Friday, January 30, 2009

Thoughts on Pride and Health

Pride is an interesting thing. A friend and I had a conversation about this very subject the other day. As is usual for me, I thought about it over the next few days, asking myself this question: In just what area does my own pride display itself?

I'm proud of my husband. He's a very hard-working man. Up until a year ago, he worked two jobs on a regular basis, so I could stay home with my kids. Not all men would do that; not all men have to do that. But it's definitely one of the things I appreciate about him. I dare say he's a better husband than I deserve (you've never had to live with me,lol). But then, good husbands are not completely rare. Though at the rate modern women are going with the live-in boyfriend route, husbands at all are getting to be a thing of the past. Sad, but true.

I'm proud of my kids. They're wonderful little people, if I do say so myself;) They make life more enjoyable than any other entertainment I know. But they have their faults (though I can't think of a one at this particular moment,lol). Once in a while they do something that makes my mouth drop open and I think I know I've trained you better than that! If you were honest, you'd have to say the same thing, unless you birthed little robots:) So I don't think I'm overly-prideful in that particular area.

While I'm proud to be a Christian (meaning a follower of Jesus Christ, not a crazy maniac or terrorist doing horrible acts in the name of "God") I know all too well that this is an area that many others far surpass me in. I can truthfully say I find great joy in knowing God, great peace and assurance in knowing He's there to help me through anything life brings my way. My faith is not a "crutch", as some educated (but sadly ignorant) people would have the world believe. Knowing Christ brings a happiness that the World can't even come close to matching. I believe all of that. And I suppose that very fact could make it hard for some people to understand why I'm not a far better Christian than I am. I struggle with being a well-balanced Christian. Once I seemingly "master" an area of the Christian life, another area seems to falter. Again, I suppose we all have this struggle to one degree or another. But for the most part, my own lacking in this area keeps me from judging others through a sense of having "arrived"; which honor I'm quite sure I won't be able to claim until I stand face-to-face with Jesus one day.

Could it be possible that I myself have no area in which Pride shows itself? I only wish I could say that.

You see, my pride is hidden where no one else can see it. Deep inside where only I know it exists. It's a set of standards that I only hold myself to. I would never expect others to abide by them.
And I wouldn't want anyone to confuse these standards with beliefs in dress, conduct, or Christian living.

I am about to deliver a bombshell: I am strongly conservative... I know, shocking isn't it? And a Christian to boot; really, is there any hope for me?;) While I don't believe the standards I choose to live by make me any better than anyone else, I do believe teaching them to my children will make a difference in the long run, especially when it comes to future choices they will have to make. And while I care about other people's children in general (I admit I for the most part like kids better than adults), my own children are the ones that I pour my energy and lifes-breath into. They are my chance to make this country (hopefully) a more moral and God-fearing people in the future. If that sounds prideful, then maybe we need to have a little more pride in some things. Just a thought..:)

There is definitely some virtue in living life on the positive side. I think everyone for the most part would rather be around someone who does so. When I'm around a negative person, it just wears me out. There are enough troubles in the average life that most of us don't need someone to list them out for us. We can manage that ourselves, thank you very much. Yet all of us are human, and as much as we might like others to think differently, we struggle with our frailties.

Six years ago when I gave birth to my daughter, I believed her birth was more than the average miracle of birth. I have talked about some of the things I went through during that time in my HG posts, but I just haven't had the energy to finish the series up yet. Some of the memories of that time are still a little difficult to think about, if I can even manage to recall them out of the mental fog that surrounded me during much of that time. I recently was brought face-to-face with some of those memories when I heard of the death of Miss World. I'm not a beauty pageant follower myself, it was completely a fluke that I read about it at all. She went from being a fast rising star(after all, she was Miss World) to succumbing to septicemia in a matter of weeks. When I read this, it made me sick to my stomach. On the one hand, watching anyone go from a full and healthy life, to the slow dying off of their limbs, to finally end in death is a horrible thing. I can't even imagine what those who loved and cared for her are going through. It definitely made me stop and think about the frailness of life. As the Bible puts it "Our life is but a vapor."

And I have to admit that my human thinking struggles at times with understanding why some lives are cut short, while others are allowed to go on, sometimes rendering terrible acts in their wake. Why don't serial killers and cruel child molesters fall dead from a heart attack, instead of people who have so much yet to give? And while I'm at it, why do unborn babies die by the minute, while so many struggle to have a child themselves? As I said, this is my human thinking. I like to think that I'll ask God these questions one day in heaven, but I have a feeling that when that day comes, I'll get side-tracked with other things. But I digress.

This young ladies death brought to my mind the fact that I myself not only contracted septicemia during my last pregnancy, I had it a total of 4 times. In one of those cases, they simply thought it was panic attacks from the extreme conditions my body had to endure, and so it got to a dangerous level before it was caught and treated. By then I was having spells where my whole body would shake with tremors for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and when it finally ended I felt like I had been beaten up. I wasn't sure what was happening because I was, as previously stated, in a mental fog much of the time. And my Doctor, not to mention those poor nurses at the hospital, just didn't know quite what to do with me.

As is the case with my pregnancies, after the birth of my daughter, everything went back to normal. The severe 24-7 nausea went away, I was able to sleep more than 3 hours a day, no more feeding tubes, no more shots of Zophran, my body could once again digest food. The whole ordeal was over, and I had a perfect 7 lb, 3 oz (at almost 4 wks early) red-headed little angel to show for it. While I can't say I quickly forgot all that we had gone through, I can say that there isn't a day that goes by that I don't look at her in complete wonder, with the feeling that it was completely worth it. Absolutely.

And yet, everything didn't go back to normal, at least not down below the surface of things. And I've spent years telling myself that I should be able to do, and accomplish, and give more than I do. Not only telling myself, but resenting myself somewhat for my inability to do so.

I truly expected after (too many times to count) being severely dehydrated, four blood infections, a myriad of drugs (one experimental for pregnant women) being injected and my body being utterly depleted (including severe damage in the dental area), to simply go back to life. After all, they say it only takes 2 years to fully recover from a pregnancy...

And herein is where my pride lies: I have told myself it's for the good of my family that I don't give in to problematic health. That it's because I'm such a good little stay-at-home mom.

Now let me insert here that I don't think you should completely give in to bad health. As appealing as the thought may be at times to lay in bed all day, when you have responsibilities you sometimes have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get things done. Working through pain and discomfort can be good for a person.

But you can't simply ignore health issues either. That usually is not a route for causing them to simply go away, as convenient as that would be. And worrying about what other people will think is really a waste of energy that would be better used elsewhere. It is something that I personally do, but at 37 years of age I really should be over it at this point, don't you think?

And people will think and say things. A few months ago, I was having a conversation with another lady concerning a particular health issue. When I mentioned that I was presently taking flexeril (a muscle relaxant) to help with my neck pain, she promptly proceeded to drill me on how addicting that could be, and that before I knew it I would be completely steeped in the world of drugs. She was enjoying her tirade so much, I hadn't the heart to tell her I haven't met a prescription drug yet that doesn't have some negative side effect to it. If it's non-drowsy, it makes me drowsy. If it's supposed to help you sleep, it gives me nervous energy. If it's to take away a migraine, it makes me so sick to my stomach I'd rather suffer the migraine. Birth control makes me as sick as being pregnant does (with no bonus baby as a by-product) and one drug they gave me while I was pregnant caused hallucinations (and not the nice kind either). They evidently forgot to tell me that can happen to those allergic to the drug. Who knew;)

I think part of why I struggle with this whole issue is due to the fact that I've always had a great interest in health. One of my favorite teachers at college was an RN. Her classes were enthralling (regardless of the subject matter) but I especially enjoyed her classes regarding health. It is largely due to the things that I learned in her class in those days, that led me to get help with my cystic ovarian disease. With the end result that I was able to have children after years of trying. I, along with my willing husband, also made many dietary changes. Nothing drastic, just little things like eating brown rice instead of white, eating less red meat (not too hard when your grocery budget is $20; we were poor college students;). We were never junk food junkies so to speak. But I started paying even more attention to what went in my body.

Truth be told, when I registered for college, I didn't even have a Doctor to write down as a referring Physician. I hadn't been to one in six years. While I was a little underweight (genetics that obviously deserted me after I had my babies) I must have been relatively healthy. I never even had a headache... hard to believe with all the migraines I've been plagued with in recent years.

And so in many ways, I thought that I had the power to control my health. Which in a way is true, to some extent. But obviously not completely.

So why am I rambling on and on? I'm asking myself that question as well. Since the beginning of December I've been fighting one infection or another. I've been through the antibiotics, OTC meds (which are mostly useless) multiple prescriptions, and LOADS of vitamin C, mint tea, and Chicken soup (which I'm convinced is more beneficial than the OTC meds.) And during it all I've been getting very little sleep; that one ingredient that makes such a huge difference.

I have been doing quite well on the homeschooling front. My boys are halfway through this years curriculum (and more), and I've been able to make a few breakthroughs with the Princess as well. I can honestly say this area hasn't suffered.

And I haven't been a "mean mommy" either. If anything, I've worked harder at spending time with my kids, and getting in more discussions and activities with them. I want these days to be wonderful memories for them in the future, and I'm definitely not willing to blow that because I feel a bit crummy. Not that I'm never a little cranky...;)

I guess the best explanation for this post is that it's the end result of a difficult week. Maybe a difficult month even. And mentally it's taken a toll. I will admit that I've always struggle a little with melancholy and, dare I say it, depression. Which some people would be very surprised at because I am generally a very happy person, and I think that it shows. I am very sincere in my happiness, I couldn't fake it if I wanted to (I'm an incredibly terrible actress). But I have my times where I get so low, that I seriously wonder if I were not a Christian, what would be the end result?

It's true that much of it has to do with hormones because, for the most part, regular sickness doesn't get me down. Migraines, sleep issues, ect are things that I've learned to work with. But hormones are not so easily dealt with. In my own experience, I find that I simply have to wait them out, forcing myself to live one day at a time. Reminding myself that this too shall pass.

I honestly used to think that being melancholy or depressed was a sinful thing. Largely because I heard it said so many times that being continually joyful was a natural by-product of being a Christian. I really struggled with this issue. I wondered how I could be so ungrateful to God for all the things he had done in my life, not the least of which was my salvation.

Fortunately, I met a wise woman who taught me that I didn't necessarily have to be joyful in every moment of life (because honestly, none of us are) but that I should be joyful in spite of what I was going through at the time. You might not think there's a difference, but there really is. And my over-active conscience (if a person can have such a thing, I definitely do) was finally lifted of an incredible load.

I still struggle with that sense of despair from time to time. I know it's fleeting though, and I know that even in the midst of it, I can look around me and feel how blessed I am. To borrow a phrase from my dear friend Mrs.Darling (who borrowed it from the Bible I might add:) "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places."

Not because they necessarily always have, but because I choose to believe so.

This post started out talking about pride, and I suppose that the pride I meant to confess was my own belief that I can do and manage everything in my own strength. My children can be taught and fed, my home can be perfectly clean and organized, my husband can be the most happy of all men: only to realize that I utterly fall on my face when I try to do it in my own strength. It really doesn't matter if anyone can see this or not. I know it in my own heart. And that's enough for me.

I've written a few posts like this, which for me is much too brutally honest and revealing. Though for some bloggers it would be just a regular run-of-the-mill post. I usually delete them, especially once the time is past when I feel the emotion that goes into it. Last night I suffered through most of the night with a particularly horrible migraine. As I struggled to keep my medicine down, I determined that I would indeed post this after all. Maybe it will help someone who struggles with these same feelings. I honestly am not looking for sympathy or pity. Both tend to embarrass me and send me running in the opposite direction. I have no doubt that by Monday I will be completely on top-side, especially since Hubby will be home with us this weekend, and of course there's Church on Sunday. So for my few blogging friends that tend to worry about me (while I return the favor) I am just fine.

AS Anne would say, for a small amount of time this week, "I've been in the depths of despair."

You KNOW I had to tie my giveaway in here If you haven't yet entered My Anne of Green Gables Treasury Giveaway, please do so here. Nikki (Notes; because I actually have 3 blogging friends name Nikki) says she is expecting to win, but I of course play fair... most of the time anyways,lol. And PLEASE let me know if you linked to this giveaway from your blog so I can count you 2 times (yes Nikki, I know you did:).

Have a happy, healthy weekend~


Kaye said...

Wow...I'm so amazed at this post. I've gotta' say that although I consider us bloggy friends, as much as two people can be friends with our type of relationship, I now feel that I know you on a much deeper, more personal level.

I admire your posting this. It's very real and very up-front...very honest. It takes a lot of guts to post something of this transparency and I congratulate you in this task.

I can really relate to many of the things you have said. Although I have not struggled with the health issues that you have (praise God), I can relate regarding other areas of my life.

I think you've given us all something to think about and I give you a huge hug via the internet for exposing yourself in this way so that others can know that they aren't alone.

Nikki said...

Wow. I don't know what to say to this post. I hope you feel better, and I hope next week is easier, but those sentiments don't express what I want to say.

Thanks for being honest with us.

Angela said...

I'm so glad you wrote this post and actually shared it with us. It means a lot to me because you perfectly described a lot of the things that I am dealing with right now -- my need and yet inability to control every aspect of my life when it is really not my life to control.

Your words will definitely be in the front of my mind -- especially over the next couple of weeks -- and I will be keeping you in my prayers.