Sunday, August 31, 2008

Trying to Hold on to Summer-- and cope with what lies ahead

Portland does a really nice job of making the most of summer, and bringing everyone out to do the same. There are so many free events and fun family programs planned in all of the different neighborhoods. We missed out on a lot of it during the beginning of the season-- we didn't need any help enjoying the warm weather and sunshine, I guess! But we have realized it's almost over, and in the last week we have attended: a performance by the Portland Philharmonic Orchestra at a park near us, an "open to the public" rehearsal of the the Oregon Ballet Theatre in the park blocks downtown, a Cuban band performance, and a sing-a-long screening of The Sound of Music in a couple of other parks. Thank you, Portland!

The weather is changing. Last week after a few days of rain (it was a welcome relief from some 100' weather) I went outside and it hit me that it was turning into fall. The air was different, the light was gorgeous. I usually feel euphoric when this happens in Southern California, and it was exciting last year, too. But my heart sank. It seems like we just barely got the sunshine and good outdoor weather, and I don't think I've had enough to make it through another loooong season of rain and cold and dreariness. They SAY that last year was unusually cold and rainy and the winter was much longer than usual. All I know is that it was my first year here, and it was HARD. I keep reminding myself that we have some good things going for us to make this year very different from last year.

First of all, we took the plunge this week and got a second car. We bought an old pickup truck for a surprisingly small sum of money. This will make a world of difference for us, especially since Jeff needs the car for work four days a week. Once I got out of "I think I can handle this" mode, I realized that there was no way that the one car would really work for our family anymore, and it was unnecessary torture. Especially for a toddler who literally wakes up from her sleep in the morning or after a nap wailing "GO!?"

Secondly, I have a few friends. With kids. Who also get bored. Then there's the OMSI pass, plus enough birthday money for me to sign Amelia up for a couple of community center classes. There is also the winter garden we've planted. I think we'll have a better time finding something to do!

And lastly, I got my massage license in the mail on Friday. Whew! I am looking at a couple of different spaces today and tomorrow, and feeling hopeful about having that outlet and reducing our financial stress a bit.

So, maybe it is 45 degrees right now at 6:30 in the morning. At least our furnace works this time around!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jonah Song-- You didn't know there was one, did you?

Amelia loves music and singing, and expects me a to have a song ready to sing her for any given topic. Jeff was telling her that we needed to get her a kid Bible, and mentioned some names of Bible stories to her. She kept asking me for a song about Jonah and the whale, so I came up with something on the spot that has turned out to be a favorite. Although I'm not really into cautionary tales.

Her other favorite song is the one in Mary Poppins where Jane and Michael come up with an ad for a nanny-- she can sing several complete lines from that. You'll have to ask her for that one yourself.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Toddler Self- Talk

We've recently come across our biggest two year old behavior issue we've had yet. While she's monkeying around (there really couldn't be a more appropriate expression!) in bed when it's time for her nap, she's been taking her diaper off and peeing in bed. (!!) I was so perplexed about what to do, but we've been giving her feedback based on her choices, particularly praising her for leaving it on. Yesterday during naptime this is what I heard coming from her room:

"Diaper off? No. NOOO. Not OK.
Diaper on? Yeah! Mhmmm. Yep. Good job!

She went back and forth on this a couple more times, so I thought maybe I should go see what her status was. She'd taken the rest of her clothes off, but the diaper was ON! Good job working through the issue, kiddo!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Well, how about some good news?

At long last I got my congratulatory passing notification from the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists. I actually got a rather high score, so that was extra gratifying. My licensing application will be in the mail today, so I think I'll be holding a license by the end of the month. Yahoo! Next step? Finding a space to practice in, and passing out my card like crazy. And shelling out a lot of money before I can make any for the license, malpractice insurance, and space rental. But no need to rain on my own parade, this is great news!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's Official: I'm Unwell.

For quite some time now, I've been feeling bad. I've had some good weeks where I had more energy and fewer headaches, some relief from a small host of complaints and seemed to be able to handle the stresses of life just fine. But those weeks have not been the norm. I found a good naturopathic doctor who took my complaints seriously and has been very aggressive about figuring out what's wrong, and trying to help me get better. I had some extensive blood work done, and that came out relatively normal, with just some B vitamin deficiency and a little anemia. I was feeling better, but took a plunge after I started exercising again (because I was feeling better!) She suggested an adrenal test, so I did that a couple of weeks ago. I totally flunked. It's complicated to explain exactly what it going on, but I am in the throes of adrenal exhaustion.

If you do a little reading about it, adrenal fatigue is pretty common, and many people have elevated levels of cortisol in their system. Cortisol is sometimes seen negatively because it is associated with stress, but it is really essential. After a long period of elevated cortisol levels, the body simply can't keep up its supply and runs out. My cortisol levels are very low. Apart from not having much, the building block for making more (pregnenolone) is the same thing that is needed for many other important hormones, like DHEA and progesterone. My DHEA levels are seriously low, and though this test didn't measure progesterone, it's kind of a no-brainer that this important sex hormone will be very depleted.

The other part of my problems have been related to my reproductive system, and I don't have a definitive diagnosis yet, but let's just say something's wrong there too. Not only have I had some clear signs of hormonal imbalance, but we have been trying to conceive for about a year now, with no luck. Add to the equation a very unhappy digestive tract that just immediately gets rid of everything I try to nourish my body with, and I am left feeling very, very BAD.

So, what to do? Well, the treatment, in order of importance is: to erradicate sources of stress, SLEEP, REST, nutritional support, avoiding stimulation and having a daily routine. In addition, the test showed an intolerance to gluten, so I am taking that out of our family's already rather complicated and limited diet. Sleep, rest, and some of the other recommendations are rather tricky for me, especially with a toddler who's sleep is very unreliable. But we're all trying our best to make it happen.

I asked my ND how, in her opinion, I got here. I already knew, though. My pregnancy with Amelia was really difficult, stressful and draining. I'm type 1 diabetic, and although I was able to manage my condition through pregnancy, it was an enormous source of stress and was very hard on my body. As many of you know, we had so many struggles as new parents. Amelia cried constantly and slept very, very little. I ate my meals while bouncing her on an exercise ball for months, exercised too much in order to lose the huge amount of pregnancy weight I'd gained, then ran out of breastmilk and had to make it from scratch every day, hardly ever slept, never rested. The sleeping problems went on for a full 18 months, in a addition to a number of other little issues we have sought help for. We had little to no help or support her entire first year, and then we moved out of state, bought our first home and have been trying to settle in here for a year now. Her sleep improved significantly around 18 months, but we still have some bad weeks, and I have some of my own issues with insomnia.

I know many may be wondering at this point about why, exactly, we've been trying to get pregnant! In short, I want to have my kids and move on to enjoy them. Our family is not complete with only one child, and although I have felt at times like it would kill me, I want to have another baby (or two) and feel like I want to have a "do over" with my pregnancy and birth experiences. I don't want that to be all I ever experienced in that department. When my doctor gently told me that I should really reconsider having another pregnancy since she didn't think my body could actually handle it, I knew she was right-- as much as I haven't wanted to acknowledge it. I feel sad. But I also feel some relief from the pressure to take on something I don't believe I should right now. So, we're talking about adoption and looking into other possibilities. But not much, since I'm supposed to avoid stressful situations!

The trickiest thing about this whole situation is that I don't seem sick to most people. I have this ridiculous personality that fools everyone. If I feel terrible, I put on nicer clothes, a little more makeup, and go do something productive or fun to take my mind off of it. I clean when I'm overwhelmed. Only people who know me well realize that something is really wrong when I say I don't feel that great, since I don't go on and on about how awful I feel, and I'm probably still smiling when I say it. No one likes to be around a moaner, right? Also, I am terrible at acting sick, even when I should (lying around, being unproductive.) The other aspect of my personality is similar-- I rarely believe that I can't handle what is thrown my way. This has changed in the last couple of years, but it has been a difficult learning process. During my worst times of exhaustion and despair with Amelia, I thought that I was telling people that I couldn't handle what was coming my way, and that I needed help. Either I wasn't very convincing, I looked like I really had it all under control, or I couldn't tell that anyone actually wanted to help. I have continued coping with anything that has come my way, but it has all come at a price, and I have used up all of my body's resources.

I am particularly discouraged about my health crisis because, quite frankly, I don't know anyone who works as hard as I do to take care of their body! My family's diet is excellent, I have always loved to exercise (although I have to stop now for a while-- extra bummer,) and I just plain CARE so much about my health. They say it takes six months to two years to heal in this type of situation. We're trying to figure out all of our options for allowing more space for me to heal so I can actually feel good and have energy on a daily basis-- that sounds pretty amazing, but I'm not quite sure yet how it will all play out. On a positive note, I am incredibly thankful to at least KNOW what the official problem is, so we can start addressing it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hi everyone, thanks for all the well wishes, prayers and good vibes. It went better today than last time. They changed the exam, and some of the instructions were incredibly vague-- hopefully I did what they wanted me to, but time will tell. I think I'll know within two weeks. In the meantime, I am all done studying and get to spend some time with Jeff and Amelia-- reward enough for now!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Big Day Tomorrow.

So, I am taking the massage boards again. Tomorrow at 1:15, I'll give it another go. I'd like to say that I have been very even keeled about the whole affair, just studying regularly and not stressing out about it. But the truth is that I've been been going for broke with preparation, cashing in all babysitting favors and using every spare hour to hit the books. I have been ridiculously anxious about the exam, mostly because so much of my and my family's future hinges on whether or not I can practice massage in Oregon. I really need to be able to work. There is the very important (maybe dire?) financial aspect, but beyond that, it is for me personally. I love being a massage therapist, and I love being able to do that type of work. I am really looking forward to starting my own practice, having the opportunity to meet and work with people and switch gears from being at home all week.

Anyway, I have been so high-strung and stressed out. I can't wait for it to be over. Jeff went on a backpack with his dad last weekend, and his mom took Amelia for a couple of days so I could study. It was just the ticket, I was able to be alone and purposefully relax between study sessions. She also took me shopping and bought me a great pair of shoes, so that really helped too!
I call them my "lady shoes." They somehow miraculously make me feel a little more composed. Composure is something I seem to be a little short on lately...

Anyway, think of me tomorrow! Hopefully I will have some very good news soon!