each other and fear is part of our human experience...a trial that courage can help us to deal with.

2 Timothy 1:7 reads – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I believe that we have been given the ability of courage to help each and everyone of us to struggle forward against the strong forces of fear that are invasive in our lives. One way to remove fear from our lives is given to us in....

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.

To increase the amount of compassion and love we have for ourselves and others also takes courage as well as hard work. We can not increase our courage or love without actively working to do so. Prayer, introspection, study... all are needed for this difficult task. For those who believe that love and empathy towards others is a form of weakness I would ask you to please take a moment to examine that idea. Yes, allowing yourself to love leaves you more vulnerable to pain, uncertainty and despair. However, to have true love and compassion in this world of cruelty, judgment and fear... a person is also showing courage. And by doing so, we also open ourselves up for higher amounts of joy and happiness in our lives. Brothers and Sisters, weakness is not a sin no matter how often we tell ourselves it is. In an epistle to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:10) Paul writes: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Which brings us back to the idea that courage is a virtue to be found at every testing point and it becomes easier to see how necessary it is in our lives. So knowing and understanding how important the virtue of courage is.... understanding that it actually makes all the other virtues possible... how can we help ourselves develop this virtue and become a more courageous person? And how can we help others to grow and do the same? From the scriptures I read, it seems clear that love is a big part of how we develop and use courage. Another scripture:

Psalm 31:24 says– 'Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.'

When I read this scripture I felt like what it was saying that another way to develop courage is to develop our faith and on this foundation, we are able to release the grip on some of the fear that binds to our minds. Another way to develop faith as a foundation for courage is to strengthen our spirits... to do things that allow you to keep the Holy Ghost with you consistently and to feel his presence and the sense of peace he brings. It is hard for fear to bind to your mind when the holy spirit is cradling your soul to him feeding it peace and assurance. It is hard for fear to grab any hold on us for long periods of time when we are consistently acting against it.

Another thing that we can do is to truly look into our hearts and acknowledge where we are weak and fearful. I am not suggesting that anyone takes the time to sit and mentally berate themselves for their weaknesses or their infirmities. For anyone to understand where they are weak, they must also take the opportunity to recognize the areas that they are strong. So please, take the opportunity when being introspective to think positively and recognize you and what you are in its whole spectrum of being. And where you discover things that you want to change or recognize are weaknesses, start the process of trying to change it. Because when it comes to changing fear, there is only one surefire way that I know to truly get past it and extinguish it. When it comes to fear, the only way out is to go through it- to force yourself to face what you are afraid of. The more you do it, the more your mind and body lower the fear response until it becomes a barely recognizable murmur in the background... easily ignored. Practice courageous acts! Pray for the strength and courage to make those small steps forward.

Brothers and Sisters, I want to apologize. I have had several times in the past that I have struggled with compassion for some of you. I still struggle with anger for past hurts and injustices that I feel keenly in my heart. I can testify to you that what has helped the most in my healing process is to pray to know better those who I feel have not understood me and to do things that are really hard and frighten me. It I am going to be honest though.... I think most everything frightens me. :) I tend to worry that since I am imperfect I will cause harm and pain to others and that fear can sometime make it hard to do most anything with others. I am very grateful for your understanding and compassion towards me even with my faults and my many, many mistakes. If I have offended or hurt any of you, I beg for your forgiveness. I feel so sad at the idea that any of you might struggle with pain that I have caused. I hope that as we go to our meetings today and as we leave to continue the daily grind so to speak.... Well, I hope that each of you will take a moment to recognize the good and strong spirit that you have, to take the opportunity to look inward and recognize the things in your life and about yourself that you fear.... and to make your first steps towards using your courage to confront and change them. If you need help, ask! Our leaders are able to help us and to get inspiration on your behalf. Listen and pray as much as you need to. And when the fear gets to be too much, recognize it, rest and gain the strength and courage to fight it some more. I pray that we can all do better. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


2014 Poetry Corner # : "Catnip Pillows"

The cats are potted; all is chaos
paper ripped and flying in the breeze
created by running, stampeding cats
A small square pillow flies through the air
and is caught by another
and the pace becomes even more frantic
For an hour, all is in disarray
and then....

We all sleep- laughter and peace in our hearts
I love you and bow to your power
the green, the strong.... catnip!


Journey Forth #6 : The Accidental Relationship between Gluten and Casein

When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease and started to research the disorder but also the foods that were available, I ran across many people who started pushing me towards a gluten free-casein free diet not only for myself but for Bug as well- we both have the disease and I think he can thank my genes for that ;) I was skeptical and I am still a bit questioning about some theories behind the diet. This particular diet is recommended for many people with celiac disease and other food allergies and it has become one of the diets of choice for individuals with autism and other developmental disorders and is sometimes recommended for people with mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. So I'll cover the basics of both. (Can I stress that I am wading into territory that is not firmly entrenched in science or statistics yet.)

The basics of this diet are that the individual not only avoids gluten but also all foods that contain the dairy protein. Some need to do this due to a true allergy and some people report that they have reactions that are similar to gluten intolerance when consuming the dairy protein. This protein can be found in butter, cheese, cream and milk, as well as yogurt and countless other products including chocolate, lunch meat or other prepared meat products and other non-dairy products. Symptoms of a true milk allergy are very similar to gluten intolerance as well as wheat allergy and celiac disease so trying to separate out the allergies and sensitivities can be pretty rough and time consuming. The most common symptoms may include; multiple skin reactions, anaphylaxis, multiple digestive complaints (including diarrhea, vomiting, and pain), multiple reactions in the lungs (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath or wheezing), migraines, irritability, hyperactivity and other personality changes, insomnia, fatigue, depression and anxiety... to start the list. ;) If the challenge of eliminating gluten from the diet seems to be formidable, adding the need for casein removal can make the challenge seem like a herculean task.

There are a few reasons put forward for the similarities in symptoms and the immune reactions in the body between ingestion of gluten and casein. All three have been and are currently under study by researchers.

Casein is one of the most common food allergies and some studies suggest that as much as thirty percent of the general population have elevated amounts of the antibodies in their blood.

Casein has a similar molecular structure to gluten and they both create similar metabolic byproducts from their breakdown and digestion.

The enzyme that is needed to digest dairy is found in the brush borders and the tips of the villi in the small intestine... which is the first area that is damaged in gluten consumption for those individuals who are susceptible. With the necessary enzymes being in low numbers or decimated, the digestive process fails until healing and enzyme re-population has commenced... in some cases, a year after a gluten exposure.

For many parents of children with mental health disorders or developmental delays such as autism, this diet is not seen as a “diet” per se, but as a necessity and way of life. The changes in both behavior as well as mentation have been pretty well documented in self reporting and other unofficial forums. From personal experience, I feel a lot more in 'control' of my mind when I haven't had gluten- celiac aside. These experiences as well as watching and learning from friends and parents who have navigated these particular waters, I have found a great deal of confirmation in my mind that there is a great deal of positive evidence for recommendation of this particular diet for people with specific diagnoses or conditions. So even as I stress that the scientific evidence isn't there yet, I feel like I would be remiss if I hadn’t taken the time to discuss it. Whether the problems are due to the body's confusion of the proteins, lack or appropriate digestive enzymes or even another allergy... the problems are very real and need to be dealt with by individual sufferers on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts? Do you personally have experiences with this diet and individuals who use it? Please share if you are willing to...! :)


Journey Forth #5 : Causes of Poorly Responsive Celiac Disease

For the majority of individuals with celiac disease on a strict gluten free diet, their intestines will, over time, heal and they will not feel pain or have to deal with many of the challenges that can be caused by the disorder. However, there is a small percentage of individuals with the disorder in whom the body and its ability to heal is either blunted or unable to function. This is sometimes known as poorly responsive celiac disease. There are a few situations that can continue to either cause the damage, keep the body from healing in a timely or appropriate matter, or even continuing some of the symptoms due to other physical malfunctions. The known reasons for these continued difficulties are:

1. Continuing gluten ingestion – In case many people haven't noticed, gluten seems to be in everything! So it can be very challenging to make sure that everything consumed is gluten free. To make that more challenging, affected individuals must be introspective and know themselves and their habits well. So, for those who wear lip gloss, lipstick, etc...that must also be gluten free. If you tend to suck on the ends of your hair... it might be a good idea to now what is in your shampoo. Eye drops and other medications can have systemic interactions and therefore can cause damage... even if it was just one drop into an eye. Hands contaminated with gluten and then used to chew nails, etc... can also cause a small exposure. And as mentioned in an earlier post, any exposure no matter how small is dangerous and can cause damage.

2. Refractory celiac disease (refractory sprue) – Approximately 5% of patients can end up with this diagnosis and it reflects the body's inability to heal from the damage caused by the past gluten ingestion. Any future exposure will continue to cause damage while past damage remains... leaving the individuals digestive system crippled and unable to perform its necessary duties with any efficiency at all. More energy is used to digest and important nutrients are less able to be digested even with the expense of the added energy. These individuals tend to struggle for the rest of their lives trying to improve their digestion and health and may take supplements and medicine to try and help the body not only digest but continue to function in a positive way by providing missing needed nutrients.

3. Pancreatic insufficiency - For some patients, their ability to appropriately digest food can be hampered due to the lack of needed enzymes.

4. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth - This is actually a fairly common problem that can happen alongside the damage in the intestines, but doesn't necessarily repair itself when the intestinal walls themselves are starting to recover. In this instance, the bacterial balance in the small intestine changes in two ways -first, the bacteria in the small intestine changes form and becomes more like the bacteria in the colon (which is pretty different.) Secondly, this abnormal bacteria tends to grow faster in the small intestine so that there is simply too much of it around.

5. Undiagnosed sister disease – some patients do not get better very quickly for the simple reason that celiac disease wasn't the whole answer. So many patients as they begin the gluten free diet and continue to have symptomology and difficulty after several months discover that they also have a concurring digestive disorder. The most common of these are microscopic colitis, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

6. Casein ingestion – Some people find that their symptoms do not clear up until they stop consuming Casein as well. Casein is the protein found in almost all dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc... even breast milk. This reaction is not well studied or proven and is listed here because it is being studied and discussed among researchers, doctors, and patients. I have found for myself that, because the gluten protein is similarly built to the casein protein, I do have more problems for the first few months after a gluten exposure if I continue to eat dairy in large quantities... Bug has found the same thing. That is just my experience however. I'll discuss the theory more in another post. :)

In my case, I have been told that I do probably have refractory sprue. I have not been healing well and even a small exposure can really mess me up for months. Even without exposures, my digestion is not improving a lot. I can have what appears to be random pain that comes and goes and is fairly consistent over months. I have discolored patches of skin causes by the digestion issues in a few areas. As soon as I have insurance, my physician is planning on another upper endoscopy with biopsies to check on the healing process.... or lack there of. I won't deny I am not looking forward to it.

What are your thoughts? Experiences... please share. :)


Journey Forth #4 : Some Common Myths about Gluten and Celiac Disease

When I was first starting the process that led to my diagnosis of celiac disease, I heard many things that I found out later either were not true... or the fact that they happened to be true in my case was unusual. So I thought I would write a short post on the most common myths (at least the ones that I have heard) and mention the true facts behind them.

1. Celiac disease is a simple gastrointestinal disease – For people who have celiac, they soon learn that the disease is anything but simple and doesn't only effect the digestive system. As discussed in past posts, this disorder affects every part of the body and some doctors believe that this disease is primarily a neurological one with some symptoms being digestive... and not the other way around. Even if that viewpoint isn't entirely true, the evidence of how this auto immune disorder effects and damages all organs and body systems seems pretty conclusive.

2. Celiac disease is a children's disease – While children are more likely to be diagnosed and diagnosed early, adults have the disorder as well in pretty high numbers. Estimates on undiagnosed adult celiacs range from 1 in 20 to potentially 1 in 6 for simply gluten intolerance. The symptoms tend to be more noticeable and obvious in children and adults tend to have less obvious or more ignorable symptoms... as well as the unfortunate fact that they are also more likely to be wrongly diagnosed. It is estimated that only 5% of celiacs have been diagnosed which makes up about one percent of the American population. Also, this disorder cannot be 'outgrown' and once truly diagnosed... you will have the disease for your entire life. In essence, there is no cure.

3. Celiac disease is the same as a wheat allergy – this really isn't true. While some people with celiac disease also have a wheat allergy (I might be one of those), most do not. Celiac disease is an auto immune disorder and as such the body responds differently than it does to an allergy. While both are dangerous and not problems to take lightly, they are not the same. Those with a wheat allergy can still eat barley and rye, while those with the celiac disease cannot.

4. Eating Gluten makes you fat – This isn't a true statement at all. Many people have started eating gluten free as a diet choice- some celebrities have made it more popular and 'trendy'. When it comes to gaining weight the answer is usually very straight forward... it you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. While there are exceptions, the vast majority of people who start a gluten free diet will actually gain weight for a few reasons. One is that the person's lifestyle hasn't changed at all. Their eating habits, social customs and physical activity levels are what really cause an individual to develop weight gain. Another reason is that gluten free foods are thought by some to have fewer calories in them then their regular counterparts- with few exceptions, that is an erroneous assumption. Gluten free foods tend to have more fat and sugar to balance the lack of gluten protein. In order to make texture, color, and taste more 'normal', these are the ingredients that tend to be tweaked... and are also the main things that cause weight gain. Also, the average person's diet is heavy on grains with fewer legumes, fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foods that are naturally gluten free. Processed food is another factor in weight gain and so simply changing an unhealthy way of eating for an unhealthy diet without gluten doesn't really change much. Last, exercise is important for anyone and most people will gain weight if they tend to be sedentary creatures (anyone seen a thin sloth? :D Just kidding) All in all, most people do not lose weight on the gluten free diet and most individuals will put on some pounds when beginning the diet.

5. People who suffer from Celiac disease are skinny - Hmm, mostly not true. Yes there are a small percentage of people who are too slender due to the symptoms of eating gluten and the damage that it causes to the patient. However, around 40% of people who are diagnosed with celiac are overweight at initial diagnosis. Less than five percent of patients are underweight. So, not only is a person's weight not necessarily a good indicator for diagnosis, it may actually help convince people that they do not have celiac disease simply because of their extra weight... not a credible diagnostic tool.

So... do you have any thoughts on these myths? Know of one that I missed? What are your thoughts?


Journey Forth #3 : Celiac Disease and its Ties to other Auto Immune Disorders

Not to start a post with a warning, but I will say that this post will be unpleasant... or maybe even boring depending on your life experiences. I think the topics and the information are really important though so if you are still willing, let's continue our travels. :)

In previous posts, we have discussed the basics of celiac disease, treatment and lifestyle, as well as skin problems that can go hand in hand with the disorder. For the next little bit, I wanted to talk about the numerous auto immune disorders that many patients may have to deal with as well. Because if there is one thing that seems pretty consistent, once you have one autoimmune disorder, your chances of developing another one are pretty high. Risks for several other health problems are pretty high as well and so I think it is important to acknowledge and discuss them for two reasons. One is that many people do not understand or have the knowledge of how these disorders do go together and are then unable to have themselves tested and utilize their medical providers for a full treatment of their symptoms and therefore, to be able to have the best quality of life they can attain. Someone who has celiac disease may attribute strange symptoms to that disorder and not discover and treat the other disorders that ail them. The opposite is true as well and someone with diabetes or severe arthritis may treat that disorder and not recognize that their disorder is so challenging because they also have celiac disease. This knowledge allows them to get tested or if they wish instead, to follow the gluten-free diet for a few months and see how it affects their body and the symptoms from the other diseases. Another important reason to discuss these disorders isn't just for those who need the information personally, but also for their friends, relatives, caregivers, etc... Knowledge is power and creates an awareness of challenges which in turn creates empathy, understanding and advocacy. As the Father has asked us to 'mourn with those that mourn', this insight helps all of us whether affected or not to not only help people as we meet and befriend individuals, but to also not hinder them accidentally in our ignorance. That is my hope any way!

I have not put these disorders in any specific order and so their listing is random. Signs, symptoms and their links to celiac disease could actually take a page or two for each one so I will out of necessity be fairly brief on each one and stick with the very basics. The debate on why people are more likely to develop some of these other disorders is still continuing. One of the most common theories is that undiagnosed celiac disease can potentially 'switch' on a immunological mechanism that can then cause some of these other disorders. However it does happen, what does seem pretty clear is that it is pretty easy for a person with celiac disease to develop another problem... and for someone with one of these other problems to 'catch' celiac disease. :)

Other Auto-immune Disorders

1. Type I Diabetes - This is a chronic lifelong condition in which the pancreas doesn't produce the needed hormone insulin or the body cell's failure to respond properly to insulin caused by insulin resistance. This hormone is needed for digestion to convert our food – the sugars, starches, etc... A complicated and chronic disease, this disorder is characterized by high blood sugar levels in the bloodstream over significant periods of time. Symptoms can include excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, fatigue and weight loss, as well as symptoms of neuropathy, inability to quickly heal from injuries, etc... Some studies show that as many as 30% of females with type 1 diabetes also have thyroid disfunction (most commonly Graves disease.) This disease if not well managed can significantly limit the individual's quality of life and usually lowers life expectancy as well.

2. Addison’s disease - a rare autoimmune disorder in the general population, this disease is characterized by insufficiency of the adrenal glands. The body depends on hormones developed by these glands and when enough hormone isn’t produced, the cells in different parts of the body respond; symptoms many include skin darkening, low blood pressure, muscle weakness or pain, hypoglycemia, joint pain, and neurological symptoms including depression and irritability. Other common complaints are nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, salt cravings, body hair loss as well as weakness and fatigue. In bad cases, this disorder can become life threatening and cause death.

3. Crohn’s disease – most commonly characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract- most commonly affects the ileum and the beginning of the colon. Symptoms may include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps and sensations of incomplete evacuation as well as constipation or bowel obstruction. Other common complaints may be fever, weight loss, amenorrhea, fatigue and night sweats. One characteristic of this disorder is that it affects the entire thickness of the bowel wall although it has been known to skip areas… so that there can be a small area of perfectly healthy bowel surrounded by diseased and damaged tissue. (The symptoms of ulcerative colitis are similar, but these disorders are not the same and the areas affected by each are different.)

4. Hashimoto's disease – (also known as autoimmune thyroiditis) An autoimmune disorder of the thyroid that causes inflammation of the gland, but less hormone production- it is actually one of the most common thyroid disorders. Symptoms include fatigue, amenorrhea, intolerance to cold, enlarged goiter, weight gain, skin and hair that is dry and course, a hoarse voice, and neurological problems including forgetfulness, depression and anxiety. This disorder shares a common genetic disposition with celiac disease and some studies show that as many as 4.3% of individuals with this disorder also have documented celiac disease.

5. Graves disease - The most common cause of hyperthyroidism, this autoimmune disorder results in over production of thyroid hormones. Those individuals who have this disorder can suffer from a multitude of symptoms with include both physical (fine tremor, weight loss, enlarged thyroid, infertility, eye discomfort and vision changes, irregular and rapid heartbeat as well as skin abnormalities , etc...) and mental health challenges (anxiety, psychosis, mania, irritability, depression and personality changes.) Some studies show that around 4.5% of individuals with Graves disease also have celiac disease and the thyroid dysfunction most commonly caused by this disorder can cause a worsening of glycemic control and an increased needs for insulin helping to cause an individual to become diabetic or to make their diabetes significantly harder to control.

6. multi focal leucoencephalopathy – A rare disorder that causes damage to the myelin sheath on the nerves in the brain- a tissue that protects and covers all the nerves in the body. The damage causes the axions of the nerve cells to have difficulty communicating with each other and even the inability to do so. The symptoms are diverse due to the fact that this disorder can affect any nerve in the brain... which helps control the nerves in the rest of the body. Some common symptoms that are described by patients are clumsiness, headaches, memory loss, progressive weakness, visual changes, as well as speech and personality changes. This disorder can lead to disability and death.

7. Multiple sclerosis – It seemed fitting to follow up the last disorder with this one. MS is a disease in which the myelin sheath around the nerves is damaged, but the damage is not really restricted to the brain. Affecting the nerves throughout the body, communication and normal response between the nerves and their organs is interrupted and over time the nerves themselves are damaged. While the patient may have periods of time where the symptoms lessen, this damage is permanent. Symptoms include fatigue, tingling and pain in extremities as well as numbness and weakness. Patients may complain of double or blurred vision, problems with speech as well as tremors and a lack of body coordination.

8. Scleroderma – This is an auto immune disorder that is usually classified into two separate forms- localized and systemic. Affecting the connective tissue in the body, the major symptom in the localized form is hardened and sometimes waxy looking skin. In the systemic version, tissues in many organs may start to become hardened and less able to perform their needed functions. This causes many patients to suffer from high blood pressure and other cardiac problems, heartburn and other digestive complaints, as well as dysfunctions in the pulmonary, genitourinary, nervous, and other body systems.

9. Sjogren's syndrome - This immune disorder is caused by a person's white blood cells confusing and attacking the moisture-producing glands in the body. It causes dry eyes and mouth, difficulty with swallowing or chewing, vision problems, teeth cavities,fever, fatigue, vaginal dryness, dry skin and mucosal tissue, swelling, stiffness and joint pain, and enlarged paratoid glands. In sever cases, permanent damage to the liver, kidneys and lungs can result.

Separate Related Disorders

1. Rheumatoid Arthritis - a disorder caused by inflammation that is developed from an auto-immune response created by the body. Symptoms most commonly occur in the fingers and hands, feet and ankles, as well as the knees and the usual complaints are stiffness, localized heat or warmth, and aching or pain in the joints of the body. Over time, deformity in the joints can become prevalent as well.

2. Hepatitis - a medical term that describes the inflammation of the liver as well as inflammatory cells in the tissues that comprise the organ. This disease can be caused by many things including alcohol and viruses- When thinking of gluten sensitivity, the liver finds itself receiving blood that, instead of having finely digested nutrients, is filled with large amounts of undigested food and other waste products that can be toxic to the liver and cause the inflammation that is characteristic of all types of hepatitis. As the liver tries to deal with the unwanted substances, the white blood cells increase as well as the number of liver enzymes which cause irritation to the organ itself… which leads to the inflammation and permanent damage/ scar tissue.

3. Osteoporosis - A disease caused by weakening of the structure of the bones. As the bones are the body's structural foundation, this leaves the individual at risk for injury. It can be caused by either excessive or minimal bone growth and it usually happens without symptoms for a long period of time. Symptoms include breaking bones (easily), loosing height (becoming shorter) and curvatures in the spine.

4. Infertility, miscarriage and menstrual cycle irregularity – Anytime the body is struggling with a limited amount of nutrients for thousands of needy cells, some are going to get short shrift. And if you think about it, reproduction is really something that is a luxury- something that the body should be doing only when it's healthy and ready. While that doesn't always happen, it is fairly common for a nutrient-starved body to decide that it is in its own interest to not reproduce and so in many women, normal menstruation will stop. This can cause infertility on its own, but a lack of nutrients can also cause the eggs themselves to not be viable. I even found a study that suggested that gluten antibodies and damage can be found in the sperm and semen. Miscarriage can happen due to the inability of the body to provide the necessary energy and nutrition for fetus growth.

5. Epilepsy – A seizure disorder causes by inflammation is the brain (and sometimes the body) that manifests itself in a variety of ways including unusual sensations, muscle convulsions or stiffening, periods of staring and sometimes loss of consciousness – symptoms depend on the severity of the disease and where in the brain is affected by the electrical activity that causes the physical signs and symptoms. It is linked to both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Some ideas in the current debate as to why these disorders are linked are centered around calcium deposits in the brain and if the nutritional deficiencies themselves may cause the epilepsy.

6. Gluten ataxia – this term describes a neurological response by the body towards gluten which can cause irreversible damage to the cerebellum- the part of the brain hat is primarily responsible for motor control, balance and muscle tone. Due to the damage, individuals with this problem suffer with a loss of coordination in movement and other gross motor skills. Other symptoms may include dizziness, disorientation, problems with focusing by both the eyes and in thought processes, problems with balance as well as difficulty in swallowing or speaking. These symptoms tend to become progressively worse over time as more and more damage is done. It is linked to both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. (This diagnosis is also still in the early stages of study with some physicians suggesting it isn’t a separate disorder from celiac disease… or even suggesting that it doesn’t exist at all.)

7. lactose intolerance – One of the few non chronic problems associated with celiac disease, it is caused by the systemic damage to the micro-villi in the intestines that destroys and limits the body's ability to break down lactose. The enzymes that help break down lactose are found in very small qualities in the micro-villi and are destroyed along with the intestinal wall upon gluten consumption. This problem usually resolves itself after a gluten free diet is instituted for a significant amount of time and the villi are able to begin to heal themselves and repopulate their enzymes in the 'brush borders' – also know as the micro-villi. The problem usually returns after renewed gluten consumption and intestinal damage.

8. vitamin / mineral deficiencies – This is a major difficulty for the newly diagnosed celiac and one that can take a significant amount of time and attention by the individual to attempt to repair. As the consumption of gluten causes the damage to the intestines, adequate absorption is limited and less able to be successfully managed. Some common deficiencies in this population are calcium, iron, zinc, many of the B vitamins as well as vitamins D and E. The 'cure' is to take great care to consume only items that have no gluten and, in some cases, to use supplements as well until the intestines are healing well enough to resume more normal digestion and absorption. As deficiencies in many of these vitamins and minerals are needed for normal function of many organs and body symptoms, it isn't really surprising when parts of the body start to fail or find themselves unable to heal and function normally.

A short list of other honorable mentions :)

Anemia, migraines, myopathy dementia, gall bladder malfunction, Raynaud's phenomenon, peripheral neuropathy, pancreatic insufficiency, many forms of gastro intestinal cancers, primary sclerosing cholangitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, ulcerative colitis, microscopic colitis.... and probably many more that I missed. Whew!

That was a pretty long list... sort of depressing too! But a lot to think and talk about. As far as I know, celiac disease is the only auto immune disorder that I have... although my doctor is getting ready to test for two others. I have certainly struggled with infertility and serious nutritional deficiencies. I have started to show the signs of arthritis and Dry Eye Syndrome which is cause by immuno-inflammation. Otherwise, well I'm pretty good :)

Any thoughts on this? What experiences with yourself and others can you share? Did you read this post and wonder about your own health and the possibility of having more than one disorder when you become introspective and look at your current medical diagnoses? What are your thoughts?