Faith · Fitness · Perspective

Psalm 19 with a Sprinkle of Science

Do you ever feel like you are just missing the point? Like with the current excitement over fanny packs and high-waisted jeans (which I experienced the first time a few decades ago), some things just leave me clueless.

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Yep, that’s me! The last few weeks have been a quest to “get it.” Once you realize you are missing something, you want to find it.

With my husband gone for a trip and then the transition time back into normal rhythm, I slipped out of my habits. I stopped running because where was the time? I stopped doing my devotional in the morning because I wasn’t getting more than a few hours of sleep. My stress level was thru the roof. My kids were fighting constantly. Sugar and bread cravings were all I could think about at meal times.

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Appreciate what’s around me? Struggling to…

Pay attention to the people and places I went? Just enough to keep us all alive…

In the words of Nemo, I was trying to “just keep swimming.”

That is not what this life is about! Sometimes, well… most of the time, God puts something in front of me like that rumble strip on the sides of the highway. The one that signals “CAUTION” and to make a correction. (side note- it is also good at distracting screaming babies on long car trips – not sure how we would have ever made it to Austin, TX with a very angry 5 month old without that rumble strip)

The first day of May, I set a goal of 90 miles of running this month (max 10/90 on bike). I’ve run basically every day. Running is part of my worship. It is impossible to not appreciate nature and all of Creation when running outdoors. It is extremely hard to demean yourself on the treadmill if you are aware how all the intricate cells in your body are working together to make that happen.

Monday, I picked my devotion time back up as well. Psalm 18. Psalm 19 Tuesday. Talk about a swift swoop into my world!

Psalm 19 (NIV).

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. 

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 
8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 
9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. 
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Verses 1-6 refer to the beauty of creation, created by God in intricate interwoven detail. “Verse 3 – they have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.” It doesn’t have to be! Beauty and majesty speaks for itself. There are no words in any human language that does it justice. “Yet their voice goes out to all the earth, their words to the ends of the world…”

How sad that I was so wrapped up in man-made chaos, that I completely missed all the miraculous things going on around me!

As a lover of science, I understand the desire to know all the inner workings. I want to know too! But much like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, I have to pick which part I’m sure of to make calculations. I choose God and will leave the other part to be less certain. In doing so, I’m able to enjoy and appreciate life around me with both my faith and my questioning, scientific mind.

In doing the study commentary on verses 7-13 this morning, I realized that I had completely misunderstood much of the intent of the Bible!

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In my naivety, I’ve thought that many of the teachings were extremely limiting and harsh. What about my self-expression? my self-interests? my hopes, wishes and dreams?

Notice a trend here? Consider MY ears opened this morning.

Back to basic science – Newton – Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Why do I think MY actions, hopes, dreams, expressions, and interests won’t have a ripple effect on others? #selfish

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The harder I push against God’s guidance, the harder or more awry life goes for me and those around me. Our world is doing its darndest to muddle things up. Again *raises hand*, guilty… Those guiding principles are not there to punish us, but to walk us towards a deeper joy, the kind only possible when you’ve made humble peace in your soul. Consider this me working towards being wise.

Verses 11 to 13. Who hasn’t told a child “Don’t touch that! It’ll burn your hand!” Then the seeking fingers touch it, burn, and tears ensue. *raises hand* Who has been that child thinking that he/she knew what was best? *raises hand*

These lines illustrate how God is trying, so so hard, to guide us away from troubles. It is frequently MY choice which path I choose – walking away without blemish or needing a salve and a bandage.

Hidden faults. We all have them. A very difficult step in maturing is recognizing those faults and rectifying them. I’m feeling fairly confident that I’ll never master all of mine. Thank goodness for the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of my husband, family, friends, and the One who made it all possible with His sacrifice!

Willful sins? I think by this, my study means vices and things we do on purpose. What is your vice? Put simply, I like my pants to fit, so fitness is probably one of mine. Pride seeps into fitness like sweat into a t-shirt after a good workout.

About a month ago, I ran a little over 10K for a team half marathon event that benefitted local scholarships. I struggled physically and thus was not happy with my time. I completely missed a chance to be thankful that my body will move how I want it to. With MS, this is not something to overlook! Alas, my pride got in the way. To exercise with the desire to only be proud of myself or for the attention of others is willful.

After this eye and heart-opening study, I can honestly say I’ve hit the rumble strip. This is my modern day application of Psalm 19. I appreciate the wake up.

Health

Road Trip

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Sunday- Monday was our biannual road trip to see my neurologist. We left after church on Sunday. Kissed the kids, installed the car seat in grandpa’s vehicle, threw the bags in the backseat of our truck and headed west. 

I love getting to spend that time with my husband — and by time I mean about 7 hours one way and then about 7 hours back. We cover a lot of topics that we don’t normally get to talk about. 

I sing in the car to pretty much anything that comes on. I tried to introduce him to a different genre of music, not so successfully. I listened to his talk radio shows for awhile. We tried to get excited about the Super Bowl, but meh. Not so entertaining on the radio.

We arrived at our friends’ apartment in time for the 2nd half of the Super Bowl and then continued to visit late into the night — 11pm is late for us. Don’t judge. We changed time zones and have two young kids. They were very gracious to put us up for the night. In the midst of our visit, they are closing on a new house and moving out of their apartment in 2 weeks!

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Denver is a big city. We spent most of the morning in traffic trying to get somewhere to eat breakfast. We finally settled on a clean, suburban IHOP where 3 guys were sharing a joint outside. Oh Colorado… How different you are…

Of course, IHOP isn’t known for its dairy free options so it isn’t EVER my first choice. However, the map on my phone had taken us to two options that were not open, so I settled for a California scramble minus the cheese and butter and added some hot sauce. 

After that we trekked back north towards a shopping center where I completely struck out on the two things I needed: jeans and a swimsuit. There are no swimsuits for sale in or around Denver in February. #Ihateshopping

Fortunately, there was a good coffee shop at this shopping center. I settled for a coffee and read my book while he continued to browse. (Present over Perfect – a gift from a friend for Christmas – check it out for a new read.)

As usual, my actual appointment and reason for the road trip was short and sweet. We reviewed my MRI – stable, did blood work – all in normal ranges, and ran thru my physical assessment – no loss of sensation this time! All good things.

She was very interested in my bout of GI virus about a month ago as it apparently caused a psuedo-relapse and threw my nervous systems for a loop before I even had the actual GI symptoms. The crazy pain it caused was likely a “MS Hug.” All things that are new to my experience with this disease. See my blog Tingles about this.

Two interesting developments:
1) We didn’t do contrast on my annual MRI. There is research that the gadolinium can eventually build up in the body and isn’t good for the kidneys, so the group of specialists where I doctor have decided not to order contrast unless they believe something is new or active. I have neither indicators, so no contrast.
2) There is a new treatment being approved by the FDA this spring. It is only twice a year infusions and thus far after 3 clinical trials, has no risk of PML. I’m doing well with almost non-existent side effects with the Tecfidera. I’m not looking to change right now, but this would be a good option in the future according to my neuro – pending getting it thru all the insurance hoops.

Home again home again…

We were happy to make it home late last night and the kids were excited to see us this morning. It’s a big sigh of relief when that trip is over and done.

Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Tingles

Did I Push Too Hard?

That is the question I was asking myself as I laid with my 4yr old at bedtime last night. We finished prayers. She talked about Lola the dog and Aspen her daycare friend. She answered my daily request of “what was the best part of your day?” And then we laid there and held hands while her favorite lullabies played softly.

I cherish this time of night with my littles. My husband and I trade-off nights with each child. Sometimes it is a quick 5 minute tuck-in with prayers, but tonight was 45 minutes of laying still and cuddling. And there is nothing wrong with that for so many personal reasons. Those reasons I’ll discuss in another entry.

While I laid there patiently waiting for her to settle down and fall asleep, I thought over the past two days. I am pushing for a 40-mile December. To some, that might not seem like much. Only running 40 miles in a month. Many in my online running group have big, amazing goals like 100+ miles or are headed for a 3000 mile year. To others like my non-running husband that seems like a ridiculously large amount.

To me: Attainable but it would require finding time whenever possible to squeeze in a few miles. Time would be a much bigger challenge than distance.

So I did. Sometimes in only 10-15 minute increments. Running into the Wellness Center or down the road for however long I could snip a quick moment out of the day (with childcare). Looking at the calendar, it’s easy to see when school was still in session: homework, carpool, work, meetings, appointments, feeding my crew… and not much running.

I’m sitting today at 37.2/40. I’m feeling confident I can get the last 2.8miles today.

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However, it may be slower than the past few days. Just speculating, but I think I made my neck lesion mad.

Wednesday I knocked out a pace that I haven’t managed before. I ran my 5K in approximately 24 minutes. As I finished up mile 3, my legs started to get wonky and did not want to stride correctly. It was a strange phenomenon I’ve never experienced before.

Thursday, I ran intervals for mile 1. I warmed up from 6.0-6.5. I revved the treadmill up to 8.2. I needed a quick trip to the bathroom following mile 1 so I jogged to the locker room. 

I’ve had the “tingles” in my legs before when running, but never quite like this. It wasn’t painful, but tingles on the outside of my thighs, and on the inside and outside of my knees when I sat down. When I stood up they were gone.

My spine felt good – no L’hermitte’s. Hips good. No issues in my legs upon washing my hands and walking back to the treadmill. I ran another mile at 7.0 revving up to 9.2.

But in the quiet of my daughter’s bedtime, I have to ask myself – Did I push too hard? Is this normal for anyone else?

For years, I assumed that the strange things that my body did were just normal quirks. No pain, so not a big deal. Just an occasional muscle jerk here or a double clutch on my left foot when doing Zumba. It wasn’t until the numbness of my actual “event” (which I thought was exercise induced by bad form with a kettlebell) that my medical professional and I were led to say “what is going on in this otherwise healthy person?”

Pretty sure my neuro (who I’ll see in February for a 6m check) would say “Hmmm… Jen, use some common sense here.”

Common sense – Looking at, working out with, or having a conversation with me would lead a person with common sense to say ‘she’s perfectly healthy!’ But looks are deceiving, which I was reminded about by the presence of my tingles.

Looks like I’ll be finishing up my last 2.8 a little slower than I’d planned. I can’t express how thankful I am to be able to run or even hop or walk those last miles toward my goal. Those tingles gave me something to think deeply about and brought about a whole new depth of gratitude for simple mobility.

Don’t take anything in life for granted.


Much love to you as we close out 2016! — Jen

 

Creativity · Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Uncategorized

Creative Insomnia

Insomnia. Apparently, it is quite common. Defined as “habitual sleeplessness or inability to sleep,” this is a frustrating part of life for millions of people. Some struggle with getting to sleep. Others struggle to stay asleep. According to medicalnewstoday, there are many causes ranging from psychological and medical issues to technological media being present in the bedroom. The diagnosis of insomnia covers a wide range of people and blankets a myriad of diagnoses.

In the Trenches

When my doctor first asked me about my sleep, I was eyeballs-deep in parenting a non-sleeping 1 year old and rambunctious 3 year old. I kid you not, my 1yr old slept only eight nights the first 14-15 months. She was a tiny, healthy little thing that simply did not sleep. “This too shall pass” was a frequent phrase for me. I was also working full-time. A glowing picture of sleep, I was not.

Flashback!!!
Sleep? Who are you kidding?

So what do you say when your doctor looks at you and says “How are you sleeping?”  My reply was simply that I wasn’t but isn’t that what most parents in the trenches say? Was my situation really any different?

Insomnia and the Brain

The nervous system is an amazing superhighway transferring messages (stimuli) along the neural pathways. Central command is the complex powerhouse known as your brain. Have you seen the Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’? That’s a fun illustration, but it does so much more than just control feelings. The brain delicately sends out messages for voluntary and involuntary muscle movements. When you have a lesion – it screws everything up.

If I could find my latest disc with my annual MRI pics, I’d post one. It’s fascinating. Every year when I have my MRI, our hospital sends me home with a copy with the current scan and a copy of the previous year’s to take to my neuro. I go home and pour over these images trying to note any changes. Thus far, I haven’t had any since the first one showing the initial lesion(s).

Snowball

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Autoimmune fatigue is a different kind of animal… and it likes to snowball. For example – I like to run. I can run a half-marathon and be tired at the end. I might even “hit the wall” in proverbial running terms. It still isn’t the same kind of fatigue as autoimmune fatigue. When the real thing hits, you really don’t have a choice about “should I stay and work 15 more minutes on that project?” or “I wonder what we’ll have for dinner tonight?” It is a cancel or postpone whatever you can, tone it down, rest, keep your eyes open and body awake enough to safely get everyone home type of reaction. It is bad — and I didn’t really understand that until I experienced it.

The kicker is…. just because you rest doesn’t mean you sleep. When you don’t actually sleep, your body doesn’t get the deep REM cycle it needs to heal. Thus begins the snowball effect. It doesn’t always start with autoimmune fatigue, but you can bet that after a few days or weeks of not getting that deeply needed sleep you are seriously tip-toeing along the edge of the autoimmune cliff.

Creative Insomnia

I fall into that category of insomniacs that don’t have a problem falling asleep, but can’t seem to stay that way. Who am I kidding??? When I tuck my littles into bed, I’m probably drooling and unconscious before they are…

Back to an appointment with my neuro… He suggested a few options:

  • Melatonin
  • No media 30 minutes before bed
  • Amitriptyline (wide range of uses!!!)
  • No caffeine
  • Empty bladder

On top of those options, I’ve found that regular exercise and making sure my magnesium levels are sufficient are the keys to a full night’s sleep. Not every single night, but the majority are better with the assistance of these supplements. I can’t handle even the lowest dose of amitriptyline, so I take a half dose if its been multiple days seeing 2 or 3am. At a half dose, I still have weights on my eyelids at 9am and my amazing husband handles the school prep and drop-off.

When I do see 2 or 3am, I try to make the best of it. In the quiet of the wee hours, creativity flows and deep heart-wrenching prayers are said. If only there was a good way to record that creativity in the dark and warmth of my bed? I feel comfort in those deep prayers and sometimes an indescribable spiritual peace.

If you suffer from insomnia, I strongly encourage you to talk with your doctor and open your mind to possibly look at “outside the box” remedies (exercise, lavender, lifestyle changes, quiet meditation/prayer time).

As with all things, a positive outlook is something I strive for. Psalm 34. It’s worth the look.

 

Fitness · Health

W30 and Blog Prompts

To start – It’s a beautiful fall day. I’m being thankful for many tiny details lately. I don’t want to take anything for granted.

W30 – MS

W30. Have you heard of it? After my MS diagnosis, I did a Whole 30 to try and eliminate anything in my diet that was aggravating my body and creating inflammation. The studies on diet and MS just seem to be ramping up, but in my gut (literally) I feel confident that it contributed a part to how this all played out.

I discovered with my W30 that dairy hates me. It always did. I was in agony in Kindergarten at snack – usually crackers and cheese with a carton of milk. I didn’t speak up at that point because we just didn’t do that 30 years ago. They still served slimy hot boiled spinach in schools at that point! It was a different era.

I am now 2+ years dairy free. On the rare occasion that something whey or lactose sneaks in, my body reacts in noticeable ways – obvious to my husband and anyone else around me. It’s amazing how quickly I can look like I’m halfway through a pregnancy and be doubled over in discomfort!

My yearly MRIs show that my MS is stable. Hallelujah! However, I have creeped back into lax eating with sugar, refined carbs, and definitely let my veggies slip. Don’t picture me sitting with lollipops and chips. That’s not really my style. It’s looks more like graham crackers and frosting or chips and salsa or a double helping of spaghetti with meat sauce. Just overdoing it. Did you see any green veggies mentioned? Neither did I…

I think it’s time to reset myself. My goal is to start Monday, November 21. Day 1 will be the day after my family’s Thanksgiving. If you have must-have recipes that are W30 compliant, I’m all ears in the comment section! You are welcome to live vicariously through me as well. I’m sure I’ll update on this journey on here.

BLOG PROMPTS

I’m intrigued by the blog prompts that show up when I login. (Is it “login” or “log in”? Having two separate words makes it seem like an action…) So much so that I think I’ll bite on this one.

The topic choices were ‘Greatest Comforts’ or ‘Things I Miss.’ Here are my quick-snap reactions in no certain order.

  • Greatest Comforts
    • Family time
    • A nice relaxing run
    • My faith
  • Things I Miss
    • My grandparents
    • Frequent belly laughs
    • Life WITHOUT a cellphone or smart phone

 

Faith · Family · Fitness · Health

13.1 miles. Ran it.

We did it!!!! 13.1 miles!!!

2014 Go Girl Run Half Marathon - Overland Park, KS
2014 Go Girl Run Half Marathon – Overland Park, KS
The run was awesome. We ran the first 8 at a 12:40 average pace. It was so easy that we literally held a conversation 95% of the time. There were people cheering for us frequently along the route with encouraging signs and smiling faces from the start line all the way to the finish. By mile 8, I could feel it in my legs that I really needed to run my own pace. My friend told me to go on ahead, she would finish in her time.
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It was so freeing and really enjoyable to just stretch out my legs and go. I cheered loudly for myself at each mile marker and no one thought I was being silly. I honestly wouldn’t have cared if they did.
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My husband saw me off, caught me again around 9 miles, and then was waiting at the finish line for me. He was SO supportive and has been this whole time. He really trusts me that I will slow down and read my body accordingly just as the doctor told me to do. I averaged 10:40 min/mile for the last 5 miles.
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I’m not fatigued from this event at all. Took a bit for my tummy to handle food, but a few smoothies after the race helped that. I woke up feeling great today, minus a few sore toes. That is all because of the 3.5 months of training I did for it. I built up slowly. I would never recommend waking up and trying to run 13 miles. I started with a goal of running 2 miles without stopping.
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My dad asked me WHY I wanted to do this run. I knew my body was capable of this with the proper gradual training and overall, my physical and mental health benefited from the training and goal. I did this for me. I am being faced with a disease that is new to me and new to them. I am not sure what the path will be. It could be negligible. I will do everything in my power to make any “hiccups” as smooth as possible. The best way to keep this machine moving is to make sure I’m keeping all the parts moving and greased. 🙂 You will all have to learn to trust me on this.
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My motto from day 1 of this has been: “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:13
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Love to you — J
Family · Fitness · Health

The Good, the Diagnosis, The Blessing

Four miles. 36 minutes. Energy to spare. Monday morning. I could have pushed for at least one or two more miles but time constraints stopped me.

Could my diagnosis be accurate? I guess that question is answered by the second opinion we sought and received last week. Two neurologists, one being more specialized, looked at my MRI’s, listened to my symptoms, tested reflexes, reviewed my lab work, and independently agreed. I have multiple sclerosis. Talk about a gut punch!

Symptoms? Not many and the ones I do have are easily brushed off as trivial. We discovered something was not quite right after I injured my shoulder doing kettle bell swings. My hand tingled and went numb. I could barely hold a pen or pencil three weeks after the workout.

To see what we were dealing with, my family practitioner ordered a MRI of my spine and then a second MRI that included my brain. I successfully did physical therapy, which greatly helped the thoracic outlet syndrome that the workout caused. I visited a neurosurgeon (for a disc situation), who saw the abnormal MRI but believed I should have major symptoms if the two lesions were active. The neurologist ran me through the whole ‘look here, tiptoes, feel this poke?, etc’ and noted a few things, but none were anything that seemed abnormal to me. He explained that I needed a lumbar puncture and blood work.

Still no major symptoms. I started running a few miles five days a week. Cue the waiting for test results. We went on vacation for a week to South Carolina to see family.

And then… BAM! It looks like MS. No family history of it and no symptoms although my hand is still occasionally a bit slower and doughy feeling. Second opinion with a MS specialist confirmed it. I’m awaiting more blood results to start medication in about 10 days. So, now it is out there.

I am blessed. My MS is in the very very early stages – only one active lesion and one inactive lesion. I am incredibly healthy and virtually without major symptoms. The medication options now available are amazing for slowing the progression to the point that I may never have any disability. This will not hold me down. I will still do my half marathon. I will continue to be an active mother to my two beautiful young children. I am still a loving wife with much to contribute to our relationship and our business.

If you’ve never read ‘Footprints in the Sand’, look it up. It sums up the past week’s emotions.

I am blessed.

Goal for tomorrow is 3 miles.

Coming Soon: A Humorous Look at the Worst Things Said to Someone Who Has Just Received A Crappy Diagnosis. No really, someone did say that…