Cold season is upon us. Unfortunately, I have been laid low with a doozy of a head/chest cold.
Several years ago my health had all my (many) doctors wondering what was wrong with me. The two main symptoms were fatigue and hives. I was treated for many different things. Between my Naturopaths and my regular western medicine doctors no one could figure out what was going on.
The conclusion that was finally reached (after 9 months of one drug and/or natural cure after another) was that I suffer from Adrenal Fatigue and Epstein-Barr.
Adrenal fatigue is when the adrenal glands (just above the kidneys) start to get sluggish and don't react as quickly as they need to. Mainly the problem is wonky cortisol. Cortisol is what gets us out of bed in the morning. If the body doesn't produce it when it is supposed to then we don't have the energy to get going in the morning. But, the body often kicks into gear later and then the cortisol is high in the evening when we are supposed to be winding down. Cortisol also helps deal with stresses of everyday and is the body's natural antihistamine.
When the adrenal glands get stressed then their ability to produce cortisol is diminished and the body picks up the slack with adrenaline. It's like using a sledgehammer to drive a penny nail. The body needs more cortisol when under stress - emotional or physical (as in sickness). Eventually the adrenal glands give out and give up.
Epstein-Barr is basically the virus that causes Mono. It can flair up again when under stress. That is a simplified version, but provides a good generalization.
There is some great information out there on the web about both Adrenal Fatigue and Epstein-Barr. The best Adrenal info I've found is at http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ .
The hives resolved after about a year, but the fatigue still continues. I notice it most when I get some sort of regular flu/cold. It just takes me much longer to recover.
My case was fairly advanced and will take at least a year more for my body to recover. I was able to find a doctor that would work with me (most western medicine doctors won't recognize adrenal fatigue as an actual problem).
Here are a few things that we have changed in response to my health:
1. Try to eat food that will spoil. It needs to grow from the ground or eat things that are grown from the ground (ex. grass raised beef). The less processing the better. Through this I have come to realize how crazy our food supply is. More specifically, how many foods we eat that are non-foods and that have non-food origins.
2. Raw milk. Controversial (even among my extended family), but we have been drinking it for well over a year now and are happy with the results.
3. Sleep. For me, more is better. I strive to be in bed at 9pm. Doesn't always happen. In fact, with small children it rarely happens, but it makes a huge difference in how I feel if I can get early sleep. The adrenal glands rebuild at night starting between 10pm and 11pm.
4. Finally being okay with letting people down. Or thinking I'm letting them down. I want to say "yes" to everyone and everything. I can't and still physically survive. It's a good lesson. I don't have an over abundance of energy to spare making decisions that will leach away energy. I must be very careful to what I commit.
5. Listen carefully for God's voice. (Among other things, it keeps me from over-committing)
Having a chronic illness changes life. Some thing for the better and some things for the worse. I hope that this will not be chronic for life, but only for a season. It feels like I have had a 2 year winter. I am ready for Spring. Oh, so ready!