Saturday, October 1, 2016

Health crisis

(melodrama alert) It's been a rough few weeks! The day before we left for Russia, I had a very good doctor's report. I was extremely encouraged since it had taken so much longer to heal up after David was born.

Within a week after we arrived, I started having some troubling symptoms. I then self-diagnosed and began to read all about it, but decided I'd better take a break from that and focus on other things for awhile. I didn't want to see a doctor because I wanted to kind of put it out of my mind.

We were doing pretty well. Sophia was sleeping well, I felt like I was managing somewhat with two kids, and we were even able to do some fun things like baking projects.

Then the symptoms worsened, and anxiety and depression quickly spiraled out of control. I imagined myself as a life-long invalid. I'd never be able to lift groceries, or my kids for that matter.

I've already mentioned my prayer journal. I also started listening to an audio Bible throughout the day, since it's hard to find time for reading. I told myself that we'd survived much worse, like everything we experienced when David was a baby. I told myself it was just hormones. I told myself that it wasn't a cancer diagnosis. But the logic and "positive thinking" weren't working.

Crying fits gave way to hyperventilating, nausea, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and extreme weakness. I was shaky all the time and wondered if I could be anemic. I'd never had an anxiety attack this bad. I think part of it was that I couldn't tell what was just butterflies in my stomach (probably about 90% of it)  and what was my organs falling out. Eventually I realized it was just anxiety, but couldn't talk myself out of it.

I gave in and let Andrei make a doctor's appointment for me.

No more productive days. I had to choose between spending my strength on David and doing housework. I tended to his needs as best I could while he trashed the house. I couldn't bend down to pick anything up. I worried that he could tell I wasn't 100% there. I studied my children's faces and tried to think about blessings. I looked at the baby and tried to be thankful for her life, even if it wrecked my body.

David came down with a cold. I could feel that my body was fighting a virus, too. Andrei's workload increased. My doctor's appointment approached and my anxiety was worse than before. I asked some friends to pray. I lay down for another sleepless night, consumed by nausea and extreme thirst. I remembered a song our team used to sing, when ministering in summer camps:

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

In the morning, I couldn't eat. To be honest, I've had this happen before. But with a breastfeeding infant, I knew my body couldn't handle it for long. Before we left for the appointment, I felt like I would pass out, but once we were outside, the cool fall air felt refreshing. I was going to be okay. 

The doctor was friendly and I felt taken care of, even with the unpleasant nature of it all. He didn't find anything life-threatening. A few things to fix, but he didn't make a firm diagnosis. If I don't gain some strength, I may have serious problems later. So I need to figure out how to go about doing that. Then I had some blood tests and those came back normal.

I was able to eat when I got home. I still have to recover from the stress of the last few weeks. I feel like it has been a huge setback in recovery. Everyone says you are supposed to feel exhausted when you have a newborn, but that doesn't mean there isn't a limit to normal exhaustion. Just as with my diastasis recti diagnosis, a problem being "common" doesn't make it easier to solve.

I am already thankful that I can breathe a little easier. It puts the physical symptoms in perspective a bit to gain some peace of mind back. Our bodies tend to deteriorate sooner than our hearts and minds, so we have to learn how to cope mentally with what we feel physically. 

Now it's back to recovery!


  1. Oh, Elizabeth! We don't know each other in person, but I feel you are a friend and this just made me want to cry for you! How horrible! Don't you think that not only the physical assault that childbirth is, but also just the addition of a baby to take care of and the move was an awful lot to manage emotionally, as well. Someone once told me a Swedish proverb "One is like none and two is like ten." That was such a comfort to me when Lydia was born because that is just how it felt!

    1. It's just tricky because the consequences can show up anytime! It's not like you can take a month to "recover" and think you can just move on. Thankfully I had the "challenging" child first. Of course it was easier with one, but he was not an easy baby.


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