Thursday, December 30, 2010

Health Struggles and What We've Discovered...

Many of you know that for the past couple of years I have had some health struggles.  I haven't really done much posting about this subject, but I thought I'd share a few things now.  Ever since my appendectomy in 2008, things just haven't been quite right.  It's amazing how a surgery that is normally no big deal could turn into something much bigger!  After bleeding internally, developing a hematoma the size of a softball because of this, becoming anemic, trying to get blood counts back up, and developing a B-12 deficiency as well as dealing with a failed root canal that caused a severe systemic infection and then oral surgery, it has been a very interesting past couple of years and definitely not without their set of challenges!

For the past two years I have spent much of the time struggling with nausea, headaches, weakness, tiredness, chest pain, dizziness, cold hands and feet.  I've been a mess!!  There have been small periods of time where I would feel better for a while and then just start feeling bad again.  We've been to about 14 different doctors (some out of state) trying to find answers to why I have been having the symptoms I'm having.  Even though I've had TONS of blood work and other tests (all of which came back fine) no one knew the cause of the problem.  Although we have been very blessed to be working with a ND that has been very helpful.

This past summer I was quite discouraged.  It's frustrating feeling sick for so long and not being able to do as much as you'd like to. I think it's much worse feeling sick for so long and not knowing why!  I was praying that the Lord would give me patience for His timing and that He would give us some of the answers to questions we had been asking for so long.

In June, I happened to stumble across something called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).  Basically, it has to do with lack of blood flow in the body and affects the autonomic nervous system.  You only get POTS if you've had surgery or a major illness. Unfortunately, it is not yet widely known of.  The interesting thing was how closely the information I found resembled what had been going on.  We decided once again to go to a different doctor with this new found information.  From this  doctor office we were able to get a referral to a specialist.

To make a long story short, the Lord blessed our efforts and we ended up seeing a Cardiologist.  Now, you might be asking the same question he asked us "What brings an 18 year-old to see a Cardiologist?"   He ran lots of tests including an echo-cardiogram - which was perfectly normal.  Praise the Lord!  All of the other blood work came back normal (although my cortisol levels are on the high end of normal because of what we did find out).  The Cardiologist told us that he couldn't give us the specific diagnosis of POTS (we would need to travel to Mayo Clinic where they have all the specialized equipment), but that it definitely has something to do with my autonomic nervous system.   Apparently my autonomic nervous system, which controls all of the blood flow in the body, has been knocked "out-of whack" (for lack of better terminology) probably due to the appendectomy.  This has also caused my blood pressure to be on the low end of normal.  It is wonderful to finally know why I've been feeling the way I have.  Lack of blood flow to the brain = headaches, dizziness, tiredness.  Lack of blood flow to the digestive system = nausea and so on from there.  Lack of blood flow to the extremities = cold hands and feet. (you get the picture! :)

I am so very thankful to the Lord for answering my prayers and what He has taught me and continues to teach me through this!!!  He has been able to use this to help me realize that I can't do things in my own strength.  But that when I'm trusting Him, He can use my weakness to show forth His strength and that through Him I can go on.  I pray that I would continue to remember this as it is so easy to forget sometimes.

The blessing is that although it may take a couple more years, I should get back to complete "normal" and it is not anything serious - you just can't hardly function at times!  It is just so nice to know!  There are not many things you can do for it, but I've already noticed some improvement with a few new things we've been trying... an herb (that helps the autonomic nervous system) and caffeine! I hadn't really had much caffeine before and you may think it sounds as funny as I did (the caffeine helps get blood pressure/flow up)! So, I've been sharing some of daddy's coffee. :)  Even though some days/weeks are better than others (and there are some times that I feel really bad), I'm thankful to be doing so much better than I was a few months ago.  By God's grace, I should hopefully be getting better from here!

I hope this wasn't way too long of a post, but it's kind of hard to make the short version any shorter. :)



Emily said...

Praise the Lord!! I know this has been a struggle, but like you said, the Lord is our strength and He is always with us. I'm so glad you're getting somewhere with this! I will continue to pray for you!


The Ahlgren Family said...

Praise God that you are doing better! It is such a relief when you can figure out exactly what is wrong with you; such a relief!!! Throughout all of this I have always been amazed and blessed that anytime I asked how you were doing, no matter the answer you always had a smile! Your example of perseverance is an encouragement to me! We're praying for you and praise God for His healing on your behalf!