a deliberate return to health

2016 was a hard year. if you don’t know us, let me spell it out for you:

It started with a loud party, our city house full of neighbors and friends, loud, raucous, and most of them still there for breakfast the following morning. 

One year later our family was huddled up for a quiet New Year’s Day at our new house, miles outside of the city, under blankets watching castaway while zion napped. 

It’s a perfect picture of what the year did – it took the party out of us. 

2016 took the fight out of us, the free-for-all lifestyle of perpetual open doors, clinking glasses, and big table dinners and sleepovers. 

The party was followed soon after with an emergency brain surgery for Zion, who was four years old at the time. 

Brain surgery was followed with my first panic attack and a chain reaction of consistent panic and anxiety coursing through my body. 

We had already listed our house for sale and sold it by the time surgery came, so we had to find a place to move. Which meant we had to buy a house for our family on the fly. The dream of having a farm house with land was quickly replaced by finding a good-enough old house on a large lot close enough to drive to the Children’s hospital in 20 minutes.

We moved for good reasons – no other option, good school district for the kids, hope that we’d give them a more carefree childhood. But this also meant we moved away from our community, away from a five minute walk to dozens of people we loved, away from our support system.

Then came Zion’s seizures. They manifested in a tricky way so it was hard to diagnose at first.  

This lead to more frequent, severe seizures and eventually one, life-threatening mega-seizure, landing Zion in the pediatric ICU for a week, and our family in a new frame of living as he was finally put on epilepsy drugs.

Long story short, sometimes after a seizure, Zion just stopped breathing. So I had to be ready at any moment to do CPR and get him to the hospital.

By this time it was June, nearly half of the year gone to a constant blend of travel work abroad, hospital stays, anxiety, and seizures at home.

Things got harder before they got better.

Zion’s neurologists worked to find the “perfect cocktail” of epilepsy meds, while he continued to have seizures every three days.

The meds were personality altering and lead to a lot of confusion and emotional distress in our little one, not to mention stress in our home as we tried to navigate unknown waters.

We did what we could to find “normal” every chance we got, but were always reminded quickly not to make plans. Seizures change everything. From date night to dinner time, nothing was certain.

It wasn’t until the fall when we finally seemed to strike gold with a good blend of medications, saw Zion’s seizures decrease, and started to live a somewhat normal life again.

……………….

I am sure I’ll be unpacking the effects of that year for a long time. There were dozens of other stressors and painful factors, relationally and otherwise, that affected my psyche in harmful ways. What I am beginning to see now is one particular overlooked factor. We got stressed, frazzled, busy and overwhelmed and, pardon my French, but

WE ATE LIKE SHIT.

We numbed with food like a drug, which is easy to do in the children’s hospital. With endless supplies of vanilla milkshakes, pudding, and macaroni and grilled cheese, it’s so easy to thoughtlessly fill one’s body with mood-altering drugs. It’s easy to get diner at a drive through on the way home from another doctor’s appointment, another stressful day. “While we’re at it, why not get drive-through fast food for lunch?”

When it comes to what we put in our bodies, the past year has not been a pretty picture. We forgot that food is fuel, that we are what we eat. We’ve been using it to numb and mask symptoms of pain and anxiety instead of using it to heal.

I believe these habits have lead me here, on the tail end of three weeks of uncontrollable migraine pain and no other option (apart from taking four risky prescription drugs at once) but to change what I eat.

I believe the biggest source of my migraine attacks has been what I’ve put into my gut. 

I believe stress has been the other major trigger. 

I’ve had plenty of time the past few weeks to read up on migraine and how gut health affects brain function / disfunction. Here’s what I’ve come up with : Gut health = brain health.

There’s only so much I can do to lower / control my stress. I plan on doing what I can, within reason.

BUT there are a TON of things I can do to control what I put in my body, and in turn, how it runs.

From what I’ve learned so far, there is a serious correlation between gut health. So I’m going to be sharing more about that here, because I think it’s fascinating stuff and I don’t want to make these discoveries alone or keep them to myself. I’m also writing about it because it’s more than a fad this time. It’s a necessary move to get my life back and my mind back.

I’m going back to the source. The source of where all health originates – what goes in my gut.

 

* photo credit Land Army girls picking peas at a farm near Wolverhampton in July 1947

show hide 4 comments

ash parsons thanks so much, josh! so great to hear from you and yes, cheers to health!February 1, 2017 – 10:01 pm

josh Sending so much love your way. Here’s to getting healthy.February 1, 2017 – 9:39 pm

ash parsons amy, we aren’t just gut buddies, we are gut sisters.. it sounds like a women’s bowling league! in all seriousness, thankful to have your encouragement and support on the journey.February 1, 2017 – 5:07 pm

amy YES to the gut! here’s to digging to the roots. i’m in it with you… we are gut buddies!February 1, 2017 – 5:03 pm

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