Self is an interesting concept for a mother. It is something we lose the moment our first child takes his or her first breath. We lose our self to the miracle of co-creating with the God of the universe to produce something potentially world-changing. Self becomes something distant and foggy and for months and even years we maintain just enough self to keep our systems running in survival mode. But existing in “survival mode” is not a long-term plan and sometimes the timer runs out in a way that wakes us up to the real meaning of self and to its importance not only to ourselves but to the families that have come to rely on us for everything.
I married my husband in 2012 right before he flew away to Afghanistan for a year-long deployment. During that year, I learned what
stress was. The real kind. I also learned a lesson in anxiety, fear, sleeplessness, and overcompensation. I spent hours at a Cross Fit gym trying to dead-lift my fear away before returning home to prep food for my Whole-30 Paleo Diet. I buried myself in “health” doctrine for a year, gained lean muscle, gave up sugar, and did my first pull up since high school. My health was going in a pretty good direction. Then my husband got home in 2013. Readjusting to civilian life was not easy for my husband and being his wife through that process led me right back to old habits that, rather than disappearing for good, had found themselves a nice place to wait out the health craze. I ballooned up in weight and my health took a nose dive.
2013 was the year my son was born. A beautiful, baby boy. That was also the year I found out I had thyroid cancer. One major surgery, one HUGE dose of radioactive iodine, and two weeks in isolation later I was home, holding my little Wyatt and hoping everything would turn out OK. Then came the prescriptions. One to stabilize my body due to my sudden shortage of thyroid hormone, one to calm my anxiety, one to help me sleep and one to lessen the side effects of my newly diagnosed PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). My health was becoming a mess.
I jumped from doctor to doctor and fell into a numbing progression of miss-diagnoses, prescription drugs, scans, tests, blood tests, more tests and zero results. After a while it became difficult to know whether I was being treated for problems I had in my body because I was unhealthy or problems I had in my body because I was pumping it full of prescription cocktails — each boasting its own laundry list of side effects. But what else could I do? Bottoms up.
This year when the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve, I wished for good health. I have been praying for good health since the moment I realized I no longer had it. It had slipped silently out the door somewhere between my last college graduation cocktail and my first dose of prenatal vitamins. Before I could reach an age in which I truly appreciated my health, I had already begun the fight to reclaim it.
2016 has not shown me much improvement. About a month ago I noticed a small clump of hair missing near the crown of my head. I thought nothing of it at first then I googled it just to be safe. After another round of doctors and tests, I now know that I have a “random” autoimmune disease that attacks otherwise healthy hair follicles. It could get better or worse. It could spread or not spread. My immune system is so frazzled that it has begun attacking itself. Time for a change.
I made an appointment at a local holistic health center called Restoration Health. Just the name gives me hope. Over the last week I have filled out a full medical history, written a paragraph about my health over the last several years and taken a “quiz” to see what my level of adrenal fatigue is. The results were dismaying to say the least. The picture is starting to come into focus. Even though my lifestyle seems healthy from the outside, there are puzzle pieces missing. There are details that are making me unhealthy. My body is sending messages loud and clear: SOMETHING IS WRONG. Maybe it’s my stress level or the way I deal with stress. Maybe it’s my diet. Maybe it’s some other environmental factor that I have yet to identify. Whatever it may be, I can’t wait to find out and start working toward a healthier self.
Self is an interesting concept for a mother. When we lose our health we begin to realize just how widespread the fallout could be for those who rely on us. If I lose my health what can I give to my children? If I lose my health, what does it mean for my spouse? If I lose my health, what kind of future do I have? Health is something only I can bolster. I have to choose it every day and in order to do that, I have to figure out what is sabotaging me. I will be recording my findings here for you. Health is as much a part of my priority now as my sons and my husband. It is as big as my spirituality and as far reaching as my legacy. All of these things that make me who I am hinge on my ability to share myself with others. There’s that word again. Self. This is the year for reclaiming my self and I am starting with my health.