Category: Health

Wanna Get Away? I can get on board with that!

#HousewifeInsights | ashleycrist.com

Michael and I just got back from an early-anniversary cruise.

I like cruises because they’re almost like going on a technology and internet detox.

The second day we were at sea I ran over to the gift shop onboard and ended up buying one of those grocery list note pads with magnets on the back to journal (it was all they had and I forgot my own journal). Then we spent the day outside, watching the ocean, reading, talking, and journaling.

It was good to just have some intentionally restful time. And it made me realize I need to be better about placing myself in environments of quiet and in nature on a regular basis.

On our Alaskan cruise last year, there was an onboard naturalist who acted almost like a tour guide, narrating over the ship’s intercom at various times. During one of his lectures he said studies have found that the further man gets away from nature, the more prone he is to psychological disorder. I don’t know if that’s actually been scientifically proven, but there is something about riding my bike through a wooded trail, or walking barefoot through the grass, or sitting quietly on a boat in the middle of the ocean that completely restores my soul.

The first stop was in Roatan. I booked an excursion separately from the cruise beforehand to spend the day on a privately owned island named, Little French Key. We we’re picked up outside the port gate along with another sweet, older couple who were also spending the day on the island. They were actually American expats living in Saudi Arabia. Being expats at one time ourselves, we had LOTS and LOTS to talk about on the car ride there. For the rest of the cruise, anytime we ran into them they’d say, “How are our kids doing?” Hah, so sweet.

Little French Key was perfect. The beaches were pretty and quiet, hammocks were everywhere, and they had a small petting zoo with jaguars, monkeys, and tropical birds. You could ride horses around the island, snorkel or just hang out at the bar all day.

The coral reef nearby is part of the second largest reef barrier system in the world. I bought this waterproof case for our camera so I could take pictures underwater while were snorkeling: DicaPac WP410 (10.5×16.0cm) Small Zoom Alfa Waterproof Digital Camera Case with Optical Lens (Clear). Best thing ever. Worked great while we were under the water.

Our second stop was in Cozumel. Six years ago, we spent our honeymoon in Rivera Maya and Playa Del Carmen. Cozumel is about a 45 minute ferry ride from Playa Del Carmen. We didn’t visit the island during our honeymoon though, so this was actually our first time there. Through the ship we booked an excursion to swim with dolphins and manatees!

Ok, so I’m a happy cryer. I get weepy during all those little special life moments or when I see things that are really beautiful. Like when Michael and I got married, I cried. When I saw my niece for the first time on the ultra-sound monitor, I cried. When I finally saw the Taj Mahal in person, I cried. When I saw dolphins bouncing around through the water literally right in front of me, I totally freaking cried. Like Hootie-And-The-Blowfish-“even-dolphins-make-me-cry” cry.

These are such amazing animals. We worked with a trainer and an eight year old dolphin named, Luke. Luke pushed us from behind our feet on a boogie board, pulled us through the water doing a belly swim, played patty-cake, gave kisses and did a ton of other tricks.

Ok really ya’ll… I know I’m an animal freak, but in heaven, I’m totally going to have dolphins at my place. Such, such beautiful animals. I just love them! <3 <3 <3

We had really awesome table mates during the evenings [that I failed to get pictures of]. There was one couple from Puerto Rico, a son and a mother from Switzerland, and another gentleman who escaped communist Czechoslovakia on foot with his three year old son back in the eighties. That’s one of my favorite parts about traveling, you get to meet so many incredible people and hear so many incredible stories.

Sadly, vacation ended pretty abruptly after we returned. We got a call from Charlotte’s boarding kennel the morning we arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale. She had a bit of a nasty run in with an older, grouchier dog. They took her to the vet and put on antibiotics for the two wounds she received during the scuffle. Not happy about that at all… Actually, it’s the exact reason why I dread taking her to a kennel in the first place, but the facility has continued to handle it well. Just feel guilty for putting Charlotte in a situation where she was hurt 🙁

So we’re back now and I’m re-learning that rest IS DEFINITELY intentional and I can’t just veg out if I want to really, really process what’s going on in my heart. Still do not have all my health stuff figured out at the moment and I have more appointments scheduled in the following weeks, but I did get some perspective and feel hopeful I’m headed in the right direction. More on that later 🙂

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An honest, semi-awkward, and intentionally vague conversation about [my] health

“Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver.” Brené Brown
—-

20140405-DrOfficeI’ve been called a very health conscious person but I actually have a deep, dark secret to reveal…

I pretty much never get in to see a doctor.

On the surface I’ll just be honest and say that I have a major distrust of most modern medicinal practices. I don’t trust the FDA. I don’t trust big pharmaceutical. I don’t trust flu-shots or other “must have” vaccinations. And I don’t trust that *most* (not all) doctors have my best interests in mind.

I’m not saying that eight plus years of school doesn’t count for anything, but ANY time a large organization tells me I “need” them to think and make decisions for myself and that I can’t possibly be successful without their help, I immediately start to ask questions. (I know that continually asking “why” can turn into a black hole leading to nowhere — but not asking at all is just as dangerous).

And when I have questions, I prefer to do my own research and read the studies myself. Or I’ll get on forums and read other people’s personal experiences. A lot of the time it turns out that pharmaceutical companies are just reinventing the wheel with their drugs or prescriptions. Meanwhile there are all these centuries-old herbal, dietary, and physical remedies for certain health conditions that you’re never told about by your doctor — because even if you dare to ask, you’re told that they’re not as effective, or there are side-effects, or it’s dangerous, or it will be worse for you down the road, or whatever. (Because you know, prescription drugs never have any side-effects and are like totally 100% not experimental by the time they’re used on the general public. Right.)

Excuse the sarcasm, but it almost seems taboo for the medical community to admit that they don’t know everything when it comes to the human body and it’s health. They don’t want to tell you that even though modern medicine has without a doubt saved millions of lives, it’s still mostly in an experimental stage, and there is still a lot more to learn. It’s why they spend more time treating symptoms rather than treating the actual problem that’s causing the symptoms. And sadly, unless there is some kind of financial incentive to change, there is resistance to updating certain treatments or using more natural, existing (and sometimes more effective) remedies.

Pharmaceutical companies and doctors have their place and I’m not knocking their entire community – just the money-grubbing-industry part of it.

And then of course, among all this, I did/do believe in the power of healing through prayer. I say “did”, because honestly I’ve been wrestling with my personal experience not lining up with what the Lord has said to be true about healing (aka. I’ve been praying for personal healing and not seeing any improvement so I’m frustrated and hurt).

So, those are all my surface-level reasons for not going to see the doctor.

But none of those are my actual reasons for not going to see the doctor.

The real reason I don’t see doctors is because I’m afraid.

I’m 100% totally and thoroughly scared.

I’m scared of waiting to hear the news after blood work or an exam. I’m scared to be vulnerable and admit that there’s something wrong with me. I’m scared to see a look of concern on a doctor’s face when I tell him I’ve had such-and-such issue for so many years. I’m scared that one routine visit or surgery won’t take care of the problem.

And it all comes down to control. (Yes ok, I’ll say it. I am a control freak.)

I need things to make sense in a mechanical sort of way. I like logical routines that produce logical, consistent results. I don’t get experimental. I follow instructions because order is safe. Order is manageable.

So I expect that if I’m eating “x” and doing “y” then it follows I should be experiencing positive results health-wise. It’s simple math. Just keep repeating the behavior and the results will follow suit.

Except that’s not exactly how things are going.

And now I feel like the malfunctioning head of Miss “Two Weeks” from Total Recall because I’m not as much in control over my health as I’ve wanted to believe.

…. Which leads me to where I’m presently at health-wise and why this is sort of awkward for me to talk about.

I recently called, faxed-in paperwork, and scheduled an appointment to see a doctor. Like an actual specialist doctor. And now after going in for my first consultation earlier last week, I’m scheduled for a couple of basic exploratory procedures next month.

Perfect.

The exact thing I was trying to avoid.

I was already anxious about moving to Mexico as it was, but now I’m all worked up about this upcoming examination. What will they find? Why isn’t my diet correcting everything? Should I be exercising more? Should I be eating less of this and more of that? What if I’ll need major surgery? What if it’s worse than even the almighty WebMD predicted? What if they don’t put me out all the way and… nope not going to go there. What if they make a mistake while they’re doing whatever they’re doing and they cause even more damage? What if we end up not being able to move to Mexico because of whatever they find? What if, what if, what if???

And I’ve been having some really, really low moments.

I’m used to being able to hide my problems — or at least wait until I can clean them up and make them presentable. I don’t like admitting I need help or feeling like I’m burdening those around me. But now I have to face my fears and actually go into a level of detail about my sh*t stchuff I don’t even share with people I DO know, let alone people I DON’T know.

Major #awksauce times one-thousand.

A few years back I was at a healing conference and the speaker shared a story from his own personal experience to prove the point that you can’t get set free from your fears in private. Most of the time, if you’re going to conquer your fears, you can just about guarantee two things will occur in the process: 1. It’s going to happen while everyone is watching, and 2. You’re probably going to look like a complete idiot trying to overcome it.

The speaker was attending a church service where everyone was dancing during worship. He wanted to join in but didn’t because he worried about looking dumb in front of other people. Eventually he went for a walk and found a spot underneath the audience bleachers. He looked around, didn’t see anyone, and thought, “Ok, this is perfect! Here’s my chance to finally polish my techniques and conquer my fear of dancing before the Lord in public without the pressure of everyone watching me.”

He said it wasn’t five minutes later after he’d been dancing when all the sudden he could feel a hundred eyes on him. He stops, looks up and sees a camera man filming his new-found dance moves on the big screen for the entire church’s viewing pleasure. So much for a polished presentation and overcoming his fears in private huh?

I don’t think God always forces our disheveled, messy issues out into the open like that… But sometimes, if it’s necessary to our growth at the time, He will.

And it can get awkward. Like super frustrating awkward.

I am definitely going through a season now where the Father is gently ushering me out of the house without my hair flat-ironed or my eye-lashes curled. These issues I’m experiencing are not what I would call “tidy” or “presentable”. And all I want to do is go back inside to cover them up with makeup or continue trying to treat the blemishes with facial masks until I find something that works.

The last thing in the world I’d want anyone to know is that I don’t have it figured out or I’m not in control of my own health. I’m totally struggling to get over my fear of what other people will think and fighting to remain authentic with where I’m at, warts and all.

But I know the Father is saying that it’s time for me to stop worrying that I’ll be perceived as weak, whiny, or a failure for being honest about where I’m at physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

My social media feeds have literally been blowing up with quotes on conquering fear and anxiety, and learning to be gracious towards the woman God made me to be:

FearScreenShot

It was a big step for me to finally take action by going to see a doctor in spite of my pride fear. And I actually do feel relieved to finally be honest and not have to pretend that everything is ok anymore.

It felt good having permission to take off the mask in front of someone I normally wouldn’t trust and say, “Ok, I’ve got this problem. I don’t know what’s causing it, but I need help. Can you help me?”

There is still a ton about all this that I hate… Like I majorly hate how despite all the prayers over the years I’m still not totally healed. The truth is that healing and wholeness is something Jesus was lashed and beaten for two thousand years ago (“…and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Isa. 53:5). That’s as much a fact as the existence of gravity. And yet, here I am: pained, fatigued, foggy-headed and absolutely NOT experiencing that truth. That’s frustrating.

And of course I’m still learning how to not worry so much about people thinking I’m being needy…. Like being “that person” at get-togethers who people have to go out of their way to accommodate: “Sorry, did you use the same measuring spoon for the salt as you did the white flour? Yeah I’m going to have to pass on the chicken then tonight. And are those bell peppers? Oh.. yeah those give me indigestion, so I’ll have to pass on salad too. The wine looks good. Oh but does it have the official gluten-free symbol on it? No? Well that’s all right, never mind. No really, it’s ok. I’m used to being an absolute intolerable pain in the a$$ in public dining situations. I brought my own grass-fed jerky sticks and organic, non-GMO almond butter packets, so don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine!)

On the upside this whole thing is forcing me to change how I respond to my own weaknesses and needs. Instead of beating myself up and worrying about inconveniencing others, I’m being forced to communicate my not-so-neat-and-tidy needs without shame or fear.

This is completely new territory for me. I mean I am Ms. Don’t-draw-attention-to-yourself-and-don’t-let-others-think-you’re-helpless. But life certainly has a funny way of introducing little game-changers along the way I suppose.

Me? Asking for help when I need it and not caring about what other people think no matter how unkempt and disorderly it is? My, my how times change.

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