Content Fatigue and Chronic Illness

I first wrote about content fatigue here. Be sure to catch what I had to say about the over-consumption of media there.

Another area in my life where I got bogged down with content fatigue was in regard to chronic illness. I was trying to read every diet plan, exercise plan, healing plan I could get my hands on. One thing would say “eat this raw” then the next would say to never touch it. One would say cook everything in butter, another would say never butter, always oil.

My heart and mind were being pulled multiple directions as I sought answers and healing for my hurting body. I had to really face that I can only try one plan at a time – and that any plan that will bring healing or lasting pain relief to my body will take time. It won’t happen on the first day, the first week, and maybe not even the first month. So I have to really pick one plan and follow it for at least 90 days if not 180 days. This is hard because I want to fix all of the problems NOW.

I don’t want to be sick anymore. I don’t want to hurt anymore. And the one that jams me up is that, while cellular health is crucial, and I’m starting to wrap my brain around eating and exercising in a way that moves fluids around, toxins out, and oxygen to and from, so that my cells are the healthiest possible – one of my conditions is a malformation of my skull. I don’t think I can eat enough of the right stuff for that to change.

I do think some of my pain is from inflammation. I do believe my asthma can be greatly controlled with diet and exercise. But I don’t think Chiari just goes away because of kale smoothies or triple servings of blueberries.

If you’re facing a chronic illness, and you’ve started researching how to support your body, I think you can relate – a lot of people have answers, and they come with a pretty price tag, and this notion of a quick fix. The content alone can be exhausting, and the conflicting messages make it sound like it’s our fault for being sick.

Don’t let that seep into your heart. If you know you need to do something better, take steps to do so. (This is me all the way.) But blaming yourself won’t make you well. And getting completely overwhelmed in the content you can read/watch/hear about chronic illness can be consuming and depressing.

Take one approach at a time, and give it time. Be aware of detox symptoms, go slow, give your body and cells a chance to adapt. Follow sound medical advice and go to a practitioner you can be honest with, open with, and that you trust. Sometimes you’ll know right away if a way of eating isn’t right for you. I feel terrible on High Fat/Low Carb within the first week. But it takes more than a month to see improvement from some of what works for my body.

Stick with it. Consistency matters. If you are eliminating a problem food, you have to really get it out of your system and leave it out of your system. Not slipping is hard. But don’t let one meal/snack turn into 3 weeks of consuming something that adds to your inflammation and pain.

You can make changes that will make you feel better. I think food plays a tremendous role in health. I think finding an exercise you can tolerate is important too! Stretching, walking, swimming, seated weight lifting, elliptical, dance. Moving your body moves fluids and gasses around so your cells aren’t swimming in toxic soup and they get a replenishment of nutrients. Start with a few minutes if you need to. You aren’t going for a marathon here. Just 3-5 minutes of movement. In a week, add 3 more minutes. You might find in 6-8 weeks that you can tolerate 30 minutes of slow, steady, deliberate movements.

None of this is medical advice – this is just from one chronic illness patient to another.

I think there is a spiritual component to all of this that needs a post of its own, so I’ll work on that in the coming days. I couldn’t face the worst days without the hope of Jesus. Sometimes I’m in so much pain I’d rather die than keep hurting like I do. But spending time in the Word (whether listening via the bible app or reading in my bible) helps me cling to Jesus and remember that this world, and this life, are temporary. He will remove all my pain and wipe my tears.

Until next time,
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What I Want Them to Say

I often think of my kids when they are older. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember, but looking at our oldest at 20 years old, and our next in line being 13 years old, has really made me consider what life looks like with adult children.

One of the things that I have been considering is what will they say to their friends, or to each other, about me/the way they were raised/our home?

What I want them to say is, “I know who I am, I know what God is calling me to, because my mom held space for me figure it out. I always knew she was there, I knew she loved me, she would answer questions, but she let me figure a lot out, she didn’t suffocate me under her expectations, her rules, or her ideas for my life.”

Then, I let that statement inform my reaction and response to many of our day-to-day interactions.

Now, I know they will call each other when they are grown and have moved on and laugh about the time mom lost it over one thing or another. “Do you remember that time she was so red it looked like her head might pop off?” And they won’t remember clearly what they did that made me that mad, but then again, neither would I if they asked. I probably wouldn’t remember being that mad or red, and would probably laugh it all off awkwardly.

That is the grown up joy of siblings – no one knows quite what it was like to grow up the way you did like a sibling does. They understand the nuances of family life in your childhood and can help you relate your childhood experiences to useful tidbits for adulthood.

But that’s not all I want them to remember – not always or only the red-faced mom who was just so done with that day. I want them to also remember my presence. I don’t think they’ll always remember my words, whether it was the best advice or the worst. I don’t think they’ll remember every outing, every meal, every outfit washed, dried, and put away. In fact, I know they won’t. But I want my presence to be powerful – because I was calm when they weren’t, because I was strong with them, for them. Because I held space while they navigated a challenge and cheered them on.

I want them to remember that I believed in them, that I fought for them, that I never ran from a battle where they were concerned. As I think on what I want them to remember, it is a powerful force for how to be now. Whether I only have one more day here on earth with them or 50 more years, considering their memories is a powerful motivator for how I respond today.

I desperately don’t want them to remember that mom was always sick. I hear it in their voices when they prepare to leave for their Dad and Step Mom’s house – “Are you going to be okay?” “What if you have a really bad day?”

They know how much they help me on the really bad days, and how much they do for the littles and the farm when I am not up to par. This weighs heavy on my heart often, but as I write this to share, even more so. This isn’t what I want them to remember about growing up. It doesn’t feel fair that they have to grow up with a sick mom.

If I’m being completely honest, it’s the spot where I have to be the most intentional about being soft to the Lord and His guidance and will for my life. I could easily get angry that He let my kids have a sick mom. But He is faithful to redeem our deepest pain for His greatest glory. And I know He will use their experience with a sick mom to reach people around them through their whole lives.

What I want them to say is that I was there for them, present, kind, gracious, that I love Jesus fiercely and lead them to do the same. That I love them deeply and without wavering.

I know they’ll say they grew up with a sick mom, and that hurts, but having a sick mom is as much part of their story and being a sick mom is part of mine.

 

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help us consider the memories our children will have as we parent, help us to think on what we want them to say about us and sharpen our parenting, Lord. Help us honor You with the way we raise these precious little people you trusted to us.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

September for Chiari Awareness

A few years ago, I joined a life group and met some really amazing people. People who are still my friends to this day. The leaders of the group have a darling little boy, and he has Chiari Malformation. When it first came up, I told them about my husband’s boss’s wife having Chiari, also. It deeply affected her life. I couldn’t help but to hope and pray that their little boy wouldn’t face the same symptoms that she faced, but the future was and is unknown.

Unfortunately, we’ve lost touch with Jimmy’s former employer and therefore his wife, too. I don’t know how she is doing, but I do think of her often.

In honor of my friend’s little boy and my husband’s boss, I often shared graphics and changed my profile picture in September. I knew Chiari was a huge part of their story – maybe not the biggest part, but a very real and serious part.

What I didn’t know was that on June 13th of this year, I would be sitting in a neurologist’s office, hearing that same diagnosis for myself. Multiple migraine types and Chiari Malformation I. After my MRI and reading the wording and googling it, I had my suspicions. My dear friend did, too. She was a light to me, always reminding me that Jesus is enough even when our health is faltering.

I was nervous, reserved even, what if it wasn’t Chiari, what if it was something else? I searched and searched for different explanations to “cerebellar tonsillar ectopia” but I always landed right back on Chiari.

I know God was working things out for me long before I was googling my MRI findings, and long before that neurologist confirmed the findings. I knew God put specific people in my life to help me walk through life and to keep me focused on Him. I am so thankful for His careful and thoughtful orchestration. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think God afflicted me with Chiari. But I do know He is already in our future and aware of what is coming, and that He works all things together for the good of those who love and serve Him.

Chiari may be part of my story now, but it is not my whole story. Chiari may give me some really bad, really hard days, but it can’t take away all of the good that God has given me.

I will keep pressing forward, day after day, trusting God to work in me and through me, no matter how healthy or sick my body may be. And in September, I will share about Chiari, not only for me, but for all of the people learning to live with the challenges that come with Chiari.

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Help spread awareness for Chiari Malformation with this coffee cup from Amazon.

Do you have an invisible illness? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below.