Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fighting this War - One Weapon

I read, on two different blogs, just now about Catholics/Christians being charged with acts of violence for informing and educating others on the truth. One was a story about two young men at the a Muslim festival. Find a great post about it here, at A Catholic Notebook.

Another was an article I was directed to by another post on Creative Minority Report. Here is the http://lifenews.com/nat6740.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RealClearReligion+%28Real+Clear+Religion%29.

Is this the beginning, or progression really, of something horribly ugly in our country? Of our being targeted like criminals for proclaiming the truth and trying to save souls? Where can we possibly begin to defend ourselves when we are defending ourselves against the government and the FBI? How far will the importance of truth deteriorate? And how far can the corruption of power take people? Do they really think they can play god and make the rules, watching us duck in the corner?

But it is not our protests, it is not our petitions and pleas that will ultimately save us, or that will turn the world on its head. No, it Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit, it is God. It is making reparations for our sins and the sins of others. It is devotion to Our Lady and to her directing us back to Her Son.

I propose that all who read this, myself included, begin a First Saturday devotion in two days. Our Lady of Fatima urges us to do this. Reparation to Her Immaculate Heart, fasting, and prayer, will bring peace. As spoken by Our Lady: "See, My daughter, My heart surrounded by thorns which ungrateful men pierce at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude... Say to all those who, for five months, on the first Saturday, confess, receive Holy Communion, recite the Rosary and keep Me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, in a spirit of reparation, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls." and elsewhere this is also connected to conversion of the world. Unfortunately, in many areas, there are no morning Masses on First Saturdays. I do not believe Saturday evening Masses count as they are specifically for the eve of the Sabbath. Can we petition our [already overworked] priests to begin a First Saturday Mass if there is not one available in the area?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Lady of Medjugorje, Sept 25 message


September 25, 2010 message to Marija

“Dear children! Today I am with you and bless you all with my motherly blessing of peace, and I urge you to live your life of faith even more, because you are still weak and are not humble. I urge you, little children, to speak less and to work more on your personal conversion so that your witness may be fruitful. And may your life be unceasing prayer. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

For a history and information about Our Lady's appearances in Medjugorje, I refer you to http://www.medjugorje.org/overview.htm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A more optimistic outlook on my last post

After starting on Armour, for my hypothyroidism, I had four pretty tough days. I wrote the last post on the fourth day. But a few hours after writing the post, I started to feel better, though still very tired likely from lack of sleep for three nights and continuous anxiety. Yet, that night, I got a very good night of sleep and felt great the following day (yesterday) and overall today as well.

My hypothesis on what made the difference? Green tea. Does that sound silly? This is why I think it was: my doctor has encouraged me to take GABA as a supplement, and I have been off and on, but it has never seemed to make a difference. Not long ago, I read that GABA does not cross the blood brain barrier, thus will not have any effect in the brain. Yesterday, I was trying to find something that would decrease my anxiety and read that green tea contains another amino acid that does cross the blood brain barrier and then is converted to gabapentin. I was skeptical, but I was also desperate. I have little doubt it helped. And that it was a large part of the reason I slept that night.

So not only have I been feeling better the last two days than I did the four days previously, but I really do think I've been feeling better than I have for a long, long time. Assuming I will continue to feel this way, those four days were so worth it. Here is a list of the big and small ways things I've noticed are better:

1. My thinking is more clear. Little or no brain fog! (Have you ever had brain fog? It's horrible!)
2. Less fatigued (nine hours of sleep a night had not been enough).
3. Less irritable, more patient with the boys.
4. More enthusiastic! Able to laugh more easily. :D
5. Recovered from a cold in just over 48 hours (unheard of for me).
6. Right inner ear has not been itching (lately, my throat has been itching a lot and has for years off and on. Whenever my through itches, it has always traveled up into my right ear's Eustachian tube - very annoying).
7. Digestive system seems to be working better (you don't want details, I'm sure).
8. Facial skin looks less blotchy, more even and brighter.
9. I have been able to go outside without sunglasses when it's overcast (I typically wear sunglasses even when my car's headlights are on, obviously not more than an hour after sunset though).
10. Less hair shedding (a problem I started noticing just recently).

(Granted, some of these effects I've noticed significantly more than others, and some have been minor changes, to the point that I question whether I'm just looking for changes.)

As long as I'm being optimistic here, I'd like to add one more thing. My only complaint about my husband has always been his lack of sensitivity and lack of support when I'm feeling yucky. He's always thought I can just shake it off. While he doesn't understand how I'm feeling (and hopefully never will), he is now understanding I really can't just shake this off. It's very real. And I do not want to be tired and irritated, depressed and anxious. He has become the supportive husband I need. Though the last year has been very difficult, I can see our relationship has grown as a result, and we enjoy and appreciate each other more now than we did even a year ago. Add this to his many other amazing qualities - and I feel so very blessed! I love that man!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Please, God, can you give me my thyroid back?

One reason for my absence around here lately, and also in the past, is that I've been preoccupied with health concerns, with tiredness and fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc. Antidepressants don't do much for me, and so I choose to forgo the side effects and not take them.

Why, you may ask. (or if you read the title and suffer from hypothyroidism, you may not ask). I have congenital hypothyroidism, which means I was born without a thyroid. Now, most medical doctors consider that to be an easily treated condition, assuming it's detected early. And I am one of the lucky ones as I was born the first year neonatal screening for the condition was mandated by the state. I was started on Synthroid almost immediately after being born and have been dosed appropriately on that medication.

The problem arises in that Synthroid, and other medications that are commonly prescribed contain only T4, a thyroid hormone with four iodine atoms attached. Some T4 is converted to T3 (three iodine atoms), and perhaps others down the line. But a human thyroid produces T4, T3, T2, and T1, and the parathyroid produces calcitonin (a hormone I don't believe I have ever been tested for). T3 is the most active hormone, and even a mildly, chronically decreased T3 level in the body can cause multiple problems. Not only that, but under stress, T4 is converted by the body into excess Reverse T3 (RT3), as well as T3. Apparently, the ratio of T3 to RT3 should be nearly 10:1, though there is some discrepancy in this, depending on the lab test and the source one may be reading. My RT3 is too high. RT3 blocks the T3 receptors at the cell level and does not let the active T3 bind to the cell, in the brain and in the periphery. So the T3 that is present cannot do the job it is supposed to do. The functions of T2 and T1 are not known, but there are likely functions for these two hormones also, for why else would God have made the thyroid to produce those hormones too?

The other thing that's common with thyroid problems, especially in stressful situations, is adrenal problems. I believe, simply put, that part of the reason for this is that an imbalanced or inappropriate level of thyroid hormones places stress on the body and also that the thyroid and adrenal glands are intimately connected and depend on each other. The adrenal gland is the primary stress regulator (as well as a producer of a significant amount of the hormones progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone in the body). In addition to adrenaline, the adrenal gland also produces cortisol in stressful situations. Cortisol seems to be getting more press lately, for good reasons. In stressful situations, the adrenal gland needs to produce more cortisol than normal, and steals especially progesterone to do so, as well as estrogen and testosterone and other intermediate products. For so many of us, we are no longer dealing with short-lived stress but with chronic stress. And so the adrenals glands have to work overtime for an extended period of time. Eventually, they become fatigued and cannot do the work of adaptation to stress. And a person starts to feel the effects, feeling fatigued themselves, sometimes to the point of barely being able to function. Because this affects progesterone and estrogen production, and the ovaries cannot produce all the progesterone and estrogen our bodies need, the effects of this "adrenal fatigue" can also become cyclical for females.

Now, that's not the end of the story. The hippocampus is also affected, the part of the brain the helps regulate emotions and memory. In the above conditions, the hippocampus actually atrophies, or shrinks. And no one seems to know how to rectify this part. Serotonin, gabapentin, and dopamine apparently are usually plentiful in this area of the brain, and of course are decreased when the hippocampus atrophies, causing increased tendancy toward depression and anxiety.

So, cumulatively, one ends up fatigued, irritable, anxious, depressed, having decreased memory and brain fog, with sleep irregularities, hormonal problems, sometimes metabolism problems, irregular and/or low temperatures, bowel problems, difficulty getting over illnesses, and a host of other symptoms. Neurotransmitters in the brain are affected, including serotonin, gabapentin, etc. It seems there is no end to the host of problems this causes.

Alright, so where am I? And why am I to the point I am? My thyroid issue may have been a contributing factor to some of my "issues" as I was growing up. But it really started to play a role after Isaac was born. I was on T4 only, and on a pretty high dose during my pregnancy. After my pregnancy, my doctor chose not to test my thyroid until my 6 week check. But by two and a half weeks postpartum, I could not deal with the amount of anxiety I was feeling; between my thyroid levels being too high and a host of other stressors, including being unable to sleep, my adrenals were running on high. Cortisol was stealing the progesterone I so needed in that postpartum time, as the progesterone that had been being produced by the placenta was obviously nonexistent. I'm sure I developed adrenal fatigue during that time. Since that postpartum time, I have not been the same.

Fast forward nearly four years. I have indeed been tested for and diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Working (physical therapy) and raising two active boys, with my husband in school, has continued to keep my stress level up. I'm in charge of caring for so many people, but my endocrine system is screaming for me to take care of myself (this is why I complain, though I don't want want to). And my stress and fatigue, and irritability, has and continues to take its toll on my family. I do pray often that God makes up for my inadequacies and heals the hurt I cause (and for good reason, I may add). And I see myself getting overall worse, not better, despite all the treatment I'm taking (though there are some times and some areas where I see some improvement).

I started on synthetic T3 about six months after Isaac was born, which I do think has been beneficial but did not seem be be enough. Four days ago, my doctor started me on Armour Thyroid, which has the full spectrum of T4, T3, T2, and T1, and calcitonin (including more T3 than our bodies would produce for themselves). With adrenal fatigue, some people have problems with Armour. At first, I felt my brain being more clear than it has been in years, even despite having come down with a cold the evening after I started treatment (which mysteriously only lasted 48-56 hours, when the effects of my fall and spring colds have been lasting for two months in the last year). But I'm incredibly anxious and have not slept more than 3 hours during each of the last 3 nights. I am exhausted yet anxious today, and very irritable, and want nothing to do with my family, especially since I know I will just be not-so-nice to them. For some, this is a temporary effect; others are unable to tolerate Armour. For some, this treatment also seems to keep the adrenals in a fatigued state. Armour plus synthetic T4 may offer some answers, but there are reasons I can't do that yet, and this email is already long enough that I won't bore you with those reasons.

That's where I stand. Grateful God gave me life in the year neonatal testing for congenital hypothyroidism was mandated, grateful for treatment for it, grateful for a wonderful, holy doctor who is helping me through this and teaching me so much, and thankful for a husband who is becoming increasingly supportive through this (most of the time - but I can't blame him for times when this also gets to him). But oh so tired of dealing with this stuff and just wanting to be normal. Oh well, it's another thing to offer up for my holiness and salvation and the holiness and salvation of my family who is dealing with this with me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome to a New Little Girl

My niece was born Saturday evening, around 8 pm. Brooke Helen. 8#9oz, a healthy baby girl. Congratulations to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and their son Brody. May God bless their family!

Life without Television

Three and a half years ago, and prior to that, we had television - cable, I believe. Andy, having grown up with television being on constantly for background noise and the occasional actual sitting down to watch it, also had the television on far more than I preferred. While he was good about it for the kids' sake (who were 1 1/2 and a few months around the time we moved), it still bothered me to have the TV on while the boys were awake.

When I agreed to move 1 1/2 hours away from the city where I had grown up, and away from family and friends, to a small town - which including my working and Andy's staying home with the boys - I told Andy we would not PAY for cable or satellite, even if that meant getting no television reception. Well, as it turns out, we live in a bit of a gully and cannot put an antenna up because we're renting. SO that means no reception! We bought a used entertainment center just so that we have doors covering our television set. We can watch movies but otherwise have little other contact with the TV. And recently, after noticing that the boys were watching at times three movies a day (albeit some only 30 min long), I made a new rule that no movies can be watched, outside of "quiet time," unless it's raining or we can't go outside for another reason.

Do I miss TV? What do you think? If you answered no, you are right. I'll add another word to that. NO WAY!!! In fact, sometimes - no, more than sometimes - I wish we would just get rid of the whole black box! But Andy and I do enjoy watching movies together, and Andy likes being able to stream history documentaries from Netflix. So as soon as we would chuck that thing out the window, we'd be running out trying to figure out how to put it back together! It's a love-hate relationship. No, it's a tolerate-like-hate relationship; it's complicated. At least sites like imdb.com make it tolerable, since we can find out if movies are inappropriate, and we have mutually agreed not to rent inappropriate or significantly non-family friendly movies, even for the two of us.

Some of the best things about not having television:
1. No commercials. The boys don't learn about all these products and toys and are not begging for this or that. Toy, fast food, cereal (etc) companies are not allowed to suck my sons into their world.
2. Much fewer inappropriate images being flashed in this home. If there is anything I can't stand, it's women being shown with little on and allowed to be viewed in that way; where is the respect? There's enough of that around us everywhere we look that if I can limit how much my boys and my husband - and myself - are exposed to that, I will.
3. Fewer flashing images for the boys in general. This is part of the reason I would get rid of the TV completely if I could, because they still get too many flashing images through their movies. As if the world doesn't move fast enough already.
4. More time for play, for make-believe and imagination. More opportunity for quality family time.
5. Less influence from the media and their and Hollywood's warped view of reality. Where do they get this stuff?
6. Less sitting around doing nothing, wasting time. Speaking of which, I was going to get out for a bike ride about half an hour ago...

Have a great day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

When our lives are not as we wish them to be

I dream of being home with two boys who are better behaved versions of the ones I have, a baby in my arms or in my womb, and a more sensitive version of my husband. I dream of having love and joy spilling forth from my heart onto my children and my husband, of laughing and playing together, even among toys scattered on the floor. I dream of God being so evident in our family life that all know His presence as they enter our home.

At times, I see shadows of that life. I see well-behaved boys. At times I'm wrapped in a spontaneous hug from my husband at just the right time. I had that moment of joy when I looked down at a positive pregnancy test 8 months ago. We have experienced joy, love, laughter together. We have caught glimpses of God's undeniable presence.

But at times, like today, all that eludes me. At times, like this week, I am too tired and too overwhelmed to catch sight of the beauty around me. At times, the boys' misbehavior is overwhelming, and Andy is caught off guard by my strong emotions and doesn't know what to do to comfort me. In those times, I can only grasp at joy and love, unable to secure my fingers around them; all I can do is hold on and pray for help.

What can I do? I feel so helpless. When I'm at work, I can literally do nothing. But even when I'm at home, I feel limited. Time-outs don't seem to do the trick for the boys. And the stress I'm under, and Andy's under - sometimes the stress seems to be destroying our family. The impatience, the way we talk to each other, the lack of that laughter and playfulness, the lack of visible love at times. I feel I'm no match for the pressure we face, and I watch helplessly as the boys are swallowed up into it as well. I'm too exhausted most of the time to begin to undo some of that damage stress has caused. I find myself praying to God after yelling at the boys, "Please heal the hurt and the damage I have caused." And I wonder whether I should apologize to them again or refrain from doing so so as to not undermine my authority.

I know a large part of the issue is my sensitivity to stress. It is good to take a step back and examine our lives from afar. Really, I am blessed. I am very blessed. But when looking up close, I let things get to me. I must learn to forgive those small imperfections in my life, to forgive the imperfections of those I love, and my own imperfections. As a good friend reminded me today, I must appreciate and be gracious for those precious moments I am given, to not take one for granted for they pass all too quickly and may be gone sooner than I expect. To appreciate those moments within the context of the landscape of one's life, as created by God, can bring joy into one's life and lessen stress. Remembering those moments, etched into that landscape, can help one through the more difficult times. I must learn to do that, thus keeping things in better perspective, and overcoming those trials in prayer and with a smile and a shrug.

Our Lady of Medjugorje


Message of September 2, 2010 to Mirjana

"Dear children. I am beside you because I desire to help you to overcome trials, which this time of purification puts before you. My children, one of those is not to forgive, and not to ask for forgiveness. Every sin offends Love and distances you from it – and Love is my Son. Therefore, my children, if you desire to walk with me towards the peace of God's love, you must learn to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Thank you."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A slice of pie

I have known Andy just over 7 years, and we've been married nearly 6. He has told me throughout that time, albeit rarely, that his favorite desert is lemon meringue pie. Now, Andy is a man of few words most of the time, and a man of even fewer deserts. I mean, he doesn't like ice cream, chocolate, cookies, cake, or really any deserts... except lemon meringue pie. But in the last 7 years, do I remember him eating a slice of his favored desert? NO! Then, in one way or another, he mentioned the pie a month ago, and I have been looking for a chance to make it since then. My chance came this last Sunday.

Andy's dad invited him to go golfing, and Andy offered to take Blaise with him. So they left at 12:30 Sunday for a very successful golfing expedition. As soon as they were out the door, and with Isaac in quiet time, I grabbed my food processor and my cookbook and set about making a crust for my treasured pie.



I was off to a good start. This was the first good pie crust I had ever made! Isaac came down from quiet time, and after licking the inside of the food processor (sans blade) clean, and after Mom baked the crust, we rode, Mom on her bike and Isaac in the trailer, to Isaac's special treat: bowling!


Strong man!


What a bowler!


Waiting... and waiting... for the ball to roll down the lane.


Then back home we went. Isaac was incredibly good, allowing me to mix and stir and whip the pie into shape without his complaining. In my haste and concentration on the task at hand, I forgot to snap any pictures until the pie was in the oven. But I did manage to get one of some of the dishes, for your viewing pleasure:


The completed pie:



I didn't capture the best part - Andy's surprise when he opened the refrigerator after returning home with Blaise. But here is a slice from last night, just before he dug in:



Mmmm... Though it didn't puff up quite as much as I was hoping it would. Perhaps leaving it in the oven for a couple more minutes? I'll just have to try it again someday...


(Also, thank you for your prayers and words on encouragement regarding my last post. Today was again a difficult day, both because of that and because of Isaac's difficulty in transitioning to school and back to the babysitters - but that's another post perhaps. But I'm making it through, due in part to those prayers and kind words. Thank you!)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Today was one of those days that God must have been hitting me over the head. The question is, what is He trying to teach me? Perhaps that I need to hand over to Him my desire to have another child and the timing of that wonderful event.

Today should have been my due date, I believe. I miscarried a child in early February. Also, today, I took a pregnancy test and found out I am not pregnant, though I thought I likely was. And today, my in-laws invited us over for dinner, and also invited my sister and brother-in-law, who are expecting their next baby, due tomorrow. And this week, Thursday, my miscarried baby will finally be buried along with other miscarried babies.

I believe God is telling me, through this, that I'm not ready, and my family is not ready, to accept another child just yet. We have too many things to do, too many transitions, before we can accept another life. If I was to have a child right now or in May, it would be difficult - probably more difficult than I realize. Andy graduates in May and will have to (hopefully) transition into a full time job once again. Perhaps we will have to move, depending on where his job is. And I will be transitioning (hopefully) into full time motherhood (!!). And the boys will be getting used to summer break in early June - a transition harder for kindergartners and preschoolers than for middle and highschoolers.

But I do hope God does not plan to make me wait until all that has occurred before He allows a new life to grow within me. But He does know best. And I will learn to accept and be grateful for whatever He has planned. My good friend Katie had a great idea... in the meantime, I will offer up my waiting for a healthy pregnancy and baby someday, for my ability to stay home before the baby arrives, and for a good transition for all of us into having three children. And I'll offer up today and perhaps a few more days for my sister-in-law and her 2 1/2 year old, baby, and husband.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Countdown to Graduation: 9 months

Or as a friend of mine would say, the length of one pregnancy.

Both boys started school today: Blaise in kindergarten (all day!! Gosh, it feels like the day should be over by now!) and Isaac in preschool (he cried because he was scared when we dropped him off, but was so excited and proud of himself as he had gotten over his fear and enjoyed the first day by the time we picked him up). And Andy starts the fall semester tomorrow.

As for me, I've been reading and rereading Hebrews 12: 1-13, especially verses 1-2, to get psyched up for this school year and the next 9 months of work: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God." There will be joyful times and trying times these next 9 months, and I plan to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus through it all, running the race He has set before me, looking forward to May when I can be home with the boys, and perhaps someday with more kids as well.