Epiphany!

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I love life’s little light bulb moments. Sometimes it’s a whisper, sometimes it’s a smack in the face, other times it’s a load of bricks dropped on your head.

So, it’s no secret I’m battling chronic Lyme Disease and just started nursing school almost 20 years after I finished my Bachelor’s degree. In fact, that’s the biggest reason this blog went quiet for some time recently. There is just so much to do. All the time. Every day. But I’m back, and I’ve figured a few things out that should make my nursing school experience better.

First, I figured out that my recent resurgence in pain was due to my eating practices of late. Being in nursing school means I’ve had to juggle quite a bit more, and slowly and surely, more processed foods were finding their way into my diet. It’s hard to eat well on the go, and so I’ve had to reassess what I eat each day and try and bring it back into line with the Paleo diet my doctor has me following.

But that was only half the diet battle. The other half was the fact that I stopped my daily 15 hour fast. This means I try to eat between the hours of 9am and 6pm, and after 6pm, I do not consume anything besides water. My doctor tells me that this fasting (and ideally I should be going 16 hours a day, but 15 is all I seem able to muster at the moment) gives the body a chance to rest and heal. Eating and digesting can aggravate inflammation, so the fasting basically gives my body one less thing to do for a little while.

And I have to say, that alone has brought about a good deal of relief in my symptoms.

I’m not pain free. I’m not free of fatigue or brain fog either, but I am improved, and I will take whatever I can get.

The other part of the equation was that before I realized that I needed to reestablish a healthier eating pattern, I would very occasionally pop a prescription analgesic that was also used to help people feel drowsy. I thought it would help the night before my midterm, and before my first day of clinicals. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Both nights I slept fitfully, and woke up to nausea that if it were a patient, I would have told him that he was not fit to drive. So I took that midterm that first day, and while I passed, my 98 average took a hit. At that point I hadn’t yet figured out that the prescription med I took the night before was probably the root of my problem. So when the first day of clinicals rolled around, and I had to be up at 5am and ready to start at 6:30am, I thought I’d pop another pill in hopes to ease the pain and maybe get some rest before the early day ahead of me.

The nausea and exhaustion hit me so hard that morning that I honestly considered calling my instructor and saying I just couldn’t make it. But others were counting on me for a ride to the facility, and wasn’t going to do that to everyone. So, I went in. The instructor noticed I wasn’t right, but I assured her that I’ll eventually be ok. I was banking on the adrenaline that my first day of clinicals would create would bring me through the day.

This time, my bet paid off and I was able to take care of patients, and even did so with a beaming smile and spring in my step. But when post conference time rolled around, I crashed, and crashed hard.

After post conference, I pulled my instructor aside to let her know what was going on. I hate to give excuses, but at the same time I don’t want her to think I’m a flake. I informed her that I am fighting chronic Lyme disease, which means that my energy levels are only but so high, and I choose to give each and every ounce of it to the patients I work with that day. This means that I will crash, which is what she observed in post conference. I told her that sometimes my condition can be unpredictable, but that I think I’ve ironed out the causes (because by then it dawned on me why I was so sick both mornings) and that hopefully I’ll be ok from this point forward.

After post conference, I ate dinner, and was in bed by 6:30pm. I got up once to take meds at 8pm and my final supplements at 11pm, but other than that, I slept till 8am the next morning. I was dead to the world, and didn’t even hear my high school daughter walk out the front door to catch the bus for classes. I’m thankful I’m blessed with a responsible and reliable kid.

It’s amazing how much diet and eating patterns can influence how I feel. Now, I’m making those needs as high a priority as study time. I know I’ll reap the rewards of doing so, as will my family, friends and the patients I work with.

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