Self-Pity

Self-pity is never a healthy object of our obsession, but for me is it especially bad as I tend to wallow in Ben & Jerry’s – half baked. Anyway. Today was really rough. I’m emotional and feel like I’m drowning. Coming to terms with James’ illness has brought me to a valley that seems to get lower and lower. I know I’m a fraud when I talk to people because I need to fake it until I make it. I don’t let people in to know how much I’m struggling – and I really don’t think they could understand. I also don’t think they want to talk about it. Reality is ugly.  I think the only people who could understand would be people who are also in a marriage that has a chronic illness. It certainly is a storm of life that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I want to be selfish and demand that someone takes care of me for a change. I want someone to come along side me and say “Hey, it’s okay. I understand it’s hard. Here, let me take you to lunch. We can talk about it.” Also, self-care seems hard to impossible when you have someone else who needs practically all your time and attention. I have spent a lot of time the last two weeks angry at God and asking him why He seems to completely ignoring my prayers. It’s especially scary for me when I am praying that James will just be able to go to work the next day, and then he can’t. I live in a constant fear that he’s going to lose his job, and how will we manage? And it makes me angry. “God, why don’t you do something?! Why are you ignoring me? Why do you keep telling me ‘no’?” And then I think I sound like a selfish brat who needs an attitude adjustment. I just really wish there was someone who could see into my life – without me having to say it, or explain, or complain – and come along side me to support me.

I’ll be better tomorrow.

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James’ Health

The main reason I started this blog was to share about the issues James and I have been dealing with concerning his health. It has been a struggle for us, with seemingly endless doctors visits and blood tests and IgG tests and allergy tests – but we are pushing through.

To start: about 7 years ago, James got Lyme disease. Living in Ohio, Lyme is not well known or understood, which means doctors do not want to diagnose and prescribe antibiotics very quickly. So, for about 4 months, James was living with untreated Lyme disease. Finally, he found a doctor who put him on a round of antibiotics and treated the Lyme.

About a year after his round of Lyme treatment, James started noticing different symptoms: brain fogginess, muscle aches and pains, joint aches, stomach and digestive issues, etc. He ignored it for a while, but then decided it must be due to Celiac’s Disease (which runs in his family, and his sister has) and tried to cut out most gluten from his diet, with no true results. He tried more doctors, including a naturopath, who gave him lots of different vitamins and supplements to take, also to no avail. After a year of doctors, James decided they weren’t worth the trouble, and gave up on them all together – which meant he was just living with the ups and downs of a sickness he didn’t understand.

Fast-forward a few years, and he and I are dating. We had a long friendship, but a short dating relationship. You think you understand what it’s like for someone who has a chronic illness, and you think it’s easy to handle, until you get married. Then you realize, it’s really not as simple as you thought it was. James and I had a long distance relationship for most of our time dating, which made me even more unaware and disconnected from what it was really like: the days of work missed, the shutting himself away and trying to cope, his inability to explain what was really going on, etc. After we were married, he seemed disinterested in figuring out what was really going on with his health, like he had given up. That was extremely frustrating, and I wasn’t going to stand for it. I started pushing for us to try different things. The IgG test was one of the first, and gave us some food items to remove from his diet. It helped, but it didn’t make a significant difference. We followed it for six months until James decided it wasn’t worth it anymore. In a few months, he started to go progressively downhill again, so I pushed for starting doctor visits again. A coworker recommended her doctor, so I made James a visit. It began with testing for fibromyalgia, then chronic pain, then retesting for Lyme and seeing an infectious disease specialist. When none of those were right, the doctor moved on to prescribing anti-depressants, which sent James to the hospital for severe reactions.

It felt like we finally had a breakthrough when my aunt (a nurse) suggested neurontin for chronic, undiagnosed pain. The neurontin gave James a few months of taking the edge off the pain, unfortunately it worked best when combined with alcohol. As things went progressively downhill, James was having to combine the neurontin with alcohol every night to be able to sleep. I was seriously concerned about James becoming dependent on the alcohol, so I began researching anything I could find on a-msh: a hormone that helps manage and control inflammation in your body. A-msh is abnormal when people have chronic Lyme or mold illness. Reading about mold illness was the most promising thing I had found yet, so we went back to the doctor and asked if she would order different blood tests to test for all these different markers of mold illness and inflammation. When we got the blood tests back, the only thing they confirmed was that James had chronic inflammation. All the other markers for mold illness or chronic Lyme weren’t there.

Having the blood tests that confirmed chronic inflammation was both encouraging and discouraging at the same time: on the one hand the tests were telling James and I something we already knew, and on the other hand, there was finally proof that it wasn’t all in James’ head. So, I decided to research some more. In my researching, I stumbled upon leaky gut and candida. If people are not aware what those are: leaky gut is when your digestive system has more bad bacteria and flora than good, which then allows your gut to become permeable and leaks things from your gut into your body, causing food intolerances, allergies, and inflammation. Candida is basically an infection of bad yeast caused by the same imbalance. Leaky gut is something doctors can test for, the problem is finding a doctor who believes it is a real problem, and not something holistic doctors and health gurus have made up.

As I started reading more about it, James and I were both pretty convinced that this was a logical explanation. It would have started with the antibiotics he took for Lyme disease, and would have been made worse thanks to the antibiotics the doctor put him on again before he saw the infectious disease specialist.

So, this is where we are: learning and researching as much as we can about leaky gut and candida, removing soy, wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs, beef, and anything else his body seems intolerant to out of his diet, while trying to fix his leaky gut with all natural candida treatments and supplements to help his body heal.

Thanks for visiting!

Briana

Introduction to this Blog

Welcome to Of Puppies and Perseverance.  My hope is that this blog will be entertaining for people, along with informative for those looking for someone who is or has a loved one suffering from an undiagnosed chronic illness.

As James and I are finishing up our third year of marriage, I have begun wondering about the many wives (or husbands) that have a spouse with a chronic illness that they cannot understand, and that severely impacts and affects their lives. Oftentimes when that happens, it seems that no one understands what the spouse goes through, or how difficult it is for the wife to be watching her husband’s suffering. As a wife of such a person, I can say with all honesty that it is very difficult for me to be understanding of my husband’s suffering, but even more so when none of my, or his family, understand, as much as they may try. And, oftentimes it feels like I am alone with no one who understands my struggles as the wife of a man who is chronically ill. But then I can only imagine what it is like to be my husband, who is misunderstood, told ‘it’s all in [your] head’, or thought to be faking it to get out of work, responsibilities, etc.

So, I have created this blog in the hopes that someday, it may be a place where someone can have encouragement from a person who has been there. It’s not all going to be sad, depressing posts. I am going to talk about our three crazy dogs and the entertainment (and stress) that they bring to the household, the work we are doing on the house (and the mistakes we make along the way) along with different things – medicines and otherwise – that we have been trying for James, in the hopes that something finally helps, and that it may help someone else as well!

Therefore, read on – and thanks for visiting!

Briana