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Friday, November 08, 2013
For Better or for Worse
There is nothing like a diagnosis to make/break you.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you look at your spouse and think "Total Winner"? Mine usually come when I'm in the depths of despair, crying my eyes out.
A bit dramatic? Maybe. But every now and then I feel the need to blog about more in my life and marriage than just the wicked-awesome weekend activities we enjoy.
I've opened up before about having PCOS. It's something that's plagued most my life. As a teenager I thought it was cool I didn't have "that time of the month" during "that time of the month" since it was more like every other, or so. But the older I get the harder this seems to become.
I'll never forget the day of my formal diagnosis. When they told me to start eating like a diabetic, say goodbye to sugar and carbs, and quote "Make sure you don't get fat," I felt like the ground under me had fallen apart. I had no idea what to eat, I knew lazy workouts were no longer an option, and I knew if I ever had the chance to remarry I would face fertility problems and difficulty getting pregnant if I could at all. My ex-husband had abandoned me 4 days before the diagnosis, and I think it's safe to say it was one of the lowest moments of my life feeling like I'd lost everything in life- even my health!
I hate self-pity, but that day, I indulged in the idea that I would always struggle with weight, fertility, and a myriad of other not-so-pleasant symptoms to a chronic condition with no cure and a high risk for cancer. I felt really sad for me, like I'd suffered a great blow.
However, for the first time I KNEW why my hormones seemed to be absent or overly-present. I knew what to do to feel better. I knew that I had some things in my control and medication I could take to help. I can honestly say after about 6 months of diagnosis the right medication and dosing for me was discovered, I started to lose weight, and I felt great eating healthy. I even learned I could do a little sugar and even carbs so long as I stayed a runner. I felt empowered to do the right things to feel well. And trust me, every time a coworker or friend makes the comment "You're so healthy!" it is like a duplicate compliment, reminding me I'm doing the right things to manage a big problem.
Fast forward, it's been 6 years since that terrible diagnosis. And I have to open up and admit I've had a very hard year. Remember last year when I ran The Phoenix Marathon? I was certain watching calories and running 20-40 miles a week would help me lose a ton of weight. I've had that experience with both half-marathons I've trained for, so this one had to be even better! I was kind of amazed as I weighed myself a handful of times throughout my 6 months of training to discover I didn't lose a pound. I knew I had gained muscle and lost fat, so I accounted for that. I also knew I felt so healthy and had a runner's high almost 24/7, so I didn't think too much of it, just that it was strange.
Shorty after cutting my running down to a normal amount in early summer, I noticed I was actually starting to gain weight. It was steady, about a 1 pound a week. I've always had good self-esteem, but for the first time in my life I started realizing that something was happening beyond my control. No amount of dieting, exercise, or lifestyle changes seemed to help. The day I had to go buy some new jeans was a rough day. The day I had my 3rd round of blood work in a month come back normal was worse. No gluten-free or dairy-free diet helped. No trace of thyroid problems they suspected. I was at a total loss.
I've been seeing specialists off and on for 5 months now. I can't tell you how many times I was sick of hearing "You're SO healthy, and you're fine, just keep doing what you're doing!" I wasn't healthy. I was tired all the time. I wasn't thinking as clearly as usual. I was gaining weight eating a low-calorie, organic, sugar and carb free diet while running daily. I was feeling symptoms of depression. And most of all, I am a type-A Red(ish)/blue personality who felt like they had lost control over their health, and felt a lot of guilt over it.
There was a silver lining. I started seeing a new endocrinologist who immediately uncovered some blood-sugar issues and some seriously vitamin deficiencies. The diagnosis came back: Insulin resistance. Not severe, there could be more to this we still don't know, but there was evidence of it. I immediately felt joy to find out there were abnormalities. As weird as that sounds, there is a relief in just finally knowing. I then felt the same pain I felt 6 years ago, my life was going to change again. There would be more pills added to my daily routine, the adjustment to them was said to be rough, and my diet would have to be even more regulated than it is. It added one more complication to my already present dietary and fertility issues.
The bright side, I did start medication and for the first time in months I'm not gaining weight anymore. I'm thinking clearly, and I'm feeling much better just managing diet more strictly. I'm a week and a half down on my new medication, and apparently weeks 2-3 you're supposed to start seeing improvements. I'm hopeful!
However, even with the good there is still a mourning for a loss of a normal life where you can go to dinner with friends and not awkwardly pop pills to control the insulin release. Where you don't have to research every restaurant and food label. Where you can eat the cupcake and not fall asleep 30 minutes later in public (side note- sometimes I still feel like this is worth it). Where you can work out hard and know you'll lose some inches.
Last weekend I spent my Saturday cleaning out my closet tossing half my clothes. It's amazing what only about a 10-15 lb difference can do! It was sad to see so many of my favorite pieces go. I felt like my fashion love and hobby was literally being thrown away. And as much as I'm usually a tough soul with minimal tears, I just broke down sobbing. I was right back to the place I was 6 years ago. I felt helpless, out-of-control, and a heap of self-pity. The feelings I had on the inside were now taking a tangible form.
Jacob came in from working on a project outdoors to a very weepy wife. Shocked he asked what was going on. When I explained it was a stupid vain girl issue to cry over tossed clothes, he just looked at and me and said, "Want to lie down on the bed and snuggle for a minute?" No one can comfort you like the love of your life, plus he finally learned how to use "lay" and "lie" correctly, so how could I not be seduced by this offer?
I just sobbed as I laid my head on his chest. He just sat there and held me while I did. When I was ready to open up he listened. He listened to me describing what it's like to have body issues and insecurity for the first time in my life. He listened to me say how much I miss baking bread- a skill I'd worked so hard to learn how to do! He listened to me talk about how frustrated I am always feeling sick after I eat. I told him my darkest pain- that it was effecting him. He no longer gets pasta dinners and rolls, and he misses out often- sacrificing a lot of good food just to be able to eat with me. I'm not the super thin girl he married. I don't have the same joy I'm known for having since I've had fatigue so badly, and this long-term problem without a quick resolution was starting to defeat me.
And do you know what he said? "My life is still so much better with you in it! You look the same to me. I eat a lot of carbs when I go out to lunch during work. I'm really sorry you're going through this- you poor girl! But, this doesn't change anything for me. I'm here in the good and the bad times."
For a man of not many words, it meant the world to me! I kept thinking of the vow most make at their wedding "For better or for worse." And how most actually just mean for better. They are happy to stand by their spouse while they land their dream job, make money, realize a new talent, graduate from college, etc. But how many times do you hear of someone leaving when they realize a disability, crazy extended family problems, severe health problems, physical deformities, bankruptcy, financial problems, foreclosure...this list goes on and on.
I have had friends deal with much bigger issues than I. I've seen many MANY friends go through a formal infertile diagnosis. I've seen them go through failed adoption placement after years of waiting. I've watched many lose their jobs and homes. I've seen couples adjust their dreams and life plans after their grad school and career plans were rejected. I've watched friends lose children. I've seen a husband sit by a bedside in the hospital while his wife faced years of chemo.
I know that being pre-diabetic and struggling with weight isn't that big of deal in the grand scheme of things. And this week, I couldn't be more grateful for a husband who feels the same way and supports me in my lowest moments. Who understands that there will be a "for worse"and that the covenants we made to each other that eternity is eternity are completely real.