Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cracks in the Foundation

Our bodies were originally designed to live forever, never to die, always renewing and repairing itself but after the Fall and leaving of the Garden, not only thorns and thistles were brought into the plant kingdom but thorns and thistles were brought into our physical bodies.  Our body would now not wear out but would slowly stop being able to repair itself.  This disrepair is like cracks in a foundation.  Once the cracks become so large, the building can not stand anymore and it crumbles and falls to the ground just as our bodies fall into the grave.  We have all lost loved ones due to these cracks, as none of us will escape physical death.  Some have developed serious cracks sooner than others and their buildings, physical temples, have fallen sooner that others.

These last few months have been an incredible journey for me going back through the past in the writings of my mother, whose physical body failed at the age of 58.  The writings were a personal journal recording events that happen to her from 1949 when she met my dad until the finishing of the building of their home in 1964.  The other writings were lists that she made and short accounts of God's love and mercy to her through out her life.  My mother struggled with health issues most of her adult life, odd infections, sensativety to medication, weakness at times, a miscarriage, and some birth defects in her children.  She also was seriously ill for 3 years before she died, but most of her illness was a mystery to the doctors.  The doctors could see the cracks in her foundation of health but they didn't know what caused them and the damage was so severe at the end of her life, that there was no repairing it.

About a year ago one of the mysteries of my mom's health was revealed to me.  I found out there were clues in us, her children, her grandchildren and my dad.  Gene mapping was done and it revealed that both of my parents carried a defect in the gene that produces an enzyme necessary for life.  It is the enzyme that makes methylation possible.  Simply put, methylation allows your cells to repair itself and also allows detoxification of harmful elements in the body to be gotten rid of.   If the enzyme didn't work at all, you would die immediately.  Instead it was damaged so that it did not work as well, limiting methylation.  Some people can live a long time with this gene defect as in my father's case where he is 87 years old, but my mom only lived until 58.  The difference is what happened to them and other genetic factors.

When methylation does not happen at full speed, it damages your red blood cell production.  My mom suffered with some level of anemia all her adult life so she was more susceptible to infections.  When she was 25 years old she found out she was allergic to Penicillian, the hard way.  Instead of the doctor giving her a small dose to see how she reacted to it, because she hadn't had it before, he gave her a large dose to combat a bad sinus infection that she had been struggling with.  The result was a horrible allergic reaction that caused her to break out in hives.  My mom said they were the size of hen eggs on her legs and bright red that turned black blotches that stayed for a long time.  Also she experience weakness so that she could not climb a flight of stairs without resting on each step for about a year.  This so worried my mom as she had my two sisters and they were only 2 1/2 years and 1 year old.   She feared this illness would take her life and she would not be able to raise them.  My dad prayed for her and told her not to fear, that God would take care of her.  She eventually recovered.  My folks were poor and did not have health insurance, so they never had the money to have her weakness researched to find out the cause.  I just read recently in an article about Penicillin.  It said that a high dose of Penicillin can cause a drug induced anemia.  The body is adversly affected to destroy it's own red blood cells.  Sometimes this condition is permanent and sometimes temporary.  My mom had quite a struggle because she already had issues with anemia and her body had a hard time building her red blood cell amount.

A year after this struggle with weakness, my mother became pregnant and she miscarried the baby boy at 3 months, but the doctors didn't know why.  Anemia and not enough folate assimilation (yes a methylation issue) can cause the baby to have life threatening defects and die in the womb.  I also learned recently that in the early 1940's the government began to require food to be fortified.  All the wheat products were fortified with artificial folate which is folic acid.  They wanted to help curb birth defects and miscarriage. If a woman gets enough folate in the early weeks of pregnancy the baby will form correctly.  

The food being fortified was great for the people without the enzyme problem, but about 30 to 40 percent of the people would not be benefited by this.  With the enzyme defect, folic acid would be hard to metabolize as it is an artificial form of folate and would take extra steps to make it bioavailable.  Not only would the natural folate metabolization be slowed down even further but the unmetabolized folic acid would have a greater attraction to the folate receptors in the cells and block the folate absorption.  As time goes on the more folic acid a person has the more anemia will increase and homocysteines will build up in the body.  The higher the homocysteine levels in the blood the more inflammation, more prone to infection, the more chance of heart and blood vessel problems, more occurrence of autoimmune diseases, cancer and neurological disorders.  Homocysteines are hard to test for in the blood, as they begin to break down within minutes after the blood is drawn.  So regular lab tests don't show the accurate amount that is present.  A special test has to be done, that is fairly new.  They do know that high levels of homocysteine in the blood cause you to have a high SED rate.  My mom had a high SED rate but never had it researched.  But, back then they would not of known of her genetic problem as this has only been known in the last 10 to 15 years.

Two years after mom miscarried her first baby boy, she gave birth to my brother.  He was healthy but she didn't realized until he was a year old that he was tongue tied.  The thin web of tissue under the tongue knits all the way to the tip of the tongue.  My brother's tongue was tied down behind his lower front teeth.  So he had to have it clipped.  It broke my mother's heart to see his little tongue swollen and he could no longer drink from his bottle.  He just sat and held it and cried.  This is  an easily repaired birth defect that is caused by low folate.  There are more severe birth defects that can occur. 

Fourteen months later she gave birth to me.  Having kids close together is also a drain on your folate supplies.  A year after I was born, my folks began a building project.  They had bought land and lived on it for a couple of years.  They had a very hard time financially as my dad could not find steady work.  So when I was a year old he got a good job working in a plywood mill.  They began saving their money and then got a loan and began building the house that I was raised in.  They did all the work themselves and had a few men help them on some heavy projects that my mom couldn't do and my dad couldn't do by himself.  So my dad worked full time, sometimes over time and worked in the evening and weekends building the house.  Here is a little excerpt from her journal during those years: 

"While Dad was building the main part of the house he worked all the time and lots of the time, six days a week at the mill.  I would say we probably put in 5000 hours on building the main part of the house.  It cost us $7000.00 to build it.  We had never built any thing before in our life.  It was a real challenge and lots of persistent hard work. I averaged putting in about 6 hours a day working on the house.  I had 4 children to care for and we had no fences.  The yard was full of kids from the neighborhood most of the time.  We had a big garden.  I took entire care of the garden and yards.  I canned 900 to 1000 quarts of food each year.  I sewed all of the children's clothing.  I was a very, very busy mother working most of the time about 15 hours a day."

I was so amazed and blessed in my heart when I read this.  My parents worked so very hard to provide a home for us 4 children to grow up in.  My mom worked many long hours and I know did not get her rest like she needed.  For if you do not rest, your body does not have the chance to repair itself and rebuild blood cells.  Anemia gets worse when you don't get rest.  On the tails of one of my parent's greatest joy, a home for their family, they experienced the greatest sorrow, the death of a child.  My mother became pregnant soon after moving into our new home.  During her pregnancy she was diagnosed with very serious anemia.  She went to work eating chicken livers and iron rich food and brought her red blood count up but the damage had already been done.  Before 8 weeks of development the baby's diaphragm did not knit closed and his intestines came up and crowded his lungs.  At birth the doctor discovered that mom had an infection in her placenta (anemia makes you prone to infections).  So the little guy was at about 5 lbs at birth.  This was the days before sonogram and he was not breathing.  So they tried to get him to breath and then discovered his defect of an unclosed diaphragm.  This required surgery, which they performed but they didn't know that a small hole had been made in his lung when trying to get him to breath and it was too much for him to recover from, having low birth weight, surgery for the diaphragm and now the hole in his lung.  So he died the next day.  The diaphragm not being closed is another mid-line birth defect caused by low folate.

After our baby brother's death my mom began to diet as she was the heaviest she had ever been in her whole life.  She slowly cut down, taking out a lot of carbs out of her diet, which meant less folic acid and had lots of natural folate with lots of home grown vegetables and fruits.  We had friends that owned a dairy and would give us the organ meat, liver, heart and tongue.  We had these meals fairly often as I remember them well through my early childhood.  With my mom dropping the weight, eating more natural folate, she got healthy and strong again.  She would have occasional odd infections and some digestion issues but nothing super serious until after we were grown.

She slowed down quite a bit in her mid-40's.  She had trouble with inflammation in her body which lead to her feet and ankles swelling.  She had some serious varicous veins from genetics and having 5 babies.  So we just chalked it up to that.  But knowing what I know now, the folic acid in her diet slowed down the detoxification in her body and when you body has trouble with detoxifying in causes inflammation.  She had to spend lots of time with her feet elevated and walked much slower and couldn't do a lot of activities that required lots of standing or walking.
When mom was 56 she got a really bad cold that turned out to be bronchitis.  One night she told my father that she felt like she couldn't get her breath.  He took her to the doctor immediately and the doctor gave her antibiotics but it didn't faze the infection.  They sent her to a lung specialist and he did a biopsy on her lungs and discovered that she had a viral bronchial infection that had gone down into her lungs.  He said he had never seen that before.
My mom's immune system and liver had been weaken by the years of consuming the folic acid in her food, slowing down the red blood cell production and the toxins building in her body because he body could not detoxify like is was designed to do.  Since antibiotics would not work on the infection that would take her life, they gave her steroids to stop the inflammation and she could breath again.  The down side was the steroids caused cirrhosis in her liver.  Her already weakened liver could not sustain the damage and my mother lost her strength.   She had to be in a wheel chair a lot if any walking was required.  She developed a calcium spur in her hip and the doctor gave her Advil for the pain and inflammation that it caused.  Also a diuretic to help with the swelling in her legs.  These drugs damaged her liver even more and she went into a coma about 6 weeks before she died.  In the hospital they were able to bring her out of the coma and then a liver specialist examined her and interviewed her.  He pin pointed the reason for her coma was her liver.  He was amazed how this happened when my mother recounted her life to him.  She had never smoked or drank and how she had a very good diet of lots of home grown vegetables and fruits.  He said she must of had a genetic weak liver and she lived as long as she did because she ate so well.  Well, he had the genetic part right, but I don't believe it was her liver to begin with.  As a child she was strong and breezed by her childhood diseases with only slight symptoms.  She was born before World War 2 on a farm, so she had great home grown food, lots of unfortified wheat that her mom made into homemade bread, noodles and many other things.  She was a teenager when the government started fortifying wheat.  Then the there was the Penicillian episode which I am sure weakened her liver too.

One month after her hospitalization for the hepatic coma my mom was back in the hospital with kidney failure.  The doctor said because mom's liver was functioning very poorly, she was not getting the nutrition she needed and she was starving to death.  When someone is starving their kidney's shut down.  So medically her case was hopeless and she died in a few days.  That was the end of mom's struggle with anemia that had caused her many health problems in her life.  Anemia can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, one thing leading to another.
I was so sad at my mother's death.  I was still in my twenties and single and felt like I needed her so much.  She was my friend and source of emotional support during the lonely years.  It was so hard to loose her but God helped me through it all.  I learned a lot from her death and it gave me a window into my own health.  In my 30's I began to have struggles with colds and bronchitis hanging on way to long.  So I began taking a garlic supplement and that helped a lot.  I tried to get my rest and I was not having kids, so that did not drain my system.  I did not take birth control pills as I was not married and I was following the Lord.  I found out that birth control pills blocks the assimilation of iron.  I did not drink alcohol which also inhibits iron and folate assimilation.  I ate good as my folks had made sure us kids ate well with a good balance of fruits and vegetables, good meat and carbs.  I didn't drink a lot of soda or coffee.  Soda robs your system of calcium and coffee blocks iron assimilation.  So I was doing pretty good but I was aging and consuming fortified foods with folic acid and taking multivitamins with artificial folate in it.  So I noticed how I got tired a lot easier.  After Rich and I married, I was 42 and I wanted to have a baby really bad.  For 2 years I kept hoping and at 44 1/2 I became pregnant and then miscarried 2 months later.  I was heart broken.  Fourteen months later I became pregnant with our Mary girl.  I was so very tired, diagnosed with anemia.  The iron they prescribed made me feel so horrible and even more tired, I took very little of it.  I did keep taking the garlic supplement though!  With the grace of God I made it through and Mary was born healthy with no defects.  What a miracle that was.  I will always be grateful for that.  I knew I wasn't just lucky, but God had helped me against all the odds.

Just in the last year, I have become aware of my genetic condition and am in awe of how God helped me through it all.  I have learned so much through all of this.  I share this story, to maybe help someone in some way.  If you have some trouble with your health maybe just tiredness, infertility, miscarriage or autoimmune disease or even cancer.  I would urge you first and foremost to serve and trust God with all your heart, secondly have a genetic test done to see if there is something foundational happening in your body make up.  If you have the MTHFR gene mutation as I have, do some diet changes.  Try to stay away from all the folic acid in food and vitamins.  Try making a lot of your own food with unfortified (organic) flour and grow a garden if you can.  Drink lots of water, take a garlic supplement if you can as it if helps with methylation.  Don't drink alcohol and limit your perscription drug intake if possible.  Make sure you get good rest and don't over do.  These things can make an big difference in your health and I can testify that in my own life.  I know the Lord holds our life in His hands and we will live as long as he determines.  So, I am not thinking that I will live to be 120 but I know I have a calling and that is to be a wife and mother and I am older now, 57.  So God has given me some knowledge to help me to accomplish His calling in my life.  All the things that are beyond me, I know He will help me with and even bring a miracle if necessary so that I can finish the race.  I pray that this will in some way help someone, not to beat themselves up with the past, but help them with a better quality of life in the future. 

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