First, let me add a few public thank you bullet points as at some point each day I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude.
- for my husband and the way he goes to refill our water jugs with reverse osmosis water without my ever having to ask (or even hint)!
- for daughters (even the teenager) that sometimes just want to hang out together
- for a community of caring neighbors, classmates, professors and more
- for the call God has given me to serve at the borders of the church and the world, and for how that call is nourished here at Wartburg Seminary
When we met, Shawn had a mug that says “So many books, so little time” and it’s still one of my favorite mugs. It’s still true, but in a different way now that most of the books are listed on a syllabus with deadlines. I also have many blog posts and other items I want to get done … and yet I have to somehow do it all and prioritize within the time given in a day, week, semester. This remains my biggest challenge. I keep thinking I am getting better at it, and then something else is added to the mix and I have set backs.
The something else in this case is extreme headaches. I am used to a host of symptoms related to my auto-immune illness, including, at times, chronic pain; however, I had learned good ways to control the symptoms both through alternative therapies and eliminating certain foods form my diet. I won’t go into the whole history of my health nor of how food relates to that right now, I will say that although I thought I was still avoiding trigger foods appropriately, my diet changed a bit when we moved here and started seminary. I started having more muscle tension and some headaches last semester, but thought they were simply due to sitting in auditoriums and classrooms, as well as spending many hours in less than ideal positions reading and working at the computer. I continued to find some relief by treating them that way (including chiropractic and massage care). But instead of getting better the muscle tension was worse and the headaches became much much worse. Even now that the muscle tension has eased due to some wonderful alternative chiropractic care and massage, I am still dealing with headaches more days than I am not.
To make a long story short, this has gotten in the way of doing much “extra” beyond my family time and study time. Additionally everything seems to be pointing to some type of connection between food and the headaches (and some other symptoms but I can function through everything but the headaches which are only helped marginally, if at all, by traditional pain relievers). So, I now am trying to become educated, and yet not obsessive, about how to properly do an elimination diet so that we can find the groups of foods that trigger them while praying there are not too many groups of foods (or that I can properly heal and then include those foods in limited amounts again) — likely it is natural food chemicals (I already was avoiding added chemicals and preservatives due to known sensitivities) — such as salicylates (think aspirin, and sadly many fruits and veggies), amines (and other phenols), glutamates, sulfates, and oxylates. I am using the Failsafe diet as a guide (Sue Dengate‘s term for the diet formulated by allergists at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia). Unless I try to get in somewhere sooner, I see my doctor “back home” in a few weeks. My decision will likely be based on how I can manage between now and then anyway. I have been trying to do the elimination diet for over a week now but it is a learning process, so I have made a few mistakes, and hope that this week to be fully on it — and to not have to wait long for full relief! On the few days where I could tell things were changing in the last week it was wonderful not not merely have no headache but a truly clear head, so I am looking forward to the change and the chance to once again put an auto-immune flare-up behind me and live (and exercise!) fully.
So there is a bit of an update for those that have just caught things on the edges (facebook, etc.) or have been wondering if the semester just swallowed me up with the intense reading load.
I am thankful that in spite of the headaches, I have been able to do well in my classes — which have all been interesting and inspiring!
I have always said that I feel closest to God when I am feeling my physical best (think marathon training and running) and ALSO when I am feeling at my physical worst (too many examples here). The headaches continue to be an interesting part of this journey and reflection.
I am also thankful for this gorgeous weather (70s and 80s in March in Iowa! … with a nice breeze so not too hot) that is encouraging me to get out there and walk even though I cannot run yet (chiropractor will hopefully clear me on that in the next week or two if things stay going in the right direction).
One of my goals, not related to this blog or school, is to get back to doing weekly yoga this month. I will also plan to prioritize several blog posts by making them short and quick (please let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like to know about my Seminary education, life here at Wartburg, or Diaconal Ministry and I will do my best; otherwise, it’s whatever I find interesting
I always appreciate hearing what your goals and challenges are as well. I think that when we share our challenges as well as our accomplishments with others we can better share each others burdens — and we can better pray for and with each other. Please, let me know how I can pray for you.
My prayer request — for accompaniment and guidance through this journey to better health and less pain.
Love and belief,