Thursday, May 23, 2019

An Unexpected Journey

It has been a long time since I have blogged, so tonight I thought I would do some sharing.  Many people know that I have experienced some health challenges over the last couple months, but many people are not sure exactly what is going on... and quite honestly I am not totally sure either. 

These past three months have been some of the most challenging for myself, as a mother, a wife, a teacher, and even as a follower of Christ.  I have wrestled with feelings of guilt, failure, hopelessness, pain, confusion, despair, and all out anxiety and panic.

I am not sure I have ever experienced such darkness as I have struggled to look for joy and hope in the midst of the challenges.  I have felt guilty as I struggle knowing that others have and are currently going through things that are much more difficult than my current struggles. 

As a counselor, I have encouraged and given tips to help people who are struggling with depression and anxiety - and I have used them all on myself!  DAILY! So days with success and other days with just moments of peace.  I have claimed scripture, and taped it up all over my office.  I have done more devotional reading on the topic than ever before... and I do believe that God used that to sustain me, to comfort me... in my storm.

My body is my storm..... it all started three months again with a headache, which then lead to an antibiotic, which I then had a bad reaction to, which then led me to the ER (trip 1) for fluids, steriod shots, and CT scans.... these headaches were the beginning of the anxiety as my mind took me to dark thoughts of serious illness and disease.  The headaches were strange, and my neck tension was overwhelming - stress I am guessing. 

By the end of that week I still struggled to eat normal and my body just felt exhausted, I lost about 10 pounds this week as I had no desire to eat and I felt worn out - I missed more school!  By Friday, I was back to a full day of school and that evening I was at the musical and had to leave early because my arms and feet were going numb... my MS I thought... and so did my neurologist, so back to the ER I went (trip 2).  While there they had to rule out a bunch of things but they started my first of 5 days of 1000 mg of steroids.  Thankfully I had one of my former students Brooke Lawton as my nurse - she was awesome and took great care of me and calmed my heart.  I ended coming back for four more treatments of steriods.  My time at the hospital was nice - they took great care of me and we had some great conversations with the nurses and I got to hang out with some therapy dogs while getting my treatments. 

I thought this would make me feel better... but instead it made me feel more anxious, more filled with panic, more tired, more sore... more of everything than better.  I decided on that last day of treatments there must be a better option for me with my MS so I began to research and found that many people had great success by drastically changing their diet.... well I thought I would give it a try - I wasn't excited about it, but the thought of any other medicine in my body was overwhelming.

My family doctor gave me something to take as needed - I tried to avoid taking it but finally gave in and it helped me to at least be able to function and make it through the day.... and as the days went by I basically started eating only fruits, veggies, and meat.  It is called the AIP diet, which stands for autoimmune protocol.  I definately lost more weight, but the thought of cooking and shopping made me anxious though I have been pretty consistent with following the rules.

Needless to say through a month of this I was still not getting better, my body was hurting, my stomach was still having reflux, and my anxiety was getting worse not better, so back to the doctor for new meds.... which longs story short caused another bad reaction for my body and I ended up back in the ER with Tachicardia - which later found out was a result of the medication. 

In the midst of all of this - I was missing school, missing events, missing church and just all around struggling.  I finally got an appointment with a specialist called a Functional Doctor.  They look at your whole health history, do extensive blood work, and help to naturally heal your body and they specialize in autoimmune diseases.  I met my Dr. at the beginning of the month - he was wonderful (as all my doctors have been through this process as they have patiently worked with me and listened to my anxieties and my fears and done their best to help me)  I had my blood work the following week and have my next appointment next week to find out what is really going on.... but the long and the short of it is this.... something is going on in my body and it has caused my adrenal system to have major issues.... my body seems to be stuck in fight or flight mode, so I am constantly on edge and feeling as though I am in danger, even when I don't have any thoughts of that, my body physically feels under stress with a heavy chest, tight throat, stomach ache, headache.

I have taken many days off of school to try to rest and avoid stress... I did half days last week, full days this week and honestly I was feeling like I was finally making progress and was getting caught up on things... I tried my best to rest and not do too much but honestly I think I must of overdone it without realizing it because today my body just felt like it was stressed.... there was no specific trigger, the day was going pretty well, we had many thing we had to move around and maybe that flared it, but I ended up having to leave school half way through the last period because my body went into full fight or flight and I had a horrible panic attack.... I was so upset as I felt as though I had made so much progress.... I felt broken, frustrated and back at least five streps in the healing process.

This journey has made me feel like I have failed!  I struggle to do my job well, and feel guilty for putting so much on my co-teacher.  I feel like I have failed as a mom in that I can't do anything but sit on the couch and often find my patience with my child to be less than compassionate.  Ella is scared and worried and I know that has taken a toll on her.  I struggle as a wife... my house is only clean in certain rooms because have been so blessed to have people just show up and care of us by cleaning and doing laundry and dishes, and weeding and gardening.  My husband has been so caring, he prays for me, he holds me when I can't stop crying, he does extra jobs at home, all while doing extra jobs at church.  He is tired and worn out but he never lets on and continues to love me with patience and care.

I know my feelings of failing are lies that Satan wants me to believe,  he wants me to feel hopeless and less than.  But God gives me hope in the truth of his word... I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Cast your cares upon me for I care for you.  My power is made perfect in your weakness.   I have struggled to keep my eyes on God, and many days my prayers are just cries out to God to please help me to feel better, to take away these thoughts that control and haunt my heart.  But one thing I know to be trust is that God has walked through this journey with me.  He has not left me and he has provided for me in so many ways.  I have had so many people be his Hands and feet for me.  And for those people I am thankful!  So so very thankful.... for the prayers warriors who message me daily to check in and encourage, for the laundry doers... thanks for folding my underware :), for those ladies of the church that have the gift of send cards - your words touched my heart, for those that baby sat me because I couldn't bear the thought of sitting alone with my thoughts, to those that showed up to move things, to clean things, to drop off food (that I could even eat on my crazy diet), those that helped with my garden,  those that kidnapped me to take me for a walk, to my teacher friends who have covered for me or dropped off lesson plans, for my students who told me that they missed me when I wasn't there - wow that made my day, to my building principal who has cared for me and put my health and my family first ..... and I am sure I am missing something.... but thank you!  Thank you for praying and please keep praying. 

I know that today is just a set-back I have still made progress and thought it may take me a few days to recover from this - I will not give up!  With God all things are possible!  His power is made perfect in my weaknesses.  Thanks so much for you prayers and please keep them coming  Pray that my adrenal functions would return to normal, pray that my body would stop aching and hurting, pray that my thoughts would stay focused on Jesus.