One of our biggest answers to prayer recently has been an improvement in my health. Awhile ago I had started a post describing the whole ordeal this has been and it waits and waits in my draft folder. Since I have alluded to positive changes recently but haven’t really told you many details, I’m excited to share what we discovered and what has been happening.
Okay, I really want to write the back story to so many parts of this, but I know that if I go there, then I’ll keep backing up all the way to when I fainted in a nursing home at age seven. Well, that might be cool–to have the whole story written out–but that is how posts end up living in the drafts folder. Here is where I put on my blinders to [most of] the details and dive into the recent section. :)
After years of symptoms here and there, a difficult second pregnancy, Paxton’s pregnancy topped them all as one of the darkest times of my life. After he was born I was happy to feel better. I felt a big improvement, but still better was waaaaay below well. I tell you, finding help for fatigue when you are pregnant, nursing, or really simply a mom to little ones is almost impossible! Fatigue is part of the game. Right? Of course (to a degree).
As much as I doubted myself at times and thought I must be terribly inadequate at describing symptoms, mostly I knew that something was not right! It is one thing to be really, really tired after you’ve worked hard all day or lost a lot of sleep at night after night. It is another thing to be disproportionately tired. Sitting most of the day should not make you so tired you can hardly survive an evening. Taking your children to Bible study and doing the basic lunch and naps should not make you so completely exhausted your crying is unstoppable.
Still anytime I talked with doctors about my symptoms they said, “Well, you’re a mom of little ones…” and dismissed it. They might run a few basic tests, but otherwise they wrote it off as normal. I was extremely frustrated at times, but most often just did what I needed to for survival. I got good at hiding symptoms most of the time–learned how to lean on a counter or wall while talking with someone, so I wouldn’t need to mention that I was nearly blacking out. I learned that I couldn’t go for too long without food or I would hardly be able to hold it together emotionally, and would get weak and shaky. I ate lots of protein.
Way back when I was a little girl I passed out at a nursing home and again while practicing for a program at school. Often, as a teenager, I would nearly pass out while singing in a large group. Running in cold weather then going into a warm building would make me extremely lightheaded, and I’d need to be careful not to faint. It was kind of like hiccups–an annoying part of life that is so common you don’t think too much about it and just deal with it.
After years of no answers with the many doctors I have seen, no tests showing up anything, and many hypothesis (Sounds like PCOS, sounds like anemia, you have low blood sugar, of course you’re tired; you are pregnant and a mom of two, of course you’re tired; you’re a mom of three little boys and you’re nursing….), I was getting desperate for help for a problem I was sure was beyond the scope of the average mama-fatigue. Over the years people have suggested I see a natropathic doctor. Even though, this wasn’t the path I would typically choose it is what began to seem the most likely direction for help. I liked the idea of finding the cause for health issues instead of simply treating symptoms.
It was beyond time to understand what was causing me to experience:
fatigue, lack of energy, weakness, tiring easily, dizziness, lightheaded, shortness of breath, headaches–especially with exercise, difficulty concentrating, brain fog, depression, cold, dry skin, hair loss, shakiness, weakness, irritability, impaired memory, not waking refreshed from sleep, about every single symptom on the right side of this chart, blurry vision, low blood pressure, chest pain, as well as a few other significant, but not blog-appropriate symptoms
Oops, I’m getting waaaaaay off the basics here.
Okay, so after finding a natropathic doctor who practices only 15 minutes from our home, we were on our way. After extensive tests and blood work the facts began to dribble in. First their was high cholesterol (often happens with hypothyroidism). The C-reactive was a bit high which would suggest a risk for heart disease. Then they ran an EKG and echocardiogram and a chest x-ray which thankfully all came back clear. Most other tests came back within the normal range.
Finally, the very last test to come in was the one we needed most–iron. My iron has been tested at least four times in the last several years. Especially when I’m pregnant, people would tell me that is sounds as though I’m anemic. When I was a young girl a doctor told me that it sounds as though I’m anemic. Yet, when tested my iron was within the normal range.
Dr. Lebon ran a more extensive iron panel. Though there is enough iron in my bloodstream, my body is not able to absorb iron. It is absorbing less then half of the lowest number in the normal range. Because my body then cries out for what it wasn’t getting, it also amped up iron production way above normal. It also follows that during pregnancy when the
Here’s a blurb on iron deficiency anemia:
Iron-deficiency anemia occurs because of a lack of the mineral iron in the body. Bone marrow in the center of the bone needs iron to make hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that transports oxygen to the body’s organs. Without adequate iron, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells. The result is iron-deficiency anemia.
People have also told me often that it sounds as though I have an under-active thyroid and/or adrenal fatigue. We’ve discovered that my thyroid is low, but doesn’t fall below the normal range. Dr. L said since I have so many classic hypothyroid symptoms that level may be low for my body even though it falls within the normal range for the average person.
I can’t say how wonderful it felt to finally have an answer for why I feel so poorly! For the first time in several years I felt real hope that I could be healthy again!
We’ve started out with dietary and lifestyle changes and I have already seen a big improvement to how I feel and how I can function!!!
More often than before I am proportionally tired to the amount of energy used. It still happens, but there are fewer times when I hang onto a wall or some furniture during a conversation.
One Friday I cleaned the whole upstairs which was phenomenal for me. I was on a high that night. The next day was rough then I overdid it when I was running, too. At dinner I sat with my head propped on my hand the whole time until finally I excused myself to a bath.
I feel a little better mentally knowing I’m not inventing a tiredness. When I have a bad day it’s easier to give myself a break knowing that some days I’m strong and can work and this just isn’t one of them.
Read Here for Part II where I talk about the suggested treatment plan I’m following.