Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Health and Happiness in 2007

This is a picture of me that was taken last week when I was at my parents' house. I know it is me... but, in complete honesty, it is hard for me to know that's how I look right now. When I picture myself, I don't look like that... not even close. But, reality shouldn't be ignored.

What some of you don't know is that this past year has been a very difficult one for me with my health. It began fine enough. But, sometime around the end of January, I started feeling terrible, aching all over, with sudden lapses in energy, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I recalled other times when I had felt this way - even way back in college. But, I had just passed those off as being tired and doing my usual routine of not getting enough sleep. In January, it was the same feeling (just increased), but it was different in the fact that the symptoms would not go away.

I won't try to bore you with the long, long story. But, some of the details are important. I missed many days of work throughout 2006, and I was extremely tardy for many others. For several weeks at a time, I found myself sleeping every moment when I wasn't at church or work. I'd have a regular day every so often, but I would quickly have a downswing after probably overdoing it because I was feeling like my usual full-of-energy, bouncing-around self. I was trying to do a good job of faking it, but I was failing. I looked horrible. I felt horrible. I felt really horrible. And, to make things more confusing, I'd lost and gained 25 pounds at least 6 times in about seven or eight months. (That alone wreaks havoc on a body!)

I had expresssed some concerns to my doctor two and three years ago about problems I was noticing. Most of all, I kept telling her that I was exercising more and more and eating less and less - but not losing weight they way I should. She must have doubted me, because she didn't seem to have a plan of action. (She also didn't understand why I kept getting colds and why I couldn't shake them. She didn't realize that I was eating so little and running so often - even though I tried to explain it to her - that I was wearing myself down. She wouldn't have suspected because I kept gaining weight at the time.)

Fast forward: My doctor left the area, and I chose to see another doctor in the same clinic right around the same time the symptoms came back and stuck in January 2006. Thankfully, she didn't ignore my complaints about the aches, lapses in energy, and sudden weight gains (sometimes 6 or 7 pounds in a day, if you can believe it!) The tests began and went on for months. X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, stress tests...and I cannot even begin to estimate how many times my blood was drawn throughout the year. In short, no matter how many doctors were involved, no one could figure out what was wrong. With already feeling so badly, these discouragements were difficult to bear over the months and months of testing with no answers.

Thankfully, during a time when I was feeling adventurous and attempting a trip to Arkansas to get away, I was able to openly discuss some of the problems that I was experiencing in different areas of my health. And, some dear sisters, to whom I will always be grateful, opened up to share some of their similar experiences. With the information they provided, I was able to research many symptoms on the Internet, become better informed, and search out a new specialist to see if she would suspect what I was suspecting. After a few more scans to rule out tumors in my brain or adrenal glands, ultrasounds, and even more blood tests, the specialist and my general practitioner were finally able to make a few diagnoses this fall...and my suspicions turned out to be correct!

In the midst of receiving other answers, I now know I am insulin resistant (also known as insulin intolerant or linked to Syndrome X.) What a world of difference this little piece of information has made in my life! With the help of the doctors, education about the condition, new rules for what I can eat and I must avoid, and assistance from a big white pill I take each evening, I finally feel like my old self. (Energy-wise, anyway.) And, I am so thankful to God that I was finally provided some answers. And, if this is genetically inherited, as suspected, I hope it will also provide many answers for some of my family.

After several recent tweaks to my medication, the doctors seem happy with the results they are seeing in my testing. And, now it is my turn to stay focused on eating a special strict diet (high protein, low fat, low carb starting out with no sugars, pastas, breads etc.) for a - hopeful - quick reduction in weight and change in my metabolism. I have already had a successful week (can't pass up celebrating small victories), and I desire your prayers and encouragement in the upcoming months as I try to make these changes permanent.

I realize there is risk in making this announcement public, as I could fall flat on my face and nothing could change. Worse yet, I could gain more weight. Or, the doctors could find out that there is yet something else that is wrong. But, I am hoping and praying for the best, and I would appreciate your prayers likewise. After each milestone, I plan to post a new picture so that friends and family may see some results. More than anything, even if I don't lose one more pound in my attempt to getting back to "normal", I am just thankful God has blessed me in feeling better. As I expressed to the church on Sunday night, "One's good health is so often taken for granted until it leaves...or, in this case, goes on a vacation." I'm thankful it has returned - hopefully, for good.

I wish all of you much health and happiness in this new year!

To learn more about insulin intolerance, please refer to the following links:
Medicine Net


Elizabeth said...

I have never heard of insulin intolerance; from your symptoms, I would have guessed thyroid problems, but I don't know very much about that either. I will definately be praying for you, and I am glad to know you are feeling better, and that is a one day at a time process, you know? Praises be to God that you didn't fall into depression or turn awat from Him during such long times of illness. He works all things to the good of them that love him, and I am sure that if not already you will one day see how God has used this time in your life to bring you closer to Him. You'll be in my prayers.

Dani said...

I will be praying for you. I know that He will help you and that things will work out!

Siren said...

Your story sounds a lot like mine - only I gained 150 pounds and my adrenals burned out before I finally found a doctor to listen. In addition to hypothyroidism and a litany of other issues eventually diagnosed, I was also insulin resistant. Thankfully that problem seems to have resolved now that the thyroid medication has helped me feel good enough to exercise and lose a little weight.

Isn't it shameful that so many people have to suffer through this kind of thing without a diagnosis? I understand that there are those who aren't honest with their doctors about why they're gaining weight, but it's ridiculous those of us with real problems are cast aside in their wake.

I'll be thinking about you when I take my little pill in the morning! Here's wishing a healthier year for both of us.

Sandy-san said...

I am so glad that your doctor finally gave you some answers, as I know this has been a trying year for you.

My Mom has hypothyroidism, so I often wondered if it this was your thyroid. I'm glad you kept searching for some answers.