My One Defense

44.  That is the number of days that I have been on this restrictive gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free fiasco of a diet.  We’ve (me and Tob) been detoxified and cleansed.  We’ve been vitamin’ed up and herbally enhanced.  We’ve drunk a lot of water.  It’s been good and bad all at once.  The whole purpose and intention for this was to feel better.  A desperate attempt to change the direction of my health.

I wish I could say so many good things.  There are several, actually!  I am mentally and emotionally pleased with myself for accomplishing something hard.  Cutting out sugar is something I would not normally do with sound mind!  I love all the foods that are bad for me.  Getting to the point of being thankful for lightly salted vegetables and brown rice – a beautiful meal for millions in the world – was difficult for me.  Being thankful for the manna.  Will you choose to be thankful, or not?

As far as the effects of the diet on my health; I’m unsure of how this detox and cleanse have impacted my body at this point.  There are a few things I’ve definitely noticed:

1.  I have zero wart on my thumb.  My body was able to fight that off after a year of it being there.

2.  I’ve lost like 10 whole pounds!  My jeans fit better, I’m leaner and within a handful of pounds to my ideal weight.

3.  I’ve completed something I set out to do.

We are sticking with the diet indefinitely.  I know, right?  Who would do that?  It must be doing something, huh?  It’s hard to see the good that it could be doing right now.  I think I will have to give it long-term approval.  I am exhausted.  I was tired when I started this diet and I’m just as tired now, if not more.  Sleepy fatigue.  It is very frustrating.  I want to do so much, but I’m just inexplicably tired.  I’m still at that place where I’m not sure when to sleep and when to fight it.  Lately, sleep has won.  I’ve maintained a regular sleep schedule during this diet, and for most of the year so I’m not sure what more to try in this area.  There is some medication that my neurologist said I can take for the fatigue.  More pills.

My leg pain is steady.  I feel like my left knee and ankle are pretty weak these days, on top of the pain from the spasticity.  I take Baclofen for this and it definitely helps.  However, there is a deeper, wandering aching – almost like a toothache – type of pain that is almost always lurking deep in my legs somewhere.  I say “toothache” because it is often ranges like that annoying pain where you know something is wrong with the tooth all the way to needing a dentist right NOW because of the pain you can’t ignore.

In addition to needing help with the pain and fatigue, I have a few other things that I’m just now starting to personally research.  I have been studying things like “clonus” and how to differentiate benign familial tremor from tremor caused by disease or damage.  The tremor has not lessened.  I feel pretty awkward when I notice people noticing it.  It’s like wearing a bright red Britney Spears latex jump suit.  People notice.  My left hand is the back-up plan.  I’m not very good at making it my dominant hand now, which I probably should be.  It is getting more difficult to write, particularly, signing my name type of stuff.   As luck would have it, my left forearm is crapping out on me!  I’m not joking!  Lefty is the back-up plan and lefty is getting weak.  I’m unsure what this means.  I have an odd sensation of pressure wrapped around a good portion of my forearm.  It “feels” weak.  I think the neurologist felt that my right hand was noticeably weaker than the left at my appointment.  I think we should pray for lefty and possibly righty.  I will not be human if I can’t use my workin’ hands!

Not only will this particular blog serve as super record keeping down the road, it’s also helping me get my thoughts and primary concerns ready for my appointment at the Multiple Sclerosis center of  OHSU in Portland.  That’s right.  I got an appointment!  This June.  I researched the clinic while waiting for all of my paperwork to be filed.  Which is another mystery in and of itself.  My information was faxed over to the clinic in November/December.  I got an appointment with Dr. River, my neurologist here, in January, so I didn’t pursue my application at OHSU as aggressively as I should have.  Meghan, sweet Meghan, reminded me I needed to be brave and after speaking with this angel, I got courage and called the clinic to figure out the status of my junk.  I had to get more information from Dr. River sent, a week went by.  I was laying around the house feeling bad.  Doing nothing.  I called again.  They need more paperwork.  I was totally confused at what other paperwork they could want.  Turns out, my chart was mixed up with someone else’s.  After a very influential phone call from my sister at the doctor’s office here in town, OHSU called to offer me an appointment that very day.  I was so shocked when the lady said she was calling to get me scheduled.  I’m like, ‘Wait, what?  Like, the doctor is going to see me?  OH!  MY! STARS!”  I felt so redeemed.   Thank you, Lord.

The doctor I was randomly paired up with is very knowledgeable in Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology.  She has special interest in dietary influences on neurological disease processes.  Um, could I not have found her at the most perfect time?  I am totally prepped!  45 days, now, into a variant of the diet she advises for conjunctive MS therapy.  I am so prayerful for this appointment.

At the same time, I am fully aware that I cannot rely on this doctor to fix this mess of mine.  I know I can’t.  I’ve been there before.  I think the best strategy for my brains and my heart going into this is this:  she is a part of my faith journey, a very intentional act of God.  If she helps me, it is with divine guidance and wisdom from Him.  I understand that this may be nothing more than a waste of fuel to drive to Portland, she may not even want to actually talk to me when I get there.  She may be a jerkface.  Regardless of what happens, I will go with the Lord, I will come back with the Lord, I will pray for the Lord’s hand to be in this, to lead me, to help me and to be with my doctor.  My hope can only be in Him.  I am so much closer to believing He is always with me.  Amen.



Fan vs. Follower

The refinement.  The furnace. The suffering.  

“This year is the hardest, yet…” Thoughts repeat themselves day after day, week after week, month after month, and finally years.  How do real people do it?  How do “real” people get through the crap of life, and honestly, is everyone’s crap really equal?  Ohmystars.  That seriously came out of my brain.  I probably shouldn’t reveal that much of my true self, but it’s there.  Are we all experiencing the same amount of stress and damage and I’m just really bad at handling it compared to everyone else?  

I think I am in the middle of a holy mystery.  I don’t know where He’s taking me and I’m finally learning how to surrender.  I thought I had the submission thing, but I didn’t know that I didn’t really know.  The belief, the choice, the hope that something bigger than me has got my back right now…  the realization that God is seriously the only one who will really always be there for me.  Turning that corner in my faith has been painful.  It’s ugly beautiful.

Over the past several months, I’ve experienced a few pretty rough patches in a handful of my closest relationships.  I’ve hurt and been hurt.  I’ve used sharp words or blaring silence to protect my pride, all the while, disconnecting myself from those I’ve loved most.  It is only because of this disconnect and damage that I’ve had no one to turn to except God.  Painful refinement.  I can only publicly express my thoughts on this intimate part of my life now, as the Lord has put his healing touch on these wounds.   Only God can make something so imperfectly perfect.  True beauty.

I am co-dependent.  I am worst-case-scenario.  I always have a back-up plan.  I always have an escape route.  I need other’s approval of my life in order for me to feel okay about myself.   My mind creates stress where there is none, because that’s how it thinks “normal” is.  Reconditioning myself to be independent, to trust in God today, to believe that I am safe and don’t have to run away in any circumstance, to re-calibrate “normal,” realizing I am loved by the only Guy that matters.   These are the things I struggle deeply with right now.  

During the study with my teen girls, we’re talking about discipleship and what it means to be a true follower of God.  Jesus says in Matthew 16:24  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  What does that really mean?  How am I denying myself?  Where is my cross, how do I hold it, and what happens if I lose it with my debit card?  Follow Him how?  Where?  What does this really mean to ME?  Can I really call myself a follower of Christ if I am selfish, worried, controlling, and stuck in the ways of my past?  I cannot.  

My emotional and mental pictures, would not lead another to believe that I am a joyful, saved Christian.  The struggle is no longer to convince everyone else that I am happy and that life is good.  The struggle is to convince myself that because I have Christ, I have enough.  The acceptance of Christ brings joy and peace, undeniable.  But, you have to choose it.  Choosing joy, embracing faith, and practicing peace when life things are really bad, that’s the tricky part.  And, that’s a follower.  I want to be there.