Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 7: One Day at a Time

After week six brought on a nasty upper respiratory virus, I hoped week seven would be better.  Unfortunately, it was not much so.  Though the fever, body aches and extreme fatigue let up, the fluid in my head has remained.  I can literally feel fluid in my ears, I'm blowing my nose all day and there is constant drainage in my throat.  It's about to drive me insane.  My ears feel like they have cotton balls in them and I can't hear well.  I'm sure my volume is even louder than usual as well. 

On top of the fluid, I was hit pretty heavy with an all over nausea/vertigo/gross feeling.  I'm still not certain if it's pregnancy-induced or fluid-induced.  Any time I have fluid in my ears, it gives me problems with my vertigo.  So.... I'll be curious to see if it goes away after this has cleared up or if it's here to stay for a few months.

Regardless of the cause, it's been tough.  I'm usually a very active, "do-er," and I currently have about zero motivation to "do" anything.  The smells of food are grossing me out.  Nothing sounds yummy even though I'm hungry almost around the clock.  The vertigo/nausea keeps me more tired than usual and it's hard tp get motivated to clean, school, or just about anything.  That's SO unlike my personality, I don't even know how to process it.  I did manage to shampoo the carpets this weekend while my husband took the kids outside for an hour in the beautiful weather.  We've been housebreaking our puppy since December and they needed a good deep cleaning.

People ask me how I "do it" quite often.  My constant refrain is "by God's grace, one day at a time."  So for now, that's it... one day at a time. ;)

Until next time...
Take care,

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Week 6: Sick, but not that kind of sick.

Last week I wrote about starting to feel very nauseous and reported my vertigo had set in again.  Well, that only ended up be slightly accurate.  While I thought it was pregnancy induced, it only lasted two days.  So instead, I'm thinking that it may have actually been food-induced.  That's good news in many regards.  Fortunately, the vertigo and extreme nausea quickly dissipated.  I do still wake up pretty nauseous each morning.  However, if I'm quick to eat a good protein-filled breakfast (usually scrambled eggs with some fruit), I quickly overcome that hurdle.  That's been a tremendous blessing.  With all that said, now I'm really hoping that my usual extreme 6-14 weeks of nausea/vertigo may be lessened with our semi-recent diet changes.  Only time will tell.

On the downside, week six brought a terrible virus.  Benjamin and I were hit with it first.  Then Sophia and seemingly Daniel.  For some reason, it hit me the hardest.  Though the kids still have runny noses and slight coughs, they seem to have bounced back relatively quickly.  I, on the other hand, have been totally wiped out, continued drainage, cough, fever for three days, and just an overall feeling of "blah."  As I write this, I'm on day four of the virus and it has not been pretty.  I'm thankful for a husband who was willing to step up, take a day off of work and tirelessly take care of me and the kids for the entire time.  It put a big damper on the weekend plans (including Sophia's 3rd birthday) but we have been blessed by friends and cared for by the Lord in many ways.

Otherwise, nothing new or exciting to report about the pregnancy.  Things seem to be going well, as best as I know.  We're tossing around baby names, as I always try to have a boy name and a girl name by the time we learn the sex of the baby.  Everyone in the house says they think it's going to be a girl.  Hannah thinks so because we have girl, boy, girl, boy so far - naturally it must be a girl.  I'm not really convinced either way and honestly have zero preference.  I already have two of each.  I can't say I'm hard set either direction.  I've only guessed the right answer 1 of 4 times anyway so clearly I'm not great at "instincts."  Looking forward to finding out though.  It's always a fun time!

That's it for now!

Until next time...
Take care,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week 5: Vertigo/Nausea/Sleepiness Begins

For those who aren't used to reading my pregnancy blogs, I write them about the week that has just finished.  So, the best I can guesstimate, week five ended last Thursday.  So it's time for another round of pregnancy blogs!  The great thing about blogging my pregnancies is that I actually take the time to record life in writing.  I only blogged FOUR times in 2013!  That's just not acceptable. ;)

Here are some thoughts for my newbie readers.  If you pay any attention to the labels to my posts, you'll notice this series will have "Pregnancy #7."  Yes, I currently have four kids and yes I can do math.  We've lost two pregnancies in which I blogged about here and here.  So there you have it.

I tend to write about the good, the bad and the monotonous areas of pregnancy.  I realize how extremely blessed we are in the first place to even have been blessed so many times and in so many ways.  I try very hard to never take for granted every moment with each precious life we've been gifted.  I have good friends who have struggled painful years through primary infertility, heartbreaking losses,  struggles at birth or secondary infertility.  I have friends who've fought through the process of adoption, some of whom have been blessed with children to call their own, some of whom still fight the fight.  We fully believe that "children are a blessing" and gratefully accept the responsibility we've been given.

With all that said, I try to be real with my posts.  I'm not going to hide or ignore the "hard things" in a way that creates the illusion of my being a perfect person, Christian, mom, friend or so forth that has no struggles.  Pregnancy is hard for me.  It's no walk in the park for sure.  All you have to do is read my archives for proof of that.  I pray my "real-ness" or authenticity is appreciated for that and not viewed as ungratefulness or discontent.  Does that make sense?  And as hard as it can be, I'm still so grateful time after time.

Now on for the update itself. ;)  A little over a month ago, we started making some pretty big dietary changes and I've been feeling really good over all.  I've had great amounts of energy and it's been exciting.  However, most of this past week I noticed I really struggled with fatigue.  I'm getting about eight hours of sleep a night so I think I'm okay there.  I've taken a few afternoon naps when I've had the chance (which isn't often).  The very last day of week five, I woke up struggling with crazy vertigo and some nausea.  That clued me off that my dating must be pretty accurate as I always get hit with nausea and vertigo at week six of my pregnancies. 

There it is... some updates and some thoughts in general.  I hope you enjoy another series of pregnancy posts!

Until next time...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What I'm Learning about Headaches and Vertigo: Part 3

(If you've missed my other posts on this topic, please start HERE).

After the excitement of weeks with no headaches or vertigo, I then started reintroducing the foods that had been restricted during that time. The first one I chose to add back was for convenience: onions. Onions are in SO many things that I found it one of the most challenging to omit. However, I quickly learned that I do not respond negatively to them, which was very exciting! The first food I did react to negatively was very obvious and sad: avocados. For three days, I ate avocados round the clock. I love them so it was pretty easy to accomplish. What accompanied my trial was three days of headaches, vertigo and a light-headedness. Wow. That was crazy.

I'm still in the process of reintroducing foods to my diet. Unfortunately, I've learned some of my favorites foods/treats in the world are now off limits. Unless I want to deal with a headache/vertigo, I've learned so far that coffee (any kind), wine, avocados, and quite likely bananas, raspberries and blackberries are off limits. While it's extremely sad and I REALLY love my coffee and these other foods, I really DON'T love headaches, neck pain and feeling like I'm spinning around in circles all day. I've been able to add back many other delicious foods like chocolate, cheeses, nuts and nitrate-free bacon. All, in all, it's been so worth it already.

Headaches, vertigo, constant pain and other chronic physical conditions can be truly life altering. Finding relief from something as “simple” as dietary changes has been such an awakening and joyous journey! After realizing just how much the foods I eat have affected my health in this one particular area, it caused me to ask the question, “what else are the foods I'm eating doing to my body?” It has sent me headlong into a process of learning more about health and wellness, particularly in the area of diet. I'm so excited about what I'm learning and the dietary changes we've begun to instill have already been encouraging. But that journey is a newer one so I'll come back and write about that one when I have more under my belt.

To all those that have hung in and read this far, thank you. Thank you for loving me well and praying for me over the years of my difficulties. Thank you for not thinking I was going crazy or that it was all in my head (which I guess it was literally, haha). Thank you for serving me with your time, childcare and talents. I love you all! Most importantly, I'm thankful the good Lord saw fit to give me an answer to my years of struggle. He didn't have to. He could've let me continue to learn and grow in my trust in Him through my weakness. And maybe that's why He allowed it for nearly five years in the first place. I may never know. Now that I'm pregnant again, I've hit a hormonal place where the vertigo/nausea has reappeared in a way I can't fully control. However, I'm hoping that with the new knowledge I have, I can keep it as minimal as possible by reducing my other non-hormonal triggers.

If you know anyone that struggles in the area of headaches, neck pain, sinus problems, vertigo or other “shoulder-up” pains, please pass along this series of posts. It could truly lead them down a path to life change. Looking back to my friend who first asked if there was any connection between my vertigo and migraines, she was a prophet of sorts, and didn't even realize it at the time.

*Disclaimer: I get zero benefit for the advertisement of this book. I simply write about it because the information within has truly changed my life and I want to pass that along to others.  If you want to hear what others have to say, simply read the reviews on Amazon and I think you'll see I'm not the only one who's been changed.

**I've added a fourth part to this series after learning a bit more and applying it to my life.  Check it out here.
Take care,

Friday, February 7, 2014

What I'm Learning about Headaches and Vertigo: Part 2

(See Yesterday's Post for the beginning of this series)

I'm glad you're still interested in reading more. This had made such an impact on my life that I'm more than thrilled to share what has helped me and explain my journey.

The description for David Buchholz' book, “Heal Your Headache”, reads as follows:

Based on the breakthrough understanding that virtually all headaches are forms of migraine--because migraine is not a specific type of headache, but the built-in mechanism that causes headaches of all kinds, along with neck stiffness, sinus congestion, dizziness, and other problems--Dr. Buchholz's Heal Your Headache puts headache sufferers back in control of their lives with a simple, transforming program.

Honestly, the book cover wasn't appealing to me. The description of the 1-2-3 Program did not grab my attention either. But the content I read would change me from the inside out. I cried through half of what I read as it completely described my life! The headaches, vertigo, neck pain, occasional sinus issues, scent sensitivity, and more. And though the term migraine is spoken of often, one could be having symptoms (such as vertigo or sinus troubles) without ever experiencing the pain of the headache! He explains his theory on how everyone has a certain migraine threshold. We all have triggers that can leave us below or push us over that threshold (think barometric pressure, strong scents, stress, hormones, food, etc). Some people only rarely get headaches because either their threshold is really high or their triggers are comparatively low. The rest of us have low thresholds, a high quantity of triggers or both.

His first step involves removing medications that cause rebound headaches and other issues. Fortunately, I did not take many of these medications from the start of this process. My best friend (maybe not to my stomach) has always been ibuprofen. The third step involves specific types of medications to consider if the second step hasn't fully relieved you of the issues. The second step is where everything changed. He begins to explain common food triggers. I've seen these lists before but have never been able to confidently identify any triggers. He explains the reason most people can't identify these triggers is because they are never isolated. For example, one day, I have coffee at breakfast and carry on throughout my day with no issues. The next morning, after a night of little sleep and a change in weather patterns, I have coffee and have a headache within 30 minutes. I could assume that coffee is not a trigger because it didn't give me a headache yesterday. But I would be relying on faulty information. The coffee didn't give me a headache yesterday because my triggers were much lower and I never crossed the migraine threshold. Today, combined with the little sleep and a barometric pressure change, my triggers were higher and they landed me a headache.

This step has already transformed my life! He provides a rather extensive list of foods/drinks that must be avoided in the beginning of this process. He suggests cutting them as completely as possible for four months (I only did one month for various reasons). After that time, you may add one food back at a time, eating a great deal of it during a 3 days period and waiting to see if you have any symptoms reappear after it's reintroduction. This was extremely hard at first as the list was very, very difficult for me to adjust to. Eventually, I began to learn more of what I could and couldn't have and lived it out. I went WEEKS without a single headache or any vertigo issues! You have to understand that I normally have at least 5 or 6 headaches per week. This was definite progress!

But what happened next.......?

Come back tomorrow for my final post on this topic.

Until then...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What I'm Learning about Headaches and Vertigo: Part 1

If you've known me for long, you know that I've struggled with various health issues for years. I seem to be one big mess of all the random issues no one else seems to get. At least that's how I've always felt. Nearly five years ago, I began struggling with severe spells of dizziness, nausea, fatigue, bad headaches, and more. My second child was a newborn when they started creeping up on me and when he was about eight or nine months old, they hit me full swing. My life was totally altered as I fought day by day against these struggles. Remember when you were a small kid and you would spin around in circles just to lose your balance? Then you'd fall over laughing and giggling as your world spun around you? Imagine that as a mom of two, day in and day out with little to no relief. I was trying to live life, care for my growing family and figuring out why I felt so terrible every day. I went to about a dozen doctors and specialists, had MRIs, CAT scans, specialized ear exams, bloodwork, neurological assessments and more. Most every visit ended with a guess (MS, anxiety, brain cancer, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and the list went on and on). The few that didn't make a guess simply said they did not know what was wrong (at least they were honest!).

In January of 2010, I was finally diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Though I received a diagnosis, they could not explain what caused it in the first place. I began treatment with positional techniques in office and at home. Sometimes, they seemed to work, other times they didn't. I've continued to battle with the onset of this vertigo off and on over the years. It's been worse during certain times of pregnancy or shortly after childbirth. Keep in mind I've had seven pregnancies (with two losses) in seven years, so I'm often either pregnant or nursing.

Fast forward to October 2013. A friend made a passing comment and asked me if I'd ever noticed a connection between my vertigo and migraines/hormones. I told her “not really” and didn't think much more about it at that moment. However, when I got home that evening, I started thinking about it in relation to my pregnancies and that made me start to wonder. I began doing more research on the topic and was floored with some of the new information I was reading. I struggled with classic migraines back in college but now I only get one or two per year. Yet, I've struggled with headaches and neck pain since puberty and just accepted them as a fact of my life. I've spent years in both chiropractic and physical therapy and sadly, neither provided me lasting comfort.

Fast forward another week or two. I was strolling around the recipe book section of our local Half-Price Bookstore. I glanced up at a book titled “Heal Your Headache.” I thought, “that sounds interesting” and picked it up a tad curious. I opened the book and did a careless flip through the pages. My fingers stopped (by God's amazing grace) on a page that said, “Is it BPPV or is it migraine?” I almost had to pick my jaw up off of the floor. I immediately purchased the book and devoured it in two and a half days. What I read, would change my life...
Until then...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

I finally picked up "Say Goodbye to Survival Mode" by Crystal Paine.  Her website, Money Saving Mom has been one of my favorite blogs to follow for years. 
Looking forward to another great book by her!