Chronic illness, Coping, Faith, Fatigue, Hyper Pots, Hyperadrenergic POTS, Levine Protocol, Mobility, Overcoming, Parenting, physical therapy, Uncategorized, Weak

My baseline – what life looks like now

With so many recent health fluctuations, I thought I’d share a little about what my daily life looks like right now.

The beautiful news is that I’m fairly independent, driving, cooking, cleaning, working, parenting…

Am I still sick? Yes, but I’m managing it well.

I go slower, but I’m going. I attend less things, but appreciate everything I get to do. I sit more, but I’m also more present. Fear has subsided and I’m rebuilding my stores of joy.

I can’t do as much as I used to before my dysautonomia flare. I need frequent breaks and have to stay conscious of my body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure since I don’t regulate these well automatically. I can tell they’re off when I become symptomatic.

I’m trying to get better at listening to my body and stopping when I need to. I usually feel better in the mornings and have a tougher time at night. For example, I can walk with strength throughout the first half of the day and tend to wobble more as the afternoon turns into evening.

There are still some things I can’t do. Almost all of these relate to temperature regulation or not being able to stand upright for more than 10 minutes. Grocery shopping is a lofty goal. It requires a lot of walking and reaching. Gardening is on my list of hopes for the fall. I still can’t go for walks. My walking buddy, Bailey, misses them too.

My diet is focused on low-carb, high-sodium, and low-histamine foods. What does that even mean, right? Sometimes, I pull up a stool and sit in front of the fridge waiting for a meal to appear because I just don’t know what to eat. I can eat indulgent items in moderation and in combination with protein—but for the most part, when I don’t stick to my regimen; I get tremors, weakness, tachycardia, difficulty breathing, and a bit of confusion. 

As part of my physical therapy program, I’ve worked my way up to biking 45 minutes, several days a week. Being able to do this is so good for my spirit. It makes me feel strong and capable. It’s bizarre… I have so much more endurance sitting down as opposed to standing or walking. Strolling to the mailbox takes more out of me than 45 minutes of biking.

I rest a lot. I have to go horizontal several times a day and when I do, it feels replenishing. I’m blessed to work part time from home which allows for this type of recovery. I honestly don’t know how I’d manage a 40-hour per week office job. Just getting to an office would take a lot out of me.

If I’m upright for too long, it feels like someone is reaching their hands into my chest and trying to pull me to the ground. The weight of carrying my own body becomes too much work. Many people have remarked at how nice it must be to lay down several times a day. I’m lucky to be able to lay down, but I’m not lucky to have to lay down.

When all of this started, I didn’t know how long my flares would last and what my new baseline would look like. I hoped that things would get better. Now, I have peace in better days. I wake up happy and ready for another round.

Recent Posts:

The Truths of Where I Am

I feel stronger and the gratitude I have for this is immeasurable. I am getting better about reading my body and learning my new limitations. My limitations are for my body, not my spirit. I need to rest several times throughout the day to be able to keep going. Once I get dressed, I rest.… Continue reading The Truths of Where I Am

Making space for my new life

In this new season of life, coffee and wine have been moved to the do not consume list. While I’m okay with that, I still miss the idea of what they represented for me: company, friends, comfort, warmth… I think that’s why I’ve been reluctant to tuck away the coffee pot and wine rack. John… Continue reading Making space for my new life

The frienDship fern

I’ve adored this fern for years. I’ve protected it from deer, replanted it as it grew, and sat in its shade as it hung from the porch eave.  Caring for it every morning was part of how I calmed myself. This winter, I was too sick to care for it during the freeze and it… Continue reading The frienDship fern

One good thing

Finding one good thing can make the world right again. Today, my good thing is very simple—cream of wheat. My stomach has been sick and my food choices, limited.  It’s been comforting to find one warm, soothing thing that I can eat. Would you believe that it’s become my equivalent for coffee and dessert? I’m… Continue reading One good thing

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Brainfog, Chronic illness, Circulation, Compression Stockings, Coping, Faith, God, Hyper Pots, Hyperadrenergic POTS, Levine Protocol, Mobility, Parenting, physical therapy, Salt Tablets, Uncategorized

Better days are here

The first emotion I used to feel when I woke up was fear. Fear of putting my feet on the ground to see if I could stand. It was the gauge of whether or not I’d have a decent day or if I’d struggle. Well, I’ve recently had a slew of decent and even good weeks (not days!). I no longer have doubts about putting my feet on the floor. I haven’t used a wheelchair in a while and only need my cane at night and for longer distances. I feel stronger and very hopeful.

I believe this flare is on its way out and I am so thankful for the prayers that have been said for me.

You prayed for more good days and they have been given.

I’m eager to see what my new baseline is and how my body works. My body is not what it was, but it’s better than it is has been. I’ve gone from struggling when upright, to being able to stand for almost 10 minutes. You can get so much done in 10 minutes! I may not be able to go to the grocery store yet (the thought of it still terrifies me), but I can make all of our meals. I can care for myself and then some. There are days when I even change out of pajamas. 😉

I used to lay down between work calls to get more blood to my brain, thinking it would clear the fog and that I’d be smart again. Now, I can work for longer periods. I wash my own hair, drive the kids to school, and do laundry. I’m going to let the girls keep packing their own lunches though. I think it’s good for them.

I don’t know what led to this upturn. We implemented many changes at one time, so it’s hard to tell what combination worked. I can tell you that it wasn’t the medication. My body didn’t handle the first trial of medicine well and I ended up in the hospital. Meds work beautifully for so many people. They just didn’t work for me… at least not right now.

I was surprised at how quickly my body deconditioned within the first few weeks of becoming ill. Now, I’m two months into the Levine Protocol physical therapy program and my strength is improving greatly. I take salt pills and drink extra fluids to increase my blood volume. I wear compression stockings to help me walk (they’re not pretty but I don’t get far without them). My diet has changed a lot too. Less carbs and sugar. No big meals. Lots of produce and protein. I’ll never be able to drink coffee or alcohol again. I thought this would bother me more than it actually does.  

Compression stockings are like magic feet for me. They give me strength and allow me to walk more independently.

One big lesson I’ve learned is to pace myself. I can’t do as much as I used to and that’s okay because I can do what matters. If I overdo it, I’ll be too weak to enjoy the next day. “I can’t spend my energy on that,” is the most common line that comes out of my mouth.

This past flare lasted over three months. I’ve never been sick that long in my life. I feel blessed that it wasn’t longer. I know that I’m still ill, that POTS doesn’t go away—but compared to the last few months, I feel pretty great!

This is new territory and I’m treading carefully, but I’m also enjoying every good day.

Thank you for reading this post.

I want so much for people to understand this journey – what we learn and how we grow through being sick.

If you’d like to join me, you can subscribe to this blog and its social accounts to stay up on new posts.

with much love, sara

Blessings in your inbox every Sunday

Start your week with a bible verse for reflection, positive quotes, and inspirational articles.

Here’s a little more about my story and how I’m coping with chronic illness

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The Blessings of Chronic Illness on Instagram

Recent Posts:

More than a walk

I’ve been feeling a little down lately. I think that’s normal. The world is coming alive again and it emphasizes some of my limitations. I cherish the days when I’m healthy enough to walk through the creek behind our little house. There are so many spots to stop and rest. Usually when I slow down,… Continue reading More than a walk

Relearning how to interact with the world when you run on a day-to-day baisis

With the world reopening and me feeling better, our schedules are getting busier again. My new limitations make things confusing to navigate. I want to say yes to taking my children to practices and birthday parties, to visiting with friends and family—but the reality is settling in that I run on a day-to-day basis and… Continue reading Relearning how to interact with the world when you run on a day-to-day baisis

The untended garden house

This is the first spring for our little garden house. It was a dream five years in the making. John worked so hard to design and build it. I researched plants and could see everything in my mind’s eye. Yet, in December, I started to feel unwell and grew sicker for the next few months.… Continue reading The untended garden house

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Adrenaline, anxiety, Brainfog, Chronic illness, Circulation, Compression Stockings, Coping, Fatigue, Fight or Flight, heart palpitations, Hyper Pots, Hyperadrenergic POTS, Legs, Levine Protocol, Salt Tablets, The Beginning, Uncategorized, Weak, Weakness

I thought I was making myself sick

After being told for years that my ailments were anxiety, I became a disbeliever in my own body. I stopped believing in my ability to decipher if I was physically ill or not. I spent the past two decades convincing myself that anxiety was the cause of my dizziness, weakness, heart palpitations, tightness of chest…

And like so many people with anxiety, I believed that it was my fault. I believed that I had these physical feelings because I wasn’t mentally and emotionally strong enough. My confidence was replaced with a chaotic dialogue. “You’re dizzy because you need to calm down… You’ve never passed out in the grocery store before so stop being ridiculous. You’re not going to pass out today…”

I fought anxiety. I fought so hard! I took medications. I worked out. I meditated. I changed my diet. I read self-help books. I listened to podcasts. Yet, I was still sick and I was still scared.

Learning that I had dysautonomia was the first step to regaining the belief that I was interpreting my body correctly. It freed this resounding roar of, “I knew it! I knew there was something else that wasn’t right.” So many of my symptoms that were from dysautonomia were attributed to anxiety. All too often, anxiety has become a crutch diagnosis. It is the label many are left with when tests don’t find answers. It puts a halt to people’s journeys to find answers and it even belittles those who are suffering from anxiety by being a catch all.

Year after year, day after day—I thought I wasn’t smart enough, determined enough, strong enough… and maybe even that I wasn’t deserving enough…

  • Thinking I was too sensitive to be in the heat, then discovering, “Hey, I actually don’t sweat anymore.”
  • Believing I wasn’t strong enough to be in leadership roles. My heart would beat uncontrollably in meetings with an aggressive supervisor. Not mild palpitations, I’m talking pass-out-quality pounding. I found myself looking for every opportunity to get out just to calm my heart. I know now that the type of dysautonomia I have, Hyperadrenergic POTS (Hyper POTS) causes massive adrenaline dumps during times of stress.
  • Feeling ashamed because I was too scared to drive long distances. I often felt like I couldn’t breathe when I was driving. I’ve since been able to track that my heart rate often increases over 40 bpm in this position. It goes up because my blood is not circulating properly and my heart is trying to compensate by working harder.
  • Thinking I was ridiculous for being scared to go into grocery stores. The combination of standing, reaching for items, and fluorescent lights was dizzying. I remember mustering up all of my energy to push through when all I wanted to do was leave. I would look around at people who were 40 years older than me and believed that they looked so much healthier than I felt.

    Did I ever share that I felt this way with anyone? Never! It was crazy talk.

So, it turns out that I haven’t been as anxious as I thought. I’ve been sick! I’ve had these obstacles and I kept going. I’m not weak, I’m strong.

Now, I absolutely know that I also have anxiety. I think it would be hard to live through this and not. All of these ailments inspire anxiety; they draw it out of me and then that anxiety exacerbates everything. It’s still hard to know where the line between dysautonomia and anxiety lies. Maybe that’s because that line doesn’t end, it blurs.

Even if I had been fighting anxiety without dysautonomia, I wish I could have seen the bravery in that. I wish that my internal dialogue had been loving instead of self-deprecating. No one with anxiety chooses it. I never chose it! It’s like living in a prison of fear—the least we can do for ourselves is have self-compassion as a cell mate.

So here’s to self-compassion!

I have anxiety. I have dysautonomia. I am stronger than I thought. I am braver than I knew.  

Thank you for reading this post.

I want so much for people to understand this journey – what we learn and how we grow through being sick.

If you’d like to join me, you can subscribe to this blog and its social accounts to stay up on new posts.

with much love, sara

Blessings in your inbox every Sunday

Start your week with a bible verse for reflection, positive quotes, and inspirational articles.

Here’s a little more about my story.

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Recent Posts:

Things I used to hide

A year and a half ago, I posted these pics of our trip to Enchanted Rock. What I didn’t share was that I couldn’t make it up the hill. My body was so weak and tired. I stopped about a third of the way up. (A third of the way sounds pretty good to me… Continue reading Things I used to hide

My first day alone

Today is a day I have been dreading… John went back to the office. I dropped the girls off at school and came home to a dark house. The electricity was out and to my surprise, it felt comforting. I lit a candle, let the cat inside, and sat with the dog as we watched… Continue reading My first day alone

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Adrenaline, anxiety, Caretakers, Chronic illness, Circulation, community, Coping, Faith, heart palpitations, Hyper Pots, Hyperadrenergic POTS, Levine Protocol, physical therapy, Weakness

When my body gives out, community gets me back up

The highs and lows with chronic illness are extreme. Today, I experienced both.

Physically, I was done. I couldn’t walk 10 steps without falling to the floor. After every few steps, my chest would feel like it went empty and I’d hit the ground. My nervous system needs to be completely rewired and PT is a big part of that. Yet after falling on the floor, you can probably understand why I was terrified of climbing on the bike for PT.

I broke down a bit… a lot… a lot, a lot…

I’m jealous of people who walk and stand like it’s nothing. I’m jealous of people who don’t have to plan their trips to the kitchen to get water and how they’re going to get to the restroom. I’m jealous of people who aren’t scared to be left alone for a few hours.

So, in my fear, I called Dio, my soul sister and eternal friend. She’s the one I was hitched to since the first day of high school, the one I can ugly cry with, and also the one who gave me these PJs right before my illness struck (like she psychically knew I’d be living in PJs for a while). She talked me through the worst of it. She made me feel strong and heard. She gave me permission to wig out. Then, she made me get on the bike.

While I was on that bike, a kind friend from church texted offering to get my groceries. We’re good on that front but the offer felt like a huge hug when I was at a low and scared moment. For her, it was an easy offer. For me, it was a lifeline.

And then… I finished 18 minutes of bicycle PT and I feel great. I’m a little scared to walk but I’ll get there. Hyper-POTS, the form of dysautonomia that I have will not win today.

Can you see the high? It’s not that I finished PT, even though I’m super excited about that. It’s that you can absolutely be the light that gets someone through the dark. Not just for someone who is ill, but for everyone around you wherever they are on their journey. We all need lights and I hope someone gives you as much as I’ve just received.

Thank you for reading this post.

I want so much for people to understand this journey – what we learn and how we grow through being sick.

If you’d like to join me, you can subscribe to this blog and its social accounts to stay up on new posts.

with much love, sara

Blessings in your inbox every Sunday

Start your week with a bible verse for reflection, positive quotes, and inspirational articles.

Here’s a little more about my story.

You might be interested in…

The Blessings of Chronic Illness on Instagram

Recent Posts:

Better days are here

The first emotion I used to feel when I woke up was fear. Fear of putting my feet on the ground to see if I could stand. It was the gauge of whether or not I’d have a decent day or if I’d struggle. Well, I’ve recently had a slew of decent and even good… Continue reading Better days are here