Verse of the Day

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Life is Different (still)/One Year Radiation Anniversary

With drama and trauma comes the need for change. Some changes are a welcomed relief; some changes take time to adjust to. Change is hard for people who are not particularly patient with themselves.

I am one year post-radiation (today!) for brain stem cavernous angioma. After steroid use for 8 months, I managed to pack on about 20 extra pounds. As my endocrinologist said, the weight will be difficult to take off. She was right. I have never needed to lose more than a few pounds, so the difficulty of a "real program" was and remains one of the most challenging things I've ever done.

The first thing I had to do was to get moving--- not the easiest thing to do after a stroke. Honestly, I started off with just 5 minutes on the exercise bike. That was all I could manage. But my husband encouraged me, saying to start off with 5 minutes, but build it up by 5 minutes ever day. I could do that! Now, I work out 4-5 days a week, averaging 1-2 hours per workout. I change up my routine, but I usually do at least an hour of cardio (high-intensity interval training at least twice a week), followed by weight training.

I must say I am somewhat spoiled to have a gym in my garage. Not many people enjoy that luxury! Having an exercise fanatic, ex-sports medicine doc as a husband has it's benefits.

I do use a heart rate monitor, which makes the interval training much easier. I warm up for 10 minutes, then do intervals (running or cycling) to push my heart rate to 90% of its maximum. When I've hit that magic number, I back off the intensity dramatically and allow my heart rate to hit just under 70% of max. Once my heart rate has recovered, I repeat the cycle. It is also very inspiring to push a couple of buttons at the end of a long workout and see how many calories I've burned.

Another helpful gadget has been the Fitbit Watch. You simply wear the tracker on your wrist. It monitors your heart rate, activity level, calories burned, and sleep quality. I sync it with my computer, and it helps me log each and every item I eat and drink. You can set goals for yourself, like how many pounds you want to lose and how quickly you hope to do that. Unfortunately, the charts say I should lose a pound per week, but that has never been my reality. It is much slower. Additionally, I am hypoglycemic, and this program helps me analyze my intake and figure out where I need to change my diet. This is the easiest food diary I have ever used, and I highly recommend it.

The Fitbit watch is not an effective tool to monitor exercise heart rate. I have downloaded an app called Digifit which is supposed to fix this problem. I have not tried it yet.

Although I have only lost 13 pounds thus far, I feel confident I can slowly lose the remainder of the weight. I certainly have considerable more empathy for people who struggle with their weight. At most, I have only been able to lose a half pound per week. Frustratingly slow progress, but progress nonetheless!

Besides the maddening weight loss odyssey, school has been our other great challenge. I have been a home schooling mom for over 14 years! For the most part, I have enjoyed it immensely and have considered it such a blessing and a privilege to be such an integral part of my kids' lives. I have more books in my house than furniture.

Yet, life changes. Three months before my first bleed, I felt led to hire our first tutor to help with the kids. I continued to teach my youngest (8), and my tutor took over teaching my 12 and 13 year olds. I moved two other kids to an online program (Monarch and Texting Textbooks), and my high schooler continued with mostly online curriculum. Isn't it amazing that the Holy Spirit prompted me to make changes before I even really needed to?

Even with these significant changes to our day, this year has been very difficult. I am just not the same person I was. Before the bleed, most people would have described me as being fairly even-tempered and patient. Not so much anymore.... I lose my focus and my patience about a quarter way through the school day. I find it hard to multi-task, get very anxious over normal issues, and find the sheer noise of 7 kids pretty tough to tolerate. By one o'clock in the afternoon, I'm back in bed. The mommy guilt is heavy, as you might imagine. A lot falls on my two oldest (16 and 18) when mom just can't manage to "do the usual."

For the upcoming school year (2015-2016), we have made the decision to put the kids in public school. It was a decision fraught with tears and anxiety, but it is my reality. Reality is that we can not afford a private tutor anymore. Reality is I am not an inspiring teacher anymore. Reality is that all of my adopted kids are 1-5 years behind their peers in academics. Reality is that we need help from outside sources to come along side our family and assist these kids. School has been a huge challenge for most of my adopted kids; they deserve teaching that will challenge and encourage them. I can't do it anymore. There, I finally said it. I can't do this anymore.

I know many of you are home schooling families, so you can imagine the angst. You have a certain belief, expectation, and hope for your families. Home schooling came pretty easily. Sure, you had tough days, but the sacrifice was worth it. Your kids were thriving! People wondered how you could manage all you did--- but His grace enabled you to thrive, and your kids did well. The last 14 years have been great.

Now, all of that has turned on its ear. It all fell apart: the teaching, the learning, and the grace to do it. It is clearly a time for something new, and all I can do is pray for wisdom, direction, and help for my kids. It all comes down (again) to trust. Do I trust the Lord to take care of my family? I have to.

Life will certainly be different, come August. I just need to grip (firmly) onto His hand and hold on for the ride.

Any words of wisdom?

1 comment:

  1. Blessings as you continue to heal, trust, and testify.