Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reclaiming My Health

Can I just take a nap before hiking the rest of the way back?

Last fall I started experiencing major fatigue.  As in wake up tired, fall asleep while teaching the kids school, take a nap every afternoon, and go to bed early every night tired.  It basically wrecked my life for months.  Take the kids to the park?  I'm too tired.  Go to the grocery store?  Just let me chug some caffeine and hope for the best.  Clean my house?  Just let me take a nap first.

This was not normal for me, or for anyone really.  I went to my doctor with a  list of blood work I wanted her to run.  I had her check my thyroid, my iron, and my vitamin D.  My vitamin D was a little low and my thyroid labs all came back in the lab-normal range.  My iron was right at 12.0, the bottom of the range.  

I was stumped.  And pretty disheartened.  The only thing worse than being told there's nothing wrong with you when you KNOW there is something wrong with you is being told there's something seriously wrong with you (like cancer or some other horrible disease).  

I lost my appendix in November.  For a while I thought maybe that had something to do with the fatigue, but three months later I was still exhausted.  In March I had another surgery and ended up with an infection that put me back in the hospital for 3 days.  Again, I waited to recover but a few months later, I still felt terrible.  

I asked my doctor to run some new blood work.  This time we found a winner.  Ferritin.  Ferritin is your iron reserves.  While my iron level was still normal at 12.0, my ferritin was tanked.  Almost non-existent.  I started taking large doses of iron daily.  Two months later I was retested and my ferritin went from 6 to 11.  Optimal is over 50.  The iron did help me feel a little better, but just barely.  I was able to accomplish a few more things than before, but I was still dragging.

During this time I kept doing research trying to find the thing I was missing.  I sent away for a cortisol spit test to check for adrenal fatigue.  Yes, it did show that my cortisol was below range in the middle of the day, but it wasn't so far off that I should feel this bad.

A few weeks ago I had repeat labs down to check my ferritin and on a whim I asked my doctor to check my B12 level.  Vitamin B12 is another one of those things that can cause fatigue when too low.

My B12 came back in range so I dismissed it at first.  But further research showed that while my level of 361 was in lab range, most people feel symptoms if it is below 450.  So I bought B12 supplements and started taking them.

Two days later, I had pep.  Strange.  What is this mysterious energy I have?  Why am I not falling asleep in the afternoon when I'm trying to have my prayer time?  Huh.  A week later I felt normal.  Three weeks later and I am a new person.  

My house is clean.  My laundry is all caught up.  I have gutted, purged and deep cleaned over half my house since Labor Day even with starting homeschooling again.  Because after teaching my kids all morning, I HAVE ENERGY LEFT OVER.  

We joined the YMCA last week.  While my kids played in the pool, I swam laps.  A bunch of them, all in a row.  Last night, NIGHT, when I used to crash from fatigue, I did an hour long water aerobics class.  And I wasn't exhausted by the end.  

So I want to encourage anyone who is struggling with fatigue and isn't finding answers, don't give up.  It took me many doctor visits, 2 surgeries, 1 spit test, 5 blood draws and almost a year to figure out the source of my problem.  I just keep thinking: What if I had given up?  What if I hadn't asked the doctor to add that B12 test on a whim?  

I don't know why my B12 was low when I eat so much meat, eggs, and other B12-rich foods, but today I don't care.  I am just happy to have energy again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

The opposite of Love is Fear.  If you are filled with fear, you cannot love.  If you are consumed with love, you cannot fear.  Because perfect love casts out fear.  

For years God told me in my prayer times that I needed to grow in love.  I did not get it.  I loved my family just fine.  I loved my friends just fine.  I had ooshy gooshy feelings for my Hubs.  What does this mean, grow in love?  

Only in hindsight can I see what God meant.  

In the past I would hear God speak to me and tell me to do something.  I almost always ignored Him.  Write someone a letter of encouragement?  Nope.  That's embarrassing.  Tell someone they look pretty or how I admire them?  Nope.  I barely know them and that would just be weird.  Talk to that stranger who looks sad and alone?  God?  Do You know who You are talking to?  My mom said to never talk to strangers and I am sticking to it.  


So much fear.  

Too much fear to take a leap of faith.  Too much fear to actively love the people God was placing in front of me.  Until one day I was done.  Done being a shadow of who God created me to be.  Done being afraid.  Done hiding.  Done running away.  Done, done, done.  

I wanted to be an evangelist.  I wanted to reach out to the poor, the needy, the lonely.  I wanted to do so many things.  I wanted to be a missionary, somewhere exotic or in my own city.  I wanted to be a writer.  And in my head, I was really good at this stuff.  But where my soul longed for these things, my brain said, "No!  It's scary!  Dangerous!  You'll get hurt!  You'll fail!  No one likes you.  You are a wreck of a person, so what could you possibly have to say that would help people?"  

I used to hide who I really am from people.  Even from my Hubby.  But one day I woke up and decided that I was done hiding.  I went through some really dark times in my life all on my own because I was too afraid to seek help and support.  No more!  If I am struggling, I tell people I am struggling so they can walk the road with me.  Even if they can't actively help me or solve my problem, they can give me hugs and pray for me.  And that is often enough.

Recently I discovered that one of the gifts God has given me is to be a truth teller.  I tell people the truth about me, not because I think I have it all together, but because I don't.  I rejected fear and now I will freely tell people about my life.  Why would I tell people about my struggles?  Mainly I share because there is always that one person who is going through a similar struggle who needs to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  

That mom who feels like an outcast because she can't get that nursing thing down and resorts to bottles.  Dear Momma, I've been there.  My kids have turned out pretty darn good despite being raised on formula.  That wife who isn't sure if there is any hope left for her marriage.  Dear Wife, I've been there.  I had my bags half packed when God smacked me upside the head and then transformed my marriage into something beautiful.  That woman who has struggled with depression or anxiety, but is too afraid to seek help because she doesn't want people to think she's crazy or incapable of handling her life.  Dear Woman, I've been there.  It wasn't until I hit rock bottom that I was willing to seek help from my doctor.  And I am eternally grateful that God brought me to rock bottom so I would realize I needed help instead of settling for a "good enough" life for the rest of my life.  

And now I get it.  Why God said I needed to grow in love.  I was so consumed with fear that I could not love.  I could not share myself with others.  I wasn't able to listen to other people share with my God-ears on.  I wasn't willing to take risks.  To reach out to people.  To love others.  I loved on the surface where I lived.  Now I live fearlessly and love deeply.  I love too much to be afraid.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Battles We Wage In Our Heads

I spent the last week wrestling with some stinking thinking.  Like bad thinking.  I tried to change the subject in my mind, used distraction, but the thoughts just kept coming back.  Where did these thoughts come from?  God, I am a terrible person for thinking this.  Why can't I make these thoughts go away?

And because I am slow, it didn't dawn on me that this was just one more in a long string of attacks from the devil that I've experienced in the past year.

Tonight I figured it out.  God, I resist the devil and Your Word says he must flee from me.  Flee, devil!  You have no place in my mind.

Instant peace.

Just like when Hubby prayed for me about all my stinking thinking about homeschooling this school year.  I spent two weeks in agony over the thought of teaching my kids.  I didn't want to.  I didn't think I could.  Every time I thought about it, it made me want to cry.  I kept praying for God to make me stronger.  What I really needed to do was tell the devil to shut up and go away.  Hubby prayed for me and the peace was instant.

I read this quote back in the winter and shared it on here before after my second hospital stay in under 6 months.

If I Were The Devil
By Tommy Nelson

If I was the devil, I'd tell you what I'd do.  I would try to deceive you and get you into error.  I would get you off base.  And if you still stayed true, I would try to disqualify you.  I would get you immoral, I would get you where no one would believe what came out of your mouth.  I would make you a tabloid, where nobody would believe you.  I would remove your confidence until you were afraid to speak because your life was a shamble.  I would get you into sin.  I would prowl like a roaring lion to devour you morally.

And if I couldn't do that, I would try to make you successful.  And I would distract you if I couldn't disqualify you.  I would get you busy.  I would get you so distracted to the gospel that no longer would your prayers be about holiness and souls.  They would only be about the bottom line in your business.  I would get you materialistic, and no longer concerned about the spiritual nature of life.  If I couldn't do that, I would divide you.  If I couldn't divide you, I've almost lost you.  You know what I'd do then?  I'd discourage you.  And then if I couldn't discourage you, I'd try death.  I would try my best to kill you.  That's what I would do to take you out.

So far this year satan has attacked me on almost every single front addressed here.  In every instance, I wallowed in the situation for a few days or weeks before I realized it was an attack and needed serious prayer.

Tonight I asked God: Why am I being attacked so much?  Why am I such a threat to the devil?  I am just one person who doesn't even do much.  I stay home.  I homeschool.  I don't write books.  I don't have a lot of influence.  I'm not important.  I'm just me.  

Because you aren't afraid anymore

I used to be afraid of everything.  People.  Bugs.  Letting my kids out of my sight.  Messing up.  Failure.  Losing my house.  Being poor.  Not having enough food.  Fitting in.  Staying home alone.  That I had an incurable disease.  New things.  The list was endless.  Fear consumed my life.

I am not afraid anymore.  I spent 33 years in bondage to fear, but not anymore.  I will not allow myself to be neutralized ever again.  

If you are like me and find yourself being sidelined with crazy thoughts or situations, don't wallow in it.  Stop and pray.  Command the devil to shut up and flee.  The closer you get to the Lord, the more you say Yes to Him, the bigger target you will become.  Learn to recognize these attacks.  If the thoughts running through your head are crazy talk, if they plague you, that is a dead giveaway that it's not you, but an attack.  If you suddenly find yourself paralyzed with anxiety over something, that is a dead giveaway that it's not you, but an attack.  

Fight.  Daily.  Hourly.  Do not let the devil use your mind as his playground.  Do not allow yourself to be neutralized.  Resist the devil and he must flee.