Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Therapy. Warning: LONGEST POST EVER!!

I have always loved to write. A gift I believe God gave me knowing I would need an outlet during this mortal journey. My mind is constantly in story mode which is probably one of the reasons I can never sleep at night. It can be exhausting at times especially when all those thoughts are forced to stay jammed up in my limited brain space. So I made a resolution to start writing things down more. Whether it flows or not. I need to vacate my brain so that maybe just maybe I can stop losing everything and get my life back under control! Ha. If only.

Yesterday was a big day for me. And as weird as it sounds I was overcome with emotion at just how far I have come in life. I ran around frantically all morning trying to get the kids dressed and bundled to go out in the bitter cold (yes we live in Georgia but its currently colder than Anchorage Alaska. Seriously) to arrive at the gym in time for the yoga class I was dying to attend. It was mayhemic and I was barking orders (something I really hate doing) and I felt all scrunched up inside by the time we finally got there. And as I was walking in the bitter freezing wind, yelling at my kids to stay out of the road and trying to man handle Carter who couldn't even breathe it was so frigid a man came right up to me and said " it is CHILD ABUSE to be dragging your kids out in this weather so you can go to the gym." It took all my strength not to burst into tears. First of all...it may be cold buddy but I grew up in UTAH. This aint nothin. And secondly do you even KNOW what I have gone through to get to this place. And I am not just talking about running around like a chicken with its head cut off this morning either.

As I sat meditating in my yoga class I replayed what the man had said and tried to figure out why it had effected me so deeply. He probably wasn't intending to break my spirit so why was I so hurt by his comment? As I allowed myself to reflect and ponder I realized I was so effected because for as long as I can remember I have been unwell. I don't mean lying in bed with the flu unwell but definitely not healthy. It started back in junior high. I thought everyone felt sick after they ate. Looking back at HOW I ate it is NO wonder why I always felt so crappy. A steady diet of pizza and soda are a deadly combo for anyone. But it only escalated and by my first year in college I began to have severe reactions to food. The first real kicker was in 2004 at our family cabin in Idaho. I ate a hot dog on a bun and blew up like a hot air balloon. I literally was so sick and bloated my parents nearly drove me to the hospital. The pain was unbearable. And that was the beginning of what felt like the never ending story. For months I was poked and prodded my countless doctors as we searched aimlessly for answers. After getting very broad and vague conclusions we finally went to what we loving refer to as a "witch doctor" aka Alternative Medicine. She did her witchery and felt very strongly that my problem was food intolerances. Most specifically wheat. My first thought was "HA. RIGHT." If anyone knows me they know I LOVED my bread. I mean really LOVED. I used to eat full loaves in just a couple days on top of every other kind of starchy carbohydrate out there. I was a fiend for wheat and the very thought of it being my "problem" was absurd. But as I sat in my apartment eating a bowl of Wheat Chex I had this very strong impression that what she had said was right and that I need to stop eating wheat for good.

Of course being my stubborn self and being in TOTAl denial I rejected such promptings and instead went all crazy like and ate as much as I could. In fact I went out with friends and got a bottomless plate of french toast and ate three or four plates before my lymph nodes in my neck swelled up to the size of golf balls and I could barely breathe. That didn't stop me and I kept on indulging despite feeling absolutely horrible. It wasn't until I ended up in the hospital after being carried out of my apartment on a stretcher (by gorgeous fireman I might add) and rushed in an ambulance to the ER for a possible bowel obstruction that I finally decided that the witch dr was maybe right. I lay there highly medicated to help dull the pain in my abdomen (which was so engorged I looked 9 months pregnant) and I realized I had two choices. I could go on being in denial and be miserable or I could educate myself and accept this as reality.

Well I wish I could say the journey was over there and all was hunky dory but of course God loved me too much to allow that to happen. It took nearly two years to completely go wheat free. I had to go through the entire "grieving" process (a very real thing even for something like this) and once I reached acceptance, with the help of my mom, I began to learn all I could about my new lifestyle.

At the time food intolerances were NOT common. I felt like an alien and was certain there was NO way ANYONE would ever want to marry me. It was a very hard and lonely road. No one understood and because I was not visibly ill people often felt it was "all in my head". Only my sweet mother who is my dearest friend remained positive and supportive.  She educated herself and did everything to help me pave my way on this new path. Her love and constant support has been the biggest blessing of my life.

Dates were awkward and uncomfortable as I started having to explain to people that asked me out that there wasn't much I could eat at restaurants. They all treated me very differently for whatever reason after that. I felt socially outcasted. I tried to keep my chin up but decided to instead move home and work for my dad for a time. After coming home from Romania where I worked with friends in a childrens hospital and orphanage for a summer, I decided to move back to Provo. I moved in with my lifelong best friend and it was during that time that I really began to see the Lords hand working in my life. The time leading up to meeting Ty is a story for another day but there is no denying that it was part of "my plan". The one God intended for me to have. And there have been so many blessings that have followed since marrying him.

I am just now seeing how each piece of my past has been like a piece to my "puzzle of life". Seriously and it has been amazing to finally understand WHY certain things happened the way they did and how what felt like a HUGE trial turned out to be a GRAND blessing. Let me explain.

I had NO problem getting pregnant with Kaysia and Ryder. My nickname has been fertile myrtle for quite some time and so in 2011 after moving to Virginia and having an Ovarian cyst rupture I found out that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. WHAT?!? The ultrasound showed that my ovaries were barely visible there were so many cysts. I hardly knew how to respond when the dr told me the results. I wondered how on earth no one ever caught this. Especially since he suggested that I have probably had it my whole life. It sure explained a lot since as I have come to learn people with PCOS have major insulin problems and most fight obesity and infertility as a result of not being able to manage their intake of carbs and sugar. Something I definitely struggled with before my whole "wheat intolerance" issue arose. My first visit with the GYNO he told me I was an absolute anomaly in the PCOS world. Not only was I the mother of two children who were conceived naturally and with ease but I was at a very healthy weight and didn't have a five o'clock shadow on my upper lip. He was dumbfounded at the severity of my PCOS and my lack of symptoms. I had light periods that were for the most part regular, I had very little bodily hair growth and no history of infertility. The only symptom I had experienced was extremely painful periods as a teen.

I told him how I was wheat, corn, and soy free in my diet and that I exercised for more than an hour every single day. At the time i was running 30+ miles a week and biking daily with the kids in the bike trailer. None of it made sense. He put me on meds anyway to help with my blood sugar and to suppress my testosterone levels since with PCOS the more carbs and sugar you eat the more MALE hormones you produce thus effecting your weight and your ability to get pregnant. Its a horrible disease for so many and I kept wondering how on earth I had managed to escape that awfulness.

Again I wish I could say the story ends there but in May of 2012 I suddenly hit a wall. Whether it was the stress of being a single mom during "busy season" or over doing it working out I fell into a dark place and I fell hard. I was so exhausted the thought of going up the stairs made me weep. Literally. I felt like my body weighed a thousand pounds and all the daily tasks that were required of me were beyond overwhelming. I gave up on everything. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, playing with my kids, eating, everything. All I could do each morning was drag myself down to the couch and stick a movie on for the kids. Ty started picking up the house and doing the laundry and was completely baffled. I wondered every single day if that day would be the day I would just go over the edge of sanity to insanity. I pictured myself lifeless in a white padded room. I am totally serious. I really was that bad. It was a VERY dark time. I had a miscarriage and was struggling to get pregnant for the first time EVER.

I finally saw a dr in Utah that I will forever be indebted to. She found many nutritional deficiencies and easier to fix problems that other drs had overlooked. Her philosophy was to achieve a state of wellness and not just to be within the normal range. Every body is different and what might be good enough for one isn't for another. She really helped me be in tune with my body. Our first visit in August of 2012 she told me to hold off getting pregnant until I healed my body. But the weekend before Ty had come to Utah for a days for his sisters wedding and we hadn't seen each other in three weeks and well you know how that story goes. And miraculously I had gotten pregnant.

I had to wait until I wasn't pregnant to take some of the vitamins and stuff she wanted me to take but most of it I started taking and saw a huge difference after a few months. In fact this was by far the best pregnancy I had had. I was energized and worked out every single day all the way to my due date. She had found with that first visit though that my iron was extremely low. Something I had known for years but was unwilling to do anything about mostly because I didn't think it was a big deal. I couldn't grasp the reality of what that meant and therefore it meant nothing to me. Nothing until after I had Carter and they retested me and found it had dropped even lower. Dangerously low. Which after having a baby is normal right but this was months after having him and by then things usually go back to normal. Well my normal was non existent. She called me while visiting my in laws in Canada in a bit of a panic and quite honestly scared me to death. She urged me to get care immediately but again I felt "fine" and decided to just wait until I got back to Virginia. I made an appointment with a hematologist who after getting my history and blood work tested was concerned that maybe I had internally bleeding in my colon or a cancerous polyp of some sort that was causing the severe anemia. This news was shocking and devastating. Especially considering we were about to move to Georgia in two weeks and I had three kids and no time for constant dr visits and thorough testing. But as I wrote in a previous post blessing after blessing allowed me to get tested and the results came back negative.

And now here I am after 6 iron infusions later and my levels are off the charts good. So good in fact that its 10:15 PM and Im still awake going strong. AND I even just worked out for the second time today. If you knew what a miracle that was you would understand why I have been so emotional lately.  What has been absolutely amazing to me has been my ability to see how each of these "health" obstacles I have faced in the last 10 years have been to my benefit.  And to see how Gods hands were in the details the ENTIRE time. Im blown away by that, as Im able to look back and see the whole picture.

I honestly believe that if I hadn't had to go off wheat then I would have either had a VERY difficult time getting pregnant or may have never been able to get pregnant at all. The fact that I had to stop eating carbs and sugar completely SAVED my life and allowed me to produce new life. Something SOOOOO many people in my position with PCOS CAN NOT DO. If you go on a PCOS forum and read it is heart wrenching to hear these women's struggles to get pregnant and their inability to do so. And I was spared that heart ache by miraculously being FORCED to switch my diet and eliminate those things that would cause me to be infertile just a couple of years before meeting Ty.  Many would pass that off as a coincidence but I assure you Gods hands were in the details.

And then the iron issue. Well I strongly believe that was just another trial connected to PCOS that if I had heeded all the promptings to get help I could have avoided. But instead of getting help i let it get out of hand. I didn't take the time and God knew the only way I would slow down and refocus was if I HAD to. And boy am I glad He allowed that to happen. It has completely changed my life. For the first time I feel IN SYNC with my body. I am no longer a slave to its weakness but through the atonement of Jesus Christ I feel at one with myself. I have drawn on His power and His promises that "if I have faith He will make weak things become strong". And in every way has He kept that promise. When I got my latest results of my iron levels I screamed in delight on the phone and then burst into tears. The nurse probably thought I was so weird. But this has been the longest journey EVER and I finally feel like I have reached the next turn and can move forward continuing in faith. And what a relief that is both physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The hematologist here in Georgia told me that she was dumbfounded that I had been able to not only carry three healthy kids, run long distance, but also keep up with the daily tasks required of a mother of three with my iron levels where they were. She said someone with my levels should be in a hospital bed on the brink of you know what. When she said that an overwhelming feeling of gratitude filled my entire being. I SAW in that moment the miracle that was ME. I was able to do all that because GOD had made me more than I was. He had lifted me up and strengthened me in ways that I didn't even recognize. Of course it was still challenging and I was exhausted and miserable and irritable non stop for the last several years but I got out of bed each day and I rocked it. And I did it only because He helped me to. There is NO other explanation. How can I NOT be different after finally understanding all that? How can I not live each day in gratitude to my Father in Heaven for not only allowing me to experience those trials but to carry me through them. I have never felt so close to Him and have never felt His love so abundantly in all my life.

THAT is why what that man said outside the gym yesterday affected me so deeply. Because it has taken me so long to feel well and the fact that I am finally able to work out after all these months is a miracle to me and the farthest thing from child abuse. A healthy mother is a blessing to her whole family.  And a healthy body inside and out is something I have longed for for most of my life. And for the first time I see that it is possible. So many lessons learned and so many blessings experienced. What an incredible being God is. And what an incredible and perfect plan He has for all of us. I look forward to the day when I can throw my arms around Him and my Savior Jesus Christ and thank them for loving me and guiding me along my path in life. What a glorious day that will be for me.

I know this post is crazy and loaded and if anyone stuck through it i am impressed. This was for me though. To remember that our Father in Heaven has our happiness at the heart of His plans. And that He knows what we are capable of. And that no matter how dark the night the sun will always rise. It may be years of suffering or moments but things will ALWAYS be made right. And everything we go through in this life is for our eternal benefit. What a beautiful thing it is to know all of that. And to be able to teach my children that so that hopefully they won't get as discouraged by trials they will undoubtedly face in this life.

God truly is good. And I can honestly say my cup runneth over.

Until next time.


Bekah Condie said...

I loved this so much Jen. I'm so sorry for the heartache and frustration you felt, but your outlook and positive attitude is encouraging for ANY trial we may face. It's so good to read (hear, whichever) that people are still holding close to Christ when there are so many that have fallen away. Good luck with everything and continue to be strong!

Justin, Melanie, & Juliet said...

So good to read this. Makes me grateful as well for my own trials/blessings. Also makes me miss you and all the girls in the ward and our many talks at girl's camp, school, church, etc. Hope I get to see you sometime and that all is going well!