that time i said ‘no way’ and was wrong

I’m not sure how many people heard me say, “No way.”  Some heard variants like “no stinkin’ way” or “not even a possibility” or “ha ha!… no.”  Anyway, I told enough people that I wasn’t returning to full-time work that taking a new full-time position this week has merited an explanation several times a day. 

I just knew I didn’t have the stamina to handle a full day of teaching in a public school.  Maybe if they’d let me bring a cot in and get an extra “planning” period… Then I could do it.  And if they didn’t mind me shambling down the hall like a 90-year-old woman every once in while… Then I could do it. 

I turned the puzzle pieces over in my head until the curvy parts were bending and creasing, but I just couldn’t make things fit right for the coming school year.  Given all our families needs and desires, we knew something would have to be compromised, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I prayed for wisdom until God was probably like, “Yo, girl. Anything else you’d like to talk about?”

So then I ran a 5K with my family in June.  And more to the point, I finished in 37:27!

Image

(And yes, my husband pulled both boys in that Radio Flyer the whole way, with the exception of a few sprints by our 4 year old.)

I’ve never run a 5K in any form or era.  I probably couldn’t even have run 2 miles by myself without stopping at that point.  I’m not a natural runner, and I’d only done 5 training workouts with my couch-to-5K app.

And it got me to thinking… How in the world?!  I’m not a runner, and I’m struggling with fatigue every day.  Eventually I realized that when I’m around a lot of people, I can overcome so much that would normally keep me on the couch. 

At first, I felt bad about that.  I thought, it’s such a mental thing!  Why can’t you just do what you need to do?!  But then I realized that God made me to be an extrovert, a people person, a crowd-dweller.  Perhaps one day when my brain is donated to science, they’ll discover I dosed myself outrageous quantities of adrenaline while in the midst of throngs of people.  However it works, it doesn’t make pain go away.  It makes me get past it.

Instead of beating myself up about what’s hard for me, I decided it’s okay to capitalize on what’s natural to me.  And that became a, “Wellllll, maybe I could…”

A few weeks later, I found a doctor who thinks he knows what’s wrong and thinks he can help me.  I go for my second visit Monday, and I have a lot of hope that some things – if not all my symptoms – are going to get better..

In between the 5K and the doctor, even more changes were happening that aren’t really bloggable (read: boring.) 

My final holdout was chlidcare.  We’ve been so blessed to have the younger kids at home or at a wonderful morning preschool, and I really, really didn’t want to put them into daycare.

And God said, “Let there be a good family friend who loves our children, recently retired, considering looking for work” who will help fill the childcare gap.

And that was it.

There was a full-time elementary music position open, and so back I go into the land of small folk!  I’ll have more to say about leaving my alternative school family and joining a new crew in the days to come, but for now, I have to say:

My “no way” has become a “Here am I, Lord.”  It’s clear to me that he has orchestrated this thing in to place, and I’ll serve to the best of my ability. 

Also?  My husband is really pumped that 3 boxes of “school stuff” have a home that is not ours again.  Poor guy.  I thought he’d be happy I only brought home 3 boxes this year!

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what i learned this week #6

whatilearnedthisweek

1.  The Zombies, Run! app has to be the most fun C25K (Couch to 5K) app ever.  Armband + earbuds + this app = me having fun running for the first time in my life.

2. Kale chips don’t save well overnight.  Eat them immediately out of the oven.  You’ll be happy.

library23. A trip to the library is the equivalent of me climbing into a Delorian with a flux capacitor.  I’m not making a statement about books being antiquated; I’m saying that being among gobs of paper covered with cardboard reminds me that once I was a bookworm, and I still like books very much.  Dear Books, Will you be my friend again?  Check yes or no.

4. There seems to be nothing more the neurologist can do for me right now.  He’s run all the tests he finds appropriate, and his parting words were pretty much, “Well, you seem to be getting better.  See you in 6 months.”  He’s a good doctor, and I think maybe what’s going on with me isn’t going to be addressed by his field.  I doubt I’ll go back unless something drastic changes.

5.  My kids are so full of grace toward me.  At the same bedtime in which I’m kicking myself for being a sorry, impatient, selfish mom, my kids are thanking God for me in their prayers and snuggling up to me.  The way they love me so fully in spite of my failures reminds me of the verse that says, “His kindness leads us to repentance.”  You can’t help but want to be better when you’re the recipient of such an undeserved gift.

graduation6. People are so weird when it comes to ceremonies these days.  We complain if it’s too long, we complain if it’s too short.  Some people wouldn’t mind if it didn’t happen at all, because “it doesn’t change anything,” even though others would pay more than $1000 to suffer in coach for 15 hours just to attend.  Some of us get dressed up in our best duds just to show up and chat with a neighbor the whole time. We are weird, y’all.  (I still think they’re important.)

update: {new normal} how it feels to be me

31days new normalThis post is for any gracious person who read this series last October.

It’s been a year since my first brain scan, and I thought I’d celebrate by having another one done later this month.  Ain’t no party like a Lauren Lutz party…

But seriously, y’all.  This party could happily stop with a diagnosis, and I’m encouraged that it could soon.  I’m almost through with another round of tests that have included about 2 gallons of bloodwork and a skin punch biopsy.

The results for the biopsy will be in at the end of this week, and I expect it to show damage to the network of small fiber nerves.  (I think I said that right.)  While that will technically give a diagnosis, it’s really only like a sub-diagnosis under the Big Question Mark.  I’ve been working jigsaw and crossword puzzles this week, and I’m appreciative of every piece that pops into place in health matters, too!

puzzle perspective

In other happy news, it has been thoroughly proven that I do not have Diabetes, and for that I am very thankful.  My grandfather is a severely brittle diabetic (I think I said that right) and I’ve seen enough to know that them’s tough cookies.  {*Comic Relief Alert*} During one of the bloodwork days, I was having 13 vials of blood drawn after about 8 vials drawn 3 days prior.  I was about 2 seconds from passing out when I started vomiting.  A second nurse ran to help us and boy, was she was overjoyed to hold my barf bag!  Me an’ my raging stomach virus rescued her from having to stick the head of the Board of Directors for the hospital.  You’re welcome, Nervous Nurse Nelly.

My joint and muscle pain continues, but recently I’ve recognized that at least some of the pains are recurring in the same spots.  The weird new pains feel like bee stings (infrequent, but annoying!) and an instant locking up of a joint.  Me hopping through the local discount store on one good knee audibly cracks me up, even as I’m wincing holding the “cramping” knee.

My vertigo came back for a few weeks, but I think it’s leaving again. *jumps & clicks heels together* It is so embarrassing when you look like you’re drunk and you’re not.  Numbness has become a problem from time to time in my limbs.  That makes it surprisingly hard to sleep sometimes!

I had one vision change where I couldn’t focus on the face I was looking at.  That only lasted for 3-5 seconds, and then I was fine.  Very odd, and really hoping that one never happens again.

The most frustrating symptoms for me right now are barely noticeable to anyone else.  I can tell that sometimes I’m not pronouncing things the way I want to, and I’m dropping smaller objects more than what I think is normal for me.  Those two seem a little scary.

Am I crazy to post this on the internet for the world to see?  Perhaps a career coach may say I’m ruining my chances at future employment. Maybe friends or family will exclude me from activities or opportunities because they’ll assume I can’t or shouldn’t participate.

Displaying my weaknesses is worth those risks to me if it helps you see those around you a little more compassionately.  Invisible illnesses are in front of you at the cash register, beside you at the baseball game, above you in the company hierarchy, and behind you in the generations to come.  What harm could it do to assume that everybody needs a little grace?

Displaying my weaknesses is worth those risks to me if it helps you hear one more time that God is worthy of your trust.  I don’t worry that whatever is wrong with me will make me ineligible for life.  God has a place and a way for me to do my thang, and is perfectly capable of using my strengths and weaknesses.  I trust that he’ll do that.

you may say i’m a dreamer…

Some of you may have read posts from my New Normal series back in the Fall.  If so, you’ll understand how I could be so motivated and end up doing very little.  About a week and a half ago, I had probably the worst day I’ve had with fibromyalgia.  It took 4-5 days to get past that flare, but that was complicated by a sinus infection and a stomach thing.  I’m not sure if it was a stomach bug or if it was side effects of 2 doses of a fibro drug that I took.

All that to say that one doctor has now given me a fibro diagnosis.  In the meantime, I have bloodwork, a skin punch biopsy, an MRI, and a glucose tolerance test scheduled to continue to look for causes of neuropathy in my feet. (And now I think in my arms?)  We did an EMG in January because of the feet thing, and again I was told, “Looks normal!”  Yeah.emgThis being-motivated-but-not-able on many days is problematic for me.  I’m a daydreamer and a worrier, so having lots of time on a couch obviously doesn’t help me balance my imagination with action.  Here is my imagination when I’m not on the couch:

We got a fantastic new sporting goods store in my little town.  Walking the aisles, I know I’m going to go hiking and rollerblading and probably start cycling.

I take my daughter to get a library card.  Standing at the check-out desk, I see myself writing lesson plans here on Thursdays.  Too bad I can’t bring coffee.  I’m also going to check out really cool books that impress the librarians with my excellent choices.

Tsh Oxenrider shares tips on book writing, and oh, man!  I need to set some deadlines for myself on that devotional for teachers.

The Children’s Council meets at my house.  I’m going to revamp this Children’s Church thing, and it is going to be the best.  So much more Jesus-centered, and the kids will beg to go on Sundays.

I wake up.  Today’s the day that I will have clean surfaces and buy the perfect living room floor lamp that only costs $30.

Derek Webb tweets about his wife’s new album.  Why do I not know all their music?  I will fit in a songwriting session on Thursday, too — right after I vacuum the studio lobby for the dance teacher.

We discuss Chapter 2 of The Case for Faith in Sunday School.  Next week, I will have caught up on the reading and bring in more research on related scriptures and give a presentation on sponsoring a child through Compassion International.

Pinterest shows me a baby sweater soaked in sweetness.  I’m getting out that yarn tonight and learning to knit for my niece due in March.  No, I’m not.  I’m calling Tracy to help me finish this baby quilt that my grandmother started.  I stopped working on it a year ago.

You come to my house (theoretically) and tell me about your new project.  I am so interested.  I want to help you with that.

I just found this picture of myself at my sister’s wedding rehearsal last month.  The hands say, “I am a bridesmaid.  I hold flowers.”  The eyes say, “Where are my children?”presentnotpresentIs there such a thing as Life ADD? If so, I have it.  Can this woman learn to be more present where she is?  Can she choose to set aside some things in order to actually obtain others?  If so, I’m going to try it.

I’m setting some very specific goals to be completed by the end of this school year and share them with two women who I know will check in on my progress.  I have to make the most of the days that I am able and be content to purposefully rest (physically and mentally!) on the days that I’m not.  Here’s to less mental wandering and less subsequent guilt over shoulda-woulda-coulda.

31 days of a new normal {day 29} the long, boring one where i tell you what the doc said

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Today. was. FABULOUS.

  • I had the pleasure of taking the kids to school.
  • I enjoyed a whole day to myself.
  • I received quality care from a doctor and his staff.
  • I ate (gluten-free) chipotle salmon, rice, & steamed broccoli for lunch.
  • I  purchased birthday presents at the best big box store that ever was.  (Target.  Duh.)
  • I rifled through piano sheet music in a warehouse for a couple of hours and bought a huge stack for 70% off.  Some of it was even for me!
  • I had a peppermint hot chocolate.
  • I came home to a huge box marked “heavy.”
  • I attended a school book fair, and…

I didn’t hurt today!

Way back when, I set a limit of 200 words on each post for this series.  Then I spent more time editing than I did writing, so I upped the limit to 300 without even telling you.  So sneaky am I. Muah ha ha ha. Now I don’t even care about a limit, but here is the shortest worthwhile synopsis of the fascinating conversation I had with Neuro Doc #2…

ND2 explained the Lyme results to me, and I understood some of it.  He was glad to hear I will to be seeing an Infectious Diseases doctor but recommended I do my homework before I go.  He is glad to get me in ASAP with one he feels confident in if I don’t like my guy.  I asked him outright where he stood on the Lyme controversy, and he sidestepped the question a bit.  He worked with Lyme patients a good bit when he practiced in the Northeast and feels it’s very unlikely that I have it.  Simply put, “Lyme patients get worse, and you’ve gotten better in the last two weeks.”

He was quite interested in the skin sensitivity that I experienced for about two weeks and did a quick skin test.  I had no unusual sensitivity today, and he mentioned that shingles are a possible explanation.  Apparently they can affect the nerves without showing up in the skin.  It seemed to be a “I’m throwing this out there so you’ll know we’re covering the bases, but I’m not pursuing this one” kind of thing.

We talked again about my prior MRIs, and something in the way I described the symptom that prompted the neck MRI caught his attention, whereas last time it didn’t stand out.  We scheduled an MRI to look at the whole spine, because Multiple Sclerosis is still an option.  I’m finding that my obsession with word choice is an advantage in this journey if I allow it to be.

ND2 confirmed that fibro is on the table, but we’re not ready to label it as such because “it’s a diagnosis of exclusion.”  Yeah, me and all 4 of my readers know about this.

The gluten-free diet was of little interest to ND2.  Maybe it’s working, maybe it’s coincidental.

I’m so encouraged by today.  I’m a week away from an ID doc appointment and an MRI, and that’s two steps closer to an answer.

In other news, my mom is awesome.

That’s a lot of g-free, y’all.

31 days of a new normal {day 28} i think a change will do you good

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Leaving the pocketbook, forgetting the deadline, needing to have the dorm room re-keyed 3 times, losing the password, “OH!  Oh my gosh!…” These have all, unfortunately, been staples of my days.  If my mom could have put the word “focus” on repeat in my bedroom CD player while I cleaned up, she would have.

I am not naturally neat or organized, but I’ve come so far!  Ask my husband.  The only time I lose my keys anymore is if it takes extra-long to dig through the trash and receipts in my pocketbook to find them.  I really need you to believe that I’m not a hopeless case, because I’m about to dish more embarrassing dirt.

My bedroom most frequently looks like 10-year-old-me lives in it.  I know I’m not the only one out there, and I know 98.4% of those people want to change.  Here comes help:

We don’t have to do it all at once.

Ohhhhhh snap.  She just got profound and unbelievably original.

English: view into Grand Canyon from South Rim...

Over the phone I related to my sis, “I have to get rid of half my stuff.  Of course it’s messy when there’s not a place for it all!  The problem is, the times when I get energy and the times when I’m free haven’t collided yet.”  Can I tell you how lovely it was to hear my sweet sister say to me tonight, “Well, I’m going to call you out on this one in love, Lauren.”  [OH, MAN.  HERE IT COMES.  SHE’S GOING TO TELL ME I’M A SLOB.  I HATE MYSELF.]  “You don’t have to do it all tonight.  Just pick up 5 things off your floor and choose 2 to give away.”  [Oh, right.  I don’t hate myself.]

We all have our battles.  One of mine is fatigue.  Whatever yours is, be reminded of the tortoise and the hare.  Be reminded of Edison changing that filament out 1600 times.  Be reminded of the Grand Canyon.

My sister, butterflies, and even God Himself are into change over time.  It must be the way to go.

31 days of a new normal {day 26} from fast to frail

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

I’m quite tired of talking about myself at this point in the series.  Really, that happened about a week ago.  Today, may I share the story of someone else’s new normal?

I have a friend who used to be a runner.  She could work an on-your-feet job for 10 hours, cook dinner for her child, mow the grass, and then go out and run 3 miles.  I don’t know too many people with that kind of stamina.  I forgot to mention that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 12.

Runner - Brighton Marathon 2011I think it was around 40 that she was diagnosed with cancer.  By the mercy of God, she beat it.  Then a few years later, she had to have a aortic valve replacement.

Guess what?

She doesn’t have the stamina she used to have.  You’re not shocked?

I think my friend is still shocked several years later.  Major health events have taken their toll on her body in so many ways, and she struggles to accept her new normal.  While I hurt for her as she wrestles life and frustration in frail flesh, I admire the tenacity with which she clings to her dream of being healthy.  Most of us would have given up after what she’s experienced.  We would have stopped expecting ourselves to be able to do much, but she hasn’t.

There’s wisdom in recognizing your reality, and there’s beauty in the hope for change.  This is the dichotomy that we all have to live with, isn’t it?

31 days of a new normal {day 25} when bad news is good

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.  You know you want to.

Good news!  I tested positive for Lyme Disease!

That’s how a text message started that I sent to a few folks this afternoon.  I intended some humor behind it, but I am genuinely excited to have some new data to plug into the equation.

Only problem is, whichever test they did is quite unreliable.  Of course, I knew that when I requested to be tested for Lyme. Tomorrow I to am supposed start antibiotics, I guess for just-in-casies that the test is correct.  An appointment is being made with an infectious diseases doctor who will explain more to me, and if that is any time in the next few days, I think I’m going to wait on those antibiotics.  This has been going on since February as best I know.  I can wait a few more days. I’m not digging 3 weeks of antibiotics for no reason.

The blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), the ...If you’re wondering how I could be bitten by a tick and completely miss the rash and flu-like symptoms… I think it’s possible.  The flu was in full swing in February.  Also, I have another lovely autoimmune disease called dermagraphia that causes hives from head to toe.  I could have been bitten on my scalp and missed it, too!  Still unlikely, but it could happen.  Are ticks even out in February?

If this can be diagnosed, will that rule out Fibromyalgia?  Probably not.  I am keeping my appointment with Neuro Doc #2 for this Monday.  We’ll have a grand time discussing symptoms that have popped up since I saw him last, gallons of bloodwork results, and maybe his son’s piano skills.

31 days of a new normal {day 21} just bust a move

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Q:  How do you know when to take a cookie to the doctor?

A:  When it’s feeling crumby.

(Thanks to my 6 year old for putting me on to that one.)

A few weeks ago, I joined a Facebook group for people with chronic illnesses.  It’s pretty neat, because the women in the group really do a great job encouraging each other. I think they need each other, because each of us need to know that someone really, truly gets it.

I haven’t “introduced” myself to the group yet, though.  There I sit in a folding chair under the ceiling-suspended basketball goal, trying to decide if I’m going to get up for a fourth glass of punch.  It’s not that I don’t like the people.  I’m just not sure if I belong.

I’m glad I committed to write this series, because it’s making me deal with what’s happening.  I finally understood tonight that I’m really uncomfortable with being labeled with a chronic illness, but I don’t even know why yet.

Writing this post is kind of like not wanting to walk out onto the dance floor and instead choosing to bust a move on the stage.  That sounds like me.

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...