Tag Archives: sick and tired

When it’s difficult

Sometimes life can be really difficult and uncooperative.   Demands on our time and energy come, even when we don’t have any of those things to spare.  And such is my life right now.

I’m in some pretty serious adrenal distress and I’m having trouble keeping my anxiety in check.  But that doesn’t seem to stop life from asking the impossible.

My parents have sold their home in California and are getting ready to move to Idaho.  My father has been ill for over a year and my mom is drowning in this down-sizing project.  She needs me.

J asks me what I need and I don’t really know.  I feel like I need a pause button in my life so I can catch up and feel better before these things come up.  She doesn’t want me to make the trip as she’s afraid it won’t be good for me.  But how do you say “Sorry, mom.  You’re on your own”?  I can’t bring myself to do it.

My logical mind tells me that I should be able to just keep an eye on my stress and health and if I grit my teeth and keep leaning forward, I should be able to do all of it.  But I’m starting to see that attitude is part of why I’m so ill all the time.  I push forward when I should be stepping back and taking a break.

This kind of difficult situation comes up a lot.  Times when I “should” be taking care of myself, but the needs of others feels more pressing and important.  It seems like there’s always going to be time to take care of myself later, but that time never seems to appear.

When there are difficult demands, I always just find a way to push through and make it happen.  Am I doing myself a disservice?  Should I be taking care of myself first and others later?  But what if later is too late?  What if they need me now, regardless of how much gas I’ve got in my tanks?

I never seem to know what the right thing to do is when I have difficult decisions to make.  Any tips?

When you’re sick of being sick

I’m so sick of being sick.  I have these periods, sometimes as long as a few months, where I start to feel like I can see myself getting better.  But then one minor issue and I’m back at square one again and I find myself feeling like I’ll never climb out from under all this illness.

The nutritionist, E, and I talked about the food allergy panel and we’re trying a few changes, but nothing dramatic.  The big change is that I’ve been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and prescribed a CPAP Machine.

They tell you that it may take some getting used to.  What they don’t say is that you will feel like you’re suffocating, even though you aren’t and your body doesn’t want that thing blowing in your face all night.

After a week, I think I’m getting better sleep, but it’s been quite a struggle.  I wish the doctors had prepared me more for how difficult it could be and that I may have some sleepless nights for a couple weeks.  Why?  Because I’ve got some other health issues that are greatly exacerbated by not getting quality sleep.

Add on top of all this, some family drama and stress with my father’s health and my parents moving across the country in short order and their need to have me come visit them 1000 miles away to help.  Well, that was enough to tip me over and send me back into the adrenal fatigue again.

I’m jittery and have trouble regulating my body temperature.  I can’t sleep when I lay in the bed, but I fall asleep quickly when I sit down on the couch with the laptop.  I can’t think and have absolutely no appetite, even though I recognize that I’m hungry, no food looks or tastes good to me.

My husband and sole support system is leaving town to visit his family for a long weekend and I’ve got my trip to California coming up quickly and I can’t seem to get going on any of the million or so things I need to do between now and then.

My health team has been great at giving me guidance on the best way to take care of myself, but the hard work is all mine.  And frankly, hard work is the last thing I want right now.  All I want to do is sleep.

The last two nights I’ve managed to get good quality sleep, with about 5-6 hours on the CPAP.  I think that’s helping, but I’ve got a deep hole to climb out of here.  All I can do is take it one day at a time and do the best I can to care for myself.

And that’s the frustrating part.  I hate feeling like the “broken girl” or the “sick one”.  I want to be able to exist and live my life like a normal person, but that’s not happening right now.  I know I need to be intentional and patient with myself, but I still hear that inner mean-girl screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?! GET IT TOGETHER!!”

All my team members are trying to remind me that I’ve already come a long way, but when I feel sick, I just can’t see it.  I feel like I’m back at square one and I have to start all over.  I’m just so sick of being sick.

When You Are Told You’re not One Crazy, But Two

After a few months of working with my wonderful nutritionist, M, she asked me how I felt about adding other members to the team.  She said that we were pretty limited to food related issues on our sessions, but maybe I could use some help with mindfulness in the other areas of my life.

I looked at her and asked, “Are you saying I’m not One Crazy, but Two Crazy?”  She looked confused and I said that I had some feelings of judgement about her suggesting I’m so nutty that I need two therapists.  She laughed.

But it’s true.  I needed some help with some mom-stuff and some more help with getting my monkey-mind under control.  She referred me to a mindfulness coach/therapist here locally.  I’ll call her J.

J is a beautiful person, but wow do I find myself saying awful things about her sometimes. It’s not about her, but about me and my feelings about the work that we do.  It’s HARD!!!  It seems simple.  You breathe, you focus your mind, you set intentions and you don’t beat yourself up through the day to get things done.  But it’s not easy at all.  It’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done to break those old mental patterns.

And J has this way of finding those dark and painful places and then suggesting I shine a flashlight in there and look around at all those scary thoughts and beliefs.  Not my favorite activity as it stirs up all kinds of feelings I thought were long buried.

She also has this way of suggesting things, letting me fiercely resist them and then pointing me back to them again and again.  For instance, before Thanksgiving, she said, “You seem kind of spun out about all these things going on.”  I was super sure that she was way off base.

“I’ve got this, J.  I’ve got this to plan and this to prepare and this to get ready for that and then this other thing and I’m just busy.”

Boy was I wrong.  Three weeks later I wasn’t able to make it to our appointment because I was sick.  Talked to my doctors and they don’t think it’s part of the protocol I’m on, but my adrenal issues flaring up again.

What!?! But I’m so on top of it!  Look at my To Do list! Look how many things I’m crossing off.  I’m busy and I’m doing things and oh…

I forgot about just being.  I got all lost in all the things that were coming up.  Holidays, work, health labs, protocols, family, work, etc.  It all just sort of crept up  on me and without even realizing it, I was back being “mindless” and stressing myself out by running ferociously on that treadmill of life.

For me, that space brings up all my bad habits.  I get focused on doing things and crossing them off my list and forget all about just being and taking care of myself.  My inner diaglogue goes from being mindful and calm to saying things like, ‘What’s the matter with you!?! Why aren’t you getting more done!? Faster! Faster! Faster!”

So, here I am again.  I’m back to watching that internal dialog and dismissing all that negative self-talk.  I’m practicing self-care and getting the important things done.  Is that enough?  It has to be for now.

When You Are Suffering

When you are suffering, you feel like you will try anything to get some relief.  I often start to lose perspective on things and I suddenly can’t remember ever feeling good before and lose hope for feeling good ever again. (I acknowledge this is more than a tad dramatic.)

I am in it right now. I’m coming to the end of a 10 week protocol with my naturopath to combat these biofilms and candida to get my gut healthy again. I liken this process to chemotherapy and my husband rolls his eyes a bit.  I understand, but as a care-giver to someone who went through chemo, a lot of this was familiar.  Lack of appetite, tiredness, constant nausea, muscle aches, joint pain, excessive vomiting, hot/cold flashes, headaches, vision changes, migraines and I even had significant hair loss at one point that was starting to really freak me out.  However you describe it, this has not been a fun year for me.

And here I am at another potential break-through spot in my life with enthusiastic team members cheering me on, but all I can see is darkness, suffering and more suffering.

I’m tired of this restricted diet and eating food that’s “good for me”. Because I’ve been feeling so ill, I’ve completely socially isolated myself.  It has been months since seeing anyone other than the occasional cashier, my husband or a team member.

Even my dog isn’t able to make me smile like she usually can. I find myself annoyed when she wants to play and enthusiastically brings me toys.  I think, “Not now, I’m suffering.”

My mental attitude is also in the toilet. I have lost focus on my intention for doing this whole process in the first place.  I have somehow convinced myself that this is a punishment the people supporting me are subjecting me to.  Of course, this is an illusion I create to distract me from reality and my responsibility in this.

I’m having a difficult time and that is an indisputable fact. There is quite a bit of suffering going on, both mental and physical. That’s real.  But I really did choose to be here.  I knew this was going to be a rough road.  I had hope that I would be through the worst of it by now, but I’m not and I need to acknowledge and respect that.

Five weeks ago, I was making huge portions of our dinners to stock some away in the freezer for nights I’m not able to cook. I cleared my calendar of all things not health team related or absolutely necessary things.  I even let my co-workers know that I’d be scarce for the duration and to do their best without me.

But here I am, wishing it wasn’t happening instead of appreciating the fact that I’m here and this is exactly what I wanted.  I want to be well. And getting there isn’t easy.  But if I keep my eye on the prize and keep my head straight, I will get there.  Eventually.

When Your Body Says ENOUGH

There are times in life when we just aren’t listening to our bodies and they have to start shouting ENOUGH in our ears.  It’s time to slow down, regroup and rethink the situation.

Last December, my dog got very sick.  It was totally unexplained, but one day she just couldn’t stand up.  She would fall over when trying to eat or go potty.  We took her to the vet and she had a seizure. They called to have me rush her to the emergency hospital on the other side of Puget Sound.

She was diagnosed with encephalitis of unknown origin and was put on a round of high-dose steroids and we took her home to hope for the best.  She eventually responded to the treatment, but I was exhausted.  I had been so stressed out and worried about her and then, when things were getting back to normal, my body decided it had enough and started to shut down.

I had no energy.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t sleep, but I was constantly tired.  I had low grade nausea and everything in my body ached. I went to the doctor and she ordered every test under the sun and sent me home with instructions to rest as much as possible.  I just went to bed until test results came back.

When results were back, my MD had found high cortisol levels, some elevated calcium and many other measures were just “off”.  She ordered more blood tests, a CT Scan, an ultrasound, etc.  She told me to rest in between appointments and we’d see what we found.

A week later, my husband took me back to the doctor for results.  He never comes with me to the doctor, so I knew he had been worried by all the tumor talk.   But, as usual, my tests were indicating no serious health issue.

I was given Xanax to reduce my stress levels and sent home to rest.  And rest I did.  Taking the Xanax, I was sleeping 15-16 hours a day and barely conscious for the rest of the hours of the day.

Was this my life? Was this the new “normal”? How is that acceptable?  It’s not!

So I had to go back to the drawing board.  I talked to some of my team members and they encouraged me to call a local naturopath and see what she had to say about my situation.

I’m pretty resistant to adding new medical team members because it always feels like an exercise in futility.  They usually tell me the same thing – Your numbers are pretty much in range. Lose weight. Exercise more.  YAWN.  And despite assurances from people I trust, I was really reluctant to call.

But I did call and the doctor happened to answer the phone.  We had a nice conversation about my situation and set an appointment for later that week.

She had me fill out an extensive intake questionaire and we discussed all the issues.  She ordered a huge number of tests and assured me that we would figure this out together.

Dr H. was also the first doctor who ever took a moment to look me in the eyes and say “This must be so difficult for you.” I thought I was going to cry in front of a stranger.  It is difficult! It’s awful.  I wish I could do things that everyone else seems to be able to do, but the harder I try, the further back I slide. I am not asking to be a superhero, I just want to be able to participate in my life without having to go to bed for a week as a result.

Long story short, Dr H’s tests found a number of systems that were out of balance including my adrenals, my gut-bacteria and my thyroid. I also tested positive for high-levels of candida in my system, so that was a place to start.

Dr H referred me to a book to help me wrap my head around what was going on.  The book was The Stress Remedy: Master Your Body’s Synergy and Optimize Your Health

In it, Dr Doni Wilson breaks down the systems that support your health and how any one of them being out of sync can disrupt the others.

I read the book, although I did sort of tune out once she started talking about a cleanse and her diet regimen because we were doing our own protocol.  I had a clearer picture that self-care had to become a priority and I had to slow way down in my life and just do the things I am able to do.  This meant asking for help, which is not my favorite thing to do.

Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired!

I’ve been battling some kind of low-grade illness for years  without being able to make any progress forward.  Basically, I’ve just felt sick and tired for month after month after month.

I’ve been to a variety of doctors who all tell me that my test results are all “basically normal”, meaning some are on the high/low end of normal, but pretty much in range.  To me that sounds like something is out of balance and needs attention, but if you fall within the arbitrary range, there’s nothing the doctor can do for you.

Of course, there’s also the familiar fat girl story where the doctor tells you to go home and lose some weight and you’ll start to feel better.  Eventually I got tired of that and decided to do something about it.

I was back on a diet!  I even took a job with a pet-sitter friend so I would be forced (FORCED!) to walk dogs every day and get my exercise.  So there I was, starving, walking 4-5 miles a day with dogs and my weight was mostly staying the same.  HUH?!?!

What did start to happen was that the low grade pain I had in my hips and back started to get much, much worse.  I was pushing myself physically, mentally and leaving very little time for self-care in my day.  I was just getting sicker and sicker.

I had to leave that job after about 2 years, but I was newly focused on figuring out what was wrong with me and how to correct it.  I had my doctor give me all kinds of tests to figure out what was wrong.  We tested for brain tumors and disorders that might cause my symptoms, but everything kept coming back normal.

It is quite an unusual experience to find yourself hoping you have a brain tumor so they can at least have something to work on. 🙂  I didn’t have a tumor, but while we were chasing the high cortisol and calcium levels when we found some nodules on my thyroid.

It was my para-thyroid and 2 of the four nodules were enlarged.  I hit the internet to do my research and read pages and pages of posts from people who had the surgery and awoke to be new people, with all their health problems behind them.

I was given a surgeon in Seattle and I was poked, prodded and scheduled for surgery.  My surgeon told me not to get my hopes up too high, because some people report no change in symptoms after surgery.  Shhh!!  Don’t tell me that!  I’m hanging onto hope here!

Well, 12 weeks later, I was fully recovered from surgery and felt exactly the same, except for the new scar on my neck. Back to the drawing board.

I continued working with my nutritionist, M, and did what I could to get myself physically well.  I was doing yoga, eating whole foods, taking care of myself, getting sleep, not stressing out, etc.  But every day I woke up with dread and somehow managed to eek  my way through every day.

My doctor was thrilled with my blood test results and despite my reports that I don’t feel any different, she said my blood sugars and other measures looked fantastic. Hmmm.

Several of my well-meaning friends would tell me, “You need to go see my ____________.” (Chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, doctor, naturopath, shaman, faith healer, pastor, fairy godmother, etc.)  But how was that going to be any better than my doctor?  What do they know that she doesn’t?

And then, last December, my body had enough.  It just stopped functioning and I couldn’t do this any more.  It was time to call in more reinforcements.