Hi, I am Tiana Brie…

… and this is the start of my journey.

I want to preface this by saying that I never, in a million years, imagined I would do this. This is way, way, way out of my comfort zone. I’m normally a very private person, and the concept of putting my life out there, along with all my struggles – raw, unedited, and unfiltered – for the whole world to see is just … crazy to me. Absolutely crazy.

But God has called me to this. My God has plans for me. And the more I thought about it and prayed about it, the more I felt the tug in this direction. The more I realized that this gives reason and meaning and purpose to my suffering. Because if my story can help even one person going through the same thing as me, and if my journey can inspire just one person walking the same road with me … then it’ll be worth it.

It won’t be easy. Trust me; I know. So far, the road has been absolutely crazy. Lots of speed bumps, lots of potholes, lots of pain.

But there’s been learning, too. And precious victories. Moments of peace where I feel I can breathe again. Because, not to sound dramatic or anything, but I feel like I’ve been through hell and back. I am constantly fighting. My health struggles feel like I’m stuck in a never-ending battle. So when I get those moments of calmness and clarity? I treasure them like nothing else.

It would be so, so, so easy to just lie down and let someone else take the wheel for a while.

But like I said; my God has other plans for me.

From Sick to First Diagnosis: My Discovery of Celiac Disease and Leaky Gut Syndrome

Let me start at the beginning.

My story with my health actually goes all the way back to 2011. I just had my son and I was experiencing some insane gut issues. Insane. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that my pain and bloating would go on for weeks. I was also experiencing severe constipation on top of my hair falling out in clumps.

Yeah. It was an awful, toxic time. I just felt so sick and drained.

So, of course, I sought out professional advice. I went from doctor to doctor, trying to figure out what was going on with me. Unfortunately, the ones I visited just couldn’t seem to figure it out. Let me be perfectly clear: I mean no ill will towards them, okay? I know doctors are human too and they’re just doing their jobs and, sometimes, they can only do so much. I get it.

In my case, since they couldn’t really figure out what was going on with me, it was up to me to work it out. Do the research, put the pieces together – all that jazz.

So I did. And what I found was really interesting. This was before “gluten-free” was even a thing, so you can imagine how revolutionary this felt to me. It just wasn’t as common nine years ago as it is today. Going gluten-free then was basically like jumping in a little blind. There was research and there was evidence to support theories, but there weren’t a lot of gluten-free options – much less people sharing their actual, personal experience with it.

But I was determined to heal, so I read all these articles; what gluten can do to your body, how to tell if you’re suffering from certain intolerances, potential symptoms for diseases like Celiac, and so on. I wanted to be as informed as possible, so I didn’t mind how extensive the research. Once I was sure, I cut out gluten from my diet completely.

At the six-month-mark of eating a gluten-free diet, I felt marginally better. I was sick, but not as sick. My gut issues weren’t as debilitating.

But I wasn’t there yet.

So I went back to the doctors and actually asked for a Celiac panel because, honestly? I was tired of not knowing. “I want answers,” I said. “I want to figure out why I feel the way I do.” I was already doing everything I could think of to heal leaky gut, and I was still suffering. So I knew there had to be more. I just didn’t know what that “more” was.

Unfortunately, the doctors said no. I went to about three different doctors before I found one that was willing to test me for it. He did warn me, though, that since I hadn’t eaten gluten for the past six months, it was highly likely that it wouldn’t even show up. I told him I understood, but that there was no way I was going to go back to eating it and risk feeling worse. So he gave in and got the test done.

You can probably guess this by now, but yeah; it came back positive. My Celiac test came back positive.

(My doctor was honestly surprised that something showed up at all).

Now that I had answers, I felt hopeful for the first time in a while. I knew what I had to do – what to keep eating, what to avoid, what to take, etc. For the first time in a long while, I was starting to heal. I was good.

Sick Again? My New Path to Diagnosing New Symptoms and Pain.

Fast forward to 2018.

It’s the start of the year, and I’m starting to experience weird symptoms again. It mostly manifested in the form of pain all up and down my left arm. Like, it would start at my elbow and then shoot through my forearm, then through my wrist, and eventually end at my hand. And it really hurt, you know? It was achy and sore and just odd. Over time, it started to feel more like nerve pain. At first, it just felt like tired, sore muscles. But later on, it grew into this sharp, jabbing nerve pain from my elbow to my hand. And then it started to really freak me out because my entire hand would start to cramp and curl and then it would lock up. My hand would literally just cramp and freeze, and I couldn’t move it. Think painful trigger-finger in your entire hand.

And this was happening on a daily basis!

At this point, I was pretty much like, “Okay. This is weird. And bad. And painful. I need to get this checked out ASAP.”

But remember; the experience I’ve had with doctors – up to this point – wasn’t super great. I was told by a lot of medical professionals that I was probably imagining a lot of what I was feeling. Or I was told to “observe” my issues and basically just wait for them to go away. So I was a little apprehensive about going to one with this new issue, but the pain in my arm was driving me crazy. I had to get it checked.

I went out and had my hand looked at by professionals. I got x-rays done, I was sent to multiple specialists (including surgeons), and I even consulted with an RA doctor! Again; I did everything I could just to get some answer.

When my x-rays came back, I was told that the joints in my hands were actually swelling. Yes; hands. Plural. I had both hands x-rayed, and it turns out that my right hand – even though it wasn’t cramping up like my left arm – had swollen joints, too! My first thought was, “Maybe it’s arthritis.”

But then my second thought was, “I’m only in my early 30s! How can I already have arthritis?”

The doctor told me that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and people who are diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are very prone to developing additional autoimmune conditions. So since I already have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease, it wouldn’t be surprising for me to have rheumatoid arthritis, too.

I was like, “Wow. Okay. I believe you. This is crazy, but I believe you.”

So I went to a rheumatoid arthritis doctor and had my blood tested. Funny thing was, it all came back negative. Every single test came out negative. But the doctor saw my x-rays and said, “Yeah, you have swelling in your joints. You probably have it. So we’ll just say you’re in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis.”

Okay. Fine. That’s alright with me, because that means I have an answer – which is what I wanted in the first place. And for a little while, it was fine. I was like, “Okay. At least I know why I’m experiencing pain in my arm and why it’s cramping up, right?”

Right.

But … something still felt off.

The Next Wave of Chronic Illness Hits

A couple of months after the RA diagnosis, things started spiraling pretty quickly. I started to experience even more crazy symptoms. When I tell you I literally could not catch a break, I’m serious. All these weird symptoms were coming out of nowhere and I started to feel sick all the time. It felt like I had a 24/7 flu with how toxic and slightly feverish I was. My body ached, everything was sore, I felt like I physically couldn’t get out of bed, and I was plagued with chronic fatigue.

It was bad. It was really, really bad. And it would not go away.

On top of that – as I mentioned – were other crazy symptoms. The nerve pain traveled to my legs, and then to my feet. Unlike the pain in my arms though, this one would quickly turn to numbness. I would wake up and I just couldn’t feel my legs. And then it happened to my arms, too. The numbness, the tingling – oh my goodness. It was awful.

When I started getting heart palpitations, that’s when I went full-blown panic mode. I was like,

“Yeah. Something is seriously very wrong.”

But the turning point for me happened while I was washing dishes one night. I was standing at the kitchen sink and suddenly, I couldn’t see.

Anything.

Everything just goes completely white. I can’t see, I get really dizzy, and I’m hit with the overwhelming urge to vomit. My family was sitting at the table eating dinner and I was speechless at the sink, struggling to understand “what on earth is happening to me”. I quickly told them I was going to go lie down, thinking the sensation will pass.

A few minutes later, my husband – the sweetest man in the world – walks in and asks me if I’m okay.

I’m fine,” I say.

Next thing I know, I’m hit with another overwhelming wave of just … wrongness. I feel like I’ve been forced out of my body. I can’t see straight. I’m seeing stars. The back of my tongue goes weak. It was like a temporary paralysis; I couldn’t move my tongue. I couldn’t speak.

It was awful.

But it was also the final straw for me. Because I knew, then and there, something had to be done. People don’t just get these symptoms. These aren’t normal events that just happen to anyone. These are serious symptoms, and I had to start addressing them.

Time for Answers

So I dove back into my research with a new passion. I was determined to get to the bottom of whatever was happening to me. It didn’t matter how far I had to dig. I just wanted to know ASAP.

Eventually, I came across this one article. And I still get chills thinking about it. I came across an article about Chronic Lyme Disease and how it affected your body if not treated.

It listed every…

single…

symptom.

Every symptom that I’d been experiencing throughout the year (2020). Yes, as I write this blog, this is all still so new and fresh and raw for me. That’s why I still get chills thinking about it. I was in so much awe – and I still am! Awe over how far I’ve come and how much I managed to figure out in just a short amount of time. Of course, I call my doctor right away and tell them what I find.

The first thing my doctor says is, “We can test for Lyme, but it’s going to be a Western blot test. It’ll most likely return negative if you were infected a couple years ago but it is worth a try.”

“That’s alright,” I say. “Because I’ve been experiencing these issues for the last couple years, and I’m done. I’m tired. I need answers. I’ve been praying for clear answers for so long. Please, can we just do it? I know it’s not in my head; it’s real. Please.”

“I need to know, once and for all, what is wrong with me.”

So I take the test, and it comes back… negative.

I refuse to give up.

I remember, in that moment, feeling desperate. So close! I was so close to just breaking this thing wide open and figuring out why I was feeling so sick for so long. I needed to know what was going on so that I could start healing. So that I could start feeling normal again! I missed being normal. I missed being able to wake up fully energized. I missed being capable of making it an entire day without needing a nap, just to recharge! I hated the feeling of being weak, sluggish, and drained. I hated having to tell my kids, I’m sorry, momma is sick again. I can’t play today. I can’t go with you guys today. I have to go lie down.

It was awful. The thoughts and feelings of it are still awful.

Honestly, at that point, I just wanted a breakthrough. I just wanted to begin healing.

I managed to get together with some of my super amazing health-minded friends and told them about my situation. I asked them if they knew anything that could help me, or if they could maybe point me in the right direction for my research. It helped immensely. I went back to researching more about chronic Lyme because I knew – I just knew, in my gut – that I had it. I mean, I had every single symptom listed. What else could it be?

So I started finding all these different tests that I could take and all these different doctors that I could visit and – let me tell you: it is such an overwhelming process. Researching potential tests, keeping track of very specific doctors, trying to find reliable articles and reliable sources and not having anyone to consult with … I was overwhelmed. And I was fighting chronic fatigue on top of being overwhelmed! My brain was fried and foggy, and it was getting to a point where I felt like it was all just too much for me to handle alone.

Thank God He sent me a friend (well… He sent me a few). A friend who knew about my issues reached out to me and said, “Hey, I think I have something that could help you.” My friend introduced me to this company that does chronic Lyme testing. And I was already considering two companies at that time, but the one my friend introduced me to didn’t require a doctor to sign off on the test. And the reason I didn’t want that was because all the doctors I was seeing – and all the doctors I would need to see – for my potential Lyme diagnosis weren’t covered under insurance. Going to them would mean a really heavy out-of-pocket expense. I couldn’t handle that expense but I really, really needed answers.

The test I ended up with was an at-home urine sample that would test for multiple bands of Lyme plus co-infections. So I sent that in. I also sent in separate tests for mold toxicity, heavy metals, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hormone issues, omega 3 – everything that I could think of, I sent in. Because I figured; “If I’m doing this, I’m doing this. I’m going all in.” And I wanted a full picture of exactly what was going on with me before I decided to move forward with any sort of treatment.

That was a couple weeks ago.

I just got my Lyme test results back.

Before I opened it, I prayed. I prayed so hard; God, please. If it’s Lyme, please let the test results confirm it. Please let it show up – not because I want to be diagnosed with chronic Lyme, but because I want answers. I’m sick of not knowing.

I opened up that email and, lo and behold: I have chronic Lyme disease and a co-infection.

Hallelujah; I have an answer. I have the spirit of an answer.

I can’t even begin to explain how good that feels. And I know it’s crazy to be happy about having Lyme disease – I know! It’s insane. But I’m not happy about having Lyme disease. I’m happy that I now know, for sure. 100%. I’ve been battling an unseen and unknown enemy for two years. Of course, I’m ecstatic that I can now see it. I now know what I’m fighting.

I now know how I can start healing.

And that sort of brings me back to what I said at the beginning. My God called me. My God has plans for me. It was not easy. The journey I’ve gone through and my journey from here on will not be easy. But I found a couple Bible verses that were basically God’s answers to me, and I feel like sharing them with you.

First off, I found myself asking God; why? Why do I have this? Why am I going through this? What could You possibly have planned for me? My ultimate goal in life is to serve God and help others, and how can I do that with what I’d gone through – and what I’m currently going through? God pointed me to Isaiah, the Prophet. He says;

“You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.”

When I read that … I got it. Wow, did I get it. I was dealt these cards not to be a victim of fate. You know, “Oh, poor me,” and all that – no. Definitely not. I was dealt these cards so that I could be restored. This happened to me so that I could live. And it was to my benefit that I suffered because now I am able to come out on the other side, declare God’s healing and miracles in my life, and help people who are going through the same thing.

Like I said; I would never, in a million years, have seen myself doing this. Putting myself out there and being 100% transparent with what is happening with me? That’s tough. I’m used to keeping things private. Suffering in silence.

But God has called me to bear testimony, so that’s what I’m going to do.

In John chapter nine, Jesus and His disciples see a blind man. The disciples ask Jesus, why is that man blind? Was it his parents? Did he sin? What caused his blindness? And Jesus answered; it was neither that this man sinned nor his parents. But it was so the works of God might be displayed in him.

It’s incredible. It is so incredible.

That man’s sight was restored, and he went out and spread the word of God’s healing mercy. It is incredibly inspiring to be in that same position. To know that I am able to serve a greater purpose by being on this journey.

Why Am I Showing Up Here?

I’m just starting out. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know that I want to document everything, so that others may see and learn from my experiences. What’s working and what isn’t. What supplements am I taking? What products am I using? What did the doctors say? How am I feeling after this treatment? What are they recommending to me?

I want to record it all and spread it. So that five, ten, fifteen, even fifty years down the line, someone who’s going through exactly what I’m going through can learn from my experiences. Someone going through the exact things I experienced can watch my videos, read my blogs, and feel hope. I said this already but, really; I mean this. If I can help just one person with my content – if just one person feels hope because of my story – it’ll have made everything worth it.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. Thank you so much. I hope you stick around on my journey with me.

Love and Blessings,

Tiana Brie

My discovery of chronic illness and lyme disease