I Believe In Miracles

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As a food blogger, I rarely blog about anything other than food. Today, I take this opportunity to share some full-time master chef status that you may not know about. I hope my story inspires you and gives you hope for the miracles you need in your life.

This all happened in October 2010. Four years on, it’s an honor to share this story with you.

My son Dexter and I had a rough pregnancy. When we decided to get pregnant again, we thought it couldn’t be any worse. I found out I was pregnant even before I had a positive pregnancy test. The “morning sickness” hit almost immediately, and I couldn’t hold back any emotions. A few weeks later, a pregnancy test confirmed this. We had to start telling people at the 6 week mark because I was too sick to hide. A few weeks later, I was hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a condition recently brought to the public stage by Kate Middleton. This goes far beyond morning sickness. Before my PICC line and home care was set up, I was in and out of the hospital a few times where I was on IV fluids 24 hours a day.

A nurse sits at a kitchen table strewn with medical supplies, working on the PICC line in Rachel

Just when I should have been better, things took a turn for the worse when I realized something was wrong inside of me. I started to lose the ability to walk. I’ll take a few steps before I crash. My legs would be exhausted. I went to the doctor every week (yes, every week) and was immediately hospitalized when he saw that I couldn’t walk. Test after test was performed. After being short of breath, I was admitted to the intensive care unit. Someone died next to me in the hall that night. These symptoms can no longer be attributed to HG.

Something went wrong.

At 18 weeks pregnant, I had congestive heart failure with signs of liver and kidney failure. I was strongly advised to have an abortion to save my life. My OBGYN, a good catholic, supported me and absolutely insisted that I see the pregnancy viability at least until 24 weeks.I was discharged from the ICU to see a specialist

I saw doctors one by one. No one can give me an answer. A doctor, a cardiologist, dropped his jaw in amazement at the sight of my pathetic condition, then calmed down and said simply, “You have something serious wrong. I just don’t know what it is.” These really aren’t the kind of words you want to hear from a doctor.

I’m dying and everyone knows it.

There, I was a young wife and mother of a 2 year old boy with a growing pregnant belly, unable to walk, hanging on an IV pole, sleeping 20 hours a day, and as my body systems shut down, I Slowly lost weight. I asked my husband to take me out so I could see something, anything. All I can do is sit on a bench.

Pregnant Rachel sitting on a park bench, wearing an orange shirt and sunglasses

But you know how this story must end because I’m sitting here writing it for you 4 years later.

This is the last effort of OBGYN, who has worked tirelessly to find the answer. Many experts brought it up in their brainstorming sessions, but everyone agreed it was a possible diagnosis. It’s an autoimmune disease called Addison’s disease, which can be treated with simple corticosteroids.

Three little pills saved my life.

Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disease where your body basically attacks itself and kills your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, the only hormone necessary for life. My adrenal glands were destroyed and later tests showed they were completely non-functional. Without cortisol, my major organ systems cannot function. I’ve been going through what’s called an “Addison crisis.”

I shouldn’t be alive.

Several highly experienced and respected physicians in their fields all reviewed the test results at the time with the same reaction. I shouldn’t be alive. Untreated Addison’s crisis usually leads to death within a few days. I live for a few weeks. If I hadn’t been in front of them, they wouldn’t have believed that a patient with these test results would have survived. This is medically impossible.

i am a miracle

My heart, liver and kidneys are working again, but one big question remains: Will the little baby girl inside me survive? Shoot, can I survive? At 21 weeks, I started experiencing preterm labor and struggled with it for the remainder of my pregnancy. While my labor and delivery have been very different than usual, I am happy to report that I delivered a healthy baby girl at term.

My daughter is a miracle.

Rachel is lying in a hospital bed with a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket.

4 years later, I am still living with the consequences of that pregnancy. Addison’s disease is an incurable, lifelong disease. My body relies on the replacement steroid doses that I take multiple times a day. Cortisol needs vary from day to day, moment to moment. No test can tell me how much I need, so I can only guess.

Miracles don’t always go the way you want them to.

I am not cured. I will never. I have good days and bad days. Every once in a while, Addison’s disease would leave me in the hospital, fighting for my life. Over the past few years, I have nearly died several times. I would sometimes spend days and weeks in bed sick and barely able to work. difficult. I am in pain. I am disabled for the rest of my life. It’s a tough pill to swallow.

I think we’re all going to get Addison’s disease eventually.

Whether it’s chronic illness, depression, financial hardship, relationship and family issues, addiction, or something else, we all have things to contend with. Some people ask why God did this to me and blame him, but I don’t see it that way. I’ve seen how Addison’s disease pushes and stretches me.

I am thankful for my illness. In fact, it was quite possibly the best thing that happened to me because it taught me how to live.

My struggles are helping me become who I want to be. So is yours. It’s not always easy to see, especially in those moments when we’re suffering, literally and figuratively, we’re fighting for our lives in the hospital, but it’s real. The moments that challenge us the most are those when we can step up and choose to be better despite life’s problems. No matter what, we can all choose to be grateful. We can do it! Whatever your “Addison’s disease” is, you can do it.

I am a dreamer. I dream big.

Adjusting to a new life with a disability is not always easy. Sometimes I choose to do things despite my disability just to prove that I can still do amazing things. I run a food blog. I even wrote a cookbook. I have started to share the love with the world through food as I do at home. I did this to prove to the world that miracles can happen and dreams really do come true. I can be a little crazy about my power feats or dream heights, and sometimes it gets me in trouble, but I keep trying and keep fighting because for whatever reason, I’m still here. I feel like having that privilege is a huge responsibility.

Rachel rides a mountain bike by the side of the road in the desert.

In October 2011, just 1 year after being admitted to ICU with heart failure and only 7 months after giving birth, I completed a month long triathlon to show the world what happened and prove that miracles really do happen .

Yes, I believe in miracles. They do happen.

Toddler girl laughing while sitting on tire swing in park
Our 3-year-old wonder Adele.