Thursday, August 29, 2013

Speaking of Labor...

Labor Day is coming up.  It's a 3-day weekend for a lot of people - WooHoo!!  This day really has me thinking about the different types of "labor" that family and I do.  The recent health problems that I've been having have made me feel like maybe I do too much "labor" - or at least that's what my mom(s), family doctor, gastroenterologist, neurologist, and chiropractor are all telling me.

I don't do a whole lot of physical labor.  It's not like I'm out in the heat doing grueling manual labor like so many men and women do on a regular basis (like my husband).  The physical labor that I do consists of chasing my kiddos around and getting them everywhere they need to be, coaching Braxton's soccer team, walking in and out and through lots of homes and properties with real estate, running around getting parts and vehicles for the shop, making jewelry and scarves, and occasionally cleaning my house.  None of this is really very physically labor-intensive.

Labor, however, is more than just physical.  The majority of my labor takes place in my brain and in my heart, which might be why I hold so much stress inside...which is likely the root of the cause of most of my health problems.  Aside from what I use my brain and heart for all during the day, those are the two organs that I have the hardest time "calming down" when I try to rest and relax.  I've come to find out that I SUCK at relaxing.  Who knew?? 

When I try to relax, or lay down to sleep, my brain goes 100 miles per hour.  It thinks about EVERYTHING.  It plans activities, it designs jewelry and craft projects, it thinks about gift ideas and ways to help others, it worries about my children - a lot, it thinks of scary things that could happen, it stresses and frets about our business at the shop, it thinks of new marketing ideas and ways to be more efficient for our staff and customers, it thinks and plans and brainstorms to try to think of the best houses to show my real estate customers, it worries about the listings that haven't yet found a buyer, and makes a mental checklist of everything that needs to be done from contract to closing.  While all of this is going on in my brain, my heart just starts pounding.  It goes faster, it skips beats, it speeds up and slows down and feels irregular and just sometimes hurts.

I do fall asleep eventually.  Currently it's with the help of Melatonin and an anti-anxiety medicine to specifically try to "calm down my brain" so that I can go to sleep.  It works pretty well, but I generally wake up in a very tight ball.  My fists are clenched, my jaw is clenched - and though I've been sleeping...I certainly don't feel very rested.  I just feel really tense.  When my fingernails are long, I can literally see the indentions they've made in the palms of my hands, and my jaw is sore nearly every morning.  I'm lucky if I don't wake up with a headache.

So, what to do resolve the problems that my specific type of labor causes...?  It's so hard for me to hear everyone say that I do too much and that I need to cut back.  I love (nearly) everything that I do.  How do you cut back doing things that you love?  I know too much of a good thing is sometimes a bad thing - but still.  I know that doing yoga and/or going for a walk helps relieve some of my stress and tension, but I don't make it a priority.  All of these things that I love doing take up a lot of time, and I'd rather do them than do the yoga and walking.  But, what if my health problems keep getting worse?  I don't consider myself an unhealthy person.  I eat in moderation, I don't do a lot of exercising, per say, but I am still physically active and maintain a fairly average weight.

Dieting is hard, breaking a bad habit is hard, starting an exercise routine is hard, and being consistent is hard.  These are all things I've learned, I agree with, and I know a lot of people struggle with.  You would think that the fact of knowing it will make you feel better would be enough of a push to help you do the daily whatever you've got to do to get it done!!!  But for so many people, that is just not enough motivation.  I've tried scheduling yoga time in my phone calendar in between all my other appointments, but I'll be honest - it usually gets bumped.

So again, I'm back to "Do I give something up, or do I just suck it up and squeeze in the time for yoga/walking/whatever."  Anybody want to go for a walk or do some yoga with me??  It's good to have a buddy system. 

Have a Happy Labor Day!!  I hope you get to take a break from whatever labor that you feel you have to do, and get to do something that you enjoy. 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Update

So, I've felt for a while now that I should do a "follow up post" about the Big Scary Procedure that I blogged about last Spring.  To be honest, it has taken longer than I expected to wrap my brain and my heart around how I felt about and dealt with the whole situation.  It was an imperfect and frustrating process, and those that know me well - know how difficult that is for me.

I started taking the not-so-fun, cure it at the site medicine/treatments for my auto-immune disease, Chronic Active Proctitis (no, it's not Crohn's Disease).  It cleared the bleeding up for a while.  Then it came back, so I started back up on the not-so-fun medicine again...but then it got worse.  That specific medicine wasn't working this time.  I called the specialist, and they wanted me to start on an oral medication, steroids.  I'm not sure why this freaked me out so much, but it did.  I'm not sure exactly what triggered my response - but I was mad.  Maybe it was the fact that steroids have been viewed to the public as "bad" because athletes aren't supposed to take them or they'll be kicked out or something??  Maybe it's because as unhealthy as America is - lots of my friends, family, and others in social media are all trying to go "All Natural" and I felt the pressure to do that? 

I had already asked the Doctor (twice in fact), if my condition could be treated or prevented with food.  Like, if I don't eat certain foods, will it prevent these outbreaks?  Or if I eat more of a certain kind of food, will it keep these episodes away?  The Doctor said, no - not with my specific condition. 

This is where I went a little crazy.  Looking back, I think I did not want to accept that I now have, and will be living the rest of my life with, an autoimmune disease.  Just like with my migraines, I had become on a mission to "fix this."  I didn't want to take some artificial steroid drug - surely that can't be good for my body.  So, I met with some sort of holistic homeopathic type of person.  To her credit, she was very knowledgeable about her field.  I stopped eating everything she told me to stop.  I started taking numerous different supplements she told me to take.  I was strict about it - like, OCD strict.  So, imagine my frustration when I was trying so desperately to "fix" myself the natural way, and being SOOOO strict about it - and it wasn't working...  I was getting worse.  I talked to my step-mom (the ARNP) about it, and she said to go back to the specialist.  I talked to my husband about it, and he questioned why I was putting so much faith into the person without the medical specialty degree - instead of listening to my mom and the doctor.  Well, what do they know anyway....I wanted to give it at least a full two weeks.

So, after two weeks of a super strict diet - I had lost several pounds and inches (not my goal, but a nice side affect), but I was sicker than ever.  It was bad.  I had no energy.  I was tired, exhausted.  I was emotional, like crying several times a day!  And then there was, of course, my other actual symptoms of my condition - way, way worse.  I was completely defeated.  So, I made the call to the specialist.  I talked to her nurse, and cried and cried and cried.  Poor lady, she said she wished she could give me a hug through the phone.  She asked why I hadn't followed the initial instruction with the steroids, and I told her I just wanted to try to "fix it."  She said "you know you can't fix this, right?" 

She also said that a lot of people have a hard time accepting it.  I was feeling selfish and guilty, but her words made me feel better.  I went through a range of emotions - but what it ultimately came down to, was that I was mad that I had this condition, felt guilty that I was having such a hard time excepting it - because, let's face it - there are way worse things.  And I was stubborn that I was going to have to take medication for it.  However, after having gone through two weeks of what felt like hell - feeling like I had an eating disorder and taking handfuls of supplements throughout the day....suddenly, taking the medicine for my specific condition didn't seem so bad.  I mean, at least there IS a medicine for my condition.  It took me a while, but I finally came around and am very thankful for that. 

I don't know if God gives us these tests - or if it's just our own free will testing ourselves so that we may better understand and accept His plan for us.  It's not the first time I've been stubborn about something, and been allowed to try it on my own - but then humbly accepted what needed to be done.  He must know I like to be strong, and stands beside me while I struggle, and is there for me when I finally understand and can fully accept these things in my life.

Oh, and the medicine works!!  My condition is much, much better.  I feel much more like myself now - and haven't had any symptoms for a couple of months.  What?  I should've listened to the doctor in the first place?!!  Psshhh!!!  ;)  How about we just let others learn from my mistakes...