I’m Emma, I now tutor part-time (after teaching English full-time for 4 years) and I love writing, gluten-free food (and its challenges), being an auntie, reading, hugging and dirty laughing. My blog is mainly about gluten- and dairy-free eating but it also includes commentary on endometriosis (see below to explain why) and inspirations that help me through the day.
I am passionate about writing, or what I should say is thinking about writing, because I haven’t been brave enough to go for it. Yet.
I feel a great need to connect with the world and share. This is the natural me fighting against the trained me who was taught to shut up and that the world and people are my enemy. I read lots of books to remind myself I am not alone and to learn. As a teacher and tutor I want to be not just passing on skills to pass exams but to let young people have a voice (perhaps for the first time), see an adult enjoy their work, laugh and enjoy learning and spending time with each other.
I’m not a fan of childishness but I want to keep forever the childlike wonder and passion to just live life and laugh – the teenagers I am privileged to spend time with keep my feet on the ground and inspire me with their cheekiness, pushing of boundaries and thoughtfulness – completely not what you hear about young people in the media. I think most of us need more hugging and laughing in our lives so that’s my mission too.
Additionally, gluten-free food is a passion of mine. I’m not evangelical about it but I love a good nutrition conversation, which usually deviates towards politics and then my soapbox comes out about all the truths hidden from us about foods (that make profit for so many nations/conglomerates) that are ultimately killing us, if not physically then definitely energy-wise and therefore happiness-wise. Who can be happy when they feel lethargic, grey and angry all the time?
I also happen to live with endometriosis, which is what led me to gluten-free eating. I went to the doctors at 17 and told her that I had endo (my nan has it, every month I felt like I’d been hit by a juggernaut physically and emotionally – natural conclusion). I was told not to diagnose myself, given mefenamic & tranexamic acid, anti-spasmodics and painkillers. I have lived in agony for over 15 years, pure and simple.
At 19 I was rushed in to A&E with suspected appendicitis, misdiagnosed with PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and made to feel like a ho (they didn’t care that I said I’d had one partner). A&E again at 25 after a botched ultrasound showed no ovarian cysts but, lo and behold, 3 months later rushed in with bilateral endometriomas (cysts) on my ovaries, one of them being 10cm – the size of a cricket ball but filled with blood. Yuck. Hence the ongoing agony. Unfortunately had open surgery (I know now how utterly ridiculous that is, thanks fantastic doctors).
A year later exactly the same problem, exactly the same surgery. Told to have a child straight away, forced into IVF (awful experience); the cycle was stopped pre-egg collection as my ovaries didn’t respond well enough – no shit, Sherlock – then somehow became pregnant but miscarried at 7 weeks. Tres early, some might say, but it was utterly devastating and I felt like such a failure, plus I’d been given a due date and built a little person’s life in my head. It did help me see I wasn’t with the right person in my relationship and encouraged me to have counselling with the best counsellor I could find (after a couple of disaster therapists). I had a breakdown and knew I had to do something to feel like I had some handle on my life.
I discovered http://www.endometriosis.co.uk , met with the nutritionist of the book Endometriosis & Nutrition, Dian Shepperson Mills, and realised perhaps what I had been eating all my life wasn’t helping the situation. In fact, ruining my ability to live life. So I cut out gluten, dairy, sugar and caffeine which resulted in 3 rough weeks of headaches, cravings etc. But at 4 weeks when my period came it felt like a miracle. Hardly any pain! Not such unpleasant, activity-halting bleeding either.
I found wheat was like poison to my body (huge stomach cramps, inability to stand straight, walking through treacle feeling, unable to work, vast depression) and then my mum dropped into conversation that I was tested for milk allergy when I was 7 and I indeed was allergic. So cow’s milk is out (I get bloated, feel sick, get eczema and it brings back my asthma which in general only flairs up around animals). Being in tune with my body is vital. This is no faddy diet or attempt to be awkward – it certainly separates the loving friends from the whingey, non-understanding ones. When I walk in and someone has thought to provide anything gluten-free, rather than just leaving me with the crisps and grapes, I am so grateful.
In August 2014 I had major surgery privately, 7 and a half hours of intricate and in-depth work by the wonderful Mr Trehan, and it has changed my life. For the first time in possibly 20 years I don’t feel like my insides are poisonous and scrunched up. Every. Day. How the hell I’ve survived that I just don’t know (this is no hyperbole, believe me). Also, finding out I’d been butchered by previous surgeons is just something I’m having to learn to deal with and it’s shit, to put it politely.
So I’ve made massive life changes: quit teaching, got married to Mr Wonderful, moved to London, become self-employed and started volunteering. I’m the most happy I’ve ever been. But don’t for one second believe rebooting life is easy and nor is negotiating depression. I’m trying to be kinder to myself. Writing is my next move, watch this space…
It has been pretty painful writing some of this, but I hope it gives some background and perhaps helps you see that you are not alone. We’ve all got different body biochemistry and emotional desires, it’s all about finding what works for you. We’ve all been in pain, we’ve all suffered, but we all also have such great capacity to heal, move forward and maybe help others along the way.
Things that help me include: reading inspirational books, writing out my thoughts, finding people who can really listen, having a bath, visualising what I want, laughing with people, listening to loads of music, moisturising, sending cards rather than emails, being open rather than a stubborn so-and-so ;), smiling, eating well.
So I want to pass on any gluten-free findings and discuss my experiences and inspirations in case they can help you as they have helped me. Let me know if they do!