Reality: my life with chronic health problems

There is some irony in this post. I had hoped to write it up over the weekend and present it early in this week, but for the very reasons I am about to discuss, was unable to muster the energy and focus to do so. As such it has served in yet another lesson in how life has to go now.

For those of you who are new here, I will bring you up to speed. Officially, there is nothing wrong with me. I have had a few tests done, mostly centered around thyroid function. They have come up normal. As much as it pains me to put things this way, unofficially I appear to have an underactive thyroid (dubbed sub-clinical by my nutritionist), adrenal fatigue and a hormonal imbalance. This came about heavily from three years of working full time in a job and being a part time graduate student. As soon as I finished my course work in August of 2011, my energy crashed. I imagine what happened is the constant stressed/alert state I was in took a major toll on my adrenals. Adrenals are tied in with the thyroid as well as with the endocrine system. Since that summer (almost two years now!) my energy levels have been very low, and about six months after, my weight started to creep up. Fast.

I have been working with my friend Bari, who is a holistic nutritionist, since early this year. She has helped me to modify my diet and include herbal supplements to help heal the body.

Just as Roma was not built in a day, though, my health problems did not come about fast. Nor will they be reversed quickly. No matter how much I wish for that to happen.

In an ideal world, I’d be able to sleep for 8 or more hours a day, have a short drive to work, do my job, and be able to share household duties in order to allow me the rest I need to recover.

Too bad I don’t live in an ideal world.

I live close enough to my job that driving to it is silly, but taking public transportation both ways turns a less than 10 minute drive into 40-45 minutes of walking, waiting, and bus riding. The only income I have is my own, so cutting down on hours does not help any. (And as of yet I do not make a steady income from blogging) And I also continue to insist on being ambitious and have other stuff going on in my life. Most notably a spiritual life, writing projects, practicing to become a professional bellydancer, and occasionally having a social life. Trying to juggle all these things is difficult, and I know many people in the real food community have health issues, so I want to present my ways of managing and inspiration that you can do it.

1. Get enough rest and sleep! I have trouble getting into bed early, most often because I am scrambling just to take care of the basics every day and they now take longer. But I have found that even getting into bed earlier can help with my feeling rested. If I cannot do that, I do my best not to stress about late bedtimes.
I also take naps after work during the days (or weeks, like now) when my sleep is not going so well or I am just having a slump in health.

2. Prioritize! You can’t do all the things, so don’t even try to. I’ve had to cut out a good deal of my fermenting because I just do not have enough time available even to cut up the veggies and monitor their progress. Take stock of what matters most and what cannot fall by the wayside. When you have the time and energy, pick up what has been missed.
For me, the biggest priority is my day job. It is what keeps me afloat, therefore most of my energy goes there. Which explains why this blog has not gotten the love it deserves.

3. Keep lists! My lifesaver over the last few years. If I do not write down some things, they do not happen. It also helps at work so I do not forget about deadlines.

4. Give yourself permission not to do things. I’m an ambitious woman and want to do a lot with my life and if I cannot achieve what I want, I may start to mentally beat myself up. This is not going to help anyone. If you get the essentials done (see number 2), you are doing well. Consider anything else a bonus.

5. Get all the support you can get. Whether it be family or friends, having sympathetic people in your sphere can go a long way. Let your boss and coworkers know about your problems and that sometimes you cannot Do All The Things. Remind people in your own life about this. I don’t like that I have to do it still, but I do. Otherwise things would just get worse.

6. Eat well. STOP eating any foods which disagree with you, no matter how much you might like them. One portion of my health regiment which I have mentioned before is going gluten-free. I’m still not perfect and forget about some foods including gluten, but the restriction helps. Given that my reaction to gluten now is lethargy and headaches, staying away from it means I am less likely to have a slump in energy levels.

7. Be patient and keep loving yourself. If you do all the outer steps but do not nurture yourself, your efforts will only go so far.

If you have chronic health problems, what do you find helps you on your healing journey?

I’m sharing this post at Simple Lives Thursday, and Tasty Traditions!

Be sure to connect with me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

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5 responses to “Reality: my life with chronic health problems

  1. Sounds familiar. I have found out that I am very acidic. My urine and saliva ph are very acidic (in the danger zone). My digestion is out of whack. I am about to embark on a liver cleanse to help my liver function better and produce more bile to increase my ability to digest food better. I am begining to think that it is the root cause and all this other stuff like thyroid malfuntion and adrenal fatigue are just symptoms of a bad digestive system. I want to get to the root and it seems like a deep root system

    • From what I have seen in the last few years around the real food community is that a lot of our health problems do have deep roots. Not caused in a day, not cured in a day. And it’s rough, plus there is no one miracle cure for everyone. I wish you much luck in your healing and hope you come back to wholeness. 🙂

  2. To start I would see a doctor or ND not a nutritionist with a certificate. I can get the same credentials over the Internet in a day.
    As someone with a chronic illness & a hippy who doesn’t like western medicine I was led astray by under qualified “healers”. While their intention is good they just don’t know enough.
    Steve Jobs died because of this. You don’t how many times someone comes to our wellness clinic with horrible symptoms and they swear that their Reiki/Herbologist/nutritionist/psychic healer will heal them. Funny how most times they get much worse then see a doctor and in a week they are better or so far along that no medicine can help.
    Mind you we own a wellness center that specializes in alt or integrative medicine so I have no reason not to promote my services other than I don’t want to see people make decisions that will kill them.
    See a real a Dr. And have them check you hormone levels, dollar to a doughnut they are off. That one thing can cause every symptom ou are mentioning and lack of treatment can/will cause cancer. Waiting for an herb to change it may not be fast enough to stop long term damage.

    • In my case I have already seen alopathic doctors and have been told nothing is wrong, that the only problem is my energy levels got bad because I gained weight. They did not understand that it was blatantly the other way around. In my case my nutritionist has a lot more training than a day long certificate. Plus the changes being made are not anything radical and in effect everything I am doing is stuff I am doing. She’s providing a framework but she’s not putting anything into my mouth.

      With the hormones I am also working on balancing those and suspect I’d test in something of the normal range now.

  3. Pingback: Finding Health Through Real Food

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