Day 71 | A Letter To My Body

May 19, 2017

Rapid City has a pizza place that another mold avoider recommended to us. They serve high-quality gluten-free pizza and she told us she never reacted to the pizza or the building. We went there today for dinner and guess what? I didn’t react at all either. I can eat tomatoes and cheese again!

They had really loud music playing at the restaurant and I noticed that it was a little uncomfortable. “A little uncomfortable? That’s it?! It’s miracle!”

For years sound sensitivity was one of my most debilitating symptoms. I had to wear earplugs almost constantly to prevent overstimulation. If I had to leave the house, I wore earplugs and earmuffs.

When I got overstimulated it felt like every nerve in my body was vibrating mercilessly. My neck and spine would be overcome by the most awful tickling sensation you can imagine. My brain would shut down and I could no longer think straight. The physical experience was so horrifying that it often led me into utter panic.

And if it got really out of control, my skin would get so sensitive that I couldn’t bear to be touched either. I remember one particularly horrible occasion when the best thing I could do was to lay naked on a sheet on the floor and close my eyes, desperately willing my nervous system to calm down. Even my clothes and blankets felt unbearable.

So, I learned to listen to my body and avoid auditory stimulation. If I didn’t, I would pay for it dearly. This meant I spent my days alone in bed with the door to my room closed. For a long time, I didn’t visit with more than one or two people and I didn’t listen to music or watch movies.

It was isolating, but it sure beat the torture of constant overstimulation. And I honestly don’t think I’m exaggerating to use the word torture… The experience is so difficult to describe that I don’t believe anyone can really understand how dreadful it is unless they’ve also experienced it.

It wasn’t just the volume that mattered it was the number of different sounds coming from different sources. Clearly, something about my brain’s ability to process sound was broken. It was like my brain couldn’t choose what to pay attention to and couldn’t tune out background noise. It assigned equal importance to every sound so that I simultaneously heard everything yet understood almost nothing. The chaos was painfully overwhelming.

Yet here I was, today, in a restaurant with loud music and a dozen different conversations buzzing all around me. I. was. fine. Just a little uncomfortable. I almost wanted to stay longer just to prove to my flabbergasted self that my sound sensitivity was really gone. My brain actually works again! Now I know that I really am getting better.

That’s not the only amazing experience I had while I was in that building. I also went to use the bathroom and was immediately hit by a very strong bleach smell. “Oh dear!” I thought. “Should I turn around and leave?” Bleach used to be one of my worst triggers. It could cause trouble with my breathing. “Would staying risk a serious reaction?”

In the end I decided to use the bathroom anyway. I knew that chemical sensitivities had resolved for many sufferers doing extreme mold avoidance and I had already noticed that my own reactivity to fragrances is almost completely gone. I just hadn’t encountered bleach since then and it made me a little nervous. “It’s just chemicals” I told myself and I was fine. I didn’t react at all. Wow!

I can eat pizza, listen to loud music, and inhale bleach! Haha! Don’t worry though, I have no desire to go crazy with any of these things and I’m certainly not going to start cleaning our van with bleach.

Still, I’m just so proud of my body for all the healing it’s done and that it can actually handle these triggers now. Like a champ too!

I realize this might sound weird to some my healthy readers but I think it will resonate deeply with other chronic illness sufferers who, like I did, have come to see their bodies as an enemy. So I’m going to say it anyway…

Dear body,

I’m so sorry I ever blamed you for hurting me and destroying my life. I understand now that you were just trying to warn me about the toxicity in my environment and doing your best to keep functioning under very difficult circumstances. Thank you for keeping me alive until I was able to figure that out. You’re the best! I’m so proud of you, and I love to see everything you’re capable of now that we’re in a good environment!

Love, Ana

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49 Comments

  • Cora

    Praise God!!

    May 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Amen! ๐Ÿ™‚

      May 29, 2017 at 7:18 pm Reply
  • Janet

    Thanks for sharing your amazing day! We would all do well to notice and be thankful for the simple things. Although I’m a “healthy” reader, I am learning from your experience.

    May 28, 2017 at 8:36 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thanks Janet! I’m so glad I have something to offer to my healthy readers too. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ’•

      May 29, 2017 at 7:19 pm Reply
  • Leslie

    I am so very, very happy for you! The two of you have worked so very hard to get where you are and it is so wonderful to be able to witness your coming back to life! Your progress brings tears to my eyes — tears of joy for you and tears of hope for me.
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

    May 28, 2017 at 9:49 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… This is so sweet Leslie! Thank you for commenting! I’m so glad to hear that my story is inspiring hope! Hope is so valuable when fighting such a devastating illness. I know you can get here too! ๐Ÿ’•

      May 29, 2017 at 7:19 pm Reply
  • Carolyn Young

    Wonderful news! God is good!

    May 28, 2017 at 10:43 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      ๐Ÿ˜Š

      May 29, 2017 at 7:20 pm Reply
  • Mimi Burrows

    Amazing! I am happy for you.

    May 29, 2017 at 4:07 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Mimi!

      May 29, 2017 at 7:21 pm Reply
  • Grandma Zimmerman

    Praise the Lord!! Ana, it is so wonderful to hear of your progress in recovery!

    May 29, 2017 at 6:00 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Grandma! I wish you could see me now! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      May 29, 2017 at 7:22 pm Reply
  • Alyssa

    Ana, thanks so much for sharing! It’s so incredible to hear how far you’ve come and how your body is recovering and tolerating more and more all the time!! Praise God!

    May 29, 2017 at 6:10 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Isn’t it amazing?! Thank you so much for following along. ๐Ÿ™‚

      May 29, 2017 at 7:22 pm Reply
  • Courtney Harris

    This is so sweet, Ana!! I’m so excited for you!!

    May 29, 2017 at 7:48 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Courtney! Love you!

      May 29, 2017 at 7:23 pm Reply
  • Mamรก y Papรก

    So glad ๐Ÿ˜ to hear your creative humorous side again too. Makes us want to laugh and cry for happiness for you. Tell your body for us “Keep up the good work!”

    May 29, 2017 at 8:04 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… ๐Ÿ˜„ Thank you Mamรก y Papรก. I love you!๐Ÿ˜˜

      May 29, 2017 at 7:23 pm Reply
  • Anna Sierra

    Oh sweet girl how good to hear this news this morning. Don’t know how I came across your blog but so glad I did and pray for you often. And your sweet husband too. Few years ago we took our son, who just graduated from Moody Bible, and his best friend to Alex and Brett’s ‘Do Hard Things’ weekend in Portland. Remarkable young men! And reading your blog is a testament of your hubby’s loving, protecting and being there for you during this difficult battle. Will continue to pray for you dear Ana that the Lord will restore your health 100%. Besos.
    Anna

    May 29, 2017 at 8:48 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thanks so much for leaving a comment Anna! That’s so cool that you went to the Do Hard Things conference with you son. You’re so right that I have been blessed with a very sweet and loving husband! He’s my hero.

      May 29, 2017 at 7:31 pm Reply
  • Alex Harris

    Ana, reading this post made me so happy! We love you and are so proud of you!

    May 29, 2017 at 9:44 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thanks so much Alex! We love you guys too.

      May 29, 2017 at 7:33 pm Reply
  • Marita Wilson

    What a beautiful letter. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so excited for your progress and that you feel well enough to start planning into the future!

    May 29, 2017 at 10:14 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ˜˜

      May 29, 2017 at 7:33 pm Reply
  • Lizbeth E.

    I’m SO happy for you! What a blessing that must be! The joy expressed in your post made me cry. I’ll keep on praying that you will be fully recovered.

    May 29, 2017 at 12:00 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for the prayers Lizbeth! They mean so much to me!

      May 29, 2017 at 7:33 pm Reply
  • Sarah C

    So so happy for you!! I just loved reading this post. Praising God for this healing in your body.

    May 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      May 29, 2017 at 7:34 pm Reply
  • Denise

    Oh Ana I am giddy with delight as I read your latest post!

    I am praising God with you!! I bet that pizza never tasted so good ๐Ÿ˜€

    My heart is so full of joy for the healing you are experiencing.

    May this just be the beginning of your amazing healing journey to full recovery!

    Praying for you and Brett <3

    May 29, 2017 at 1:03 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for the kind words and the continuing prayers Denise! I’m so grateful! ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ˜Š

      May 29, 2017 at 7:35 pm Reply
  • Katherine Forster

    Oh, that’s amazing! Praise God!

    May 29, 2017 at 1:08 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      ๐Ÿ˜Š

      May 29, 2017 at 7:35 pm Reply
  • Hannah Mead

    I’m so happy for you Ana! God is so good, and I’m grateful he is answering our prayers for you! <3

    May 29, 2017 at 1:10 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I am so grateful too! โค๏ธ

      May 29, 2017 at 7:38 pm Reply
  • Kimi Harris

    Rejoicing with you, friend! This post made me so happy for you!!

    May 29, 2017 at 3:02 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Kimi! I love you!

      May 29, 2017 at 7:39 pm Reply
  • Bethany Rose

    I’m amazed at your recovery-God is good. I’m so thankful He led you to mold avoidance when He did!
    I really appreciated reading that letter to yourself in the post, Ana. It certainly did resonate with me. As a fellow Lymie, I needed that reminder.
    Also, totally do not worry about not seeing our prayers for you on the YWW! We all know phone service is so sketchy for you and Brett. The One who needed to hear them heard them.

    May 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thanks Bethany. That’s so sweet! I didn’t know you were a Lymie! I’m so sorry! It’s such a brutal disease. I pray you find your own way out too. Hugs! ๐Ÿ’•

      May 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm Reply
  • Erin

    Oh I’m going to burst! YOU ARE ACTUALLY GETTING BETTER!!!! Yes, yes, YES! Hooray! And, can I just say…the human body is AMAZING! (I’m actually studying the human body in science!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love you, Ana! ๐Ÿ™‚

    -YWW Student that hopes to see you and Brett someday!

    May 29, 2017 at 7:09 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m sorry your comments keep getting stuck in spam. I have no idea why as they’re always so sweet! Thank you for sharing in my excitement with me! I hope to see you someday too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      May 29, 2017 at 7:45 pm Reply
  • Erin

    I can’t believe it! You’re actually getting better! Yay! And yes, the human body is amazing! (I’ve been studying the human body in science.) ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 29, 2017 at 7:16 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I know Erin! It’s crazy! I agree about the human body!

      June 1, 2017 at 9:26 pm Reply
  • Ruth Meyer

    *Cheers! Throws emotional confetti! Wonders if that counts as littering? but still does it anyway!* ๐Ÿ˜€ So glad to hear you had this great day! I get social anxiety big time, especially when unexpected things pop up. Today–without any warning–we had three families and a ton of kids at our house (I woke up, and realized those weren’t the neighbor kids playing in the backyard). They are friends, but not ones I know very well yet. I wanted to hide in the house at first, but I calmed down by doing some basic chores (dishes, laundry), and ate some oatmeal. The rest of the day went unbelievably well! Eventually, most of the kids came inside, and I was playing games with them and talking with them and it just wasn’t as scary/overwhelming/exhausting as it used to be. I’m not even as drained after the event as I used to be! My heart leaps with your heart, Ana, at every day we are able to look back and say, I made it a little farther, and I’m somehow stronger for it, praise the Lord!

    May 30, 2017 at 2:12 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Haha! Emotional confetti and littering! I love that! You’re funny! ๐Ÿ˜‚

      I’m so glad to hear you were able to overcome your social anxiety in this situation. Way to go! I can definitely relate! I had terrible social anxiety. I still do but now it’s more just from being out of practice in knowing how to interact with others.

      June 1, 2017 at 9:26 pm Reply
  • Alyssa H.

    I’m so happy for you, Anna! Praise God!

    May 30, 2017 at 9:35 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Alyssa

      June 1, 2017 at 9:27 pm Reply
  • Carolyn

    Hmm…I wonder if your (former) difficulties processing sound is anything like that of autism? Just discovered your blog, via Mold Avoiders, and celebrate your recovery too!

    June 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Yes Carolyn! I have often thought that aspects of my illness were very similar to autism especially the problems with getting so overwhelmed by sensory input. I remember watching a video of a girl with autism and thinking “wow, I can so relate to her. I know exactly what she’s talking about!”

      June 1, 2017 at 9:19 pm Reply
  • Jamie McCutcheon

    That’s amazing Ana! I am so proud of you guys. Love you!

    June 1, 2017 at 7:44 pm Reply
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