I had hoped I could get through this series without talking about my health much because I hate talking about my health, but in the comments that came up on the first post, it was very evident that I need to explain myself because more than one of you expressed shock at the idea that I am or ever have been low energy.
So here goes.
I was born.
Just kidding. We’ll be here all day if I start there.
So let’s start at the end of elementary school, at which point I started feeling sick and tired all the time. I’m not sure exactly what age I was when that happened — it’s all a little blurry. But by seventh grade I had weird fevers and I had to go around on crutches because my right leg hurt so badly at the hip that I couldn’t walk on it.
My parents were amazing and diligent and they took me all over the place when there wasn’t a satisfactory diagnosis in town. A couple times, at Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, I was given a shot right in the hip joint — I still remember the terrifying length of that needle! — that helped me regain the use of my leg.
But the fevers continued, and I spent a lot of my freshman year of high school fighting a nameless mystery infection that some doctors said was in my head. I cannot explain to you what it is like for a kid who just wants to keep up with the other kids to be told that she’s making it up or imagining it for some reason. I mean, I wanted to go to school. I already knew about boys, but I had also discovered geometry.
It was during that time that a family from my dance studio mentioned to us that their daughter had Lyme Disease and maybe I ought to be tested as well. We were told that “there is no Lyme” in our area, which just proves that many of the best doctors in town had a lot to learn. We traveled out of town to a doctor who gave the Western Blot test to our whole family. It’s not an amazingly accurate test, but one thing is true about it, and that is that there are no false positives.
I might have been the worst, but we were all sick. Even the dog had Lyme.
I also tested positive for multiple co-infections, including mononucleosis and babesiosis.
Thus commenced my many years of treatment. I took multiple antibiotics, quinine, pain killers, and other drugs to help me sleep and function. At one point, all food tasted like metal to me. By age 16, my eyes had failed (I am legally blind without my contacts) and my thyroid was shot.
The treatment did eventually help, however, and around age 20, I was well. I distinctly remember the surreal feeling of being … normal. It didn’t feel normal to me, though, and so every single day I woke up and was shocked at how remarkable good health was.
For a few years, things went great. But Si and I got married, I became pregnant a few months later, and I didn’t do so well at pregnancy. I was horribly nauseous for all of the months of pregnancy — all. I miscarried the second pregnancy. The third pregnancy was the worst of them all. I was placed on bed rest and given a drug to help me keep the pregnancy. It made me horrendously sick and I could only keep down about 400 calories per day for a number of months. In spite of that, I managed to gain a whopping 85 pounds.
To say my body has never been the same is an understatement. Not that A-Age-11 isn’t worth all of the pain and humiliation, because she is, and I’d do it all over in a heartbeat.
After that, I don’t remember a whole lot for years. It was all a whir of nursing and pregnancy and newborns and toddlers. When my youngest was born, I had three children three and under, plus a six-year-old. I hemorrhaged after my C-section and lost about half of my blood supply. At my six-week check, my blood levels were the same as they had been directly following my hemorrhage. I was technically at transfusion level, but that carries a level of risk with it, and since I was up and walking around (a number of the staff said they had never seen someone with this level of anemia able to walk), they decided to monitor me instead.
But of course they never told me to come back, and I was so overwhelmed by having all these little people that I never thought about it.
Ten months later, my husband became sick and almost died. I mention this only because we often forget that stressful and traumatic events can turn on bad genes (something I’ll talk about in a future post).
I had not felt truly well since my first pregnancy in my early 20s, but something changed about four years ago. I started to decline. I even began to suspect that my Lyme had returned. I had to cut back my daily walk a bit, and then a bit more, until finally I couldn’t do it at all. Anything heavy — such as my laundry detergent — had to be kept low because even though I’d grabbed it from the same shelf for years, I no longer had the strength to move it.
I kept blogging and reading, yes. I even did some speaking, though one time I was in bed for a week after giving a simple 45-minute talk. I still had brain energy, and I have always felt better when I was able to think about something other than myself. The world of ideas gave me relief from the reality of my physical world, and it also often gave me enough energy to do something more taxing, such as make dinner.
It was at this point that I decided to do research on how to fix myself. My husband is a holistic nutritionist, but he couldn’t figure me out. Considering his line of work, it was sort of embarrassing. For me, I mean. He never expected to be able to help everyone who crossed his path, but I felt like I was bad advertising.
Two years ago, I began to learn some things that turned me around, physically speaking. In fact, I feel like I am almost “normal energy” on an average day. Whatever that means. It isn’t the same as the feeling of vibrant health I had in my 20s, but I’ll take it!
It’s been a long road, and for years and years, I homeschooled with close to NO energy, and you know what? It went okay. I mean, it’s nothing you’d decorate a cork board with, but we learned stuff and I don’t think we’re any worse for the wear. In fact, I would say that most of the time, we thrived! In spite of it all, we have many happy memories of those early years, the children and I.
So that’s me.
On Facebook, one of you declared that if I was low-energy then you were practically dead. Ha! After I finished laughing, I said that energy is a continuum. I’m worse off than some and much better than others.
And that’s the truth.
I tell you all of this not so you’ll feel badly for me — in fact, if you do that, I will probably be horrified. But I want you to know where I’m coming from. To me, talking about homeschooling as a low-energy mom isn’t theoretical — it’s the life I’ve lived and reflected on for almost ten years.
All of us live life without a cape. There are no supermoms here.
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