Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sick

Back in 2003 I had just moved back to Chattanooga and started my first semester at UTC. The semester started normally. Normal work load. Normal stress. Except the stress I was experiencing as my "normal" was not even close to what most people go through. That fall I began getting very sick. I couldn't hold down food and would vomit every single day with only a day or two in the mix where whatever was making me sick would let up. I immediately had my appendix out, but it was totally normal. From there I had SO many tests ran. I can't tell you the number of times I was asked if I was pregnant or had an eating disorder. I felt like the doctors who didn't know me, didn't believe me. It was such a dark time already and being sick didn't help at all. 

After months of tests and failed medicines, I finally had a gastrointestinal endoscopy (they send a light down your throat into your upper GI and take images). They confirmed what was hinted at in the beginning. I was diagnosed with gastroparesis (GP). This is a functional disorder where my stomach is slow to empty. The slow to non-emptying of my stomach was what had been causing my vomiting for all of those months. It can happen to anyone. It tends to happen to diabetics, anorexics, and just randomly. Because of my diabetes, I was fortunate to have a Dr. who was very aggressive in finding the problem, so I immediately started medicine that I still take to help me digest food. 

I had accepted, though very defeated, that this was going to be a new struggle for me to deal with for the.rest.of.my.life. Everything I read said I will one day be on a feeding tube just to live. I was 21 and didn't want to think about such a sad, sick life. Wasn't diabetes ENOUGH? Why in the world was THIS happening to ME? Did I mention that depression and anxiety are a side effect of this whole big mess?!

Then HOPE slowly began to walk in.....

It's funny how our brains work. It's like we go through life pushing forward until one day the pieces start making sense much like a puzzle coming together. Things that didn't make sense before are now the critical pieces of the bigger picture. I remember when I told my endocrinologist the outcome and that the other Dr. assumed it was because of my diabetes. I will never ever forget what my endocrinologist said: "That doesn't make sense to me (he HAD been my doctor since my diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes when I was 7!!) because your diabetes is so excellently controlled. The good news is that this is a problem that waxes and wanes. You will have good days and flare ups (for lack of a better term)." The only problem was that there was such little known about this disorder that I didn't even know HOW to make it wane! Over time, I realized that the stress (ahem, relationship from hell) I had in college desperately needed to change. One day I walked away and suddenly, I began to get better. Getting rid of stress helps. Noted! 

Fast forward to 2008. I had been working at my job for a year when I met a local doctor who specializes in neuroscience. He had just finished a training for us when I walked up to him, told him my story and without missing a beat, he told me that he thought my GP was from the stress of that relationship. Funny thing is, another counselor had told me the same thing back in 2004 when said relationship ended and I had needed help sorting the aftermath. I had stayed in the "fight or flight" stage over and over again for a couple of years. That type of stress shuts down digestion. When digestion shuts down for that long, your body basically forgets how to function. The diabetes didn't help. So I suddenly fit the pieces together to make a very messy puzzle with pieces of brokenness, sadness, and eventually joy. Because shortly after that relationship ended, I met Gene. Never had been around someone who was so easy to talk to, who listened to me, and held my hand as I walked through the rubble. He was a Godsend. He is the man I have prayed for since I was in tenth grade! The coolest part of our story is that when I ended that relationship, I focused on who God wanted me to be with. The same month I walked away, Gene got saved! We didn't even know each other!! Our lives crossed two years later! Funny how the puzzle pieces fit together. I'm so glad they did! 

I haven't thrown up hardly at all since being with him. But, nearly every.single.day I battle with nausea (I swear I think I'm pregnant every month because of that dang nausea), acid re-flux, chronic constipation (I've even been to the ER for it. I'm full of, well, you know!!) and food fear and anxiety. "Will this make me sick if I eat it?" The medicine I'm on causes even more anxiety and horrible side effects. SO, for years I've been wondering what else I can do. THEN, it happened!! I found a new book written by a GPer who has devoted her life to studying and helping us who live with this daily. As I read it, tears fell because for the first time in TEN years, someone else gets it. Gets ME! Gets the crap that I carry in complete silence. I am happy to try all of the things she says because it makes perfect sense! In fact, I changed two things and today I was completely symptom free!! If the nausea continues over time, then I may have a device implanted in my abdomen that makes that go away. My stomach still empties slow, but I'll take slow over not at all any day! 

I guess I needed to write this so that people can know what goes on in me every day. I have been in denial for so many years because I didn't have any hope. I finally have HOPE! The best news is that it typically doesn't get worse! Praise God for that!! So if you see me out or invite me over and you don't see me eating much, it's because I am having to eat way more small meals a day so that I can avoid medicine or at least only take it once a day. PLEASE whatever you do, don't make a big deal out my lack of eating. I promise I'm eating healthier!! If you're struggling with some sort of sickness, my hope for you is that you too find HOPE. Hope changes everything. Your struggle may be different, but I promise you're not alone. Just don't give up! 
 




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"To be, or not to be, that is the question—"

My question is more like "WHAT to be, or not to be."

I can pretty quickly tell you what I do not want to be, but WHAT to be is a much tougher question. I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I remember being about seven years old and knowing that being a stay at home mom was exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. That feeling never left. Before Lewis, all I did was work with kids. I mean my major in college was Child and Family studies for crying out loud!! It's a passion of mine. I loved teaching and working with teens, but I never realized how much of my identity was wrapped up in that. So once the glorious day came that I was able to stay home, as thrilled as I was, I was very unprepared for hole that no longer teaching those teens left.

It's been a little over a year since I quit my full time teaching job and I am "chomping at the bit," as my dad would say, to DO something. Yes, raising Lewis to be a decent tiny human is something, but I want our lives to be richer. I want to show him how to serve others. I want to show him how to be friends and love those who don't have as much as we do. I want to show him how Jesus is relevant to every.single.human on this Earth. I want to show him that we ALL need a rescue. ALL of us. I want to show him how to have compassion for those the rest of the world is forgetting or have already forgotten. More than anything, I don't want to pass away having done nothing more than sit on my couch watching the rest of the world go about their business.

It's funny how the best insight comes from the most unexpected conversations. I was told recently that I have seemed unsettled this year. Of course I bucked that "nonsense" with such pride and arrogance. How could I be unsettled? I'm happy. I'm content. Then the Lord, in his wisdom, continued to show me areas of my life where I am, in fact, unsettled. Content is not always a good place to be, people! Now, that one comment has snowballed into a much deeper look at who God wants me to be and be with. He wants me to be with HIS people (we are all His people, even if you're mad at him or don't believe in him. Those things don't change his love for you, even if you can't see or feel it). In my searching for a purpose, I shouted out to my corner of the world, A.K.A. Facebook! I got so many amazing suggestions that I'm most definitely looking into. A friend suggested a nursing home. Listen, the elderly intimidate me. I was rarely around the elderly growing up and my few experiences were with my grandfather in a nursing home where a naked man walked around and sat on the end of everyone's bed. My aunt had to pick up my grandpa's cane and shew him off. It was like a movie! As I thought about how I couldn't go into a nursing home because of my fear, I presented my hesitation (insert lame excuse here) to my friend Megan. Without missing a beat, she said this to me:

It's the things that make us ache, cringe, cry, and fear that God really wants us to do....humble ourselves til there's nothing left to humble, sister!


 And just like that, my mind is made up.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hey There....Again!

Happy New Year to you!! I have always been a sucker for a new year, changing seasons, and newness in general. It's like a rebirth or an awakening. I love getting to have a somewhat tangible way to refocus. Whether it's ringing in the New Year with renewed hope or feeling the freshness that a weather change brings (confession: I'm missing Spring and Summer TERRIBLY), I just love the feeling of restoration that comes with it. There is nothing more satisfying to me than waking up when the leaves start changing back into green and Spring is finally revisiting (Can you tell I'm dreaming?!).

HOPE. It all brings HOPE.

So, with this New Year and it's HOPE, I'm working on one thing: myself. This is the year for me to really focus on who I am to be. Most importantly, who God wants me to be. I have desires to get healthy in all areas of life: Spiritually, Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically. I'm going to work on saying "No" more often and not selling out just because of peer pressure (how old am I again?! ha!). I know I'm still going to drop the ball, but I truly want to work on ME! So get ready!

I really want to know what goals, dreams, and HOPES YOU have, so let me know!! Here's to a new year! CHEERS!!

Christina

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Eat More Chicken
I went to a nutritionist a few weeks ago and I had HIGH hopes. It was a severe let down. Wah wah. BUT, I did get some good tips. I've known for a while that I needed to cut back on carbs, so it was good to be reminded of that. I've also wondered how much protein to eat and although she didn't give an exact amount, she did tell me to eat more! I'm good with that! I've never been a big meat eater, hence the carb addiction, but I am looking forward to eating more chicken (Chick-fil-A would be proud. Their marketing is working!). I am now on a quest to learn more about clean eating. I've seen a lot of things saying to "eat clean" so I'm going to look into what that's all about. In fact, I signed up for the clean eating menu on www.emeals.com If you don't use emeals, I would encourage you to look into it!

Here's the link

This Wednesday evening I am co-leading a small group on a book called Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. I am really looking forward to it because I am losing momentum. I need to commit to tangible others. I need the accountability in a mighty way! With that being said, as stupid as this sounds, I am a little afraid of actually losing weight because what happens if I gain it ALL back? I mean 5 pounds over a period of 5 years will put me on the track back to where I was (WAS nonetheless). I think I have settled where I am because, honestly, I haven't been smaller than I am right now since, oh MIDDLE SCHOOL. You read that right. Gasp. When I told the nutritionist that, she literally gasped. On a side note, someone should teach her to have a little more tact :)

So, here I am. Tossing about in this sea of conflict. I'm nervous of succeeding, but terrified of staying where I am. It's a crazy phenomenon. One that probably only makes sense to me. Eh! So be it!

Tomorrow is Monday and I'm ready to count those calories and exercise. Here's to another pound down this week! Be blessed and be a blessing!

Christina

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Falling off the wagon....

Falling off the wagon....

    I knew this day would come. I just didn't realize it would be a week....then three. I haven't been logging my food, nor have I been exercising the way I should. I've fallen off the wagon. Up to now, I've lost a total of 12 pounds and man, that feels amazing!! It's nice to say that I have less than 50 pounds to lose, BUT I have to pick myself up and get back on the road to eating healthy. In all honesty, it's not hard at all to eat healthy. I'm just really good at making excuses instead of making a way. I cook a lot, but I get lazy. When we go out to eat, I justify not eating well because it tends to be more expensive. The truth of the matter is that I have to weigh the cost. We all know that paying a few extra bucks for some salad saves much more money and heart ache in the long run. Ugh. As much as I justify it, eating better is the best way to live life. I have way more energy and self esteem. I feel healthier, happier and more confident.

  So here's to tomorrow (bc I don't need to eat anything tonight!) and getting back on track. So long eating crappy and helllllllo to eating better. One.day.at.a.time.



Thursday, June 6, 2013

D is for Devil, Diabetes, and Diet....

"The Devil made me do it." If the Devil's name is really habit, then yes, the Devil made me do it. I officially started my weight loss journey on June 1. What a day! It was the my son's first birthday party. What was I thinking? Hot dogs, chili, my mom's amazing potato salad and cake. CAKE. But ya know what? I am COMMITTED to this. It is not just a wish, but a commitment. So thus began my journey.....

This past six days have shown me a lot. Mostly how much of a habit (a.k.a. the devil) I have of going to the fridge and opening it. I open it. Look inside. And I am learning to walk away. What the heck?! I had NO idea how much of a grip, both literally and figuratively, that I have on that fridge and it has on me. Maybe I should name it. The Devil is a start.....

Diabetes. I've had type 1 diabetes since I was seven. That's 23 years.  I have been on an insulin pump for 20 of those years. That's a LONG time. Since starting this incredible adventure, my blood sugar has been lower than ever. In fact, I had to go to the diabetes doctor today so that she could LOWER my insulin intake. Apart from when I first started nursing Lewis, this hasn't been done in...drum roll please....20 years. TWENTY YEARS! Shut the front door!! Here's why that's so significant. Type 1 diabetics are often over weight and told that it is so difficult to lose weight because we have to control our own insulin. BUT, the less insulin a diabetic takes, guess what? The easier it is to lose weight. So here's to cutting back on insulin! I can't even tell you what this did for me today. If you've been in my life for long, you know the ins and outs of my diabetes. Honestly, only my absolute closest friends and family know every detail of my diabetes. I will share most of that with anyone, but only those close to me have been through it with me. I've never really seen my diabetes as something that holds me back or makes me sad or anything like that. It is what it is and it's been such a part of my life for so long I honestly wouldn't know how to function without it. But today was huge for me. And I couldn't be more proud!

Diet. Funny how it has the word "die" in it. Right there in the front. DIEt. I swear "they" added the T just to make people feel better. Ha! This for me is not a diet. It is a new lifestyle. One I am pretty sure I will struggle with for the rest of my life. One of the most important things I have learned thus far is how many people have encouraged me and the amount of support I have is incredible. Words cannot even begin to tell you how blessed and uplifted I am to have people like you in my life. I know that it is going to be tough, but God is faithful and God has placed faithful, encouraging people in my life to push me, love me, and kick my butt when I need it. For that, I am most thankful.

The "D" word I need to set apart is Deny. I was reading Not a Fan by Kiel Idleman (which I highly recommend). In one of the chapters he focuses on the verse " Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If any of you want to be my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." --Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23 and Mark 8:34. For all of my church experience, the part of that verse that has been taught was the "Take up your cross and follow me." Yes, that is a critical part, but this time was different for me. DENY MYSELF. Deny.myself. Really? Yes! For me, when I open that fridge and stare blankly at it contents, I need to stop and remember to deny myself. Before mindlessly grabbing something to eat, I must first stop, think and deny myself. This verse has done wonders for my heart and mind.

So, here I am nearly one week into this new life and yes it is hard, but I know I can do this. I have to. I am committed. Peace be with you. Now keep being awesome!

Christina

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Well, here it is May 8, 2013 and I'm only a few weeks away from one of the biggest changes in my entire life. You'd think graduating college, getting married and having a baby would be IT in terms of biggest change. You're right. But this change is even bigger. It's changing the greatest spiritual struggle I've carried with me most of my life. I picked it up in high school, dropped it in college, picked it back up when I got married, dropped it when I was pregnant and now I'm refusing to pick it back up. What has such a lasting grip? Weight. Yes, weight. It's amazing how much of a hold it's had on my life. I would say I am a pretty confident person. Until I had Lewis. SO many things changed when I had him. I feel like I began to unravel in some areas while other areas have been made stronger than ever. The only area where I feel I experienced both unraveling and strength with a dose of clarity is my weight. For the first time in my life I have the right perspective. I am doing this for the right reasons. I want to see Lewis and all of our children grow up. I want to be there for all the most important things. I want to celebrate great moments and sad moments and everything in between without food being the main focus. Above all-- ALL things-- I want to honor God with my choices. I don't want to be a slave to food. It sounds ridiculous to even admit, but that's the first step right?! So, this blog is dedicated to my journey. From my old self to my new self.

My overall goal is to lose one pound per week for the next year. SO doable!! I'm giving myself a year to change...to become healthier...to lead by example...to change my mindset...to be the best self I can be! I am super excited and I'm making a plan now so that when I wake up on June 1 I will be ready! I read these keys to staying motivated and I was pretty stoked to know that I am on the right track!

This is where you come in. I am going to need accountability. Accountability is NOT saying "are you supposed to be eating that?" (having diabetes for over 20 years, I've heard that enough). The accountability I need is having cheer leaders, prayer partners and people to talk to me about it! I know this is going to be hard, so my need for support is going to be great! Please be part of that! If you see a blog or something on Pinterest that you may think will help or encourage, send it my way. Thank you in advance for your love and support. Oh and I also want to say I'm sorry in advance in case the hunger monster makes me angry!! haha Here's to the beginning of something GREAT!

Christina


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