To The Young

I have a few thoughts rolling around in my head…

I was pretty sick as a kid.  It started young, about 6 weeks early.  Literally, I was a preemie.

Walking pneumonia was one of my illnesses of choice.

Eh, that’s really neither here nor there.

The big issue that affected my teen years was Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  I was diagnosed at 15 but there were symptoms much younger.  It stunk.  I was never cool in the first place and I was even less cool while using a cane in high school.

Did I mention it stunk?  The rounds of testing.  The endless steroid doses.  Back then prednisone was the only treatment.  That stunk too.

And it followed me to college.  It was a little easier there.  Those kids were much better about it.  But it still stunk.  Starting the first meds for MS and all the nasty side effects.  Feeling like I had the flu every other day.  Giving myself injections every other day.  I still have those scars 23 years later.

And amidst it all, seeing a lot of dreams go slipping through my fingers.  I had been called as a missionary as a 13-year-old.  How would that ever happen now?  I had dreams of marriage and a family.  Who would marry me now?  How could I have kids when I was too sick to take care of them?  It was so hard.

But there was just enough grace for each day.

My high school experience did not look like I wanted it to…

My college experience didn’t always look like I wanted it to…

But God was faithful.

He brought me through each.  On the path He had for me.

The MS followed me out of college and into the workforce.

I fought hard against the MS.  Fifteen hospital stays in 3 years, 2 over a month long and involved me using a walker, wheelchair, and cane until I finally learned to walk again.

And somewhere in this craziness, God brought a man that loved me.  And a doctor who specialized in MS…and in giving people their lives back.  He ended the constant hospitalizations and introduced a treatment plan that was hard, but effective.  I was so sick during that time,  but there were shoots of hope again. Between this doctor and this guy crazy enough to walk with me through the ups and downs, God gave me the confidence to continue into marriage.

And then children.

And remission.

Twelve years of remission.  Healing from the MS.

He has even redeemed my call to missions.

Life is not exactly easy or perfect, but I can tell you with confidence, that God was there through every step, or non-step, of the journey.  His hand was there through the sleepless nights of pain and vertigo.  He sat with me through the side effects of the medications that were meant to help me.  He worked through each of those doctors that looked at me, even those who had the worst bedside manner EVER.

Chronic illness is not easy and it is even harder when you are young.  It is hard to see your friends doing what you can’t.  It is hard to feel old when you just want to hang out with friends.  It is hard to be surrounded by waiting rooms full of people so much older than you…and to be afraid of your future.

It is hard.

But you don’t face it alone.  Rely on those God has put in your life. Lean hard.

And all those promises from God?  They are true.  They are yes and amen, no matter how bleak the hospital room.  No matter how clueless the doctors may be.  They are yes and amen.

I can not promise that your journey with chronic illness will lead to healing, but I do know that EVERY promise God gives you, He is faithful to fulfill.  In His time and in His way.

I know it because I have lived it.

We Rang In Christmas

Well, our New Year’s Eve is going to be even quieter than planned.  Two of the three kids are sick.  So, I will look back at how we rang in Christmas.

We were chilled to the bone and it was totally dark out when we got done, but we had a great time (really, the kid sitting there was having fun) singing, dancing, ringing bells and telling people Merry Christmas for our 2 hours!

 

 

The Shirt I Don’t Deserve

An amazing friend helped me out when she accidentally gave me a gift I needed. The scale has been a jerk for a year plus. Despite my sometimes good efforts and sometimes blah efforts. Even with my best efforts, the dang scale has been going up lately. We are tweaking meds, etc, but we’ll see…sigh.

And I have been frustrated and freaking jealous of people seeing results as they change their diet and exercise.  So jealous.  To the point of tears.

And today.

(my daughter swears this picture is clear, but it looks blurry to me…Guess I don’t pay my photographer enough)

Let me digress just a bit. A year ago, my husband noticed a trend in my resting heart rate. It was tanking. It had always been around 70 and all the sudden it was consistently in the upper 40s, low 50s. There was some panic. I went to a cardiologist. He did a full battery of tests and declared my heart VERY healthy and said I was not only cleared to run, but that I would likely see my heart rate continue to lower as my fitness improved.

In the past year, I have continued to run quite faithfully, even doing my first half marathon back in September.

And a new trend has shown up…my resting heart rate is a new solid 40. Just as he said it would, it has gone down even further.

Today I was even turned away from giving blood because my heart rate is too low. In essence, my heart is too healthy.

For the first time in my life, part of me is really, really healthy. And I am doing the work to get it there. That beats a number on the scale any day.

I Feel Like Crap

I feel like crap…and that’s pretty much a good thing.

You see, when I am in the depths of depression or heights of mania, I don’t really notice the side effects from my meds and am resigned to whatever health issues I have; I just don’t have the energy to care about them.  But right now, things have been stable for a while (hallelujah) and those side effects and health things are making me crazy.  I want answers or I want them to go away.

My stomach issues feel like they are out of control.  Eating low FODMAP helps some, but is not sustainable.  It is too restrictive and not intended for for long-term nutrition.  And yet, here I am, unable to comfortably add foods back in for more than a handful of days.  And now, the issues seem to be spreading–sweets are a no-no, eating a normal size meal is a no-no, fats in the food seem to be a no-no.  I swear, instead of getting better, things are getting worse.

In spite of all this, and  exercising, I am gaining weight.  Big fat boo.  And way dizzier than I should be.

Sigh.

I never used to understand why people would go off their meds.  Honestly, I was so happy with the relief from the depression and mania, I was willing to suffer anything.  Now that I have that relief, I get it.  I really get it.

I want both.  To feel good mentally and physically.

Toward this end, I am keeping a food journal to take to my family doctor to see where we head next and I am going to talk to my psych in a couple weeks.

I am going to fight for both.

In the meantime, I am very, very thankful the Bipolar is stable right not.  Very thankful.  It is such a gift after years and years of not being stable.  I couldn’t be happier about that.  It is just now time to work on the physical and see how great things can really be!!

Not a Runner’s Blog

I have a race tomorrow.  My first race since the half marathon in September.  Tomorrow’s race is a 5k–3.1 miles.  The distance is not a worry at all, and yet, I still have nerves.

Will I get up in time?  Will I find where they want me to park?  Will I remember my shoes?  Weird angst.

I’ve had some frustration all day.  I don’t know which came first, the all day nerves, or the running a race tomorrow nerves.

Sigh.

Here I am again, going on about running.  While asserting this is not a runner’s blog.  It’s not…I just so happens that running is the way I deal with most of life.

I have this thing I do in life where I see something, perceive that it is a good idea, take the leap, and then freak out about it.

Over and over and over and over again.

And here I am in freak out zone again.

Not really about the zoo race.  I don’t think.  Though my nerves are pretty wound up about that.  It is more about various projects I have going on.

I am actually done Christmas shopping for my girls.  Earliest ever!!  But I have taken on helping another family put together a Christmas for their family.  I sort of have things organized but I don’t trust the organization I have done, so I fret.  A lot.  Like feel like I can’t breathe fret.  Sit in my car trembling fret.  I don’t want to let my friend down and disappoint her kids.  It just has to work out.

Yeah, more than a little stressed.

In all of this I am trying to ignore the fact that my second born is turning 10 Tuesday.  She is such a little peanut.  She’s my little girl that yearns to be so big, so independent, and yet just wants time to be hugged and loved by mommy.

I had decided yesterday there was nothing worth getting up for on Black Friday.  And then a little voice asked from the back of the car, “Mommy, where are you going for Black Friday?  I think it would be so fun.”  She was so eager, I found myself checking ads again and setting my alarm for 5:15 this morning.  I half expected her to ignore me when I came down to wake her up, but no, she pretty much bounced up, wide awake.

So out we headed.  We purchased a few items at our first stop, a few more at our second stop, then a yummy treat, a few more items at our third store, and one more yummy treat.  During that second treat stop I was making an on-line purchase and was pretty intent on what I was doing, next thing I know, she is on my side of the table cuddled up next to me.  And I was reminded how important this one-on-one time is to my middle child…as I listened to her plan our Black Friday trip for next year!

No stores kept in the black from our little purchases, but we made a memory and that’s, as they say, priceless.  Oh my gosh you guys, that line I just wrote sounds so cheesy, but there are tears in my eyes when I think about how much this morning meant to my little peanut and I.  And how I almost missed it.

You guys, I don’t know how to sort it all out.  So I guess I am here writing it out trying to understand  my emotions and why I get so dang wrapped up in certain thoughts, why I can’t just shrug them off.

Sigh.

So there you go, a glimpse into how my brain is working, or not working, as of late.  I’d talk about the really cool fact that I signed up for my 2nd half marathon, but I better not, since this isn’t a runner’s blog.  I’ll just sit here amazed that I will run my SECOND half marathon a week after I turn 43. Nope, I won’t mention that.

Choose?

Thanksgiving is coming up.

Fifteen years ago, on Thanksgiving I met my future husband’s family for the first time.  I had just gotten out of the hospital from another round of steroids to treat the Multiple Sclerosis.  My face was extra round from the mediation.  My body was weak and my sleep was messed up.

I was in no shape to meet anybody,  but thanks to my mom making the trip down and helping in so many ways, I arrived at my future sister-in-laws, dressed, upright, and bearing a homemade apple pie.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a jerk.  It makes life unpredictable and hard.  The illness takes abilities and strengths.  It cuts you off from people.

I am ever so thankful that a few years after that first Thanksgiving, the MS went into remission.  And has stayed there for 12 years.

Unfortunately, that health challenge got replaced with Bipolar Disorder 7 years ago.  And the Bipolar is a jerk.  It is.  But you know what, I think I prefer it over the MS.

I made a mistake with my medication yesterday and it caused a day that felt like the MS (at least I think that is what happened).  And it was the pits.  I dropped something out in public and fell in front of my daughter when I tried to pick it up.  I was so weak I had to lean against things to sit up.  And oh how I needed to sleep.

It was the pits.  And it was scary.  And I hated it.

Today I feel better.  Not perfect, but better.  I may approach the doctor about changing this med and I put my meds in a granny pill sorter so I can’t make that mistake again.

But it reminded me, I prefer dealing with the Bipolar Disorder over the MS.

Writing MoJo

So every November there is a challenge to write every day, whether that is in completing a novel or blogging every day.  I have decided to try to blog every day in November.

And my mind is blank.

I had a post in mind, even written in my mind but now it is gone.

I am not one to write much about current events.  I’m actually in good shape concerning my mental health.  I haven’t been running much.  I seem to have lost my running mojo and my writing mojo.

Sigh.

Life is incredibly good.  And busy.  So very busy.

I have three kids, each in their own activities.  I am trying to get back to running.  I am trying to lose a number of pounds by tracking my calories.  My house needs a lot of TLC and cleaning.  I recently got frustrated with my lack of real cooking so have been attempting to make at least one meal per week from scratch.  I have dreams of getting all loads of laundry into the dryer before they have to be rewashed…but let’s not get crazy here folks.

 

Tonight’s dinner was pot roast

 

Running my first half marathon

Patrice is amazingly strong in gymnastics

Caitlyn is totally into the rock painting craze

Decked out in my Candy Corn shirt

Second year of cross country

Learning how to make kuba with new friends

Hanging out at a corn maze for a friends birthday shindig

And Sue is in A Christmas Carol so rehearsals are ramping up.  In between we do our schooling, church activities, and spent time with friends!!

Life is never dull moment around here!

 

It’s All in Fun

An hour and a half is all it took us to get all that loot (and you aren’t seeing Caitlyn’s hall).  It was fun.  But I am not sure how my oldest feels about it.  She went door-to-door but she seemed uncomfortable.  Candy is good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if next year she decides it is not worth it.  It is interesting.   You could see she was uncomfortable most of the evening, but Sue, just a year younger was all about ringing bells, knocking on doors and saying trick or treat.  Two little girls, so very different.

Seven Years and I’m Still Here

I love the change of seasons here.  It is probably my favorite thing about Michigan.  It is nice to always have a different feel to look forward to…and with it a change in scenery.  And fall does scenery the best!!

And then, 7 years ago, fall got complicated.

Patrice was born.  Good.  Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis showed up.  Bad, very, very bad.`

Suddenly, fall became a hard time, a very hard time.  Seven years ago this week I ended up in the hospital for the first time when the mania (cue bipolar disorder showing up) tried to destroy me.

And ever since, fall has been hard. I find myself battling a major depressive episode each fall. It is a time of just working to survive.  So my time I have always loved, becomes instead a season of hunkering down and praying for my life.

But this year.  This year.  It has been hard.  I have been working my self care and medication tools hard and using the insane level of busyness of family life to my advantage–distractions galore!!

And it has worked!!  I was able to enjoy my wedding anniversary this week.  I am laughing real laughs.  I am still nervous as October 28th comes around, but I am hopeful for the first time in 7 years that I just might be okay.

Hope is a beautiful thing!

Roza bil Halib

Roza bil halib.  Rice in milk.  Simple, yet lovely.  It is an Arabic dish a dear friend of mine shared with me.  The closest dish to compare it to in the American diet is rice pudding.  Roza bil halib is not quite as sweet and has a more milky consistency; it is marvelous.

Roza bil halib, which I am probably doing a terrible injustice to in my spelling attempt, is sweet and simple.  It is tasty.  It is comfort.

There are a lot of days I find myself looking for comfort.  I find it in my routine, in my running, in the rhythm of loom knitting, in my prayers. And now in Roza bil halib.

I seek comfort out very intentionally.  Sometimes I become frantic in my search.

It didn’t use to be that way.  I used to be much more able to go with the flow.  Take the ups and downs of life.

Then Patrice was born.  And with her, the anxiety, the depression, the mania, the postpartum psychosis, the bipolar disorder.

All of the sudden, life became very much about finding comfort, finding safe.  I also found others that understood me, who had a similar journey, and above all I found help.  It wasn’t a quick journey, nor was it easy, but I made it one step at a time.  There are days I am still fighting to make it, but I use my knowledge, skill, and comfort to get to another day.

And you can too.

If you find yourself fighting suicidal, or even “just” scary thoughts, reach out.  The Suicide Prevention Hotline is one place you can find help. 1-800-273-8255.

If you recently had, or adopted, a baby you can find help at Postpartum Support International .  Reach out, no matter how hard or pointless it seems.  There is help, there is hope.