You amaze me. Your ability to get up and go in the face of such odds is nearly superhuman.
I am sorry for pushing you beyond what is healthy for you.
Your very cells carry around the good and painful memories of our 45 years.
I am sorry I judge you based on appearance, without looking beyond to the real you.
You have protected us from countless pathogens we could not fight off.
I am sorry for being angry at you for the protective barrier you created for me.
This Falling world has put a toxic burden on you, and our trauma has been like fuel to the fire.
I am sorry I have looked at you in disgust for how you bore this battle.
You and I have grasped at ways to cope with all that has come against us.
I am sorry for what my coping choices cost you.
You have cried out to get my attention.
I am listening.
You have asked for help.
Help has come, and more is coming.
Thank you for how you have supported me, despite my treatment of you.
Thank you for getting my attention, so I could stop and make a course correction.
Thank you for your insight, and your instinct.
I want to work with you, and no longer against you.
The more I learn about how the human body was created to function, the more I am in awe. Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I will admit I have not always felt awe for how my body has handled a myriad of health assaults… Lyme, mold, and resulting triggers of genetically predisposed MCAS, hEDS. I have not been thrilled with how my adrenals ran non-stop to cope with chronic stress. (They managed to go a really long time… until I burnt them out).
I have not loved how my infections caused my pancreas to trigger hyper-insulin production at times, in order to create more fat to store the infections in, in order to protect my organs. Also resulting in hypoglycemia.
Or its overreaction to things that don’t bother others… like perfume, scented laundry detergent, and hair spray.
Although I have resented some of these coping skills with which my body was formed, as I have resented resting during the long healing process, the fact is… my body has survived this chaotic onslaught because of these coping skills.
And so as I ponder the word resilience, I think about all that my body has handled, often without little deliberate support from me. And I see resilient as an adjective to describe my body as well. To describe my appearance. This body has “battle scars”, literal scars and systemic scars, that I am working to gradually heal.
But I want look at myself in the mirror and see “resilience,” not weakness, or heaviness, or just exhaustion and burn out.
Perhaps tomorrow I will share the letter I wrote to my body, as an exercise in shifting my self image a few years ago. It resonates even more now, as I ponder this word others keep seeing in me.
Have you ever paused to appreciate your body’s physical resilience? Do you need others to help you see it? Reach out to me. You aren’t the only one.
I have had a few people comment on my “resilience” in the last few months. Then my husband used it to describe me today. It has had me pondering…
I definitely don’t feel “tough” most days. I feel physically weak most of the time. (Working on chronic anemia and adrenal issues not to mention my alphabet-soup-diangoses). I feel at times emotionally weak/overwhelmed. I occasionally flounder spiritually and have to get my feet back under me. Oftentimes with the encouragement of a fellow-lover-of-scripture’s assistance.
So definition 1 doesn’t feel like me. Definition 2 has my name in it. 😉
So I asked myself, regarding definition #2… What is it that causes me to spring back…to be flexible enough to be bowed down so low, and then bounce back? And in seasons where I was not very resilient, why not then? Why now?
When I was not resilient, I did not have hope.
Or when my hope was in the wrong things. I have had hope that, if I did all the right things, everything would get better. Circumstances would change. People would change. My body would be totally healed.
But we don’t control other people’s choices. We don’t have full control over our environment, or its affect on our bodies. We live in a fallen world. Hurting people hurt others. Even “the earth groans.” (Romans 8:22)
What allows me to bounce back, to lift back up, after being bowed low with heavy things, is hope. But hope, rooted in faith.
Holding Onto His Promises Everyday
When I choose to remind myself of who God is, of His goodness…. to surround myself with others who will remind me when I am weak… to spend real time studying what His word says about who He is…. time talking to Him…. creating space in my life for all of these things… THIS hope sustains me. He is good. I will be ok, come what may.
Faith, that this life is not all there is. Faith rooted in my own testimony of His work in my life, and others.
And faith and hope that there are things I can do that make a difference.
There is no perfect diet/lifestyle that cures all heal issues, but there are things that I can do, that can help me feel better.
There is no helping all orphans, but I can help one.
There is no helping all refugees but I can help some.
This belief is deep in me. It’s how I bounce back. It’s where my resilience comes from. If you need someone to come alongside you, to hold this belief for you, this HOPE, when you can’t hold it… reach out to me. I am forming a group for women who want to do this for each other.
I’m in it with you. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s easier. It’s definitely easier when you are not alone.
Tomorrow…. more on physical resilience. The human body is an amazing thing.
I talked yesterday about food change overwhelm, and diet fatigue relating to chronic illness. So today I want to share one of the first action steps that helped me to get unstuck. (And still helps me, if I end up stuck again).
Removing foods gets stressful over time. And it’s not healthy to just keep removing foods, especially as I was having to eliminate foods that for most people are considered very healthy. (Spinach!? High histamine. Strawberries?? High histamine). If we just keep removing foods, we lose important nutrient variety.
And sometimes, removing one more food, that is contributing to my overall inflammation, but not causing me severe emergency level reactions, felt so horribly depriving. I would put it off over and over again.
So I decided to start by adding to my plate, something I knew my body needed. Not to replace something else. Just to add something. Sometimes it was a handful of plain lettuce. Sometimes a few pecans. Even a drizzle of a healthy oil over a food. Anything to up my nutrition.
As I increased my nutrition intake, adding to my plate, I found I sometimes ate less of the foods that were contributing to my symptoms. I didn’t crave them as much. But even if I did, I just added other healthful things to it.
If I looked at my plate, and tried to picture a balanced meal, what did I need more of? What was missing? It doesn’t matter to me, if it’s a culinary-appropriate addition, I just add it. In my coaching I call trying to balance the foods on the plate, creating the Magic Plate. Even just by adding to what is there.
If you feel stuck with making food changes your doctor is suggesting you make, have you tried to start by adding in some of the things your body needs, and see if other things possibly get subtracted as you go? It’s a win, either way as your nutrition will be improved!
EDIT TO ADD: In checking the dates to begin blogging my health journey, it turns out it is exactly 4 years ago TODAY that I had my first conversation with this doctor I found who finally diagnosed me! What a coincidence I begin blogging this journey today!
For my fellow mcas sufferers, “losing foods,” is a very real fear; the list of foods your body tolerates can shrink frightfully! For my fellow spoonies, (people with chronic illness…. google “spoon theory”) special diets to help reduce symptoms are often a way of life as well.
My first special diet, an elimination prescribed by the first functional med MD I ever met, was around 2005. In three days my BP dropped to a safe range, and in a month I was off five medications. I was amazed at the power of food, and it was very motivating, and pretty easy to stay off the foods that were shown to be major health issue triggering for me (gluten and corn).
Years later, my health was spiraling again, and I tried other “healing diets” recommended to me, and found some improvement but never enough. I finally was introduced to the Autoimmune Paleo Diet by my Pilates instructor, and that made a difference. But then after a few months my reactions to foods increased, and I could not figure out why. (It turns out batch-cooking and eating leftovers all week is a no-no unless I freeze them. Leftovers are very high histamine!) Removing more and more foods from my diet was stressful, and not healthy in the long term. But I was having more and increasingly severe “allergic reactions” to things I had eaten all my life. Cashews sent me to the ER first. Sometimes I couldn’t even figure out what was causing the reactions.
Finally, in a Providential way, I ended up meeting a doctor who knew a little (and went to great lengths to learn a lot more) about MCAS. Now the shrinking list of foods had a cause, and we began to work on stabilizing my body so that it would tolerate more foods. I eliminated high histamine foods from my list (tomato, strawberries, cheese, yogurt, and more), found some true allergens to eliminate (almonds, peanuts). This helped reduce allergic reactions, but my health was not going to be a quick fix, especially with finding Lyme/co-infections, parasites and mold illness also at play. More food changes would be required to help me heal.
Can you say overwhelming?
I was so sick, that despite having experienced radical healing from food changes in the past, knowing that making the new food changes that could help, felt like an impossible mountain to climb. With my combination of diagnoses, there was no one-size-fits-me food plan available.
So there I was, in 2017 , sicker than I had ever been, exhausted, able to work less and less, and needing to begin the healing work necessary. But without having the mental bandwidth to move forward.
No one could make these changes for me. No cookbook existed that fit my situation. I was the most sick-and-tired I had ever been.
I couldn’t do it.
I tried. I researched. I tried certain healing food plans/recipes and had severe reactions to them; crossed off more foods (ferments, broth, and other healing foods) off the list. But I couldn’t do the swift and thorough change like I had been able to do multiple times before. I had some improvement, but not enough. By this time, I had read multiple books on my diagnoses, I had even become a certified health coach. And I still felt stuck.
For a long time, I felt like a failure.
Then I decided: I would give myself grace for doing the best I could at the time. And I would do more when I could. I would work on other aspects of healing that didn’t involve food, like sleep, stress, movement, and mental health. I chose to reevaluate my thinking. I got a health coach to help me.
With my health coach the thought, “it shouldn’t be this hard for me to make these changes; I’ve done it before!” changed to: “making these kinds of changes, when no template exists, and I am so sick, IS really hard! What’s one thing I can do this week? What feels doable?” I looked at words like “should” and asked questions like “says who?!” I acknowledged how complex this healing process is, and would continue to be. I journaled, I had meltdowns about how unfair it is. I grieved. I tried some EFT. I grabbed hold of different phrases to repeat to myself to help me shift my focus, like “I don’t have to do it all today,” and “stay in the moment,” and my favorite: “let it be enough.”
Then, recently, I learned the term “diet fatigue,” applied to people with chronic health issues (as opposed to using it to describe people on the dieting merry-go-round trying to lose weight). Boy did this fit me. I was tolerating more foods finally (far fewer ER trips, less throat closing/borderline anaphylaxis reactions), and now I had to remove more? Even knowing it could make me feel physically better, psychologically and emotionally this felt like torture. “I can’t make any more food changes.”
The chronic sense of deprivation eventually had me giving up on making changes, and I was eating foods that I knew were contributing to my inflammation, could be flaring up symptoms. But if I had no severe allergic reaction to them, I ate them anyway. Took meds to compensate. All. the. time. I often ignored my newly diagnosed hyperinsulinemia. Instead of making deliberate choices about food, I was operating purely out of my emotions.
Eventually, little shifts happened. I decided to just experiment with new recipes, to be curious about how I felt when eating different foods. The ones causing me harm, I began to eat less. I started to want to eat to feel good, instead of just eating my feelings. I try to make a deliberate choice about what I’m eating (even if it will flare my symptoms), to notice why I want the food, and that I am choosing the fallout after.
It’s a journey.
And this is a long post!
So, to be continued… including recipes I have found, helpful resources and sharing the journey as I continue to experiment with how different foods make me feel. If you want to subscribe to follow along, there is a spot to the right.
If you are a fellow spoonie, have you ever hit a wall of diet fatigue? How did you cope with it?
Time flies when you’re having fun…..
Time heals all wounds….
Timehop became a social media thing….
A watched pot never boils… (IE focusing on the waiting makes it feel like it takes every longer)
Going through my memories-of-the-day on Facebook this morning, seeing pictures of our youngest before he came home from Haiti, something about time really struck me. This time of year, my time-hop is filled with pictures and posts about gotcha day, and memories of trips.
In all of the long, nearly-5-years process, I was agonizing about all we were missing because he was not home. God really used that time to stretch and grow my faith in Him and His Timing, and what does it really mean for God to “be good to us” anyway.
And as I went through pictures of birthday parties here at home, 6 year’s worth now! And trips to Haiti, I am struck again, as I was when we went to bring him home…. that the wait did not keep us apart. We knew each other. We had time together in his country of birth. And now it was time to take him home for new memories.
When I felt like we were missing out on history together, we were making memories. It’s not what I would have wished, to be separated for so long. But these Haiti memories of him being so little fill my time-hop just like the memories of him being home do.
We have a shared history. We have memories together going back to 2 years old, when he was wearing 18 months sized clothing. I bathed him. I put diapers on him for bed. I held him when he was sick. (God is so cool, I ended up being there to nurse him back to health. Pic above). It wasn’t all here, and there were long, way too long, stretches between visits.
But now as he turns 13, right after his 6th Gotcha Day, I see even more clearly, that we don’t have only 6 years of history together. I feel thankful that we have 11 years of history.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. But hindsight is much closer to 20/20. God works all things for good, for those that are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:28)
Beauty by Spring Gouette
I see you wrestle through the heavy soil that holds you down
I see you parched for rain, then when it falls you fear you’ll drown
I see your shaky stem resist the wind, and bend with strain
I see your bud of beauty as you start to grow in strength
I see you shyly open up and let the whole world see
The beauty of the person He created you to be
Anyone with a little Bible knowledge will know the title is a quote from Psalm 23. Such a wonderful image right? He leads us beside still/calm waters, and restores our soul.
But as I have been studying the book of Exodus, I read how God also led his people to waters that were undrinkable. The Mara Oasis. (Exodus 15) The water at Mara was so bitter, it was undrinkable.
They had been traveling away from Egypt, now free from slavery, following a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, thirsty, tired, and to be honest, they are now in a really bad mood. The pillar of cloud and fire leads them to an oasis, only to find it undrinkable. Undrinkable? Led, by God, to undrinkable water? When they were thirsty and tired?
The older I get, the more confident I am that God knows what He is doing, that He is sovereign, and truly is working for my good as He promises. (Romans 8:28) So I ask myself as I read this… why did God lead them to undrinkable water?
So they would be reminded of their true need. Him. Fixing bad water is no big deal for God. He had just completed 10 plagues in Egypt that caused the Israelites to be set free. He opened the Red Sea so they could cross, and caused it to close on their enemies. He can clean up this water.
Did God’s people stand there, expectantly waiting for God to provide? Sadly… no. They were complaining to Moses. “Why would God lead us here if the water isn’t fit to drink!?” They are tired, and thirsty, but they have also lost their perspective. Their faith is small, even after all they have seen God do on their behalf.
God tells Moses to toss a piece of nearby wood into the water and it becomes clean. God exhorts His people to follow Him, and do what He shows them is right. He calls Himself “The Lord who heals you.” Not long after, it says He led them to Elim, a place with twelve springs and seventy palm trees.
But first, He led them to Mara.
Dear Friend, don’t be tempted to complain, and fear that the Lord has forsaken if you find yourself in “Mara.” Sometimes our good God leads us to Mara to remind us of our need for Him. For the Lord who heals us. They were not physically ill. But they were sick-at-heart. They were soul-weary. And body-weary. And He led them to a place where only He could be what they needed.
And then… He brought them to Elim.
Sometimes Mara can feel like a season. But remember God’s ability to provide what you need in that time. And remember He will not leave you there forever. Follow His lead. Do what is right in His eyes. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9) He sees what we don’t see. We can trust Him.
If you find yourself beside still, and bitter waters, and would like prayer, send me a note. I would honored to pray for you. <3
Napping was hard for me! To go from a love-to-be-busy, over-achiever to someone who needed naps was tough. But I am very thankful for the lessons I have learned while learning to sit still.
Lessons like…. if I had been ok with sitting still from time to time, perhaps my body wouldn’t have crashed so hard…. and I couldn’t begin to heal until I allowed resting to be considered “doing something” in my own head.
I got so much of self-worth from what I could accomplish, that my self-care was often last. I love crossing things off a list! I love getting into bed at night with the thought of all I got done that day.
So I had to learn to redefine what “getting something done” meant. If it helps my body, mind and soul: heal, de-stress, feel better, rest, conscious breath-work, practice staying out of fight or flight, digest better, feel calmer, etc… it counts!
Things like, Epsom salt baths, naps, sitting still, propping up in bed for 30 minutes before getting up, talking to a friend, ozone therapy… these are just as important as reading to my kid, or unloading the dishwasher. And the more consistent I am at doing these things, the better mom, health coach, etc I will be. And I’ll be more able to do the other things that normally make to-do lists.
What do you do to take care of your body, soul and spirit?
Best in Health,
P.S. I am teaching the next class in my free “Let’s Talk” online series called “Let’s Talk Stress!” on Thursday, 7/23 at 7 PM ET. You can find the FB event page here.
Interested in connecting with others who are working on their health habits? You can find our new, growing FB page for The Whole You with Spring here.
Be sure to answer the questions when you request to join the group!