“God answers our prayers in his time and not ours”

Alicia JackmanBy: Alicia Jackman

I have always thought of myself as being a healthy person. I enjoy exercising a little each day and eating healthy foods. In 2007, after having my second child, I was having weird bowel issues and was surprised when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that it happens to some people and might not be a big deal throughout my life. I was prescribed four gigantic pills daily, which the doctor intended for me to take the rest of my life, and I came to terms that this was a disease I had. I took these pills daily and the disease didn’t seem to be bother me after that for years.

Six months after having my third child and being called as the ward organist, my fingers and hands started to swell and be hot. My fingers gradually got so swollen and stiff that it was too hard to keep playing the organ. Eventually I had to ask to be released from this calling, which really saddened me. I couldn’t open jars or button buttons. My knees and hips hurt so bad I couldn’t get on the floor to play with my kids, and I would cry in pain and frustration daily. I also started falling asleep for hours at a time. This scared me as I was home with three little children. When I was awake, I felt like an 80-year-old lady, when I was only in my early 30’s.

Alicia Jackman-Husband's Ring Doesn't Fit

Husband’s wedding ring doesn’t fit, and I can’t wear my wedding ring for over 9 months

I finally saw my family doctor, then specialists, and it took months for them to figure out what was wrong. In 2010 I was diagnosed with a type of rheumatoid arthritis that the doctors determined must be related to my ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that I had an autoimmune disease and that my body would continue to attack itself in my joints, then could move to other organs, which would eventually kill me. My doctors prescribed medication to suppress my immune system which they said was the only way to lessen these attacks.

Alicia Jackman-Feet

Weird hives/rash on feet

Each year my arthritis would get a little worse and move around from larger joints to smaller ones. I got weird skin rashes/hives on my feet, neck and back. Besides that, I got 5 cavities within 6 months that my dentist attributed to the medication I was on. My youngest daughter had to get her molars capped at age 2 because the medication I took while she was growing inside me affected her baby teeth. My face puffed up from one of the medications, and one eye would randomly get red and puffy where it looked like I was punched in the eye.

Alicia Jackman-Puffy Eyes and Face

Puffy eyes and face

The doctors did their best to find the best “cocktail” or combination of medications that would work best for me to help with all these weird symptoms. One rheumatologist would even inject cortisol into my fingers and wrists to help bring the swelling down. I took pills, injections, and eventually infusions at the cancer center. These would work for a very short time, then my symptoms would come back and get worse. During this frustrating time, I felt like a pincushion as I was poked and prodded to take blood for this and that test. I began to realize the doctors really didn’t have the answers I thought they did. The doctors never discussed diet, other than assuring me it wouldn’t change anything. They continued prescribing medications.

Alicia Jackman-Infusion

Huntsman Cancer Center

Finally, I was put on the last medication the doctors could prescribe for me, which was an infusion at the cancer center every 8 weeks. The cost of these infusions went up in price one year from $8,000 to $14,000 per infusion, and they weren’t even working. My prayers became sincerer, or rather, more desperate for answers. While I was going through the pains of arthritis my prayers to God went from, “Take this disease from me” to “Help me deal with this disease,” then “What am I supposed to learn from this experience?” and “How am I supposed to function as a Mom when I can’t move?” to now “Please God help me, the doctors don’t know what more to do!”

Alicia Jackman-Swollen Eye

Swollen eye

I don’t think God wasn’t listening to me through the years, I know he was, but his time is not my time. God was answering my prayers through small moments of service: service others would give me and moments when I had good days and I could serve others. He also answered my prayers with hope that this too will pass. When I went in for my 5th colonoscopy a nurse heard me talk to the doctor about wanting to cure my ulcerative colitis. After the doctor left she told me she had had ulcerative colitis and it spontaneously went into remission. I asked what she did to go into remission and she said she didn’t do anything different, it just went into remission. My family doctor mentioned he too had a neighbor who also went into spontaneous remission. This gave me hope, but no answer to how.

The beginning of 2013 my husband and I watched a video on Netflix about a guy who went on an all juice diet. He had been heavy and this diet helped him not only lose weight, but as his body got healthier he was able to get off medications. Others on the show also cured their diseases. After this film, I was all in! I instantly stopped all my medication and got a heavy-duty juicer and bags and bags of carrots and vegetables to juice. Unfortunately, stopping all my medication at once was not wise on my part, and I didn’t find relief, only intense pain and hunger.

Months later, thanks to Netflix again, my husband and I watched Forks over Knives, and I felt like I was getting closer to the answers God was sending me. My husband started studying more after watching this film and read the books Eat to Live and The China Study. It is a blessing to have a supportive husband that is willing to research and support me in a change of diet. We experimented on our own with a whole food, plant-based diet. I stayed on my medication, but I was finding that I wasn’t having rashes or swollen eyes and the swelling in my joints was going down. We got better and better at cooking and our kids began to request our healthy meals over the unhealthy ones. I noticed when I would give into cravings and eat an animal food, like a hamburger (one of my favorites), within 30 minutes my wrist joints would swell up and pop for days. This painful reminder motivated me to keep eating this way.

At the end of 2014, my mom came across the book Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch. When she read it, she felt the spirit so strong that she changed her whole thinking about food and changed her diet. She gave this book to me to read, and I too was touched by the spirit as I read it. I felt it was emphasizing what I was learning. It showed me the spiritual side of a whole food, plant-based diet. Reading D&C 89 I noticed different words stood out to me that I hadn’t noticed before. Besides the counsel to eat meat sparingly, I noticed the Lord is pleased when we do not eat animals. I want to live my life so that it is pleasing to the Lord. I believe if I follow this counsel, walking in obedience, I can receive health in my naval and marrow to my bones. The Word of Wisdom also promises that I will be able to run and not be weary, walk and not faint. I longed for the blessing to have restored the mobility that I had been desperately missing.

I felt I was getting more answers to my prayers and was so glad to have the support of my husband and now mother with me. As we ate a whole food, plant-based diet and exchanged recipes with my mom I noticed that I was having more energy in the mornings. I would wake up and feel great. Eventually my wedding ring fit again that hadn’t in over 9 months. The swelling in my fingers and wrists went down. I could move them easily and started playing the piano again. I also noticed it wasn’t painful to walk up and down the stairs and even started running on the treadmill. My hair got thicker and my nails seemed stronger.

A year went by and I wasn’t having any arthritis pains, but I was still taking medications and having infusions. Feeling much better, I wanted to get off the medications I was on as I was reading books by great doctors about eating a whole food, plant-based diet not needing medication. However, my kind doctors wouldn’t support me on this diet and insisted I stay on the cancer treatment medication, giving the medication credit for my relief. I needed a doctor that could support what answers I had been getting and help me get off these medications that were causing long-term problems to my body.

Last year my mother-in-law told me about her “crazy doctor” that put her on a diet of no animal products (Dr. Ernest Severn). She was surprised to see my eyes light up in excitement as I asked for his information. I found out his office is close to us and that I had kept an article he had written in our city paper a year earlier about how eating a whole food, plant-based diet clears up acne. I thought it was written by a dermatologist and hadn’t thought more about it. This was my final answer to my prayer, to find a doctor that would support all that I had learned. I met with this great doctor as soon as I could and he confirmed all the studying I had done and most importantly how to correctly go off each of my medications.

1st in my age group in 10K

My journey through my health struggles has seemed long, and yet the lessons I’ve learned have been wonderful. I am so happy to wake up each morning well rested, with fingers and hands that move with ease and move in a body without inflammation or swelling. I enjoy working out and running. Last May I ran my first race ever, a 10k, and took first in my age group. My body is strong! I had blood work done recently, and my inflammation markers are low. My colon is in great condition, and it never was the reason for my arthritis. Recently my doctor recommended a DEXA scan to see if my bones had improved from the 2013 scan which showed I was in the osteopenia level due to depletion from medication. The results of this recent scan show that my bones are now in the “normal” limits! My doctor informed me that my “bone density has improved!” Earlier in my life I didn’t know you could improve bone density once it was lost. This is amazing news! Besides my bones being stronger, my skin really does have less acne, and I’m kinder to my family as I’m not frustrated with my body not working. I understand more the frustrating pain that people go through physically and mentally through trials.

I know our answers don’t come in our time frame but the Lord’s time frame. There’s a reason He wants us to take these journeys. They test us, our families, our faith, and our sanity. My family and I enjoy the blessings of eating a whole food, plant-based diet. Food that grows from the earth is delicious and brings us peace that we are sparing the lives of animals with how we eat. I no longer take my health for granted, and I now know that my body is a wonderful gift and not the imprisoning casing of my spirit. This is why we are on this earth, to have a body, to learn to navigate it, to care for it and to let our spirits thrive in it!

Alicia Jackman (39) lives in Saratoga Springs, Utah. She has a BS degree in Business Management from Utah Valley University. She is married to a wonderful man and has four amazing children. She is currently the organist in her ward. She’s a homemaker and enjoys organizing, running, planning healthy meals, watching her kids at their sports games and dance performances. As a family, they enjoy spending time together, biking, traveling, and visiting with dear friends and extended family.

Comments

  1. Alicia, who I first met in 2014, is a strong and courageous woman. It has been a joy to watch her journey and see her recover her health. Her husband, Bob, has been a rock of support to her. He played a huge role in her recovery. What a blessing for the entire family to have a healthy mom!

  2. Alicia, your story is amazing! I am so happy for you and the healing you have found. Our bodies truly are amazing gifts and it is wonderful to figure out how to care for them.

    I have the same amazing doctor that you do (I live in Eagle Mountain). I have also improved my bone density, which I also didn’t know was possible until looking into a whole food plant based diet.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Although I would never ever suggest that any one go through what at times was a terrifying experience for Alicia Jackman and her family, but I would quickly advocate without any hesitation or second thoughts of any kind by anyone who is going through “a similar medical problem” Alicia went through; as these persons prayerfully and intensely study this report that my dear daughter, Jane has just published.

    Actually what I would very very strongly recommend to such a person, is that they as soon as possible obtain and begin studying my dear daughter, Jane Birch’s inspired and inspiring book, “Discovering the Word of Wisdom.”

    I hope that I could have gone through what suffering Alicia went through and then because of a friend or family member strongly suggesting that person assist that suffering friend read “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” by Jane Birch and then devote herself (or himself) to eating in accordance with what my eldest daughter, Jane Birch advocates. in her immensely true guide the book I just mentioned in this paragraph. I am one of those who followed the advice I just gave. I read Jane’s very reader friendly book, eventually a good number of times, but my first time through my first reading sufficed for me. I immediately began eating how the Lord Jesus Christ urges us to eat in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

    Having lived six full years while on a” Wholefood Plant based diet” my dear oldest child of nine children,Jane advocates, I have no doubts whatsoever that eating in full accordance with what Jane advocates in her very interesting as well effective guide to true health Jane’s book ,” Discovering the Word of Wisdom” Please also read verses fourteen through twenty one.

    • I agree with Jenn. Especially when it comes to making dinner. Right now, we have bean tacos on Monday, rice and veggies on Tuesdays, Potatoes and veggies on Wednesdays, pasta and veggies on Thursday, cauliflower pizza on Fridays, chili and cornbread on Saturdays, and hash browns and veggies on Sundays. We have our salads for lunch, and either oatmeal or smoothies for breakfast. I really need help. With children at home, I need some of the recipes Alicia said her children love.

      • I should amend this because I often have a pot of beans going in the Instant Pot to add to any meal or for snacks with healthy chips or tortillas. Pintos are our favorite, and I add a scoop of vegetarian based bouillon and two scoops of taco seasoning. Wheat pita bread (or chips) from Smart and Final with hummus are our other favorite snack other than fruit. Beyond this, I need help!

      • I like to make meals that we would eat before, like pizza, burritos, mac & cheese…. but adjust the ingredient to fit our WFPB diet. This is one of our family favorite mac & cheese recipes (https://youtu.be/ZCK6RZH2fgI) and we love to do just the cheese sauce and add jalapenos to make nacho cheese, or less water and make grilled cheese sandwiches. I love Forks over Knives recipes because there’s less ingredients and usually made quickly, which is a must with kids. I also grab great ideas off pinterest.

  4. I think there’s a lot of truth to this, and people would benefit by more carefully reading and observing the word of wisdom. But the word of wisdom says nothing about eating a plant based diet. It says nothing negative about eating fish or animal products like dairy and eggs for example. Not that eating a plant based diet is bad or harmful in any way for most people. Except for diabetics and epileptics, a plant based diet could be disastrous for some of them. Don’t get a plant based diet confused with the word of wisdom. They are not at all the same. In fact we’re warned by Timothy and in the D&C about commanding people to not eat animals, and animals were put here for our food and we can have them in abundance for food. 1 Timothy 4:1-4 & D&C 49:18-19 (I’m not saying you are telling people not to eat animals, but…..). When I read the Word of Wisdom it does say only to eat animals if needed in my opinion. I started avoiding meat a long time ago because of it. But there are some amazing health benefits with dairy products, eggs, etc etc. Even meats have their place. I know President Hinckley ate a lot of butter as the prophet. And the health benefits are not for anybody who eats according to the word of wisdom, they also have to “walk in obedience to the commandments of God.” That’s my 2 cents. And I’m not saying that eating a plant based diet didn’t help you with your problems. Or that anyone is wrong to eat just a plant based diet, I just don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. I’m curious if your problems would have been fixed with the animal flesh and continued eating dairy and eggs for example.

    • Hi Craig: Thanks for sharing your opinion! A whole food, plant-based perspective is a different way of looking at the Word of Wisdom than is typical. One reason so many of us are so excited about it is that it has an amazing track record of curing seemingly insolvable diseases (as Alicia’s story illustrates). The interpretation most members have of the Word of Wisdom does not lead to such a powerful diet.

      I’m happy you are happy with your way of eating, and if you (or others) are interested, here are some things you can look at:

      1. Yes, God ordained meat for our use, but asks us to use it “sparingly” and preferably only in times of need (winter, cold, famine)

      2. Fish and animal products like dairy and eggs have the same nutritional profiles as meat (and the same negative health consequences). See: https://goo.gl/HdZ3Dx

      3. The word “meat” used in the Bible refers to food in general and not meat, so Paul in Timothy does not warn about meat. See: http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/about/the-word-of-wisdom/wow-faqs/command-to-abstain/

      4. I’m sure all the prophets enjoy animal foods, but that does not make them healthy for us. Church leaders don’t tell us, “Eat like we eat.” They tell us to study the Word of Wisdom and come to our own conclusions.

      5. I don’t know about epileptics (a rare disease), but I do know a lot about diabetes (a very common disease). There is no diet better for diabetes than a whole food, plant-based diet. See: https://goo.gl/QcYGfE

      6. For anyone interested in the power of a whole food, plant-based diet, I also recommend the DVD documentary “Forks Over Knives” (available on Netflix and other places).

      I hope this is helpful for those interested in the good questions Craig raises.

    • My husband and I just watched What the Health this past weekend and have researched a lot of information as a result. Some of that research led me to study D&C 89, thinking how similar it was to what we are being advised to eat and not eat. And then I stumbled upon this website with this amazing recovery. My husband and I just started doing a 30 day experiment to see if 1) i feel better due to incredible fibromyalgia pain and fatigue and 2) my husband can stop taking medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We both are slightly overweight, despite following a mostly “healthy” diet for years. This is an amazing story and helps my resolve to try this experiment. So much Literature and research tells us how healthy grass fed or pastured meat and eggs are for us. Then to find the complete opposite information with this WFPB diet. Which is right? I’m so confused and lost. It seems that there are two very distinct and oppsotite mindsets, both backed by tons of scientific research.

      • Hi Rachele: I appreciated your comment. Yes, the science appears confusing, so it is difficult to use science to come to a definitive conclusion. I am grateful we have the Lord’s counsel in the Word of Wisdom so we don’t need to totally rely on the wisdom of man. I am sure you will prayerfully study D&C 89 and come to the best choices for your family! Let me know if I can help in any way! Jane

  5. My two cents Jane:

    I think this is the most on point:

    “4. I’m sure all the prophets enjoy animal foods, but that does not make them healthy for us. Church leaders don’t tell us, “Eat like we eat.” They tell us to study the Word of Wisdom and come to our own conclusions.”

    I believe it is critical for everyone to read, study, ponder and pray for knowledge. What is the Lord is trying to teach and then how do we apply it in each individual situation? I believe this applies to reading scriptures, like D&C 89, as well as all the scriptures, and all other sources of knowledge, like the study of all science, health and nutrition. I have been studying the Word of Wisdom since my baptism in February 1991, but it wasn’t until two years ago, that I realized I had missed a comma in verse 13, the comma after “used” and before “only”. I read and understood it previously without the comma, which changes the meaning.

    “12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

    13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”

    For me this law of health as I understand it, is not only showing us a pathway to better physical health, I believe it is also a pathway towards greater spirituality. I see it as a purification process, which I believe has the power to change character as well as physical well-being.

    All of this is just my interpretation, and my opinion. I don’t judge anyone that doesn’t agree with me, or that understands D&C 89, or anything else (scripture or study), differently than I. As Moroni chapter 10, verse 3, says: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.” verse 4 “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

    5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” I apply this method with everything I study. I like scientific approaches to understanding everything, and I believe Heavenly Father, and the Savior are scientists, much greater than any mortal counterpart. Again, all just my opinion.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story of hope. Feeling frustrated due to an ongoing flare of Ulcerative Colitis and from the side effects of medications, I have been searching for a better solution. I recently watched “What the Health” on Netflix, which made me think about the word of wisdom in relation to eating meat sparingly. Honestly, I never really gave it much thought before. I am not really even sure how to cook a weeks worth of meals without meat. Cooking and food in general makes me feel frustrated. I think I might just be frustrated because since I was diagnosed with UC in 2014, I feel like I never know what to eat or not eat. I Feel that if I follow the Word of Wisdom, I’ll be able to get better.

    • Having UC is very frustrating because different doctors and dietitians told me so many contradicting ideas on what TO eat and what NOT to eat! I’ve heard to go Gluten free, but I tested and I wasn’t Celiac so didn’t know if I should or not…. told to avoid starches… I would recommend Dr. McDougall’s Elimination diet (https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/health-science/common-health-problems/allergic-reactions-to-food/) That was huge for me. Incredibly difficult!!! Following strictly for 2 weeks is hard! My gut felt so much better during and after though. During that two weeks I researched recipes that would be WFPB and not upset the gut. Don’t be afraid of potatoes and grains they are what fill you up and keep from being frustrated. Good luck!!! Hugs!

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