Do You Think You're Stressed?

Back when I had to fight a toddler over whether he was going to eat oatmeal or not, I thought that was stressful.
But looking back, I wonder how I could have thought so.
Now, I think letting each son go, so soon, so fast is stressful.
My sister reminded me that moving is stressful, though I guess knew that.
Changing jobs is also listed as one of the five big stresses.
Traveling and following all these rules about masks is also stressful.
I cry a lot.

Last year, when I had major surgery to remove three cysts SEE When Life Is Awful, my body underwent a lot of stress. I won’t tell you all the emotional stress that was going on at that same time SEE It's Not My Story.

So in February of this year, I felt trashed. Picking up one foot and moving it to walk up from the garage was all I could do. Please don’t talk to me while I was doing that, I needed to focus on just walking.

And if you touched me with your fingertip, it felt like you had punched me. But I couldn’t protect myself, because that took too much energy and thought.

My mom asked if I was still taking the supplement that gave me extra energy SEE If You Could Live Forever. And why I could have all these problems while still taking it.

I explained, using an analogy my mechanic told me. “In an old car, if you change one thing with a new one, it puts added pressure on the entire system because of that one item functions better. Those old pipes could hold the old pressure just fine, but with greater pressure caused by the new part, the pipes cannot hold and they burst.” Same with the body. When one item works better, a chain reaction of what other things aren’t holding as well results. Your body had gotten use to a new “status quo” of deficiency, operating at a lower efficiency. It may take extra vitamins or newer parts to bring the rest of the body up to that "new standard."
When one thing works better, it shows the others how poorly they were really keeping up. Make sense? 

My husband watched not knowing how to help.
Our family nurse practitioner had retired. Who could we trust?
Joey recommended a ND the family knew as a friend.
I went.

He prescribed blood work. When the blood technician took over 15 vials of blood, I thought maybe we would find some answers.
After the bloodwork, the doctor explained that my adrenal hormone was 4. (Normal was 12-14.) He said if I was 2-3, he would be looking at a disease—Addison’s.
No wonder all the daily decisions were too much for me to solve!
He started me on an adrenal complex.

As the months went by, and COVID-19 hindered in-office consults, we continued with the treatment. Though the touch-like-a-punch did not seem to improve.
I read about adrenal failure and fatigue. I had all the symptoms.
Depression—not so much, just too tired to care.
Joey said the medical field did not recognize it.
When I asked my ND, he admitted he was treating me for that. 
I’m glad someone believed my symptoms were real.

Many of the articles for healing said “reducing stress” was crucial.
This was at a time when we were preparing for another son to be married and moving across country. No stress there!
Ways to reduce stress were recommended.
Soaking in Epsom salts—for magnesium.
Walking or exercise.
Breathing deeply.
I added reading a lot of Psalms. God was still in control.

These were great if you had that much time.
How could I get out of breath by doing nothing!
I also felt my symptoms from my cysts were returning—shortness of breath, pressure on my heart, feeling full when eating little.
I fretted over the possibility of new cysts and having to re-do last year’s surgery. 
I cried when I thought of surgery again

A nurse practitioner substituted for my doctor on one of my visits. She said, “Let’s get a CT to confirm.”
A CT found a hernia through my diaphragm that hindered my lungs from inflating as my stomach pushed on both my lungs and heart; heart burn was the diagnosis for the pressure on my heart. 
Easy fixes, not requiring surgery.
The doctor recommended an exercise to rectify the hernia.
Although painful, it pushed my stomach back. That helped my breathing and eliminated my heart burn. 
The hole will heal together but will always have that tendency.

As to soaking in the tub to reduce stress—If Epsom salts were great because of the magnesium, perhaps I could take a supplement that would give me more. I read and ordered a magnesium supplement that would be absorbed and help reduce muscle soreness.

Vitamin D is known to help depression and well-being. I started taking Vitamin D in concentrated drops—more effective than capsules for absorption.

My adrenal improved to an 8.
I  asked for something that would supplement them—especially since now the stress of moving/a wedding/ a job change were intensified.
He recommended “Power Adapt”—an herbal supplement to “build core energy and stress protector”.
He also prescribed a hormone cream that would help my touch-like-a-punch problem.

Life is stressful. 
I’m not asking for the stress to be removed—although that would be nice, but not realistic. 
In fact, Jesus told us in John 16:33,  “In this world, you will have troubles."
But our bodies know what to do with stress normally.
When they forget or need help, it is nice to know how to help them.

How do I deal with stress?
I have found consulting a doctor and taking vitamins help.
Soaking, walking and breathing do help. But aren’t always realistic.
Reading Psalms helps mentally and spiritually, but doesn’t change how I feel physically.
But what helps me most is giving God my problems. When I feel overwhelmed, I tell God.
I do the next thing, but give the second next thing to God, until it is my turn to do something about it.
It's doing what you can today, and letting God control tomorrow. And letting go of what I can't do.
It's that moment-by-moment life that God wants us to live. Breathe in---tell God, Breathe out--praise Him and listen to what you should do, not what you think you must do.
That's the total dependence upon God that gets you through the day. 
When I am stressed, I look up. When I'm not stressed, I forget. Wonder why God allows stress? He wants us to be looking up. 

Last time my blood work came back, my adrenal was 10. Two shy of normal. I am functioning better, but still must defer many daily decisions to my husband—many I would normally have answered without thought before.

My doctor was encouraged with the progress.
Guess I should be too.
And if you touch me, I probably won’t wince now. It’s getting better.
And I don’t cry over spilled milk. Which is helpful.

All this shows to me how fearfully and wonderfully we are made.
I’m grateful for what God has allowed the medical field to treat.
I’m not sure what “normal” is anymore—but I do know —
God is to be praised.

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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More faith articles are found here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Or here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Articles on Suffering can be found  here, 
under Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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