My Story

My name is Nina Marie, I am a photographer, digital compositor, and web designer.  I love art, my husband Tim, my family & friends, and my cats, but I also love cooking and good food.

I have been posting my vegan meals on my instagram and facebook for years now, but people begged me to start this blog so I could share these recipes with you, so here it is!

 

Let me tell you about my story…
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome & Lyme Disease & SIBO:

In 2014, I became really sick overnight, with an illness I now know is called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. This basically means the autonomic nervous system is not functioning properly.  POTS patients will have tachycardia upon standing, accompanied with heat intolerance, digestion issues, exercise intolerance, etc.  Scientists have found that POTS patients tend to display lower than normal blood volume and have circulation issues (arteries constricting/not constricting properly, possibly autoimmune related).  As a result, anytime the body needs large amounts of blood flowing to a certain area (ex: pumping blood up to the brain when standing instead of gravity pulling it down, blood going to the limbs during exercise, or blood being sent to the gut to digest), symptoms begin because it does not have enough blood to send everywhere.  First you feel lightheaded or dizzy, then adrenaline is produced to help promote circulation, but it comes with unpleasant and scary side effects such as extreme panic, severe shakiness, numbness, weak, etc.  And there is much much more going on than just that, it gets very complicated and there is still much research being done on dysautonomia.

Doctors were frightened when they saw me.  At first they did not know about POTS and did not understand why this was happening to me, so they did not know how to help me.  I saw over 10 doctors who performed all kinds of tests to check my organs and vitals, but everything always came back ‘normal’.  I looked like a perfectly healthy 21 year old woman. But on a daily basis I would experience lightheadedness, a racing and irregular heart rate, numbness and tingling throughout my body, air hunger, and tremors I could not control, followed with a sense of severe anxiety.  This type of inner fight or flight panic is the most terrifying feeling I have ever experienced.  People who really knew me knew this was not normal for me, and I knew something was really wrong.  I wondered if diet could help cure this.  Unfortunately, I cannot say it cured me…but what I can say is that I believe it, along with patience and prayer, helped me to get to where I am today.  Little did I know the battle my body was facing…

There was something that all of the doctors failed to test for, but my mom was not going to let it go. Through all of my tireless research, we learned that Lyme disease was one of the main illnesses that causes POTS.  So after two years, in 2016, while still experiencing symptoms (but to a more tolerable degree), I finally found a doctor to test me for Lyme disease.  The blood results came back, and revealed that I had antibodies against Lyme specific protein (the only way your immune system can make antibodies is if it came in contact with the bacteria in your body) in my blood sample.  To be sure, I send my blood to the most accurate laboratory in the country, IGeneX, and the results came back showing even more antibodies to the bacteria.  It was now official, I was CDC positive for having had LYME!!!  This was the real cause of my POTS that seemed to have hit me out of the blue literally overnight.  And since then, has caused me to also develop Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (perhaps due to the dysautonomia causing slow bowel transit from damage to the vagus nerve, probably also no thanks to the food poisoning I continually had in Africa just a few years prior, and maybe all of my mysterious stomach ailments I had as a teenager didn’t help with this either!).  This causes me to have excess amount of gas which creates major bloating in my otherwise flat tummy, lots of hiccups and burping, and annoying constant hunger (so food is majorly important to me lol).

That means that I have had POTS, Lyme disease and SIBO, all UNTREATED, and I did not die
In fact I am slowly getting better after doing diet, lifestyle and patience, so I’d say Praise GOD!!

This disease has been by far the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life.  I have learned FAR beyond what I ever imagined I would through this experience, trying to understand all about sickness in hopes that I could find something to cure me, and the knowledge truly has paid off in my experience.  I am in the process of taking antibiotics for SIBO and Lyme, and I hope this will help to remove the harmful bacteria and heal my nervous system faster.  I am doing better now than when I first got sick 3 years ago, but I still get symptoms from things like going a few hours without eating, exercise intolerance in the form of tachycardia, heat intolerance that makes me feel like fainting in the sun, etc.  True recovery is going to take time,  but I cannot wait to get over this illness!  Recovery IS possible, so if you are struggling like me, HAVE HOPE!  And please feel free to reach out to me too.
Until then, I take joy in eating good food that tastes great and will help aid my body in healing from the damage done by this evil little bacteria:)

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
-Romans 8:24 – 25

 

My passion to cook…

My love for cooking came three years ago, right before I got sick when I moved into a new apartment and faced the challenge of having to feed myself. Before that, I barely knew how to even boil water!

I am now a vegan (with the exception of farm-raised eggs), but I was not always. In college I realized the harm I was putting my body through by daily eating dairy, meat, junk food, etc. I educated myself on the effects of GMO’s, pesticides, and dairy/meat products to the hormones of a young woman and inflammation in the body.
The benefits I have received from living this new lifestyle has greatly out weighted any temptations to fully return. My excruciating painful period cramps subsided to a more tolerable level, and I am now cured of my biggest allergy that I previously needed steroids to control – poison ivy.  I also mostly gave up on contemporary medicine (except used as a last resort or for emergency situations only) and found my healing (from illnesses I’ve had in the past, like food poisoning, strep throat, stomach ulcers, etc) in herbs, hydrotherapy, exercise, and diet.

 

And I did not have to compromise on great taste to do it!

This lifestyle has made me a healthier and happier human being, not to mention how much more environmentally friendly it is, and most importantly, morally correct.
Personally, I am a Christian. I believe God created animals for us to have dominion over, which does Not mean dictatorship.  We have a responsibility to God’s creation and ought to treat everything with respect and dignity, which is Far from what the animals in the Food Industry receive.  Their bodies are treated as product and as a result, they are torture and recklessly killed to become the next BigMac on McDonald’s menu (you don’t want that kind of blood on your hands).
I hope my story and these recipes will inspire you to continue your journey to a happier and healthier YOU!

God Bless,
-Nina Marie
www.ninamariephotography.com

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