Steve and Angie

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Monday, January 13, 2014

My health saga . . .

I've been intending to write a blog and update everyone on my health, but I'm sure it doesn't take much imagination to figure out why I've just been too busy to get it done.  Typing a blog and conversing with a few kids at the same time just isn't one of my multi-task abilities.

So, here is my self-diagnosis and recap of what I think led to my downfall.  It is a self-diagnosis because I really believe I know what the problem is, and I'm just going to wait and see if I can heal without a trip to the doctor.  You may be wondering why I really hate going to the doctor so much, and I'm glad to share!  :)  Since my days in college, I've been to the doctor seven times as far as I can remember (that is of course excluding all OB appointments of which there are too many to number).  Of those seven visits, there is only one that I don't regret making, and that was when I smashed my finger and had to get stitches and a ring cut off.  Other than that I've been misdiagnosed or left without a diagnosis every time.  Not that I blame the doctors (most of the times, anyway).  My life just seems to involve unusual medical situations.  Like when I was a few weeks old and almost died of dehydration because the doctor didn't catch the pyloricstenosis because it is something generally only found in first born males - neither of which (firstborn or male) I am.  It's just that nobody can figure me out; just ask Steve if you doubt this. 

So, the theory I have is that I'm having adrenal function issues.  In retrospect, I've probably struggled with this most of my adult life.  The time I passed out at Olive Garden when I was pregnant with Ruth - probably related.  The time I went to the doctor with pain in the kidney area but left without a diagnosis since there was no UTI - probably related.  My unusually low body temperature and blood pressure - probably related.  My hypoglycemia (self-diagnosed, of course) - probably related.  Even the trouble I had recovering from my C-section - yeah, I'm going to blame it on this too.  :)

Since I was having trouble with cortisol (the hormone secreted by the adrenal gland) levels for a long time, the events of this summer just combined in a perfect storm to shut my body down (at least that is what it felt like to me).  I have a friend that tells me the adrenal gland is the back-up to the heart, so that is why we thought my heart was the issue.  Here is the list of contributing factors in my demise.

1.  The half-marathon training:  I'm going to start with this because I know it seems like the "big one".  I've learned that it takes cortisol to regulate blood sugar, so on my long runs (I was doing a 2 hour run once a week at the time), I was blowing through a lot of cortisol. 

2.  Breastfeeding.  Yes, the amazing bodies God designed for us contains hormones that all work together to accomplish . . . life.  It also takes cortisol to produce milk.  I was still exclusively breastfeeding my 6 month old Abigail this summer.

3.  Donating plasma.  Now, this one I'm not sure about, but when I read that the test for adrenal function is called the plasma cortisol test, I almost groaned.  As far as I can tell, the cortisol is delivered to the body via the plasma, so the plasma I was donating probably contained a good amount of cortisol.

4.  Emotional stress.  And here we have the really big one!  Anne Elliot has a wonderful blog that I've learned a lot from.
Of all the events that drain the adrenal gland, emotional stress is worth more than any other.  Now, I don't usually think of my life as high stress because I don't go around worrying about things.  I truly trust in the sovereignty of God in my life.  I can say this because I have not always been this way;  even as an elementary age kid I was a worrier.  But the sanctifying work of God in my life has grown me to a place where I do have faith in what God has planned, and I don't worry about things.  I guess I've learned that stress comes in different forms.  And I have a stressful life!  Not just the homeschooling with nine kids, but since Steve started working his second job, I just feel like I have more of a load than I can accomplish.  Add to that a summer filled with vacation, camp, 4-H, etc.  I won't dwell too much on this, but I'll just say my emotional stress was pretty high this summer.

I have a friend that has given me some adrenal supplements that I have been taking.  I really do think they are helping.  I've noticed some positive changes (dark areas of skin have gotten lighter - even my C-section scar is lighter, less dizziness, more energy), but I'm still having trouble with emotional stability, ringing in my ears, pain from the adrenal glands, weakness and exhaustion.  I'm trying to rest more, but, well, I don't think I need to finish that sentence.  :)   I'm getting better, it is just hard to realize that this is going to take a long time to recover from.  Steve is right now planning vacation for this summer, and I'm starting to pray already.  The phrase "no rest for the weary" comes to mind.  I haven't run since October, and I'm trying to decide if my body can handle a mile or two now and then.  I haven't given plasma, so we may resort to some creative fundraisers for the kids' activities this year.  I am still breastfeeding well over an hour a day, but that is something that will lessen with time.  My baby is 10 months old already.

I want to thank all of you for your concern and prayers for me.  I know I am loved!  Please keep praying for me, especially regarding my emotions.  I'm a very sensitive person, but I'm not very emotional.  I can usually get offended but not show emotion over it.  I can tell when my cortisol level is too low because if Steve is gruff with me or irritates me, I break down.  I know some ladies are always like that, but I sure don't like it!  I'm sure my husband and kids would really like to have my adrenal glad restored as soon as possible!  :)

I'm just waiting and watching my symptoms right now.  There is a chance that my adrenal gland is severely damaged, and I could have Addison's disease, but I'm going to wait and see how the next few months go before I investigate that. 

1 comment:

  1. Been praying much for you! Glad to hear there is at least a little improvement. I don't like going to the doctor either. :-)

    I'd love to hear what supplement you're using.