I’m finally sharing the raw & honest health update I’ve been promising and talking about some lifestyle changes I am having to make today!
Oh, where do I begin? I talked before about some health issues I had last summer but I’ve never really shared what was going on. For one reason, it’s hard to be that vulnerable on the internet. For another, I may be a blogger but I am a VERY private person when it comes to my personal life and health. Third, there are people dealing with WAY worse issues on a daily basis and I felt guilty for potentially even appearing to complain. Even when I was in the thick of my issues last summer, only a handful of people knew. I decided that I needed to share my story with you because there may be someone else out there dealing with similar issues and because I want to be held accountable for what I need to do to get better.
Two summers ago (2015), I dropped 20 pounds and felt great. I was working out daily, eating healthy and getting back to my goal weight & body. Flash forward to the late spring of 2016 and I just felt crappy a lot. This was quite a quick change! I was exhausted and not wanting to get up in the morning. I started putting some weight back on. I thought we were just busy and I wasn’t sleeping enough and ignored it.
Late summer, I had an evening where I felt so off. Just heavy and dazed and…just off. The feeling passed and I let it go. A week later I suffered from the first migraine I’d ever had. Let me just say, for those of you who suffer from those routinely, I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t even brush my wet hair to get ready for church and spent the entire day on our couch. Jared and I decided at that point that I needed to get checked out.
The next day I called my doctor’s office, gave them my symptoms and I was in an examination room 45 minutes later. After my examination, my doctor told me to prepare for more tests because this could be serious and we had to find the cause. I asked him to be completely honest with me and give me the rundown of what we could be dealing with. As I was waiting on my nurse to give me my stack of appointments to schedule, I was texting Jared what the doctor said and we were both overwhelmed. I took all of that in and headed back to my office for the rest of the day.
Weeks of MRI’s, ultrasounds, x-rays, going under for scopes and more commenced. They were thankfully quickly able to eliminate any brain damage/tumors/etc. All the issues my doctor had given as possibilities were brain or heart related for the most part. I kept telling Jared my prayer was for the heart because you can’t replace a brain! This was an answered prayer.
We were already aware of one heart condition I had, SVT. SVT is something I have suffered from since I was in my early teens. I started passing out suddenly and we couldn’t figure out why. My doctor at the time blew it off but I finally switched to my current doctor in college and he figured it out. My heart rate was speeding up so rapidly at times that it was causing me to lose consciousness. The only way to describe the symptoms is that my heart would beat super rapidly, my vision would go dark and I would feel like I was going to pass out (sometimes I would, sometimes I wouldn’t). It wasn’t something that bothered me consistently so I just had to be aware of it and avoid the triggers. The 3 biggest triggers of this for me are caffeine, alcohol consumption and stress. It seemed to come and go so I just dealt with it and minimized anything that triggered it as much as I could.
I haven’t had alcohol in probably a year and a half and even before then I would maybe have a glass of wine or two very rarely. When I did, I could tell it really affected me and my SVT so I gave it up and don’t miss it. Caffeine was hard to give up but I did it and only drink decaf 99.9% of the time. Stress is the hard one. Life is stressful. Just wanted to give you a background on my original condition before I jumped into the new stuff!
So, where were we? Oh, yes. They cleared my brain.
After they did some more tests & put me under for my scope, they discovered another issue with my heart. I have a PFO, a hole in my heart. This isn’t a big deal for most people. A lot of people have one and just don’t know it. Mine is just a problem because it provides a clear path to my brain for blood clots. The biggest concern was that this hole was allowing me to either throw blood clots or have mini-strokes or both. After discussing the results with Jared & my family, we decided to consult a specialist at Vanderbilt. I was so impressed by the care at Vandy! After my initial consultation, a team of 3 specialists sat down to go over my file together before calling me with a recommendation. The recommendation at that point was mainly lifestyle changes (including an aspirin regimen), switching my birth control and watching to see if any other symptoms occurred or if I had any more issues. There was no way to definitively know what had happened since I had only had one major episode, so it would be crazy to consider closing the hole at that point not even knowing if it would fix the problem.
I was pretty careful with everything for quite a while but life got busy and I still felt like crap but we couldn’t figure out why. I just dealt with it and powered through. Last month, we think I had another episode from the PFO. I decided to give my doctor a call and set an appointment to talk about that and to discuss the other crazy symptoms I was having. To say my body is out of whack is an understatement: my heart was acting up again, I’m breaking out worse than I did when I was 14, I’ve developed excema, my Keratosis Pilaris is back with gusto, my hormones are all over the place, I have put on weight, tired constantly, am having trouble remembering everything & staying on top of things (which is NOT normal for me) etc. Seriously – it’s ridiculous. I felt like my body was falling apart all over again and wanted to know why.
So, where are we now?
With my heart, I am waiting on some more tests. We are hoping to be able to stop the issues with a few more lifestyle changes to avoid any medicine/procedures. My doctors believe I have an additional condition we weren’t aware of before that is causing the extra symptoms we originally blamed on my heart and the new ones. And yes, before anyone asks, my thyroid has been tested and retested and it’s totally fine. We’re pretty sure we know what’s going on but are making sure so I will let you all know when I know. The current most likely outcome is going to be a lifelong annoyance but is totally manageable with lifestyle changes and staying on top of what I’m supposed to do. I have lots more tests, monitors, allergy testing & more happening this month. Hopefully, I will be getting a lot more answers soon!
I am honestly so lucky. There are so many people out there suffering from things MUCH worse than me! I have kept a pretty positive attitude throughout it all and intend to keep doing that. I did have a rough week last week when I realized how many big lifestyle changes I was going to have to make though. Being totally transparent, it’s hard to be told at 28 that your body has limits and that you are testing them with your daily lifestyle. We just started a new company, already were running other ones and just generally have very active lives. How am I supposed to balance all that with eating a pretty perfect diet, exercising consistently, taking all my vitamins, drinking enough water, keeping my stress level down, sleeping enough, relaxing enough and so on?! I’m stressed and tired just thinking about how to get in a perfect routine with all of that. BUT, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired so I am thankful that they think all of this will help enough to keep me feeling better and help alleviate my symptoms.
Right now, I am working to implement all the lifestyle changes that my doctors think will help. I am a planner (shocker considering I just started a planner company ha!) and to get my new routines and lifestyle changes down, I am going through a process to figure out how to fit it all in every day, when to do what, etc. To start, I’m doing my usual. Lots of poster board laying on my floor where I’m going to list out what I’m supposed to do and then build morning/evening routines, make a business/blog plan and more to try to take better care of myself inside & out 🙂 Now that I’m putting this out there, I will share more on the blog & instagram going forward if you all want me to. I thought I would share my process of how I’m doing the above, check in with updates, share what works, etc – let me know what you want to hear about!
I have been in and out of this space a lot in the past year and this is why. I felt so uninspired at times and didn’t like feeling like I was hiding a major part of my life. I’m excited to figure out what I want the future to hold for this space and that I can now be open and share this part of my life. I definitely covet your prayers as I try to become a less stressed, more balanced version of myself (and pray for Jared too because he has to try to make me behave when I forget I have limits)! This will certainly be a challenge but I’m ready to take it on!
Oh and P.S. my comment section is supposed to be fixed now so if anyone has any other issues with it working, please let me know!