“Defect”. “Mutation”. “Abnormality”. These are words I have gotten used to hearing when it comes to my health and family history.
A few years ago, in the midst of a health issue (that’s a story for another day), I was diagnosed with the MTHFR gene mutation. Now the joke in the medical community is that this is one bad “mother ——” of a problem, and to some extent I believed it! This is just one more thing in our extensive family medical history that had come to light and been extremely frustrating. When I learned more about the defect, I thought the science behind it was interesting, but I know most people wouldn’t agree and would stare at me with a blank look if I went into it, so if you’re interested, check out MTHFR.net and read all about it. In basic terms, my body has a different gene that means most of my bodily processes were not working the way they were supposed to, because the chain of process didn’t have what it needed to begin correctly. In addition to many issues, I don’t process synthetic vitamins (which almost all over the counter vitamins are!) and especially can’t break down folic acid, which is the man-made form of folate. Now, you need folate for just about every aspect of your body function, so you can imagine that up until the point of figuring this out, I was frustrated with feeling “off” and unhealthy. I was having terrible headaches, not sleeping well, had little to no energy and no matter how healthy I tried to eat, and no matter how much time I spent exercising, I was not able to get to a healthy weight and stay there. That was the most frustrating because I thought I was doing everything right! Not many doctors are well informed about this, so I started looking into it on my own, desperate to feel healthy again. Come to find out, folic acid is added into almost every food that we consume on a daily basis! Flour, rice, pasta, cereal, baked goods, bread – everything has been “enriched” with folic acid. Since I can’t process it, the folic acid had been building up in my system for years, to the point of toxicity, and the majority of my body sytems were basically stalled. I was so frustrated to learn this but so grateful for an answer! It wasn’t anything I had done, and there was a reason that I was feeling unhealthy. Last year I started a serious detox regimen – I was on many supplements and vitamins and I ate all whole foods for awhile and was careful to avoid all foods with folic acid in them when I went back to a regular diet. Before too long I felt like I might just be human again! I was able to sleep, the headaches got better, and best of all I had energy to exercise and for the first time in many years, I started seeing results. As a final proof of better health, this past year I had a healthy pregnancy and had a beautiful, strong baby girl.
You can imagine I was disappointed and upset when the doctors told me my body “didn’t work right” and that there were mutations to my genes and defects to my normal systems. This was my new truth and I felt it – I felt guilty for having to spend money to buy special vitamins that work for me. I felt badly for not being able to eat food when we are guests for mealtimes at someone’s home. I felt frustrated and anxious trying to eat out and be sure foods were safe. I got tired of the looks people gave me when I tried to explain what was going on and why I couldn’t eat regular foods. I was afraid of being perceived as picky or a “health nut” that was just out to make life complicated. But you know what I have realized? God doesn’t make mistakes. “Mutation”, “abnormality” and “defect” are NOT words in God’s vocabulary – He created me with a body that works differently, not a body with defects. It makes things a bit complicated, but through the past few years I have become more aware of how to care for this body that He has given me, how to be at my healthiest for myself and my family, and have a renewed sense of awe at how our bodies work. When is the last time you dove deep into the intricate details of your body metabolism?! It’s just amazing to me how He created everything in such detail to work so seamlessly to keep us going. So who am I to say if He did it right or wrong? How can I question His design? Yes mine looks different, but my responsibility is to understand how to be healthy, not make excuses or apologies for how God created me. I am blessed to have a body to carry me through this life, and even in the days when I’m frustrated by how easy it is for other people, I just remember that I can’t allow myself to give into the temptation to dwell on the thoughts of unworthiness or frustration and not live in joy and peace that everything is exactly as it should be, for His divine purpose and design. I have no idea why He made me different, but that’s not my place to question.
So I move on – I make brownies with quinoa instead of flour, order the salad when we go out to eat at a pasta restaurant, carefully watch over what goes into my body, and am learning to give God thanks for it all. Count it ALL joy, just not the bits you understand