Wednesday, May 4, 2011

#70 - Acceptance for Starting Over

For New Year's Day in 2001, I wrote a little prayer for what I felt that I needed to do during the New Year. This journal entry was several months before my mysterious Addison's diagnosis, but I was already very sick. I guess it was prophetic in a way because I wasn't making any New Year resolutions, yet I prayed for areas where I would need acceptance so I could have the chance to start over. And, I knew I wanted to know the truth about what was wrong so I could confront it.

For the first time, I was avoiding the drafting of futile lists. Before falling ill, I regularly maintained my short-term, mid-range and long-term goals. However, by the time New Year's Day had rolled around, I was struggling. My entire goal in life was to just get through each day.

At this time, my body was not cooperating in a normal fashion. I was doing everything I could think of to sift through all aspects of my life in an attempt to get to the bottom of my increasing malaise. Nothing worked, my weakness steadily increased. Each week, I noted in my journals that something wasn't right. I constantly felt under the weather. What had changed? Previously, daily life had come at such ease and I normally had abundant energy, but my physical strength was fast deteriorating.

In 2001, I was in my early 30's, and I even questioned if this was how it felt to be over 30? Surely not! I couldn't imagine things declining that fast, especially because I was in robust physical condition. Regularly, I biked, walked, camped out, hiked in rugged terrain, played racquetball, lifted very active was a cinch. I worked full-time, took continual studies at the University of Houston in Clear Lake and was heavily involved with my children's school and extracurricular activities. My husband and I had even recently took Swing dance lessons and danced at a live Jazz club in downtown Houston. Life had been full and very busy.

The downward spiral I encountered was rather quick, yet my physical frailty progressed over many months. At first, it crept up on me in a way that made me think I was perhaps experiencing a case of being run-down from doing too much. I made alterations by beginning to say "no" more often to outside demands.

After that didn't work, I'd suspect another culprit as the reason for my lack of energy and would make another useless change as my condition worsened. Then, I went to the doctor repeatedly and was told that I had a major salt deficiency and this was probably causing my chronic low blood pressure. The doctor told me, "Put salt on everything, whether you feel like eating it or not, douse your food with salt because your body can't get enough." Actually, I was craving a few salty foods and V8 juice, but I didn't particularly enjoy the salt-shaker-buddy-system.

Looking back to this New Year's Day journal prayer, I remember the emotional aspects that coincided with the physical changes I was enduring. No one seemed to understand, just yet, how unwell I had been feeling. I didn't understand it myself. But, I knew that something had to give and was thinking that maybe it was my attitude toward accepting my "aging" body. Even though I was doing everything humanly possible to find answers...and probably saw more than fifty physicians between the clinic visits, E.R. visits and hospital stays...without a diagnosis until I nearly died, I still felt as if I could do SOMETHING different to change my situation. Part of my New Year was to learn that some things were out of our hands, acceptance indeed.

I kept trying to regain my strength while praying for the urgency over my ill-health to be calmed. Now, I thank God for His powerful gift in us that wills us to do our best to survive. Our auto-pilot puts us into motion with an innate desire to find answers and to get better. Sometimes, it isn't possible. Regardless, a good fight is worth putting up the dukes and ducking, then dodging when necessary. Acceptance was about to be a huge part of my life, but not until the fight had been waged with fierce determination.

My diagnosis literally came as I hung by a thread. For me, it was a long-awaited miracle. I do not see myself as a "survivor" because I simply received the mercy of God, for some reason, and was given a start toward getting my life back...partly through acceptance. Over the next ten years, there would be major obstacles and some lessons had to be relearned, but each time, I came away with a deepened perspective about life. With truth comes the need for acceptance, then the new responsibilities can be tackled. And, here I am.
My journal entry on New Year's Day as I lay sick in bed...
months before my diagnosis with Addison's disease.

Prayer reads: Lord, I pray this New Year will be a year of peace,
understanding, forgiveness, looking forward, accepting battles
you can't win & start over - a year of more responsibilities,
a year of learning & of truth.

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