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Dreaming of far away places


It’s been a long, trying few weeks. Er, rather, months. Emotional too. We definitely need a bit of a break from our life. I feel like much of our Summer has been eaten up by me struggling through some health issues. Issues I haven’t really talked all that directly to here and likely nothing has really come across as to how much it really has sucked. Basically I spent the latter part of May and most of June in bed, simply because I lacked the energy/motive/ability to get up. My body wanted to sleep about 12 hours each night. Then take a 4 hour nap in the afternoon. I barely ate anything. My stomach couldn’t tolerate much. I had terrible headaches & muscle fatigue. I was out of breath after ascending our front stairs. My blood pressure was terribly low. My metabolism stopped working properly and everything I ate abnormally stuck in all the wrong places (in a month and a half, I weighed as much as I did right before giving birth to each of my girls after the past year of hitting the gym & loosing 6 inches off my waist). My head was foggy to the point it was dangerous (I had to reduce my driving, after almost hitting a few pedestrians & pulling out in front of a car, though really I swear I looked like 5 times, I just didn’t see them). I struggled through feeling lazy, like I just needed to suck it up and do, work through the chronic fatigue and get ‘er done. I shifted through the other extreme and struggled through the excessive fear there was something terribly wrong with my body (or mind), like I had cancer or something horrible or that I would never feel ‘normal’ again. It has exposed how self-reliant I am, how hard on myself I am and how I buckle under the overwhelming external & internal pressures of performance standards of what I am ‘supposed’ to do. I am far more apt to sacrifice my health in small ways & not take care of myself out of a mis-aligned priorities. In reality, you can’t prioritize much of anything if you can’t be effective to do much of anything. New priority #1: ALIVE.

Granted, I know that if suffering & illness is what the Lord portions for me, either now or in the future, he will supply the grace to draw me into closer reliance on him. But he also calls me to steward my body, not just lament, ignore or put my head down to power through apart from him. I’ve learned that the folly of not taking care of yourself in small ways, through rest, prevention, retreat, solitude, intimacy, and innumerable other options. Otherwise then you are apt to be taken out of the game in a much bigger way. I ignored signs. I though I could make it through. I wanted to take care of myself. God had other plans in teaching me humility in what it looks like to be taken care of. It gave us the opportunity to learn how Matt can better love me and care for me. I am grateful for his flexible schedule, desire to provide me rest and humble concern to ensure we sought the correct care for me.

I also was pretty sure I had figured out what was wrong (convinced it was Hypothyroidism). I like neatly packaged answers with clear solutions (I’m a problem solver who likes to be in control, apparently even over my own physical diagnosis). This path has been anything but easy. We also recently switched health insurance companies, one of those big corporate Kiaser-style ones where they dictate who from and how you get to see doctors, which threw a wrench in me getting into see the proper providers (it took about a month of jumping through the hoops of the big, bad health care machine). I really miss our old Naturopathic doc, who was so big picture and holistic in her approach. It’s a disappointing to swing the other way to a big corporate doctor. Oh, well yea you have three kids, of course you’re going to be tired. Oh, your menstruation lasts two weeks? Well that’s in the range of normal (that might be TMI). Oh your BMI is 29? At least that’s not obese. By the first 5 minutes of my 20-minute appointment I had waited 3 weeks for, I oscillated between disgust of the system while choking back tears and repeatedly insist she sign the referral to an ND practice. Naturopathic Doctors are a far cry different than their traditional counterparts, we have been very spoiled to work nearly exclusively with ND’s and Midwives that now we gaff at the limitations of working with a regular doc. My ND ran up a list of blood tests for me, going through a long list of issues to look for- Thyroid, Adrenals, Pituitaries, Celiac, Lupus, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Anemia, Vitaman D, Hormones, Blood count… the list goes on. It took 2 days to complete the blood work- the first day involved taking 12 vials from one arm. And the results were not what we thought they would show. I am nearly always Anemic (like severely) though wasn’t really this time. And it wasn’t a Hypo Thyroid. My clear-cut answer wasn’t the answer at all and I struggled through wanting an answer. Instead I got a few seemingly unrelated issues I was having. My Adrenal’s are shot. My Hormones are off. My sleep hormones (dopamine) and awake hormones (serotonin) were off. My metabolism is off (I was only eating 350-950 calories a day and still gaining weight). Several of these issues came up when I was going through all the issues surrounding Pia’s early pregnancy, so I suspect this has been going on in lesser amounts for quite some time though because I ended up being pregnant last time we didn’t pursuit it any further, then I simply accepted it as normal. I guess that 5 years of pregnant-breastfeeding-miscarriage-pregnant-breastfeeding-pregnant-breastfeeding and my body has no idea how to respond to things anymore.

So what now? Metabolism and the Endocrine system are so strongly tied together that the complex operation of storing and issuing fuel to the body that when one of the many Diencephalic centers is particularly overtaxed, it tries to increase its capacity at the expense of other centers, adjusting previously normal hormonal levels and fat-banking capacity (which in my case with the number, frequency and close spacing of pregnancy, where your body goes into a mode of storing & sustaining another growing human) has altered my body’s perception of how to metabolize and distribute hormones. My systems are taxed, they aren’t running properly. Right now we are trying to basically reset my metabolism, re-write what is normal, and hope all the other Endocrine systems (like adrenals, reproductive hormones & sleep hormones) will reset to. Currently I am undergoing a course of treatment where I eat a very restricted diet (protein, fruits and veggies, with no sugar, starch or fats) and I give myself and injection every day for 6 weeks. Plus I take about 15 pills every day. Sounds fun, no? It’s taken a lot of thought, prayer and council to decide to do this. It’s not just about loosing weight, it’s about setting a new foundation for how my body intakes and uses energy so it can best support itself and all the complex systems required to be healthy, engaged and able. But it’s hard. Harder than I thought. I used to think there was ease in knowing and doing the answer. But the toil is still there. We won’t get through the struggles of life, even if they are the best for us, without pain. But by Jesus’ grace, we will get through them without stain. It’s hard to make the girls’ Peanut Butter & Nutella sandwiches for lunch and not lick the sticky little bits off my fingers. It’s hard to cook dinner for everyone else when I don’t get to eat any of it. It’s hard for the girls to look at my bowl full of strawberries and not try to take one off my plate. It’s hard to watch Matt click on a link from Twitter and announce Tutta Bella Pizza is giving away free Pizza this week and we should go for dinner, knowing I can’t really eat anything with them. It’s hard for Araiya to understand that I can’t eat a Birthday Cupcake on my Birthday in a few weeks. But it was hard to get out of bed, too.

I look forward to the lessons in discipline, though I suspect the remainder of whatever Summer we have left will continue to be pretty low-key. Thankfully this week is incredibly hot, which lends itself to being slow and lazy- sitting in the shade, playing in the pool and drinking iced coffee (yes, I can have as much coffee as I’d like, so long as it’s without milk). Sure, I could at least stand to watch the kids do nothing a little longer if it continues to look like this ;-)

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