Let’s start at the beginning. Before I knew about growing my own food. Long before I realized you can learn new skills, every day, even without formal schooling. Before I had any issues with my health. Before all of that, on the day I was born, I was backwards. Let me explain.
All of my life, my guts have been backwards. I was born with a birth defect in which the large colon, which forms outside of the body, did not rotate correctly when returning to the inside. Because of this my appendix was on the left, toward the front.
While I experienced weird general gut discomfort my whole life, I had no idea why until I was 25 years old. One day, in April 2011, I was experiencing severe abdominal pain and bloating. Everything hurt, standing was almost impossible. But still, I thought I had just eaten something bad. Finally, I went into the doctor and this woman, to whom I owe a lot to, said “it seems like you have appendicitis, only it isn’t in the right spot.” She sent me for a CT scan and my life changed forever.
Appendicitis and Ladd’s Bands
Not only did I have appendicitis, which luckily had not ruptured, I was backwards. My colon goes up on my right side, across my small intestine heading to the left, then down the left side, which is entirely opposite of normal. I had laproscopic surgery and while they were in there, the surgeon cut some of the Ladd’s bands which were stretched across the intestines. He said cutting these bands should not change my life but after the surgery I was suddenly so much more normal. Anxiety levels decreased, my regularity changed, my cycle wasn’t as horrific and eventually went off of antidepressants (with doctor aid).
What about eating?
For a while, I did not change much. I continued to eat poorly and not even think about where my food was coming from. My second wake up call was when my first son was born. Then I realized that I really wanted to make a change to the food we were eating. Especially since I wanted him to have a great start at life with all the best foods. I started a small garden at a rental but did not find any real direction until I found out about homesteading.
What even is homesteading? To me, this is a home-based life in which you strive to eat either local or homegrown, organic, sustainable foods as well as attempt to produce as much as possible of your home foodstuffs, sauces, baked goods, pastas, etc. at home. It can also include foraging, prepping, permaculture, homeschooling, etc. But it was here that I found out other people wanted to know about their food, what they were feeding to their children or themselves. Story after story, individual homesteaders spoke about their health improving and minds clearing. Plus, I began to really enjoy the making process. The canning, baking, growing, harvesting, etc. This was my zen. I particularly think it is good for my health to wander through my garden and check on my chickens, definitely move more now that I am often at a desk at work. The movement also helps my guts.
Esophagitis and the guts
One of the most complicated aspects of having a rare or not-well-known genetic defect meant that there is little information on how intestinal malrotation can (or even if it does) impact the upper GI and whether or not the interconnectedness of all the organs can be improved. Lately, I have been experiencing dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and heartburn at the same time as battling lower GI stuff. Because of this I went on the Whole30 (and saw a doctor) and have been working even harder to cut out processed, high acid, GERD sensitive foods to try to get at what is going on. I have been diagnosed with esophagitis but do not know the root cause yet.
Where your food comes from
As I age, so will my backwards guts and the only way to know I am doing the best I can by them is to know exactly what I am eating. I need to know everything about the food that goes in my mouth and through my wonky system. Including those irritating labels that say “less than 2%” of whatever is in the container. The incentive is even more important to discover what I can and cannot eat as well as how its made. How to make your dinner from scratch, how to use all the parts of your radishes, how to bake your own bread or make yogurt or brew kombucha.
The Real Reason I Homestead
The most important reason for building this homestead is for the health of me and my family. While others may be professional chefs and specialized in nutritional science, they are not the ones that have to eat and process. I do. My body. My children’s bodies. These are the real reasons I am trying as hard as I can to make home the source of our food.
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