Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Surviving my first year with P.O.T.S.

My New Year's resolution for 2013 was to eat healthier and run a 5k.    Who would've thought cutting out french fries and soda would darn near kill me….

I'd been diagnosed with NCS after the birth of my daughter Samantha in 2005.  I'd been exhibiting symptoms for YEARS, but because they came and went, and seemed 'unrealistic' to my childhood pediatrician, it was untreated.

I'd spent a few years taking Toporol and a variety of Beta Blockers, all of which were absolutely awful, and actually caused some pretty severe anxiety issues.  One morning I woke up and decided that I wasn't going to allow the headaches and dizzy spells control my life, and I threw my pills away, in Jesus Name!

I'd been symptom free for about 3 years, a few bad days here and there, but nothing like it had been.  Then Pastor called for a church-wide Daniel Fast, and I thought it was a perfect time for me to cut my yucky soda habit.

And no, I'm not exaggerating when I say it almost killed me - started having my first 'episode' (considered by my neurologist to be seizures) while driving.  Not good, but I was able to pull over before things really got dark. 

I didn't really realize what was going on.  I did a 48 hour detox water drink (water, cucumbers, lemon and mint), to help cleanse out the chemicals in my body.  It was suppose to last a week, but I couldn't handle more than 2 days.

I switched to just water, no juice and NO SODA and still felt really dehydrated, like I was voiding more than I was taking in, when I knew I was drinking at least 70 oz each day.  Then other weird symptoms started to develop.  My word would slur, or I'd use the wrong word completely.  I'd loose focus, and would be extremely exhausted.  All this within a 1 week period.  I went to my doctor (who was a new doctor, fresh out of med school), who was testing me for diabetes, everything came back normal.

So I went to Facebook to lament.  I'm thankful I did, because a few high school classmates of mine had also recently experienced similar symptoms and had been given a diagnosis of POTS.  So I looked it up.  Sure enough, everything I'd been experiencing was right there.  So I printed out the information I found and brought it to my next appointment.  She'd heard of POTS, but was told in one lecture that covered it, that she'd likely never see a case.

As it happens, she'd had a patient come in earlier that day who also had already been diagnosed with POTS, and was picking her brain about her condition because her case reminded me a lot like mine.  My doctor told me that the brain fog and word jumbles were this other patients biggest hurdle, as she was a university professor.

The more research I did, the more people I spoke with, I realized that this was going to be another fun battle.  I needed to maintain my BP or the seizure would start again (Gotta love when the Doctor tells you to add salt and caffeine to your diet) and I needed to keep my stress levels low (Did I mention I have 3 kids?).

We tried some meds but I hated them.  The Beta blockers gave me anxieties again, and the BP meds made me exhausted.  I phased them out and trusted in Healing, because medications were not the answer.  I adjusted my diet, added salt (I honestly don't use salt in my cooking) and enjoyed my tea and soda.  I also forced myself to drink more sports drinks (the zero calorie ones, which are gross, in my honest opinion).

Now that I'm pregnant, it's brought on all kinds of new experiences… (See my other blog Sociably Surviving Hyperemesis).

I still have bad days, and I've learned from others with POTS and from experience what triggers can be such as antibiotics and dehydration.  I may have to deal with this condition from time to time, but I'm not going to ever let it control me.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

What CHRISTmas means to me

I really wanted a low-key Christmas this year.

With as sick as I've been, I didn't want to have to cook, I didn't want to go anywhere, I couldn't even handle going shopping for gifts.

Thanks to my husband and online shopping for the gifts, the kids were pleased with the gifts they received.  They didn't get many gifts from us, but what they got they were thankful for.  We did have a big surprise hiding for them, but without them knowing that any other gifts were coming, they were happy with new gloves and fun slippers and crafts.

It's been our tradition for the last 9 years to go around and look at the lights in some of the neighborhoods here in town.  There is one in particular that just about every house is decorated.  Some are kinda gaudy, with every possible inflatable in their yard and every inch of the house covered in lights.  Others are more subtle, but those are my favorites.

We saw more Nativity scenes this year… which is really what the focus should be.  There are houses with a star on the roof with strings of light going down to the manger scene - I've always liked that.  But there was one house… I really want to get this for our house next year.  It was 3 panels: on the left, shepherds and the angels, on the right, the wise men, and in the center, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  It was subtly lit, but so beautiful.

While in the car for 45 minutes the kids were sharing what Christmas means to them.  "It's not about Santa, it's about Jesus" was the most common thing heard.  That made me happy.  We've NEVER encouraged Santa.  We've always made sure the kids knew who their gifts came from: us.  But this year at school, Santa was pushed REALLY hard on 2 of the 3 kids.  My younger two had Elf on the Shelf in their classrooms, and were suddenly convinced that Santa was really real.  But that night, it was all about Jesus.

My 5 year old son had the most precious things to say.  He told me on Christmas Eve night that Jesus is the most important thing in the world, and that He is real.  And you can feel Him in your heart, and that He loves us very much.  Christmas morning, I pulled him aside after all the gifts were open to ask if he knew who Santa was.  His answer: Jesus, because He gives us the best gift of all!  Proud Mom, right here!

I sit here, my kids reading the new books they received, sitting on their new beanbag chairs, while the tree sits in the corner, and I'm so thankful for the blessings that we have: each other.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Body Images

Being a woman is tough... it's absolutely awful at times.

Women can be mean and judgmental... don't deny it, we try not to be, but we all make at least one mean comment in our lives.

There aren't many women who portray themselves as the positive role model that I'd want for my daughters.  So that's who I've got to become.  But who do I look up to?

So many women look to Hollywood as to what they should be like.  Hollywood is a lie.  When I read this recent article about Jennifer Lawrence and airbrushing, I was sick to my stomach.  She's gorgeous, and even with the makeup on, they still felt the need to paint her face more and make her look skinnier.  It made me sad, and yet I was glad to know she didn't appreciate it either.

I'm the first to admit that I'm fairly plain... I hate make-up, but use it for "special occasions."  I had a hormone imbalance that caused acne in my adulthood that no product would remedy.  I don't have the money to get my hair done every other month, and my mousey brown hair is dull.  I have health issues preventing me from being as athletic as I use to be; I'll never have the skinny chicken legs I'd always wished I had. I've got stretch marks and hips from carrying 3, now 4, babies.

And you know what, I'm OK with that.  Will I be parading around in a 2-piece bathing suit?  No.  I'm too modest for that, my body is mine and it's private.  I'm not going to be ashamed of the body and face that I have, but I'm going to take care of it.  Will I go on crazy diets to be a size 2?  Probably not.  But I'll eat right, drink my protein shakes and take my kids for walks and on bike rides.

While I do all these things, to show my girls who a real woman is, I can't be the only one.  I want their teachers, their baby sitters, their friends' moms, and their friends, to also be confident in themselves.  While I show them daily who I am in my, my husband's, and in God's eyes, I pray that the other women in their lives will also look away from what 'popular culture' is telling them is appropriate, and look to God for what is right.

We are made in His image, and we should take care of the body we've been given, but we shouldn't be looking to gross exaggerations of what some Hollywood photographer thinks a beautiful woman is.

Me, all dolled up

Me, on a normal day

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baby #4

My husband and I are excited to be welcoming baby #4 into the family this spring.  I've been journaling since we found out, though only now making it public.

It's been a difficult pregnancy, so I've been in hiding, literally, for months.

Thankful to now be somewhat active again.

Follow along with my journey at  Sociably Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum