Lisa Pizza Pie to Living Gluten Free

I always knew that I should listen to my instincts. In December of 2003 I was in an auto accident. It changed my life. I was suddenly in massive pain all over my body, mostly my back. The fatigue was so overwhelming that I felt as if there was a magnet pulling me to the core of the earth. I could not sit, sleep or eat. I was very ill and my doctors could not help me with a diagnosis or cause of the pain. The only thing that they did was run tests, very, very expensive tests. The doctors’ “practice” was to give me prescription pain medication and cortisone injections in my spine. I began to have allergic reactions to the pain medications. This was getting scary and I felt as if I was getting deeper and deeper into the hole and the system.

I wanted to find the root of the pain that had become chronic and debilitation after six months. I continued to question everything. Why would I have this odd intense pain on my face, arms, legs, hands and all over my back. My pain was so deep that my shoulders would freeze or go into spasms and I wouldn’t be able to turn my head to the side or take long breaths. My legs would cramp up so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed and walk into the other room. Migraine headaches would suddenly come on and last for days. I could not get out of bed. I lived in the city, Seattle, at the time. I couldn’t handle it – the smell, sounds, fast pace and just the vibe drove every nerve in my body crazy. I had to do something to feel better and fast. I moved across the sound to Bainbridge Island.

I remember thinking to myself that if I got to a point of feeling better, healthy…heck…just being able to sit down at a table and eat a real meal, then I would do what I could to help anyone that is faced with Chronic Pain and Celiac Disease. I remember talking to many, many doctors after I had researched and read books over the year to try to figure out what was wrong with me. I finally figured out after many blood tests and questioning one particular doctor … What is Celiac Disease and could I have it? The blood test came back positive and yes I did.

So what now? What is gluten and why is it in everything? Are you kidding me…it is in PIZZA??!! I loved pizza … my brother and sister used to call me “Lisa Pizza Pie” for goodness sake! I loved to cook, entertain, not follow recipes mind you, but create food that looked, smelled and tasted amazing. I read more about the foods that I could eat. I read about nutrition and supplements so that I could get my strength back just to eat. It was hard in the beginning because I was so tired and the brain fog never seemed to lift. I had to read things over and over before it would connect. My memory was off so it was harder for me to retain the information but it took too much effort to write it down at great lengths. I did a little bit at a time and kept fighting to get back to being healthy.

I talked to people everywhere I could. I checked out books from the library, cookbooks, nutrition, medical, motivational, everything and anything that looked like it might be part of getting me to the bigger picture. I went through every type of physical therapy to get my strength and stamina back but I would have setbacks. It seemed as though I would take a very small step forward and about twenty back. I kept at it. I listened to visualization Cds to help cope with the stress, insomnia and of course, the intense pain. I continued to talk to people, question everything and learn as much as I could.

Things began to turn around for me. In 2004, Gluten Free foods were hard to find. It was really had to stick with the “new and improved Gluten Free lifestyle” because just buying the individual flours to make bread or waffles was 3-4 times the price of the bad stuff. The other risk was that I do not like to follow recipes…I create on a whim….this does not qualify as a baker. Luckily my mom was the baker in the family and she was brave to try all sorts of recipes – the pioneers like Bette Hagman and Carol Fenster. We went through the books and I dreamed of something familiar to comfort me. I began to try any of the new GF products that would appear in the market. There was a glimmer of hope and “spitting” disappointments. I kept packaging to remind myself that something earned an encore or never again. I made a book with notes. I shared info with random people I would meet. I found more cookbooks – Rebecca Reilly, The Culinary Institute of America’s GF Baking and others. I tried to convert recipes. I just had to keep the appetite going to cook and create.

A few years ago I decided that there were a few things that were important to me to stay moving and motivated. I tried to find some sort of physical activity to keep me moving – walking and yoga. I began to watercolor, paint and draw to make me happy and calm. I started cooking again little by little in waves, to nourish me. I also remembered many a dark time when I promised that I would help anyone that was in Chronic Pain and/or Gluten Intolerant or diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I was helping people with brief encounters of information and experience. My mom was learning things too and sharing the information. I just wanted more.

My intention for this blog is to share my experiences with products, recipes and stories of people that I have met with you. I also hope that if you are reading my story and it sounds somewhat familiar that you will be strong and learn to feed yourself the proper nutrition for you – Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy or Casein Free – allergy free. I am excited about sharing information and ideas to celebrate the foods that we can eat and be healthy.

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