The year 2022 was full of life and changes for our family. There were highs. There were lows. Most days were somewhere in between.
Personally, I started working with a nutritionist in February. Finally I was going to be working out AND really paying attention to my food. To get these working together has been a target I’ve never hit for any substantial amount of time. I just knew by the end of the year I could be in the best shape of my life if I stayed consistent.
Things started out great. I’d print my weekly meal plan, grocery shop, prepare the meals for the week and then eat them and them only each day. Next, I added in more cardio. My nutritionist is also a trainer, so she was very specific and intentional about the cardio. I did not do every single thing she asked, but I gave it a good go. Like running and walking for over an hour. Or walking on a treadmill at 3.5 speed at 12 elevation for 45 minutes. I even tried fasted cardio a few mornings a week. I was spent physically. The scale revealed a loss of roughly 8-10 pounds over the course of four months. Pictures revealed abs and some muscle I knew had to be under the layer of softness. Yet, I reached a point where nothing was changing despite my aggressive efforts. My nutritionist told me she’d been doing this a long time and felt strongly I should get my hormones checked. Something wasn’t adding up.
So in August I got in with a functional doctor who specializes in hormones. Sure enough, my progesterone was in the gutter. My testosterone was almost non existent. We got results from a DUTCH urine test showing my DHEA levels were on empty, as well as my cortisol levels. Hello, adrenal fatigue. In addition, and not expected necessarily, was hypothyroidism.
Good grief. This was a lot to process. I began taking bioidentical HRT, some thyroid medication, and quite a few supplements—adrenal rebuilder, vitamin D, Omega 3, probiotic and a multi vitamin.
And I gained ten pounds over the next three months. Fun times.
Other symptoms that were pointing to something not being right were hair loss, dry skin, cracking nails and bleeding skin on both my thumbs, anxiousness through the roof and irritability like never before. The slightest stress sent me searching for a hole to bury myself in. Everything felt like too much. Everything.
Thyroid medicine dosage was increased, progesterone and testosterone were increased. The next set of lab work showed estrogen levels very high, so enter a Hormone Protector supplement meant to help me metabolize my estrogen. All other numbers were only slightly improved. Everything seems to be taking its own sweet time to get to an optimal level. In the mean time, I’m supposed to not overdo it on cardio and not under eat even though the pounds seem to be packing on despite eating pretty much the same.
I would find myself saying, “I’m just in a rough patch.” It was true and began as an innocent confession and even a hopeful statement that it would not always be this way. But then it was a mantra repeated over and over again with each new symptom or with the new, bigger sized jeans I had to buy. “I’m just in a rough patch.” The bandaids covering my thumbs every day. “I’m just in a rough patch.” Not being able to keep up with house work. “I’m just in a rough patch.” My nightly routine of supplements and laying out the thyroid pills to take as soon as my eyes opened each morning. “I’m just in a rough patch.”
I started asking God to give me a better perspective. I asked Him to help me replace, “I’m just in a rough patch,” with something He would want to say to me. Then, one day I was reading in Romans 13 and got directed to Psalm 107 where verse 7 says “He led them also by a straight way/ level way.” This is in reference to those who were wandering in the wilderness. They were hungry and thirsty and their soul fainted within them. His leading to a level path was a lovingkindness. He filled their life with good.
I was also cross referenced to Isaiah 42:16–“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know. In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.”
What beautiful words of truth I needed to hear. Much better mantras to have on repeat than, “I’m just in a rough patch.” I need God to make my “rugged places into plains.” I could sure use a level path. Not so much for ease as for having His perspective on life’s circumstances. To be sure, I would love complete and full health restored. But I know how often God uses the rough patches to soften our hearts towards Him and others. Compassion grows in our personal hard times. Or at least the potential is there for this to be true. So more than ease, I am praying for God to guide me and give me spiritual sight and to make His presence known to me more fully than ever before. To see His lovingkindness towards me in every day life.
Just like the whole of Psalm 107, people had troubles, they cried out to God and He delivered them. “Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things and consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.” (Psalm 107:43)
I also share all of this because all of this stuff isn’t really the topic of much conversation. Who really wants to discuss hormones and nasty symptoms of mid-life? Well, not many people, that’s for sure. But here I am if you need a place to pull up a chair and ask some questions. Or commiserate. I’ve learned a little bit and am still learning every day. But living in misery and accepting life as a long road of a rough patch is no way to live. There’s help from doctors and medicine. There’s help from the Lord!
To wrap this up, I will say that my progesterone and testosterone HRT have helped tremendously!!! I am not anxious or stressed almost at all. It’s such a relief to live like this. Things that would annoy me seem to roll off my back. Praise the Lord! My hair isn’t coming out like it was. And my thumbs are finally starting to heal. And sleep is amazing, compared to before. Praise the Lord for His lovingkindness.
No matter what 2023 brings, I can be confident the Lord is with me—in the rough patches and the smooth ones!