Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Wellness Quest continues, I am a Hermit Crab

I see Dr. W, (the gynecologist/holistic doctor) for a follow up to get my test results. It is confirmed from my cortisol (stress hormones) and DHEA levels that I have adrenal gland exhaustion/chronic fatigue. What this means is that while in normal people their "fight or flight" response regulates after a threat goes away, my response is in constant "fight or flight" and never regulates. This explains beyond the Q fever why I had insomnia, because cortisol also goes up and down during a typical day, but for me it stays elevated when it is time to go to sleep and keeps me awake/wakes me up in the middle of the night! More information on cortisol in the links to the right. There are also other factors working here; my magnesium levels are low (this can contribute to migraines and headaches as well as inflammation), and my Vitamin D is low. I am relieved but also angry when I get these test results. I was researching all of these things a YEAR ago, and asking various doctors about this. However, many conventional doctors do not recognize adrenal dysfunction if you have a test result that is not very low out of normal range, or very high. I am somewhere in the middle of what is considered "normal," let's say the criteria is 100-1000, and I scored 750. Although I didn't score 50 or 2000, in the range of 100 to 1000, 750 is HIGH. Therefore, other docs didn't discuss any kind of adrenal dysfunction, but that is what I have been dealing with all along, and then Q fever came along with a nasty bacterial infection and I was SCREWED.

Now that I know what I am fighting, it is time to trust that the information I have is the correct information and that I must go with the flow and take the supplements I am given. I am now on NINE different supplements, some of which I take 3x/day. In addition to the supplements I was given last time, I am now also given Vitamin D, Magnesium and Phyto Caps for Adrenal Glands. It's a lot to remember to take in a day, but I say BRING. IT. ON. One silver lining in this is that my progesterone and estrogen levels are actually normal, so I am grateful that I don't have to worry about adding that to this already delicate mix.

I've been taking the supplements from my last visit for about 3 weeks now, and already I see a slight difference. The nausea that I feel all of the time is starting to dissipate, and I haven't felt sick from food for about 2 weeks. I ovulated last week and for the first time in a LONG time I had no inflammation in my neck, no tension headache and no toxic feeling in my uterus. Hallelujah! I did get a migraine, but it was easily dispelled with Zomig nasal spray. Dr. W. surprisingly tells me that I need to stop exercising. She is the first doc to say this. Her point is that vigorous exercise actually raises the cortisol levels and that is something I can't do right now. I am to take long, slow walks and to do very gentle yoga, and that is it. She also recommends that I start a meditation practice, because a major part of the cortisol issue is stress and negative emotions. She is not the first person to recommend meditation, so it's time I listen. It's amazing that always worrying about the really stupid, small things in life contributed to making me so sick.

Right now I feel like a hermit crab between shells. I am no longer the person I had become when I was living in Los Angeles, so I don't identify with my past self at all. However, I have no idea who I will be in the future. I am that vulnerable hermit crab, growing but not knowing where I'm going to end up. My therapist told me that part of the problem is that I have always identified myself through whatever job it was that I was doing. And now I have no job, nor any prospect of what it is I want to do, and therefore I feel lost and with no identity. She says when people say, "oh, what are you doing?" I have to be okay with saying, "nothing." It is in the letting go that I will find myself.

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