Sometimes I forget to spit out the seeds…

Posts tagged ‘health’

When Hope Sinks

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I envisioned it being many things.  I had just begun to experience some health problems, for the first time in my life.  One of my purposes in writing was to both vent my frustration at not being “well,” and catalog my journey to wholeness. Because I was sure that “wholeness” was where I was headed.  I had confidence in the wisdom of doctors and the power of God to heal.

I haven’t published nearly as many posts as I’ve written, in my head, or uncompleted in my drafts folder.  I became weary of chronicling every dead end I encountered.  Trying to escape my tunnel vision, I wrote about other things that God laid on my heart.

Sometimes my brain is screaming with all the things I want to write about what I am going through, but I silence it.  Because it is redundant.  Because it is whiny.  Because the world doesn’t need one more pity-party.

The other day I was feeling so stuck, and stifled, and wondering why blogging about my “journey to wholeness” had become so stale.  I thought about my previous posts, and I suddenly saw a pattern.  They were all about hope, followed by hopes dashed.

I put hope in everything…..

Hope in a “miracle” supplement, supported by hope in a TV doctor.

Hope in a nutritionist-to-the-stars and her metabolism-healing plan.

Hope in coffee, which I had never drank before, to combat fatigue.

Hope in a new doctor, and then another new doctor, to not give up on me.

Hope in WebMD, or an online survey, or some other method of self-diagnosis.

Hope in natural remedies to treat my self-diagnosed conditions.

Hope in another blood test that will surely reveal the elusive cause of my misery.

So many times, I was sure that wholeness was just around the corner.  But it wasn’t.  It still isn’t.

As I thought about this pattern of hope, I heard in my head, softly and slowly:

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Through every instance of building up my hope, putting it all on that one thing, I was still praying….still trusting God.  But He wasn’t my focus.  He wasn’t my source.  And when that one thing turned out to not be the thing, my hopes were shattered.  By losing focus on my Savior, I set myself up for devastation, again and again.

This realization comes on the cusp of new hope.  A new doctor.  A fresh view.  A different approach.  But I am very consciously fixing my hope on Jesus.  And turning it back to Him as often as I need to.

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.                     I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.                     On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.                               When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace.                       In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

The Courage to Fail

Since the birth of my youngest child, 32 months ago, I have failed.  I have failed to make my body respond to healthy habits.  After repeatedly trying and failing to lose the weight I gained in pregnancy, I realized that I don’t have the power to make my body do anything.  I just don’t.  I can do all the “right” things, and every version of “right” things that is purported by experts, and it doesn’t work.  I not only didn’t lose weight while eating healthy (first cutting out this, then adding that, then eating this way, at that time, etc.)  and working out (at night, in the morning, longer, harder)….I not only didn’t lose weight, but gained it.  Seven pounds in a week, with no changes in my lifestyle to explain it, and they stuck.  What was left of my hope was shattered.

Shortly after that unexpected and shocking weight gain, I stopped trying.  We were busy getting ready to move, so it was easy to drop my workouts from my schedule.  Then the holidays, and the fatigue, and settling in at our new place….I never did add them back in.  I started giving in to my cravings.  Vanilla coke every time I went grocery shopping.  Something chocolate every day to top off my lunch.  Cheetos for the crunchy and salty binge.  My husband has this idea that the holidays are all about pepperoni and cheese, and I gladly joined him in that indulgence.

In the months since then, I’ve been digging for a medical explanation.  Several symptoms were added to my list that for a long time only had “cannot lose weight” on it.  In a recent post, I described my devastation at finding out that nothing was wrong with me except for a vitamin D deficiency.  I told about how I demanded to see my endocrinologist again, when it seemed like she was brushing me off.  (Come back and see me in a year!)

When my furious haze dissipated, I cancelled that appointment.  She’s already done what she knows to do, so it would be irrational to harass her with my desperate cry of, “Help me.  Fix me.  DO SOMETHING.”

The vitamin D supplementation is helping.  My fatigue and brain fog are quite less than they were.  If I miss a dose, the difference is clear.  I thank God for the help it has provided, and I hope that in time those symptoms will disappear altogether.

I’ve been in this uncomfortable body for long enough that my younger children don’t remember me being a healthy size.  They know Mom as chubby, and to them, it’s no big deal.  It’s the norm.

A few weeks ago, I faced the scale for the first time since dropping my efforts.  I hadn’t stepped on it in months, and I was scared.  The result?  No. Change.  Was I relieved?  Yes, of course.  I didn’t want that number to go up.  But at the same time, I was horrified.  It was confirmation that I’m broken.  Who goes from binging on veggies to binging on jalapeno poppers and doesn’t gain an ounce?  Who goes from daily, intense workouts to no exercise at all, and still weighs the same?

Despite all of this evidence of brokenness and failure, I’m considering trying again.  My fatigue is lessened enough that I think I could handle some exercise.  I miss it.  I crave it, even.  I love how it makes me feel.  I could do it just for that benefit, with no expectations.  But is that even really possible?  When I feel my heart rate accelerate, and I get hot and sweaty with my effort, and my muscles get sore and tired….I’m going to expect to see changes in my body.  But I won’t.

I’m not sure I have the courage to face failure again.  But I know The One who does.

Second Verse, Same as the First; A Song of Thanksgiving

After weeks of brooding over my “normal” diagnosis regarding my thyroid function, I called my endocrinologist.  I asked for more tests.  I braved the hospital lab early on a cold Saturday morning.  I met an angel phlebotomist who, when I started to cry, asked me, “Have you been tortured?  I can always tell the ones who’ve been tortured.”  She promised me that she would only stick me if she was 110% sure, and she kept that promise.  I smiled when she assured me that I was, in fact, bleeding freely.

Four pages of tests.  Ten vials of blood.  I don’t even remember all that was on the list.  Celiac, rheumatoid something, hormones galore, adrenal function, vitamin levels.  A week and a half later, I heard from my doctor’s nurse, Frankie.  She went through the list, saying, “That’s good,” every time she said that the result was normal.  My heart sank with each item, and my brain screamed, “This is the opposite of good!”  Being unwell with no explanation is not GOOD.

Finally, she let me know that my vitamin D was low, and that I should supplement.  And also, did I want to come back to see the doctor in a year?  I nearly threw the phone on the floor at that suggestion.  I was supposed to just live with my growing list of symptoms for twelve months, go back, and what?  Have her tell me that there still was “nothing wrong with me”?  Vitamin D was not going to fix all that ails me.  I insisted that I need to see her soon, and got an appointment for next month.

I won’t give the details of my physical reaction in the aftermath of this conversation, or the plummeting of my hope for healing, or the desperation that was skillfully calmed by the wisest woman I know (a.k.a. Mom, of course).  Instead, I want to share with you the joyful prayer of thanksgiving that escaped my lips, when I decided to focus on all that my body has done and can do, instead of the ways it is deficient now.

1.  My body has grown 8 healthy children within it, through normal, uncomplicated pregnancies.  Though not without their discomforts, I did not spend all those months vomiting, or bed-ridden, or in fear for my or my child’s life

2.  My body has given birth 8 times; again, normally, and without complications.  I was blessed to give birth 6 times in the comfort of my own home, with amazing support and care all around me.  I experienced the beauty of God’s design; although fraught with the pain that came when sin entered the world, I am in awe of what He made my body to do.

3.  My body has nourished 8 children with the milk it produced, on average for about 16 months each.  They all thrived on that perfect food, and the joy that came with warmth and overwhelming love was more than enough to counter the few “issues” I had with breastfeeding.

4.  My body shed the copious pounds put on during pregnancy seven times.  Seven times I gained and lost an average of 50 lbs.   Beginning with my third pregnancy, I had to work for it, but my body always responded to me treating it right.

5.  My body rarely gets sick.  I don’t often get colds, and I’ve never had an illness worse than strep throat.  I get a stomach bug maybe every other year.

6.  My body has never had a broken bone or needed stitches.  That may be more a testimony to my lifestyle and choice of activities, but I’m thankful for it nonetheless.

7.  My body has never needed surgery, aside from dental surgery.  I have never had to be admitted to a hospital, for any reason.

8.  My body is fairly well coordinated, and I have a good sense of rhythm.  I’m pretty sure I would rock at Zumba, if I ever had the chance to try it

As I tearfully thanked God for all of these things, my mind kept trying to interject, “but what about…”  But I shut it down, again and again, and returned to the things that I am thankful for.  As my mom reminded me, I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  Whatever else may come, that will always be true.

Not Normal

Normal.

Most people want to be it.  A few crazy souls do everything they can NOT to be it.  I never expected it to be a word that brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

My long-awaited endocrinologist appointment had come and gone.  She was caring and attentive, and I got through my blood work with nary a tear.  (Just go for the back of my hand….see those nice veins?)  Then I waited for the results to see if I had Hashimoto’s disease: a thyroid condition that runs in my family, and that I was sure was the reason for my myriad of annoying symptoms.

Weight gain despite healthy habits.  Increasing fatigue.  Shortened monthly cycles.  Depression.  Brain fog.  Feeling cold all the time.  A couple of “episodes” that I’m pretty sure were hot flashes.  (At 35, hello!!!)  Etc.

I almost forgot about the results coming from the lab.  We were getting close to moving….dangerously close.  It was two days before our proposed closing date, and we still didn’t have 100% confirmation.  The owner of the home we were buying wouldn’t grant us early entry to start preparing the home for us, and it was stressing me out, big time.

Then I opened that piece of mail, and the word “normal,” highlighted on the first page, caught in my throat as I almost read it out loud.  I walked around in a bit of a daze, choking back sobs and blinking away tears.  I felt my body had betrayed me yet again.  If you’re going to have all these issues, can’t you at least have a corresponding illness that can be rectified with a pill?  Does it have to always be a big, infuriating, lousy, stupid question mark?

I didn’t know what to do with myself, or my non-diagnosis.  After a couple of hours, I got a phone call.  Closing confirmed for day after tomorrow!  We were moving, and the next few days were an exhausting whirlwind.  That’s a post all it’s own, and maybe I’ll get to it someday.

So here we are, in our new home.  Christmas was just five days after the move.  Cleaning, unpacking, painting.  New Year’s.  More painting, ripping up carpet.  In the moments between, that word “normal” haunts my thoughts.  What now?

I said months ago that “my God’s got this.”  He still does, I remind myself wearily.  I have to believe that, because His love for me is evident in every other area of my life.  There’s not a chance that He would so lovingly care for my home, my children, my spouse, his job, my extended family, and not care for my health, both mental and physical.  He cares.  So.  much.

No New Year’s resolutions for me.  The one big thing I would like to change, I have no control over.  I have faith in my Healer, whether it comes miraculously and instantly, or through my doctor, more testing, and medication.  It’s all good.   (Please tell me it is!)

Still Undefined

My journey to physical wholeness has been painstakingly slow, and it hasn’t even really begun yet.  My referral to the endocrinologist was temporarily a dead end.  She would not take me on as a patient because my last physical was over a year ago.  For me, that was incredible…..that was the only physical I’d had in over 15 years, but 18 months ago wasn’t recent enough?  She, or rather her receptionist, was unswayed by my teary voice, so back to the internist I went.

Only I was now considered a “new patient,” having not been there, as I said, in 18 months.  I was assigned to a new doctor at the practice, Dr. G.  He was extremely supportive, and eager to help me.  After asking a myriad of questions, and finding that  I only exhibited two of the many symptoms for hypothyroidism (inability to lose weight and fatigue – duh, I’m a mom), he said it was unlikely that this was the problem.  I mentioned my family history of the disease, and he assured me that he would do whatever he could to get to the bottom of things.  He even said he would refer me to the endocrinologist if I wasn’t satisfied with what he could do for me.

Upon physical exam, he palpated a goiter (swelling) on my thyroid, and found hyperreflexia in my knee joints.  These both could point to a thyroid problem.  Blood work and ultrasound were next on the agenda.

I figured out a way to do both in the same day to cut down on travel time and childcare.  This meant that I fasted all night and morning, had my ultrasound at 1pm, and blood work after that.  I was incredibly nervous and sick throughout the morning.  You see, I have evil veins.  They are submarines.  They dive and roll at the approach of a needle.  I have had very few successful blood draws.  Though I had an extreme and irrational fear of needles throughout childhood and into young adulthood, I honestly am over the poke.  I’m not afraid of the poke anymore.  But the digging, and repeated poking, and not bleeding after all of that…..it’s anxiety inducing, to say the least.

The last time I had blood drawn, at the aforementioned physical, they wound up drawing blood from the back of my hand while I sobbed and told them, between sobs, that “I’ve had eight babies with no drugs!  I am not a wimp!”  Not my most dignified moment.  But this was the picture in my head as I approached the lab two weeks ago.  I was fighting tears before I even sat down.  I refused to make eye contact.  I cursed my optimistic application of mascara that morning.   But….I wanted to be fixed.  I needed to know what was wrong with me so that I could begin to escape this foreign body I was trapped in.  So I closed my eyes and began to pray.

Poke.  Wiggle.  “Hmmm.”  Prod, prod.  “Am I bleeding yet?”  “No, not yet, honey.”  She had another woman come feel for the vein she was sure was there.  Nope, nothing.  Needle withdrawn.  She looked at my face and asked me to move to another chair –  one that was lower to the ground, so perhaps she was concerned I would faint.  Then she left.  I don’t know if it was a shift change, or what, but another woman appeared.  She took a quick look at both arms, then my right hand.  She told me matter-of-factly that the veins in my arms were too deep, and she wasn’t about to torture me.  She was going for the beautiful vein in the back of my hand.  I cried.  She was compassionate, but firm.  It hurt a lot.  And then it was done.  I think I actually said “awesome!” when she told me she’d gotten all the blood she needed.   The hard part was over.

A few days later, I called to see if Dr. G had gotten the results of my tests yet.  Yep.  All normal.  Seriously?  Ok, but what about that referral?  Dr. G wanted me to come see him again to talk about more options.  Fine.

That appointment was yesterday.  Now, Dr. G seems to have a genuine desire to help me.  But today felt like a big waste of time.  Yes, your thyroid is fine.  We could test for diabetes, or Cushing’s disease, or hormonal imbalance, but I don’t really think it’s any of those.  I could prescribe you some weight loss medication, but they come with side effects like hypertension, heart palpitations, anxiety, and anal leakage.  Um, could I just have that referral, please?  Yes, of course.

So now I’m waiting again.  In the meantime, I got lazy in the last month, and quite easily gained several more pounds.  I’m going to sound like a complainer now, but I don’t care.  When working out five days a week and eating healthy – healthier than I ever have in my life – results in remaining overweight……and when working out only two days a week and indulging in a few snacks (not binges) results in rapid weight gain…….   something.  ain’t.  right.

This malfunction of mine is still undefined.  And so I wait.  And fume.  And cry, but only a little or I will never stop.  And I add fitness back into my routine.  And I stop feeding my fear with food.  And I pray.