Integrate

In a not-surprising shift, I’ve moved away from resolutions in recent years and settled on words to guide and focus each new year instead.

The first potentials that came to mind when putting words to 2022 were wholeness and healing. They were part of my HNY post to family and friends online and both are very much what I am seeking in my life; however, neither one quite encapsulates on its own what it is I hope to cultivate with this calendar flip. I needed a word that could help carry the weight of all that I am and all that I am trying to do, but not one that necessarily gives me new tasks.

Welcome, Integrate.

I stole it, in part, from the Ecstatic Breathwork classes that I use and am currently doing in a 15-day loop, doing the five-part series 3x in a row. Yesterday was Day 10 of the process and my second time (this time) of doing Day 5, which is called, (again, no) surprise, Integration. In it the teacher speaks to letting the breath help the other pieces fall into place without chasing any sort of experience or outcome, and for a controller like me who has been facing months of hard shit out of her control, I realized I need that word around me more as a reminder of all the pieces I already have that can still slot into place beautifully as my journey with healing/wholeness continues.

And even though I cringe when my students pull this in their formal writing assignments, it was when I read the official MW definition (“to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole”) that I knew I had the right word and idea for me and for this year. Being a functioning, unified whole? Hell, yes. Sign me up, please.

The good news is, I’m already on this path. I have the tools I need to be my authentic self.

I am continuing to learn ways to work with and possibly even manage what is happening in my body.

I know that just as my problems don’t stem from just one point, neither do their solutions.

There are many elements at work. There are many facets that need to be addressed.

I can give myself the time and space to deal with this. The entire new year, if need be.

To integrate is to bring together, to unite.

Every day I can pull from my toolbox and give myself a chance to invite this in, to see the integration already in process. To let some things burn and others build.

If some wholeness and healing pop up along the way? All the better.

25 Things in 2021

This year can basically suck it but here I am, keeping up the tradition because life needs to be documented through all the ups and downs and ins and outs. And even though the hard feels heaviest, there’s still a lot to celebrate:

  1. Came to know myself in the most authentic way possible.
  2. Survived 8 months of chronic headaches. There has been nothing fun about any of it but not giving up in the face of it is proud-making. Thought they were gone; they are not. But I am still here.
  3. Gave up alcohol in April. Had one glass of wine in mid-December (when I thought I was feeling much better from the headaches) and it was terrible. Back to AF for me!
  4. Went Gluten Free in July. Same story as previous point about trying it again in December and then backing off again. Not sure how long GF will be, but for the foreseeable now, it is.
  5. Fell in love with two podcasts: On Eyre from Hot and Bothered and We Can Do Hard Things from Glennon Doyle, Sister (Amanda Doyle), and Abby Wambach. I adore(d) both so much and I can’t tell you how many times WCDHT made me cry/gasp/nod my head in emphatic agreement.
  6. Read 100 books. I’m actually at 99.5, but I will make it happen. I actually hope to read less in 2022 as I spent a lot of reading time as numb out time and that doesn’t feel great.
  7. Read Jane Eyre for the first time – obviously related to the above two points, but a feat unto itself given the state of life and the world.
  8. Saw live music again. Rising Appalachia + LVDY in Denver and Guster at Red Rocks in late July were life affirming. I have missed live music so much and it was the perfect 15th anniversary trip for B and I.
  9. Went away with B for more than one sleep for the first time in over four years. See #8.
  10. Got a new job-ish. On top of my online teaching for BU, I am now also an online Writing Consultant for their Writing Center; I’ve learned a lot already in the first month of doing it.
  11. Set up my very first Zoom meeting (in Dec. of 2021). I don’t know how many people can say they made it this far in the pandemic without doing that, but now I’m a pro at running them. (*Knocks on wood to prevent Zoom gremlins in very next WC session*).
  12. Cultivated some deep and true connections with several friends, old and new/near and far.
  13. Wrote 24 blog posts. That’s way less than normal but it’s hard to write when not feeling well.
  14. Sent my first baby off to his first year of middle school; it feels weird and unknown but he’s navigating it well.
  15. Sent my last baby off to her first official year of preschool. She loves it. I use up my “free time” in the mornings quickly to say the least.
  16. Said goodbye to Grounded Sky. I don’t have it in me to keep teaching yoga anymore, so that all is officially shutting down with the year’s end.
  17. Increased my own home practice for yoga. I started the year with 30 Days with Yoga with Adriene, and then once the headaches hit, switched to much more practice of yin yoga, ecstatic breathwork, and tapping. However, even with the headaches still going, I did 30 days in November and 20ish in December. Hoping to complete 30 again to start the new year.
  18. Gave up coffee. It’s possible that my old tea kettle tried to kill me a bit but unfortunately switching it out was not the 100% fix for my head. I now drink Irish Breakfast Tea and Dirty Rasa (a coffee alternative that I adore).
  19. Officially learned how to use a French Press. Fussy but necessary for the Rasa.
  20. Navigated a five-week fall sports season for five kids (soccer and flag football) that included coaching (with B) two teams and trying to still watch the games of the other three kids, too.
  21. Finally went for my Gloria-Steinem-meets-Steven-Tyler dyed streak in my hairs.
  22. Painted our living room. Love it dearly. Ten years later in this house and we finally have the perfect wall color for this space!
  23. Started wearing readers. Also bumped the font size waaaaay up on my Kindle. #ExcessiveReaderProblems #Almost40
  24. Killed several house plants. That’s not a happy list item but true all the same.
  25. Achieved #LifeGoals of matching Mommy & Me dresses AND Family Christmas Jammies this year.

Holiday Headache

Well this certainly isn’t the update I hoped to share here at the year’s end, but after hibernating from social media the last few days in an attempt to recover, I’m back on the computer to say that, unfortunately, all has not been well with my head.

It started the Sunday before Christmas with a little extra pressure in my forehead and then continued to build for the next three days until I was a weeping mess in the middle of the week wondering what had gone wrong.

To be fair, it could be a couple things.

For one, I started introducing gluten back into my diet. I went suuuuper slow so as to not throw my gut for a major loop but I really thought that we had solved the issue with the new kettle/new kettle hygiene routine (that theory still holds some water, pun intended, as the weird ache in my neck and head are still gone – now “just” the tension headache remains), and anyway, how does gluten take five months to clear a person’s system anyway? For the first week and a half, I thought I was good. But now, with the return of the headaches, I don’t know so I am once again back on the GF train and plan to stay there. For a long time. It may not be the root cause but reducing inflammation in my body is clearly not a bad idea.

For another, it really could be a build up of stress. We had the Day of Insanity the week prior that started with a 5A.M. ER trip for Wilson and ended with a 1:30P.M. Tornado Warning + Sirens and COVID boosters for our Middle 3 and then a sick kid the next day and then break starting the next day after that and I had legit zero time to process any of the extreme swings of emotion and stress from all of that until a few days before Christmas (as if those are stress-free for anyone!). But if these are stress-based then damn, I feel like a failure as a human because how can I not handle the ebbs and flow of my life better knowing all that I know about stress reduction and yoga and mediation and breathwork (and/and/and)? Stress is never going to leave my life, so if that’s really driving this, I have to find a better way.

Since Christmas I’ve been trying to take it easy. Well, not on Christmas because goodness, that was a full day, that I wrongly and naively thought was going to be chill but it turns out that my children still require a lot of parenting even after opening presents, and my head ended up flaring badly Christmas night, which brings me to the third of the things: fear. I am scared. Terrified, actually, that this is never going to go away. I had so many clearer days that I really thought this was done and dusted, and I want that so badly that having it return was incredibly disheartening, discouraging, and depressing. I cried more tears than I thought possible after putting the kids to bed on Christmas because this is just damn scary.

So, the day after Christmas I turned the reins over to Ben and tried to rest. That’s not easy to do in a house with five young children (see above about stress levels and how stress is never going to disappear from my life), but I spent most of the day in bed and have started up again with several cycles of Ecstatic Breathwork; it’s the best practice I’ve found to clear out stored stress and emotion, but it is indeed a practice that requires time and patience so not much more to report there beyond the fact that it is happening. Odd, upside down photo is from the yoga mat, post-weepy-EB session, done pre-Christmas.

I’ve been moving slow ever since the holiday and thankfully my head has been better, although I spent all of yesterday on the edge wondering if I was going to tip over into Headache Land, which is just about as bad as landing in the land itself. I’m taking the week to continue with the EB, rest, and some alternative treatments that I hope help clear my system.

In other words, I’m still here, but I’m reassessing and turning inward a bit as I try to navigate this setback.

Another Medical Mystery

Turns out, I’m not the only Welschie woman in our house to be dealing with medical mysteries as of late. Poor Wonder Wilson, the true superhero among us, has been battling some really strange and unexplained stomach issues for the last month(ish) which, if you’ve been with us for in the last four+ years, you may realize is a little scary given her health history and the need for stomach surgery that she had on Day 2 of being earth-side.

The gist of symptoms is this: early morning (like 3A.M., pretty damn consistently) urps that last until the mid-morning at most and then maybe go away for a day or two or even a week or more.

At first we chalked this all up to the switcheroo of bedrooms we pulled after the Pee Problems. Her bed got placed in a part of a room in our upper story that is old-house-wonky with an uneven floor. We know this about the floor but in our tired, stressed out stupor, we forgot to make sure the bed was level and the poor kid slept with her head lower than her tummy for a week+ before we realized it, and yeah – made sense that her system was mad and revolting on her/us.

We fixed the bed and thought we had fixed the problem until a couple(ish – who knows; time is weird) weeks passed and she got sick the morning after her birthday in a very similar fashion. And then again a week(ish) after that. Never lasting, never contagious (although two of our seven, myself included, did get hit with the stomach flu last week and holy moly cow, it was awful). Never explained.

Someone suggested to us that it might be acid reflux which can apparently be caused by chugging too much water too close to bed which is definitely something Wilson tends to do. So we made sure she was drinking from a real cup with dinner, not a straw cup, and again, thought we had solved the problem.

Then this morning happened. The 3A.M. Urps hit again but this time with more intensity and frequency and it got so bad (and we were still too many hours away from a pharmacy being open to get some anti-nausea meds), that we made the call to take her to the ER to get some Zofran and fluids, if need be. Turned out that the IV was not necessary (thank goodness) but they did a bunch of tests, in part because of her gut history and found, like us, no answers.

In a way, this is good because nothing scary showed up in any of those tests; that is reassuring. But as I know very well, not having answers is equally HARD. She is home now with her new little doll from the hospital and, true to form, is doing much better.

And so, we will continue trying to get to the bottom of this by seeing our regular family doc this week, in hopes of getting her some relief and all of us some much needed rest. We have a few theories to test and perhaps he will, too. As always, prayers for answers and relief are much appreciated.

For now, we’re going to curl up in jammy jams and watch the heck out of some Kids Netflix because some days (too many days here lately, but we’re working on that) start at 3A.M. and call for not much else.

Giving Up Coffee Tried to Kill Me

After seven months (SEVEN MONTHS) of chronic headaches and trying to do allllll the things to suss out the root cause/fix the situation/feel better, it’s possible that we’ve found a culprit, or at the very least, a Not Helper in the journey back to well being: my freaking tea kettle.

Note, the kettle shown here is not the offender but rather its replacement, and, to be fair, it’s not really the old kettle’s fault either so much as User Malfunction.

The quick story here is, roughly a week and a half ago, I discovered some sort of flakes/build up coming out of my kettle into my hot water. I had a sore throat that morning and wanted just some warm water to drink, nothing in it (rare), and happened to pour it into a not-white mug (also rare). Except when I went to take my first sip, I saw white shit floating in my red mug and stopped short. WTAF? I immediately turned into an 8th grade science student, trying different mugs, new water, different water sources, and while the results were not totally conclusive, clearly something was not right with the dear (white) kettle we have had since our wedding 16 years ago.

Is that too long to keep and use a kettle? I don’t know because until January of this year, I would use words like sparse and sporadic to describe my kettle usage, so I saw no problem starting to use it on the (at least) twice daily, despite its age, as I made the switch from coffee to tea. But apparently my kettle was too old and started flaking enamel, OR my kettle hygiene of assuming that boiling the water meant I didn’t have to worry about cleaning said kettle often ever, OR my choice of tap water instead of filtered water because, again, boiling created some mineral or residue buildup and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, IT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THAT I HAVE BEEN INGESTING CRAP FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS AND MONTHS WITH MY TWICE DAILY CUP OF TEA.

No wonder I have felt like shit for so long.

Of course, no one can tell me for sure if this is what caused the problem. The headaches didn’t start until a couple months in to the switch from coffee to tea which was also at the time I got my COVID vaccine. However, no one could ever tell me that was or wasn’t the cause of my problems either, so I have just been wandering in the dark (and many, many medical offices) trying to figure this out, all whilst sipping on my MADE-THE-CHANGE-FOR-MY-HEALTH,-OH,-DEAR-GOD-THE-IRONY TEA (sorry; at some point I will get over the shouty caps, I promise).

Maybe I did have a bad reaction to my vaccine but maybe my damn potentially contaminated water is what made it so hard to get past, especially given the months and months of the special diet and all the physical therapy and the supplements taken and MRI completed and all. that. shit. that I tried to do RIGHT (oops – more shouts) that somehow still couldn’t seem to get me over the headache hump.

You might be wondering, am I over it now? Well, possibly. I haven’t changed my gut reset protocol at all, in part because clearly something in my system still needs to clear. And we didn’t do a heavy metal test this summer, so again – hard to say when this started. However, I did that very afternoon get a new kettle (see the beaut pictured above) and started using filtered water (like we did for our coffee maker) and I am also now wiping out the kettle on a regular basis so it isn’t sitting there wet/partially filled all the time. While I don’t feel 100%, I do feel better than I have in a long time because that lingering tension/pain in my shoulders, neck, face, and head has indeed lightened and lessened. I’m giving it time, of course, because this clearly took time to build up in my system, but holy moly cow. What a roller coaster this (ALL OF THIS – okay, last shouts) has been.

I have spent a fair amount of time beating myself up over this potential discovery in the last 10 days but also, I have learned that I am not the only one who treats kettles this way, so my PSA is this: check your kettles, friends! And, perhaps, replace them! Which leads me to the other real and painful irony here – that a $16 kettle may have been the answer all along, not the thousands that we’ve paid out of pocket trying to figure this out/treat it over the last seven months.

Of course there is nothing I can do about all that at this point but keep moving forward, keep working to pay off those bills, and keep taking care of my system that is hopefully, finally on the right path with the right damn tools* (and kettle; sheesh).

*for the record, I still think giving up coffee was the right choice for me. I don’t miss the jitters or amped up anxiety at all, even if I do still miss the smell of it brewing.

(Here I Am) Stuck in the Middle

It occurred to me while talking with a friend this morning that it has been a while since I gave a headache update or just a post in general which I realize is due in part to life being crazy busy like that but also in part to being sick for the entire month of October. I was finally able to kick my cough the week after Halloween and was really hoping that with the end of that, I might also be seeing the end of my headaches but then this week came and reared it’s far-from-pretty head leaving me to realize that, nope, still in it, still plugging along and waiting for more progress.

To be fair, I was warned in October by the med office I’m working with that this was to be expected. What we had hoped would be an 8-12 week gut healing process is looking more like a 4-6 month process which means that I have to just keep going for, well, about twice as long as I had hoped which means I’m very much in the middle of this still and there have definitely been days as of late that I have felt that.

It’s hard to be doing so much to try to heal for so long and still be not quite there. And by not quite, I mean potentially still months away from full-time better. When a bad day comes or worse, a stretch of them, my mood and attitude tank out pretty quickly because, as I’ve said before, this can’t be my life forever. It just can’t. I just can’t. But as another friend battling a cold of her own this week reminded me, our words matter and I’ve got to keep trying to look at this (incredibly) difficult and drawn out process as healing, not just suffering. I am doing the best things possible for my body and it is worth it, even though it would be so much nicer if it could be faster.

One good thing since killing my cough is that I’ve been able to return to my walks. Not every day and not as far or as fast as I would like, but getting out and moving my body always feels good and it’s nice to get back to that. I’m also trying this totally crazy thing where I just go without any earbuds to connect me to a book, music, or podcast because one of my goals in the coming months is to use my movement time as a time for my mind to run free a bit too instead of distract, distract, distract as I’ve been doing for, ummmm, forever.

Today was a windy-as-shit day in NE (OK, that’s most days here, but it was also COLD and I had a kid home from school) so there was no walk in my plans until after supper when I took the trash out and realized the wind had dropped and while it was still cold, I could totally layer up and still go for a walk. I was moving along at a pretty good pace to keep warm, though, which always makes my shoulders feel super tense and that’s never good for my headaches which were, thankfully, better today, and which I obviously wanted to keep going. (Side note: why does walking make my shoulders and neck tight? Anyone? And, any tips for fixing that?)

Interestingly, even with the lingering bad head days, the desire to run has been itching at me most of this fall in part because even though my knees may beg to differ, jogging feels so much better through my (upper) body than walking so tonight I decided to go for it. After a bit of brisk warm-up walk, I started jogging and went a whole mile – my first in over a year due to the headaches and, prior to that, a bum knee last winter. And you know what? It felt amazing. I felt like myself and whole and those moments have been so far and few in the last six months that this one little mile felt the same as accomplishing a full marathon.

So am I really “stuck” in the middle? Good God, I hope not, even though a lot days it feels like it and quite honestly, may still very well be the case for some time. Thank goodness for a few glimpses of me in the midst of it all because those mean a lot. Here’s hoping for more miles logged, more days marked off the calendar of healing, and more of that return to wholeness and self.

Pee Problems, Part II

Right. So the first time I wrote about this (see bottom of this post for all that), I ended up not publishing it here but rather just threw it out there as a super long social media post and I’m glad I did because folks gave me some good feedback such as 1) this sounds like a sleepwalking issue and 2) I should get this product to combat the smell and potentially save our carpet: I agreed on both counts and ordered a bottle.

We also took measures to move some folks around in bedrooms hoping that might help the problem as well. This included strategically leaving the child we most suspected of the nocturnal-carpet-equals-urinal situation in the room with the already yucky carpe because, obviously, we didn’t want that problem spreading elsewhere. Literally.

Our bottle of spray arrived and I started using it on the floor each morning, not because there were new spots each day (hooray!) but because that’s how it works – you use it every 12-24 hours until it the smell is gone and they flat out tell you it might get worse before it gets better because, again, that’s how it works. I am still recovering from my stupid month-long cold but can smell OK and thought things were trending toward better this week until this morning when it definitely didn’t smell great when I went upstairs to spray. But nothing felt wet anywhere so I figured, well, OK – let’s just play the patience game by keeping calm and spraying on.

Decent strategy, right?

Yep, sure, that is until this evening when Ben went into the bedroom ACROSS THE HALL to adjust an alarm clock and STEPPED IN A FREAKING WET SPOT ON THE FLOOR.

So yeah. It didn’t smell worse because the spray wasn’t working, it smelled worse because the problem child we tagged and kept in the room with the old carpet WAS THE WRONG CHILD. And seriously, he has no recollection of it whatsoever and is horribly offended by our “accusations” and clearly ordering just one bottle of the spray wasn’t enough because this is far from done and for the love of God and all things holy, HOW DO WE MAKE THIS STOP?!

I’m sorry for all the shouty caps, but this is just too much. Life is hard enough with out a sleepwalking pee-er in your house.

ORIGINAL POST THAT DIDN’T END UP ON THE BLOG, JUST ON THE FACEBOOK:

An excerpt from Chapter 317 in my new parenting book/memoir with the working title, You Can’t Make This Shit Up*: For a while now, we’ve noticed an unpleasant odor upstairs. We attributed it to weird late summer/sort of fall weather when the air doesn’t know if it should run or not because is it hot (yes, way too often)? Is it cold (no, not really)? Is it stuffy (seems to be all the time)? But the funk just wouldn’t lift so we got to investigating (i.e. literally sticking our noses in places and sniffing deeply if also unwillingly) and found a spot in a bedroom that smelled. like. PISS.

EWWWWWWWW. And also:

WHO peed on the (carpeted!) floor? WHEN did they do it? WHERE did it all land? WHY didn’t they tell us? WHAT can we do about this? And, HOW does shit like this (OK, grateful it was just pee and not literal shit) happen?

Clearly I had so many questions but the real task was to clean it and try to make it better. We tried the carpet cleaning function on our vacuum and then two different types of spray cleaner and folks, I’m not sure we made a dent in the problem because I’m also not sure how damn old the problem is and that is FREAKING GROSS and doesn’t bode well for the carpet’s future, you know?

Also, it would appear that the problem is NOT done.

This morning I was up in that same bedroom looking for dress up clothes for the oldest for an upcoming spirit day at school and happened to step a literal foot in the same spot I spent days trying to clean. It was wet. WET. And yep, another hesitant sniff indicated that it wasn’t just a stray glass of water that got spilled.

But here’s the kicker. No one who sleeps in that room (and there is more than one) will fess up to said damp carpet. Other sniff tests in beds, because surely they crawled back into their bed and so it too should smell because I just cleaned their sheets yesterday, also gave no clarity.

So now, not only did I have to spend another 30 minutes this morning cleaning in vain (that carpet is gonna have to go; we know this, right?), I’m now left to wonder if maybe we have a random peeing ghost roaming the top floor of our house because, for the love of God, who is peeing on the carpet and how do we make it stop?! I can’t rip out or replace carpet if this is just going to continue. Someone, please, tell me how to course correct here!

(*yes, ending with a preposition drives this ENGL teacher nuts, but so does piss carpet, so, you know, let’s roll with it)

The October Getchas

I realize we’ve had historical months of struggle in our house in the past…April comes to mind from several years ago when it seemed that month was always out to get us a wee (or a lot) bit. What I’m learning this year via Facebook memories and current happenings is that October has often been the same. And while the struggle is often with schedules and To Dos, it also frequently comes in germ form, too, which we know complicates everything.

Having a Rough Go with germs in October is definitely not new to our family. Even without the assist from FB, I can still remember three years ago when I had just gotten back from my DC trip and walked into a weeks-long struggle with fevers and crud that just wore us the eff down. And then, of course last year’s October was a whirlwind of COVID-life plus pre-election insanity. Thankfully we didn’t have any big bouts with illness in Oct. 2020 but the general sense I have from that time is “nuts” so yes, I guess October can officially be added to the list of Sneaky Getcha Months.

For October 2021, the hardest hit by the Getchas is me. All three Welschie girls (plus Ben) have been struggling with a cold since early in the month, but I am the one who just can’t seem to kick it/is feeling that struggle the most. Maybe that’s a sign of age being closer to 40 instead of under 10 like the other two girls, but wow, I can’t tell you the last time I had a cold that lasted 17 days.

To make sure it wasn’t something else I went to the doctor yesterday and found out that I’m somewhere between a sinus infection and bronchitis which doesn’t surprise me based on symptoms (which are not and have never been COVID-like, thank goodness). But what I also learned yesterday is that those are typically 95% viral which means antibiotics do nothing for them AND because of my gut-reset protocol, antibiotics are super not my friend right now, anyway.

So. Here I am, still miserable and trying to figure out how to turn around this ass- (nope; sinus-) kicker month. That looks like going through fluids and tissues and sinus rinses like it is my job, while also trying to rest and trying to recover because let’s face it, even though we survived five weeks of five kids doing fall sports, life isn’t slowing down any time soon and this mama has to keep the plates spinning, even when her head and chest are filled with 10 lbs. of snot for weeks on end. (And seriously, we’ve gone through so many tissues this month, I single handedly killed four different boxes yesterday. Gross.)

The point here is that one, I need to get over this crud and sooner than later would be great, please and thank you. But also, two, I want to remember that October is out there in the future. I realize making plans is a good way to make the Universe/God/the devil laugh, but it is my sincere hope that next year I can remember, in say August or September, that the October Getchas may be lurking just around the corner and maybe I can come up with some way to fortify myself, be it in prayer, Vitamin C, or sage – whatever it takes to keep this month from taking me/us down with its whirly/swirly madness. That or invest in Puffs stock; that could work, too.

Just Keep Going/Don’t Know How Long

“Just keep going/keep going strong/just keep going/don’t know how long/just keep going/going strong/we don’t know what’s ahead of us just hold on. Just keep going/going strong/just keep going/we don’t know how long/just keep going….”

Sometimes a song comes along and plants itself not just in your ear but in your brain, heart, or spirit. Such is the case right now as I continue to navigate my gut reset protocol and my headaches with the above lines from a new-this-summer song from one of my faves, Rising Appalachia, titled (shockingly) “Keep Going.” Because whatever the case may be, I am still in it, where I have to keep going, and really still don’t know how long I’ll be at it before I really feel like me again.

To recap, I haven’t written in almost a month, in part because we went down in the trenches with sick kids for 10 out of 14 days and also in part because my situation is one that can ebb and flow, shift and shade its status at any given point on any given day. I can start out with a clear head for the day and be doomed by nightfall or I can sometimes manage to keep myself from tipping over the edge of the headache abyss and end up with a quiet night instead; I still just never quite know what the day/evening will bring.

I did learn, however, that the setback I wrote of in my last post is actually quite typical when going through a gut reset. It’s like the bad thing that brought you to this point is trying really hard to make things suck, even in the midst of all your trying, so you give up and let it stay. So kudos to me, I guess, because I have stayed the course and am still here, this many weeks later, still committed to the protocol, the diet, and the plan of slow and steady to get me through this. See why the reminders to keep going, to hold on, no matter how long, have latched onto me? I need them.

Because headaches or not, life continues. I’ve got kids coming and going and doing a million different things each week (OK, not quite, but even signing up each kid for one extra fall sport for five weeks made our calendar darn near combust with practices and pictures and games). New grades also mean new opportunities and with new opportunities come new tasks, like getting the cello home along with the siblings and back packs all amidst the end-of-day chatter, which you know, falls to the mama pack mule more often than not.

The kids have also had their own health waves to ride (including an ear infection for the littlest that we had no idea was there because she just kept popping nightly fevers but never once complained about her ear/head hurting) and their own big feelings about life and the world and school and all the things. I can’t shut that down (even though I do get after them so much more now about noise levels than I ever did prior to six months ago).

Instead I have to find ways to rest when I can, embrace the quiet when it comes, and find the strength to just keep freaking going, hoping that I’m closer than ever before to getting a hold on this, or, even better – to putting it behind me. Because eventually I’d like to have kept myself going so long and so far that this is all a distant, faded memory of perseverance, not my daily reality.

Too Soon?

Ugh. I sort of hate to admit that I’m a superstitious person because it goes against the logic and reasoning that I use to guide so much of my life, but also, I am a total kook about knocking on wood which I totally should have done when I posted my headache update last weekend. Because, this week, it would seem that in doing so, I jinxed the heck out of myself because not only have the headaches been back, they’ve been as bad as they ever were this spring.

Thursday night was the worst. After feeling the pressure and tension build throughout the afternoon, by evening I knew I was in complete hot mess mode. Still, I watched some AGT with my Bigs because we got hooked on it this summer and we’re still trying to work our way through episodes even though school is back in session. But by the time we paused the show and put a couple more kids to bed, I was just done and nothing was helping. Not a heating pad, not a shower, nothing. I finally gave up and crawled into bed just after 9PM, in so much pain that my stomach hurt.

Thankfully the next morning things were better, but there were more bad days than good ones in the last week which was rough physically. And I’ll be honest and tell you that when those bad days hit, the physical pain slides pretty quickly into being tough mentally, too. It’s hard not to fall into despair when my head goes sideways on me, especially when I’ve been doing ALL the things to help correct it and actually thought some of it was working. I mean, it really was better so why the sudden and severe setback?

Unfortunately, as has been the case this entire time, there’s no way to know. We’ve never been able to determine the actual cause of this shit show which thereby means we’ve never been able to target it with 100% confidence that we were doing the right things. And yes, I keep using “we” because this is not just a “me” effort but that of Ben and my family and the care providers that I’ve been working with for months now.

The takeaway? Chronic pain sucks. It’s awful to have to push through each day because what other choice is there but then, when you get a glimmer of “better” only to have that go away, too? That sucks even more because you start to think that life is always going to be this way and that’s a sad, hard, lonely place to be. It’s hard to tell people when you are hurting and then, when the pain does clear for a bit, it’s hard to get hopeful or excited because what if more bad days are lurking just around the corner?

Thankfully the weekend has been more so on the side of “good” (*knocks on wood* *knocks over a tree*) and because I’ve got that good, strong, and stubborn Scandinavian blood running through me, there is still some hope left that I am indeed on the right track and overall am making progress with my health. But if it seems like I’m reluctant or slow with the updates it is because this roller coaster just isn’t telling me when the ride is going to stop and I never really know from day-to-day where on that good v. bad scale I’m going to land. Plus my other takeaway from this week is, goodness graciousness – don’t jinx yourself!