Was It Worth It?

Having completed my week at Mayo Clinic, the question has now changed from “What do you hope to gain?” to “Was it worth it?”

Ben and I talked about that for a while yesterday, and I’m not exactly sure how to answer.

From a non-medical perspective, our family had a great time.

The girls LOVED:

1) Swimming every day

2) The most amazing bookstore ever, right close to where we stayed (and they visited it a few times a day)

3) Apartment-living for a week

4) Exploring Rochester (Anika thinks it needs to become a regular vacation destination for our family!)

5) Seeing LOTS of Daddy

From my experience of the medical side of things, this is where I’m at:

I’m still waiting for a few more minor test results to come back, but other than that, nothing dramatic was really determined. I saw 5 different specialists, and went through countless tests, but nothing abnormal showed up. I was told that while they believe any pain or discomfort I feel is real, my body looks completely normal and healthy. For whatever reason, I cannot eat gluten or any of the other things that I have shown to be intolerant to. My body may have trouble digesting things, but the doctors feel that this is just the way my body does it.

At first, that made me feel incredibly frustrated, but Ben’s words of wisdom helped me to deal with it. He told me that it’s kind of like the fact that he has bad knees. It’s just the way that it is, there is nothing he can do to change it, but he can strengthen certain muscles to compensate for the fact that he has bad knees. I have a bad stomach. I can’t change it, but there are things I can do to compensate for the fact that it doesn’t work the way that it should.

The doctors at Mayo explained to me at the beginning of the week that they would do everything they could to help me from a conventional point of view, but as I have found many times in the past, it is the unconventional stuff that has helped me the most.

So now, I am happily going home to my unconventional naturopath doctor, who puts a lot of time and effort into caring for my needs, and I am so thankful to have found her. She has helped to bring me to a point where I feel good, but I’m just kind of high maintenance. A nice, conventional solution would have been convenient, but when that doesn’t work, there are other ways to get things done.

It’s not the way I would have chosen for this last week to go, if I could live in a dream world, but it will work.

Was it worth it?

1) I know that I am “conventionally” healthy, from top to bottom, and there is no serious problem lurking undiscovered anywhere in my body.

2) I know that I have now done everything conventionally possible to address my health issues.

3) I have faced every fear, label, and method of denial that I have used in the past, in regards to my health. It feels good!

4) If the doctors had found something wrong with me, I would have said absolutely, it was worth it. And there was no way of knowing the outcome beforehand.

So I think I’ll say that it was worth it. And now we go home. Here’s hoping the trip home goes as well as the trip out here!

If I Were the Paralyzed Man…

We’re still on the health topic here, but tomorrow I’ve got a whole bunch of pictures to share of our non-medical adventures in Rochester! In the meantime, here’s my latest thoughts…

The other day I was reading that story in the Bible about the men who brought their lame friend to Jesus, but couldn’t get to Him because of the crowd of people surrounding Him. So they climbed up on the roof, made a hole in it, and lowered their friend down, right to Jesus.

It’s funny how you can read a passage in the Bible so many times, and yet something can still hit you right where you need it.

Here’s what got me this time: The Bible says that when Jesus “saw their faith”, he said to the man, “‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.'”

His first reaction to a lame man was not to heal him, but to forgive his sins.

Right, because that’s obviously the reason why his friends went into all the effort of hauling him up on the roof, and making a hole, and then lowering him down to Jesus? Because he was so desperate to have his sins forgiven? I always thought it was because he was so desperate to be healed…

But Jesus was more concerned about the state of the man’s heart. The Pharisees who were there got all worked up about Jesus saying that the man’s sins were forgiven, so Jesus said, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven, or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” and then he says to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

First he looked at the man’s spiritual condition, and then He looked at the man’s physical condition.

I am usually the opposite. When I pray, the things that are foremost on my mind are things like sickness or hard things that I’m facing on a day-to-day basis.

Or have you ever been to a prayer meeting where everyone shares requests and they’re all for someone’s sick grandma, or a friend who’s looking for a job, or something else that’s only pressing in this life?

That’s the stuff that’s very present, in front of us, here and now.

And yet when you think about everything from an eternal perspective, Jesus looks at heart stuff first.

He still cares about everything else. I completely believe that He hears every single word that I say to Him, and He cares about it all. But seeing as this life is not the main point, I guess it would make sense that He first forgave the lame man’s sins, and healed him later.

So here’s what I know to be true: When my focus is on Jesus, physical difficulties do not seem nearly as important. I think of the words in this song:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

When I’m looking to Jesus, so much of what is busy in my mind ceases to matter. And the condition of my heart becomes a lot more important.

I wonder what it felt like to be that paralytic, lying on that mat in front of Jesus with his sins forgiven. Was he disappointed because that wasn’t what he’d had in mind? Was he disappointed to still be paralyzed, even with a clean heart? Or had everything grown strangely dim for him, too?

If I were in his place, would I be disappointed?

I would love to have the kind of body that would allow me to be carefree in the way that I approach life. But for what purpose? So that I can eat all the unhealthy food that I desire? So that I don’t need to take as much care of myself and be as conscious of the choices I make on a daily basis? So that I never experience any discomfort or inconvenience of any kind? So that I have a perfect body? So that I don’t need to fear sickness anymore? So that I will never die?

Umm… that sounds like heaven. I’m craving the life that I will live in heaven.

There are some people who appear to be living that kind of life right here, right now, on earth, but for how long? Everyone gets sick, everyone gets old. I don’t want to spend my time pursuing a dream that is not possible in this life. Making good choices and being a good steward of everything, my body, my time, my life, is a good thing.

But what I want to always remember is that my heart and soul matter the most.

And I’m thinking that I need to work on keeping my eyes turned to Jesus – there are some things in my life that need to grow dim!

What Do You Hope to Gain?

I’ve been asked that question by a number of different people in the weeks leading up to my trip to Mayo Clinic – “What do you hope to gain?”

And then again this morning at my first appointment, after hearing the run-down of my list of health concerns, the doctor asked me, “So what do you hope to gain here at Mayo?”

That is a hard question to answer. After 12 years of dealing with health issues, what do I hope to gain in one week?

I would love a miracle cure that would fix everything – that would give me back the body I had before I first got sick – the body that was a healthy weight, that was a lot stronger and healthier, the body of my college years that felt just fine even after staying up half the night, writing papers and eating an entire bag of Fudgee-o’s in one sitting.

But realistically, I know that’s not possible. And with all that I’ve learned about health, nutrition, and my body, I don’t really want to eat a whole bag of Fudgee-o’s in one sitting. Well…I do, but I don’t.

Anyway. No miracle cure. I’m okay with that.

But what do I hope to gain?

The funny thing is that I realized today that I could go home with no answers, and no changes, and live the exact same life that I had before, and that would be okay. I’ve learned to live with the body I have. Maybe I’ll never eat chocolate again, and maybe I will always have a “high-maintenance” body, but that would be okay. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it could be okay. I’ve learned that life goes on.

I hope to get some answers here, and I hope to go home with some new ideas of how to continue getting healthier and stronger.

But what I didn’t tell the doctor is that one of the things that I truly hoped to gain from coming here has already happened – I’m here.

It’s as though just by coming here, I’ve accomplished something: I’ve faced some fears, and I’ve accepted the journey that I’m on. I never realized just how much that was worth until today.

See, for years, my family has been encouraging me to come here – to take care of myself in this way, and get checked out from top to bottom by a team of doctors who could really help me.

But I always resisted. I had a whole list of reasons as to why I didn’t want to, but the real reason was that I was living in denial.

As silly as it might sound, I realize that I didn’t want to come here because that would be admitting that there is something significantly wrong with my body – wrong enough that I can’t deal with it like every other normal person around me. Only really sick people come to Mayo. If I would come here, it would mean, in my mind, that I was really sick.

As long as I didn’t come, I could pretend that I lived a fairly “normal” life. Whatever “normal” means.

For 12 years, I have wanted a normal life. I have hated my health problems, hated my weakness, and was angry with my body.

But in the last while, something has started to change in me. It’s hard to know exactly what.

I accept this body that I have. Instead of being angry with it, I want to take care of it. Somewhere along the way, as I’ve taken care of it, I’ve begun to accept it’s limitations.

I’ve been able to see the truth of my situation – things are not perfect, but they’re not that bad, either. I have so much to be thankful for. And when I focus on that, it is much easier to be positive, hopeful, and optimistic about the future.

I’ve begun to change in the way that I see myself – instead of seeing myself as weak and sickly, I’ve seen strength growing, and new healthy habits starting to make a difference.

Instead of seeing these last 12 years as “stolen time”, taking away from my quality of life, I’m seeing them as a time of growth and learning. The rest of my life will be better because of this experience.

I wouldn’t trade it or change it.

And that’s the first time that I’ve been able to say that.

I’m not bitter anymore. I know that I still have messed up thoughts and emotions buried down deep somewhere that I’ll have to deal with, but something’s changing.

I am on a journey, and I accept that. I can even enjoy it.

I’m here. I’ve already gained a lot.

Road Trip!

We’re here! Our first little road trip since Kaylia joined our family. We didn’t know how it would go, but it was a fun day, with only a few crazy moments! I guess it helps that the girls are seasoned travelers – they spend A LOT of time in the van on our trips to the city.

Here are some pictures from our day:

Stopping for lunch:

Almost there…

New drivers:

Our view of the clinic from our hotel:

My adventure awaits me…


Next week, our family is going away. We’re not going on vacation, exactly….We’re going to visit the Mayo Clinic in the States, and I’m going to spend the week seeing a bunch of specialists and going through tests, which I don’t anticipate as being very pleasant, but am still really looking forward to, in a weird kind of a way.

So I had this dilemma – do I get a bunch of blog posts ready that have nothing to do with what we’re actually doing, or do I just be honest, and write a post about health stuff? Obviously, I opted for the health post. For a few reasons: I’m don’t like to keep secrets, it would be kind of hard to disguise the fact that we’re gone for over a week, and I want my blog to be an honest reflection of my life, rather than a place where I can try to fool everybody into thinking that I have the perfect life.

Reasons why I didn’t want to write about it? I absolutely hate it when people think I’m “sickly”. I love it when people care and show interest and concern in my life, but I think that everyone in the town I grew up in thinks of me as the “sickly” one, and if I ever go to see my parents or attend church with them, EVERYONE asks me about my health.

Also, I’ve noticed that people don’t actually want to hear about other people’s health problems. It can be boring, or gross, or both, and sometimes I think that people ask about my health because they’re not sure what else to say. It’s like commenting on the weather. But like I said, I know that there are people who truly care, and I am very grateful for that.

So here’s the deal: If you care about what we’re doing this next week, gladly read on, but if not, skip this post and go read something else. I won’t be offended. (But please don’t think of me as a sickly person!! I don’t like that.)

To sum it all up, my body does not like digesting food. I’ve been tested for a few different things, including Celiac Disease, but doctors have never been able to figure it out exactly. I’ve dealt with it for 12 years, and sometimes things were worse, and sometimes they were better. When we decided to move here to camp, I was going through an incredibly stressful time in my life. I’d just had a miscarriage and was not dealing with it well, and the stress of selling our house, packing everything up, and leaving our friends took it’s toll on me. I noticed that it affected my health significantly, and it was a very difficult time.

Because we really wanted to have a baby, I avoided having any of the very invasive tests done that my doctor suggested at that time, because that would mean putting off getting pregnant. My sister-in-law kept suggesting that I go see her Naturopath doctor, which I thought was kind of ridiculous at first, but after about a year, I figured I might as well, because what did I have to lose?

My first appointment was three hours long. After hearing my whole story, the doctor told me that she was quite sure I had Candida Albicans, but she would have testing done. Turns out that the tests showed she was right, which basically means that I have a yeast infection in my intestines.

Anytime I eat sugar, it feeds the yeast infection. But “sugar” means dairy, flour, very sweet fruits, or anything full of carbs – the body digests all of those things really quickly. That’s bad for a yeast infection, but also bad because they go straight to the blood stream and make my blood sugar levels shoot up, which is why I would feel dizzy and generally yucky sometimes. (I don’t know a lot about medical stuff, by the way, this is just my understanding of what has been told to me.)

So, my naturopath doctor helped me learn what to eat, and how to combine foods so that my body could easier handle the things getting put into it. I feel SO MUCH better than I have in the last 12 years, but I feel that it’s time to take things one step farther. Although I feel a lot better, the Candida is not going away, as it normally would when someone does all of the things I’ve been doing for the last 3 years.

Since we now have our baby, and she isn’t so much of a baby anymore, I’ve been feeling like it’s time to get checked out from top to bottom to find out what the deal is. My naturopath feels that there is still some issue that is undiagnosed, which is keeping my body from healing completely.

All of those tests could be done here, but it would take months and months. Living two hours from the city makes it really hard to get to appointments, and so going away for a week and getting everything done in one shot seems like a good fit for our family right now.

Another difficulty has always been that the doctors I’ve seen try to diagnose me one symptom at a time, and I’ve been sent to this specialist or that, and ended up nowhere. At Mayo, all of the specialists work together to diagnose the body as a whole. Apparently the place is really amazing, so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

It’s time for a change in my life. I’m not expecting the doctors at Mayo to give me every answer I’ll ever need, but I feel like it’s a step that I need to take.

Along with that, I’m starting to see that my mental, emotional, and spiritual approach to my health needs to change.

For so long, I saw myself as an unhealthy person, but lately, I’ve been realizing that it needs to stop. I am not sickly, I’m not prevented from living a full, wonderful life. I am able to enjoy my family, to be active, to do everything that I would like to do. While I’m underweight and not as strong as I would like to be, I deal with some physical discomfort on a daily basis, and I’m on a very restricted diet, I do not live the life of a “sick” person. And yet I wouldn’t call myself a fully “healthy” person, either. But “unhealthy” sounds so negative, that I’ve decided to consider myself “unsick”. I’m not sick anymore, and I’m on my way to healthy! Here’s hoping that this next week will help me on that journey.

So chances are, this blog will most likely take on a health theme for the next week! Writing helps me to heal in mental and emotional ways, and I want to share that here. I read once that when we share our stories, healing happens for the person telling, and for the person hearing. As I’ve found many times before, when I’m experiencing something, so often someone else is experiencing it, too.

I’ve also found that any issue usually comes back to my relationship with God and my faith in Him, so chances are good that the “health” issues I work through will have a lot to do with “heart” issues.

I’m looking forward to seeing what will all be unearthed this week! Feel free to “join” our family on our little road trip adventure!