If you missed Part I of My Health Journey, please catch up before reading on…
In early March we finally had enough support that we felt confident finding a home to rent in Pennsylvania. With support, you never know when exactly you’ll be done – it could be days, weeks, or months, but we felt God assuring us that it wouldn’t be much longer. We were sick of living with Whit’s parents. They’re great people, and we love them, and we were in a great situation with two rooms (one bedroom and one office), and they were very accommodating of us. But we were two adult married couples living under one roof, and that’s never easy for anyone. I secretly couldn’t wait to get out of the 18th century farmhouse and have my own decorations and dishtowels again. Stuff isn’t everything, but there’s just something to be said for be surrounded by stuff that you like, instead of stuff that doesn’t suit your tastes.
So when we found an apartment at a great price (Downingtown is a LOT more expensive than Blacksburg – rent is about two or three times as much as what we paid while we were living in Blacksburg), we snatched up that opportunity. Since most of our contacts were still in Richmond, but we wanted to have our own place again, we divided our week between Downingtown and Richmond. We would finish work on Thursday night and leave town at about 9pm, arriving to our apartment at 1 in the morning or later. We would stay there Friday through Sunday, and then be back in Richmond again Monday morning for the work week to begin again. Doesn’t that sound EXHAUSTING?! It was.
My parents came to visit one week after we moved in (also one week after they moved, which we helped them do. They moved themselves, downsizing from a large four-bedroom in Maryland to a much smaller three-bedroom in Georgia. We helped them do everything, from going through boxes, selling furniture on Craigslist, sorting through my childhood memorabilia, moving the baby grand piano with five people, and driving all of it hundreds of miles down 95 where we unloaded the truck and helped them settle in. Yes, it was a little insane!). While they were there, I put my workout clothes on to go for a short run at the gym in our apartment complex, but before I left I started wheezing. I was short of breath and had trouble taking a deep breath in – but I hadn’t even exercised yet! I thought it was weird but that it would go away.
The problem didn’t go away for another week or two, so I figured I should visit a doctor. I didn’t have one yet in our new town, so I went to an urgent care center, where they told me I had asthma. Oh, that makes sense, I guess. My mom had asthma too, and I always thought I might have some exercise-induced asthma because I get out of breath easily when I swim or run. They gave me a steroid and an inhaler, which I used every time before I worked out for several months. I loved running, but after I did it, my head would hurt a lot – from the anxiety/balloon effect.
It was another four months before I found a general physician who diagnosed me with a mild (moderate?) anxiety disorder, recommended that I begin counseling, and suggested that I go off of gluten. He did a test for Celiac Disease, which fortunately came back negative. I had heard of gluten intolerance, and had some theories of my own that more and more people are having problems with wheat now because of the change in how they process the grain. I asked my doctor his thoughts, and he told me about a book called Eat to Live, which I will share more about later.
I did go off of gluten (for the most part), but come fall, when I started my new job, I began to have more and more problems. First let me tell you about my job (Again, I’m giving all of these descriptions so you can see how much stress was placed on me, that I didn’t recognize!): I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly, so my boss allowed me to be part of several different teams. I had thought I would be working mostly with Global Missions, but it turned out that no one else was on the Conference Team besides the director, so he needed more help. My week looked like this: two days per week working on Conference stuff, one day per week with Global Missions, one day per week working with the Bridges team in Philadelphia, and one wife day. Almost every day I was doing something completely different!! I had four bosses (plus myself/Whit on wife day), and I felt like all I was doing was going to meetings, because I had one weekly meeting, two bi-weekly meetings, and one monthly meeting. Yikes!!!
My health was deteriorating, big time. I constantly felt light-headed (not just getting dizzy from standing up, but ALL the time, my head felt funny and I was a little disoriented), had headaches daily (in different parts of my head), my stomach was driving me crazy, I would get INCESSANT burping most evenings, I wasn’t getting a period because of the new medicine, and most nights I felt so bad that all I could do was sit down, lay on the couch, research symptoms online, or honestly just cry. On top of all of this, I wasn’t getting enough to eat. I had eliminated so many things from my diet (more on that in the next post), I was only getting about 900 calories per day. I would have a new symptom – or two or three! – almost every night. It was unbearable. I couldn’t handle life, and Whit didn’t know how to help me. All I wanted was to hear that it was going to be okay, but he didn’t know for certain that it would be okay, so he didn’t want to lie to me. I’m sure you would agree that that is not the best way to comfort a woman in pain!!
In the next post, I’ll share how things started looking up!