11/10/2014 05:54 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

What's Your Upside

On July 23, my husband took me downtown for our first date night in many, many months. As you may know, I have celiac disease, and as a result, I find it challenging to eat in restaurants due to being excruciatingly sensitive to gluten cross-contamination.

But we went to a restaurant that specialized in gluten-free food, and even has a separate prep kitchen! Total score, right?

Well... not exactly.

I didn't learn this until the next day, but it turns out that while they prep and cook the food on dedicated equipment (so far so good), once it's cooked, they transfer it to dishes that they also serve gluten on.

For most people, this would not be an issue. Unfortunately, it's a huge issue for me. I was sick by the time we got home and had one of the worst gluten poisonings I've had in many years. I'll spare you the gory details, but it took about three weeks to fully recover my mood, memory and digestion.

As we explored why I had been so sick, I realized I had a crack in one of my molars, which likely allowed more gluten particles into my systems than in previous exposures. So I promptly set out to get that evaluated.

The dentist told me instantly that I needed a root canal and crown.

The problem was, I was so weak from the food poisoning that I didn't think I'd be able to tolerate a 2-3 hour procedure that he warned me would be difficult due to having curved teeth (who'd have thought?!). So I opted to get the molar out and planned on having an implant at a later date.

The extraction was GREAT: 10 minutes, tooth out, all good!

Until it wasn't.

Fast forward through: one dry socket, one infected socket, one pus-filled granuloma in the socket, one procedure to clean out the infection, two procedures to remove the bone shards that had splintered off, one visit to the oral surgeon to open up the entire wound and clean out the bone shards, three courses of antibiotics, and one more visit to the oral surgeon to take out one last piece of bone that was coming out, and...

Ten weeks after the initial extraction, I'm now better.

No one believes me when I tell them this process, since how would that be possible, right?

But the coolest things (code: the upside) happened out of this process.

The first is that although most people don't react well to antibiotics, turns out that the antibiotics, while treating my mouth, also treated the crazy gas and diarrhea-producing bacteria that had set up shop in my GI tract (and hadn't been complaining of since I was so used to having an irritable bowel)!

For the first time in as long as I can remember, my midsection is not bloated, uncomfortable, irritable, sensitive, or something I plan my life around.

The second is that since I was sick for so long, I was fasting a lot. It turns out I did my own little detox program. When I finally returned to Tai Chi and Kung Fu after THREE MONTHS off, I was (counter-intuitively) stronger. I am now able to do moves that I struggled with before getting sick.

So I'll ask you these three questions:

  1. What are you tolerating that could be improved?
  2. Is there a silver lining in your struggles?
  3. What are you waiting for?

As the fall settles in, it's a wonderful time to reassess, and expect the great health from yourself that you are not only capable of, but so richly deserve!