My Story

God is the author of my story. He has taken me through extreme suffering that I could never have prepared for or anticipated. He has humbled me and taught me to depend on Him alone. For that I am grateful.

Learning That Doctor’s Don’t Always Have the Answers

I first got sick, when I was in first grade. I had stabbing stomach pains. Doctors were unable to find the source of the pain, so they told my parents that it wasn’t real. They suggested that my symptoms were psychosomatic, and that I just wanted attention. One doctor even suggested to my father that his six year old daughter was trying to influence her own parents to divorce. Even then, I didn’t realize that I was at the mercy of God. Without doctors to help me and my parents not knowing what to think, I was alone. Almost alone, I should say. My mom believed me. She took me to different specialists who all could not figure out what was wrong with me. I struggled for years missing a lot of school in first grade, most of fourth grade, and half of ninth grade.

When I was about 12 years old, an endoscopy showed that my stomach was covered in an infection called candida. For years I had it, but no one could see it. The doctor said that the condition was chronic, and that I would be sick forever. This was not easy to hear at anytime, let alone in middle school. Forever is a long time. I was so defeated. How was I going to handle this suffering for the rest of my life? I cried and cried, but then I felt a sense of peace come over me. I didn’t acknowledge it then, but I believe that God was comforting me in that moment and giving me a sense that it would all be okay.

A few years later, I met with a chiropractor. He actually knew what candida was, and how to heal it. He taught me how to eat to heal my body, and gave me supplements to take. I was 16 years old, and extremely malnourished from years of poor diet recommendations and medications from my gastroenterologists. Within three months, I finally went through puberty at 16. I was healing so quickly, that it was shocking. Could this really be happening? It really did happen, and I lived fully healthy throughout my remainder of high school, colleges, and graduate school. I moved on with my life, never giving credit to God for the sequence of events that led to my healing.

I thought illness was behind me. I was like any college girl. I went to parties, and stayed out all night. I got good grades, had amazing job experiences, and my future looked bright. I lived in Denver, CO while pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology. I lived in Philadelphia, PA while I worked as a Mental Health Worker. Eventually, I graduated from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY with a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy. I couldn’t wait to be an Occupational Therapist and put to use my education and work experiences to help people who were suffering. I had fallen in love, and was moving to New York City to work and be closer to my boyfriend. We had so much fun; going out to different restaurants, exploring neighborhoods, and listening to 25 different languages (all at once while walking down the street).

“What Caused Your Illness?”

Knowing what I know now, and looking back I was a ticking time bomb. People always ask me, “why do you think that you got sick?” Well, here is my best shot at an explanation. Prior to my move to NYC, I had been in a very abusive relationship with both a boyfriend and a roommate. I lived in constant fear. I was in an automobile accident that left me with a fractured vertebrae. It was a traumatic experience. I was abusing my body with smoking, drinking, and eating processed food. I was on birth control and developed a rash around my mouth that the dermatologist didn’t seem to know what to do about. They suggested that I take antibiotics. I took them for six months without any improvements. I developed fibromyalgia right after this experience. Spiritually, I was also struggling. I thought I was close to God, because I attended church, but I wasn’t following Jesus or spirituality awake. I was very prideful, when it came to my work ability and my accomplishments. I thought I could handle everything on my own; that is, until it all came crashing down.

What Is Happening to My Body?

loss of identity healingfaithfully

My first symptom was severe pain in both legs and muscle weakness. I was having a hard time walking and using the subway, which is imperative to getting around and going to work. The pain felt like my muscles were decomposing, all of my bones were broken, or like my whole body was on fire. My pain never went below a level 6, and most days was a level 8 total body pain. My sleep was terrible. I am not sure what really came first, the pain or difficulty sleeping. They seem to be closely related. Either way, it turned into a vicious cycle, which I couldn’t get myself out of.

Again, doctors couldn’t help me. It was May of 2014, when one told me, “you probably have fibromyalgia and your life is over.” When I began to cry, because I was shocked, he said “and, you have depression.” Now, I can laugh, because the whole thing is so ridiculous. At the time, I was so discouraged. I had no one to turn to, so my symptoms worsened. I developed extreme fatigue where I just could not lift my body against gravity and struggled to use my diaphragm to breathe. My blood work, MRIs, and EMG all looked fairly normal. A neurologist in NYC suggested that I “take up painting” (this is what I was dealing with).

All awhile I had tried to work different jobs, in different settings, and was collapsing after a few months and forced to quit. I then realized that my health was in my hands, and that I was going to have to rely solely on myself to get better. I did research constantly. I tried many different therapies. Some gave a little relief, while others weren’t helpful.

Somewhere deep inside, I knew healing was possible despite what doctors were saying. I knew, because I had already lived it. I decided I was never going to stop looking or fighting for healing.  

My First Hope

After almost three years in NYC, my now fiance and I decided to move back to Buffalo, NY to be closer to family for support. I continued to look for answers. After a year, my sister mentioned a Nurse Practitioner, Sandra Miceli at Surviving Naturally, who helps people with difficult to treat conditions. She specializes in integrative medicine, and knew how to treat fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and endometriosis (the most symptomatic of my conditions). She was able to manage my symptoms, and to treat the underlying causes of my illnesses.

A year later, I came across the documentary on Netflix “Food is Medicine.” The next day, my now husband and I changed our diets dramatically. We began implementing an autoimmune paleo diet. We were so hopeful and excited. All of this time, I never prayed to God to heal me. I thought he was too busy in Syria or with someone who must be suffering more than me. I wanted to heal myself, so that I wouldn’t burden anyone, so that I wouldn’t burden God. I also thought that God already gave me a miracle by healing me as a child, so I shouldn’t hope or expect another (as if God has a limit on miracles).

I had no idea, that God was waiting for me to invite Him to step in.  

I Am Doing Everything Right; Why Am I Not Getting Better?

Finding good doctors, changing my diet, and making other lifestyle changes to remove toxins helped, but didn’t cure me. In some ways, I was still getting worse. My fatigue was so severe that I could barely walk around our ranch style home. I couldn’t go on any outings or socialize, because walking was too hard. I used a wheelchair for outings that required more standing or walking, and at times around the house when I couldn’t walk at all. Even with a wheelchair, just being in a sensory environment with noises, smells, and lights sucked the life out of me. My pelvic pain was unbearable and I was preparing with my obstetrician to remove my uterus and one ovary, because of the chocolate cysts and endometriosis. I had other medical complications and couldn’t take medications, so she recommended this surgery. I had tried supplements, essential oils, acupuncture, diet, and more. Nothing was resolving the severity of my symptoms.

In one last effort to prevent surgery, I tried some aggressive treatments to heal underlying co-infections (not doctor’s orders). It was too aggressive, and I actually created a “healing crisis.” I felt a burst in my brain, followed by intense burning fire in my skull. Now, I know why God tells us to be patient and to wait on Him. I took matters into my own hands, which resulted in major consequences to my health.

Healing Crisis

I was now in crisis. I had uncontrolled aggressive shaking throughout the day and night. My brain was burning like hot lava had been poured out onto it. My heart rate was higher than normal, I had black sand like stools, and stabbing stomach pains. I went to the ER, and they said that everything looked normal and that it was probably fibromyalgia. For another month the symptoms worsened. I didn’t sleep for more than one to four hours per week. I just lay there freezing cold and shaking with burning fire in my brain. I couldn’t eat food without severe pain. I went to the ER again. The doctor diagnosed me with dizziness and anxiety. No one was giving me any medication or guidance. I now look back at this time, and think that God was taking me through intense suffering, so that He could show me deeper parts of Himself. That He is the one who I need to put my trust in.

At the time, my health was getting worse by the third month of this. My mom had been living with us for those three months. She was helping me get to the bathroom, shower, get dressed, making food, and holding my hand or rubbing my back each night I lay shaking. My husband was doing the same, when he could but he had to work over those three months. I went days without eating. My mom was blending all of my food. I lost 15 pounds in one week. I was so weak from not being able to sleep or eat. My mom and my husband felt helpless. All they could do was pray over me, and they did so day and night. Their prayers comforted me. Although my suffering wouldn’t cease, a sense of comfort and peace would come over me when we prayed together.  

My Final Hope

Eventually, I couldn’t take the suffering anymore. This was the moment I surrendered. I realized that if no doctor could help me, that I may be facing my own death. I was terrified, but I was so weak and couldn’t hold on much longer.

I couldn’t keep fighting. I couldn’t save myself. I couldn’t heal myself. I had zero control.

I called out to God in the middle of the night, and said “Please forgive me Father, for not turning to You until now. For not realizing how desperately I need You, and for putting my faith in doctors instead of You. If it is my time to die, please take me now and end this suffering. If it is not Your will, then please intervene now. I NEED You NOW!” In that moment, I realized the One who I had always needed, wasn’t some doctor. I needed God. The One who created me, the One who controls the winds and the waves, the One who made the heavens and the earth.

winds and waves healingfaithfully

The next day we went to the ER one more time. My family fought me saying, “there was no point in going. The doctors can’t help you.” However, I had to try one more time. This time, God intervened in every way. We got right in, and the doctors and nurses were kind to me. There was even a beautiful bright light filling my room. I felt calm. The doctor found that I had an infection and that I had thrush (candida) in my mouth and throat. He put me on an anti-fungal medication. Within three days, I was able to eat soft foods again. After that I had hope. I knew that God brought me through the worst, and wasn’t going to leave me now.

Picking up the Pieces

Even though I was seeing evidence of my healing. I still had gone through a trauma. I was afraid to be in my own bed, because of the now almost four months of barely any sleep and constant violent shaking. It was then that my mom suggested that I work with someone who does mind/body healing, so that I could move past the trauma. I began to work with a specialist, Eleni Kapetanios, who taps into the subconscious mind to change unhealthy beliefs and heal traumas. The work that I did with her was life changing, or as she calls it a “breakthrough.” I was able to identify beliefs that were formed before I was three years old that contributed to my illness. She helped me to heal multiple traumas throughout my life. I was so thankful to work with her, and the timing could not have been more perfect. She helped me to even face the fear of getting sick again, and of being well. I know that sounds crazy, but illness had become a part of my identity. I didn’t know who I was going to be without it. She helped me to see the future of spectacular possibilities, and to move forward. I thank God for her!

At the same time, all of my doctors began to work together and were on the same page about what was wrong with me and what treatment I needed. I cannot stress how unusual it is for various doctors who have never met to agree on how to treat complex health conditions. After a year of working with my immunologist, Dr. Julian Ambrus, he diagnosed me with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome 11, and I began treatment. I began to heal rapidly, just like when I was a teenager! He is working to develop a state of the art medical research lab for mitochondrial diseases, which could really help those with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia diagnoses. Throughout this whole process Sandra Miceli has been a Godsend. She always gave me hope and believed I would heal. I don’t know if I would have healed without her help.

Nothing Is Impossible for God

My fibromyalgia has been in remission (minimal symptoms and no medication) since August 2018! My debilitating fatigue that left me bedridden most days, has improved with the diagnosis and treatment for mitochondrial disease. I do take supplements (including the mitochondrial cocktail and anti-microbials), exercise, and eat healthy. My endometriosis seems to be resolved, as I am not on any medication, didn’t requite surgery, and have no symptoms. I had a healthy baby girl July 1st, 2020!

Healing Faithfully Katie Gardner
A new lease on life!

I will be forever be thankful that God stepped in, when I surrendered and called out to Him for help. I don’t want to waste a single moment. He has been teaching me to give over my life to Him fully, and that I need daily healing and renewal from Him. He is teaching me that this earth is not my home, but just a temporary place to give glory to Him and to serve others in love. I believe that Jesus is the source of all love and healing. That healing can only come through Him.

At any point, we can call out to God, ask for healing, and He will hear us! I’ve learned to not limit, a limitless God!

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” -Isaiah 58: 8-9

The following pages are programs that I or other medical professionals developed to treat pain and fatigue, and address root causes of chronic illnesses.

Copyright @healingfaithfully 2019.