I am thankful for… my health

I know how trite it is to post the traditional “I’m thankful for…” post on Thanksgiving, but sometimes, trite is good.

Today I am so very thankful for my health. The other day I was running errands with Daryl – I went for Daryl’s final drive for Driver Ed, then stopped at Lowe’s, then a thrift store, then the bank, then our barn to unload everything from the craft fair, then over to our realtor’s office.

“It was only a year ago when there was no way I could have done this,” I told Daryl. “Last year at this time, I could do ONE errand per day – that’s it.”

NancyI look back on those days now in wonder. Summoning up the energy to get in the car, drive somewhere, get out of the car, walk across the parking lot, walk all the way around those great big stores, stand in line to pay, walk back to the car, get in the car, drive home, and get out of the car again was about all I could do.

It was a year and week ago that I wrote this post outlining my symptoms. I was sore and achy. I had no energy. Even getting the essentials done was, at times, too much. By the time I wrote the post, I was starting down the road to recovery, but still had a long way to go to overcome my health struggles. I figure it’s time for an update.

I was full of theories a year ago and had a whole list of things to consider. Adrenal Fatigue. Food sensitivities. Vitamin D deficiency. Thyroid problems. It seemed that it would never end. Now, a year out, I have some answers.

 

Adrenal Fatigue

I suspect (but will never know) that Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome was the base of pretty much everything. Between October 2010 and November 2011, I was hit with stress after stress after stress. Pneumonia, battling high winds and big hills and long distances in northern Argentina, worrying about whether my wheel would make it to the end of the world before all my spokes popped, my crown falling out and being replaced by an ill-fitting one which caused a perpetual infection in my mouth for six months, the end of our journey, returning to Boise with no plan, buying a house, remodeling the house… That entire year was filled with one big event after another, and it proved to be too much for my body.

The adrenal glands are responsible for producing the hormones that allow your body to cope with stress. Generally, they are geared up and ready to go whenever they are needed, but after too many repeated attacks, they just can’t keep up. My body dealt with a continuous onslaught of stressful situations for 13 months, and just couldn’t keep up.

After reaching bottom last fall, and learning everything I could about what was going on, I stopped fighting. If I was tired, I slept. If I didn’t have the energy to go to the grocery store, I didn’t go. If all I could do was sit in my chair and stare at my computer screen, that’s what I did. Many days I slept 10 – 15 hours, and I didn’t feel guilty at all. In fact, I intentionally stayed in bed as much as I could. I ate well and I slept.

It took many months, but I noticed a definite difference in May – seven months after the bottom fell out. Although my energy level still wasn’t where it should have been, and I was horribly out of shape, I noticed the difference mentally. My thinking was clearer. My creativity had come back. I started to think that I was getting better.

 

Food sensitivities

When I wrote about this last fall, I was in the middle of the elimination diet, trying to identify which foods I was sensitive to. I had already identified milk as problematic for me, and later identified wheat as another problem food. When I ate either of those, my whole body hurt. John could tell I had eaten either wheat or milk just by watching me walk.

Cutting wheat and milk from my diet made a huge difference in how I felt. I still had no energy, but at least I wasn’t sore. That was huge.

Amazingly, now that I seem to have recovered from the Adrenal Fatigue, I am able to eat a bit of wheat and not hurt. Milk is still iffy, but not to the extent that it was a year ago. I still limit them both, but am not fanatical about it like I was for a while.

 

Thyroid issues

I’ve taken thyroid medication for decades, but the levels were way off. We played with that a bit, and I think I’ve got that stabilized. I haven’t noticed a direct correlation in terms of how I feel as a result, but it’s probably a part of the larger picture.

 

Vitamin D deficiency

I am still taking Vitamin D drops daily (or whenever I remember). I should probably get a blood test again to see what has happened to my levels. A year ago, I was very deficient in Vitamin D – I’m curious about what my blood would show now.

 

Knee problems

After cutting out wheat and milk, my joint achiness pretty much disappeared – except for my achy knees. It became very apparent that my knee issue was separate from the general, all-over achiness caused by my food sensitivities. In August, I went to an orthopedic surgeon to figure out what was going on.

It’s arthritis.

I got steroid shots in my knees, and that seems to have helped quite a bit. I still have my days when they are pretty sore, but even then it’s more of a general ache rather than downright pain. I worked with a physical therapist for a couple months to build up the strength, and I am now continuing with the exercises on my own.

I know that maintaining strength in the muscles supporting my knees is critical to long-term maintenance, so that will be a high priority the remainder of my life.

 

What’s next?

So where am I today? I am feeling more-or-less like myself again. While I am sorely out of shape and haven’t yet lost the weight I gained through this ordeal, I now feel that I *can* regain my strength. I am working out (gently!) at the Y regularly, and will slowly build up the program as I get stronger. I am hopeful that a year from now I can write another post reporting that I’m fit and strong again!

A year ago, I could run one errand per day if I was lucky. Now, I can do 5 or 6 errands, plus work out at the Y or take the pups for a walk in the foothills. Most importantly, I will never take my health for granted again.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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8 Responses to I am thankful for… my health

  1. Victoria November 27, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Hi Nancy,

    I’m so glad you are feeling better and had something spectacular to be thankful for this year. I think I speak for all of your fans when I say this is wonderful news – you are too ambitious to be down with illnesses! I can’t wait to see what you will do as your health improves even more.

    Hope to see you again soon.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family,

    Victoria

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel November 28, 2014 at 12:02 am #

      @Victoria, I have learned a lot from the past couple of years – no doubt there! It’s been a tough road, but I am finally optimistic that I’ll be okay. Just need to remember to take it slow and steady building back up my strength rather than diving in like I usually do 😉

  2. Melissa November 28, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    I remember reading your health post last year. I’m so glad you are better now. I wonder if all that we’ve been through has worn me down. Perhaps I should take some of the same steps you did.
    Stay well 🙂

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel December 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

      @Melissa, Read the book about Adrenal Fatigue and see if it fits. As I read it, I was like, ” Yes! That’s me!” all the way through. The good news is that you CAN recover, but it takes a long time. Hope you figure some things out!

  3. Cyra | Gastronomic Nomad December 2, 2014 at 5:11 am #

    Glad to hear your are feeling better! Have you read much about Hashimotos? It is also related to Adrenal fatigue and the thyroid, it might help you shed some more light.

    I have Hashimotos (confirmed) and I suspect Adrenal fatigue, as the two go hand in hand. Since I have cut out gluten I am so much better. It’s amazing. I’ll have days where I actually can’t believe the things I have done and how a few months ago there is no way I could have done them. Apparently sugar and caffeine is also a very important one to cut out for both conditions, I am not 100% sugar and caffeine free, but I have cut back a lot. I’m going to try and be 100% sugar and caffeine free (okay, 95%, ha ha) and see if things improve even more.

  4. Green Girls Don't Get Fat December 21, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    Have you thought about cutting out all processed food? I also have hormonal issues, but a whole foods diet has made significant improvement. I also try to walk and bike a lot, and do push ups. It has improved my health tremendously.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel December 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      I rarely eat processed food anyway – I lived overseas and ate only fresh food for so long that the taste of preservatives is icky. but yes, I’ve been getting lazy and need to clean up my diet!

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