29 March 2013


Hello friends, Happy Easter!

I am feeling a LOT better today - it helps that I had a good night's sleep. I have been chomping on vitamin C tablets until my teeth have become sensitive from the acid. I have also loaded up on garlic (tutorial for instant garlic bread coming soon) as that's what my body seemed to want and I know it's good for fighting illness. You can probably see little cartoon lines of garlic fumes emanating from my body.

But enough about my cold, I wanted to post an update on my longer-term health problems. The last update I posted was 2 February and I haven't really mentioned it on my blog since as I don't want to be banging on about my health all the time. But I felt like it was time to talk about it again as this is somewhat of a journal for me, and because I do try to keep it real around here and this is just part of my personal experience right now.

Basically, what I have is something called adrenal fatigue. It has affected everything from my blood pressure (low, which makes for exhaustion) to my thyroid function (low, which makes for exhaustion). I also have low iron (which makes for exhaustion - seeing a pattern?), omega 3 deficiency, severe mineral imbalances, and had candida (gone now), leaky gut (almost gone now) and liver stress (ditto).

An example of how my adrenal glands are basically shot - the other morning I almost got into a car accident. It was a very near miss as a car pulled into a lane in front of me. Normally you'd have a burst of adrenaline, your heart would pound, etc. For me? No pounding heart or physical reaction ... except for a burst of pain in my adrenal glands (about where your kidneys are) that lasted the rest of the day.

My thyroid function has worsened and there's a question mark there - I have had blood tests to determine if it's become auto-immune (Hashimoto's) but haven't had the results yet.

All of this adds up to feeling completely and utterly exhausted pretty much all the time. And although I have found a tremendous naturopath who has been very helpful, and although I am taking huge amounts of meds every day, the reality is that we are rebuilding from the base up and it's a long-term recovery. So two months in and I am still having to be extremely selective with how I spend my time and small amounts of energy (on the days I have it). I nap pretty much every day and sleep about 9-10 hours a night.

Some days, the good days, I can do one or a couple of small projects, OR go grocery shopping, OR meet a friend for a visit. But not all three, like I used to be able to.

Some days, the bad days, I cannot get out of bed. I have no strength and can't lift my arms for more than a few seconds. I will lie on my bed with a book propped on a pillow (too tired to even hold it up) and read.

I'm learning to find happiness on both kinds of days. Sure, sometimes it gets me down and I will get emotional and despondent. I'll feel trapped and frustrated that I can't do certain things (or much of anything, really). But overall I am finding a sort of peace. It does help that I'm an introvert, so a lot of down-time without company is something that suits me.

So when you see a project on my blog, like a bit of quilt progress or a basket liner, it's actually quite a big deal for me. I've had an idea that I've had to be patient with, until I had a day when I had some energy and didn't have anything else pressing do spend it on (let's not focus on the fact that my house is filthy). Then I've been able to execute the project, but most likely had to go and rest or sleep afterward. That's just my reality right now.

I'm not telling you this to get sympathy or pity (although prayers are always welcome!), I just want you to know that with all the things I have had to choose between I still choose blogging and homemaking, and not because they are pressures to meet anyone else's expectations. Sure, I could be scrubbing baseboads somewhere, but blogging and homemaking fill me up in a way that is important and necessary.

A little while ago I was chatting with a friend and she asked how I was. I told her I'd had a good day and finished piecing my quilt top. She responded with, "And was that important?"

I don't think she meant it in a mean way at all, she was probably wanting me to realise that I didn't have to push myself to do these things. But I told her that yes, it was important to me, and that these kinds of projects help me to still feel like me.

That's been the trouble with being unable to do a lot of things - I just don't feel like I can fully BE ME.

People say "oh just let things go," but I don't want to. I was thinking about it and the reasons why I do the things I do, and why I can't be at peace with just sitting around doing nothing, and why I feel like I can't be myself, and realised:
- I have a family and some of the ways I show love to my family is by serving them, so I feel like I can't actually love them the way I want to
- I am a wife but can't spend quality time with Grant because I am in bed by 8:30pm as soon as the kids are off to bed, and can't do things with him when he is home during the day as I am so drained
- I am a mother but I can't give my kids the time and attention they need and discipline properly because I just don't have the reserves
- I am a homemaker but am not able to clean or plan or organise they way I want to
- I am a friend but have to limit how much time I spend with people as it drains me, and can't go out and do things like I used to
- I am a creative person but I can't express myself that way when I have no energy
- I am a church member but can't serve

Although I know it's just a time and season, and I know it's not my fault, and I know I'm doing the best I can, I still feel like a failure sometimes when I can't provide healthy, nutritious meals every day or do fun things with my kids or clean my home like I want to. I'm learning to let go but when it goes against who I am it's difficult.

As far as support from my GP, I have had pretty much zero. I went in before I began with my naturopath and was given blood tests and told to rest and sleep more. My thyroid levels came back low (everything else was "within normal" so wasn't addressed at all) and I was told to come back in 3-6 months for another test. I have had a second test and my TSH levels were worse, but instead of running T4, T3 and antibodies tests (even though I'd asked for them) all she did was prescribe some synthetic hormones "in the hopes that they might help".

That's it. The route that regular medicine usually takes anyway is to throw drugs (not necessarily even the right ones for you, but the most heavily subsidised ones to start with) at the symptoms. That's not for me. Natural medicine addresses the actual problem causing the symptoms, heals it naturally, and the symptoms go away.

So that's why I go to my naturopath. She has been amazing. Plus she has had adrenal fatigue herself and has Hashimoto's, so she knows what she's dealing with and how to treat it. Besides the physical treatment she has been very supportive.

One of the things that has been difficult recently is that Grant has had whooping cough so he has been exhausted too. But we are managing together and he is much better now.

You can go through rough times and have them be a waste, or go through rough times and take something from it. I can honestly say it's been a learning, growing experience for me and I am actually very happy at the moment. I know that sounds weird, and of course I wish I was well, but I'm happy anyway. I have so much to be grateful for.

If you made it this far ... well done! And thanks for sticking with me.

Hopefully later this year I'll be back to my former self and this blog can return to the way it was. Thanks for hanging in there with me in the meantime.

Now you go and have a wonderful Easter weekend! I'm going to go and sit on a chair and take photos of Noah and Daniel learning to play tennis, then probably take a nap.

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  1. Prayers for continued recovery and that you are soon back to good health. I enjoy your blog and was glad to read the update.

  2. Oh Jen!! Hope you continue your recovery - will be thinking of you. It must be awful feeling like that when you are normally so active. Just take things at your own pace; your lovely family will understand, and no-one else really matters.
    Take care. Jude.x

  3. You poor thing. I really enjoy reading your blog and have gained a lot of support from it (I am not naturally an organised or tidy person!!) For some one like you that obviously is not being able to do what you want must be horrible. You need to be firm and look after yourself and get well- however long it takes- As much for the sake of your family s yourself.
    Have a good Easter

  4. I will pray for you!

  5. Thinking of you. Hope you managed to get back to the things you love to do soon and get better. Take care.

  6. Sending lots of prayers your way. I have been praying for you already, but thank you for sharing more details about what you are going through.

    I wish I lived closer so I could just come and keep you company.

    I am so glad to hear that you like your naturopath. That is a huge blessing!

    I am glad you can still keep up a blog. It can bee a ton of work and if you're feeling drained I can imagine that you wouldn't want to write a post.

    I'm sorry to hear about the car accident!

  7. Blessings on you Jen. In my own individual way I can relate. I am glad you are wiser than I was able to be at your age. One day at a time sweet Jen. God bless.

  8. If you can fit it into your budget, working with an acupuncturist may also help you regain your strength. I had a strong case of viral meningitis and had the same GP response. So, I dealt with the GP for keeping tabs on my thyroid numbers (as it went out of whack) and worked with a naturopath and acupuncturist to get balanced all around. Fish oil (good quality), vit B complex and kelp tablets (for iodine) and a regular treatments keep me going. By the way, I love reading your blog. I live in the states, but have a lot of family in Puke, Tuakau and Waiuku!


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