Saturday, July 28, 2012

Eye Opener

Sometimes it takes an eye-opening event to help you put your priorities back in order.  I’ve always considered myself a healthy person.  I’ve never been admitted to the hospital.  I’ve never had surgery.  I’ve never had any “diseases”,  “syndromes” or “conditions”.  I like to eat fresh fruits and veggies and have never had any health issues, until now.  

I have not felt well for the past year, maybe longer.  I’ve known something wasn’t quite right, but just thought it was the pure exhaustion from running a household of 8.  I finally went to a doctor specializing in endocrinology to see what was going on.  The results of me not taking care of myself for the last few years have given me the diagnosis of “Metabolic Syndrome”.  I have become a very unhealthy person in just a few short years.   

I have “reactive hypoglycemia”, which is different than hypoglycemia.   My blood sugar is all over the place and actually drops when I eat.  This explains my cold feet and hands, lack of energy, dizziness, mood swings, and my Dr. Pepper addiction.  I could swear by Dr. Pepper.  It has always elevated mood and made me feel better.   It raised my blood sugar enough to make me feel good for a few hours (which was long enough to get my errands done in the 2 hours I had to run them while my kids were all at school)!   The bad part was this was temporary, and then I crashed.  But if I didn’t drink it at all, I had zero energy to start with and was running on dead batteries the entire day, even after a full night’s sleep.  In general, I don’t naturally crave sweets.  My husband thinks I’m weird because I generally don’t eat or crave cake, ice cream, pie, cookies and candy.  Even though causes of reactive hypoglycemia still have not been determined in the medical field, I’m sure skipping breakfast, starting the day with a Dr. Pepper, and being too busy to eat proper meals hasn’t helped this issue…  

Even though I do not have diabetes, I have “insulin resistance”, which means my body has the inability to break down fat. Even healthy fat cannot get into the cell and be carried away. It is taken to my liver instead causing my liver to function improperly.  This is the first area the doctor is addressing.  Without a healthy liver, nothing else will get better.  This is what has caused me to gain weight.  I gained 20 pounds within about 2-3 months last summer/fall and have not been able to lose the weight with exercise and diet.  My doctor said I could eat minimal calories and workout every day and not lose the weight due to this issue. 

Insulin resistance is linked as a cause of hormonal imbalance, which somehow causes abnormal ovarian production.  This is why I miscarried and will continue to miscarry if I get pregnant again until this issue is under control.  Getting Bancroft child #7 here is a good motivator and reminder for me to work hard and stay focused at getting my health back!

I have inflammation throughout my body due to the insulin resistance/unhealthy liver which also causes extremely high cholesterol.  My cholesterol and triglyceride levels are so high I am at risk for a future stroke or cardiovascular event.  I am only 34!  Ugh!  I shouldn’t be worrying about this at all! 

I have hyperthyroidism, so my thyroid is hyperactive and over producing hormones.  More testing on this to come…

In 3-4 weeks, I will have more extensive testing on hormones and adrenal glands as well.  My doctor suspects that my adrenal glands are shot due to all the stress and life changes I have had (ie: blending families, raising a special needs child, moving, job changes, brother’s death, miscarriage, the list goes on and on…).  Raising his eyebrows while describing my life events in recent years, he described it to me as the “perfect storm”.

The good thing is there is no “guess work” with these tests and all these medical issues are treatable and reversible.    The doctors will find out exactly what is wrong and address each issue one-by-one.  Yeah! 

The first step is to get the inflammation out of my body. I am going on a strict “inflammation reducing” diet for the next 3 weeks before the other tests will be performed which means no sugar, gluten, salt, beef, pork, dairy, etc.  There may be a few foods that are causing the inflammation.   Just a heads up… for the next 6 months while undergoing treatment, I will not be very good at entertaining.  You are still all welcome to come by and visit, but I won’t have any delicious goodies and dinners to serve.  This is not good timing since we are headed into birthday season and the holidays, but my health definitely comes first at this point!

I am relieved to finally have an answer as to why I have zero (that’s right, zero) good days every month where I have energy to sustain my activities throughout the entire day.  I am happy to have this eye-opening experience to teach me the importance of taking care of me so I can in return take care of my family.  The goal in the next 6 months is for me to have 25 good days a month.   The good news is that now I know why I don’t feel like myself and it can and will be fixed and regulated before I get diabetes, gain more weight or have a stoke or heart attack.  When one thing in your body gives out, there’s a “domino effect” and other systems in the body start to fail.  That’s what’s going on with me now, and I am a little upset with myself that I haven’t taken better care of my body!  

Here are my goals so far for the next 6 months:

1.  Simplify routines, schedules, expectations, meals and activities.  I’m not sure if Pinterest is going to help or hinder me in this area!  There are a lot of good ideas on there that will either complicate or simplify my life…

2.  Reduce any and all stress, which may require me to say, “no” more often to others.  As mothers we should not worry about hurting others’ feelings and put our health and wellness first!  My kids won’t be in a lot of extracurricular activities this fall, and they will survive.  I won’t be volunteering in classrooms, and I won’t be trying to be “supermom”.  (I say this, but old habits are hard to break).  I’m going to try to lower expectations of myself and re-evaluate what a “good mom” really is.  A stressed out, unhealthy person is not what my kids need.  

3.  Keep a tidy, picked-up house, but not a perfectly clean one. I’m going to let it go a little bit, unless that causes me more stress, we’ll see!  

4.  I’d like to continue having guests over, minus the food, especially since I am going to be on an extremely strict diet the next 6 months.  We’ll resume the entertaining when I am better and back to normal!

5.  Restructure activities so they are not centered around food or eating out.

6.  Follow all treatment exactly as prescribed.

Tomorrow I will be preparing for my new anti-inflammatory diet.  If you have any good ideas, suggestions or healthy recipes, send them my way!  Wish me luck!