A few days after I arrived home from my honeymoon, I realized how much I take my health for granted. I became suddenly, debilitatingly ill with fatigue, dizziness, fainting, and heart racing. It has been two months now and the medical and naturopathic communities that I've been engaged with have not found any answers. I am currently managing my symptoms with heart meds and avoiding taking the antidepressents recommended by doctors who gently tell me that my problems are all in my head.
What a life change this has caused! I'm certainly not getting to my blog as often. Certain things cause my symptoms to worsen - colds, my period, stress. And alcohol weakens my medication. So my coping mechanism of relaxing with a couple drinks actually makes things worse - not so good for a borderline alcoholic. Or maybe it is good, because it forces me to reduce my drinking to almost nothing. But my pot smoking has increased. I get a nice burst of energy after every toke that gets me through the housework and the bedtime routines. I call it Mama's little helper and it's helping me now more than ever. I can only smoke it when I'm on the medication though, because it causes a slight heart rate rise that will worsen my symptoms when I'm not managing with meds.
Perhaps one of the most significant life changes I'm going through now is learning to do one thing at a time. I've always prided myself on my ability to multi-task. Pre-health breakdown: I would make a list every day of all that needed to be done, then rush through the tasks attempting to complete as much as possible in one day so as to free up time for myself later in the week when the kids are in school/pre-school or school/daycare and I'm not working.
Now: I write a list every day with a severe attempt to limit expectations for myself. Then I tell myself over and over that it doesn't matter if it all gets done. Then I slowly make my way through one task at a time.
The beauty of my new lifestyle is that I'm spending more time with my children and experiencing much less trivial stress. Whereas I once was GO GO GO from the moment I awoke till I climbed into my bed at night, I now have to take breaks through the day whenever I can feel my heart starting to pound and fatigue starting to take over. The fear that I was dying when I first became sick prompted me to see the truth through the dust - spending time with my kids is more important than housework. So yeah, my house is messier than it was before and I still have to balance this issue with a kid who has asthma and a cat throwing some urgency into the mix. But if I don't get through all my housework in a day, I don't worry too much about it.
I'm also suddenly much more in tune with my body. I feel this unbelievable need to love and nurture it. Well, this is a bit of a problem because until I got on these meds, I was essentially bedridden for a month and a half. I gained a bit of weight. I also have a bloating problem as part of my symptoms, so I'm feeling very insecure about how I look. So I suddenly love this little body that keeps on chugging and simultaneously feel ashamed of the shape of it. Not a great combination when you're desperately trying to convince doctors you're not depressed. It's not depression, it's protrusion that's getting me down! lol
Well, I have this new way of living now that I cannot take my health for granted anymore. And the blessings abound. I have learned real stress reduction techniques. I have seen how fragile our existence can be when health takes a sudden, unexpected turn. And I am more focused on the people I love - more than ever.
Now I just have to master this loving my body shit. Wish me luck and please forgive when I am absent for days at a time. I am up and down with these symptoms. I have hope and I am coping. But some days are better than others. And when all is crashing down around me, well, the last thing on my list is getting to emails and blog posts. That's life.