Thanksgiving week, school, and more

This week, the best intentions were to continue on as usual; but we decided to shelve all the readings and just focus on reading, writing, math, and religion. This worked out well for us, as it allowed us to get ready for Thanksgiving, give the kids a little more breathing room and lessened my stress level a little bit.

For Thanksgiving, we celebrated at home with Greg and the kids. We visited Grandma and Grandpa later in the day; but it was nice to have just us. We pulled off a gluten-free Thanksgiving, even with gluten-free stuffing! I could have purchased GF stuffing for $7.99/6oz (!!!!) locally, but instead I used this recipe with one loaf of GF bread (that was less than $4/loaf at a local grocery store, hooray!). It was absolutely tasty and better than gluten-full stuffing.

I used a recipe for cheddar drop biscuits made from coconut flour, which smelled AMAZING while cooking but came out quite bland. We were all a little disappointed, but oh well.

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It’s been about 6 weeks since I started getting my iron deficiency treated, as well as trying to go gluten-free. The effects of iron supplementation has been incredible. Almost all of my presenting symptoms have been reversed. My hair still sheds, but what I am more accustomed to as someone with long(er) hair. My nails now need to be clipped as opposed to them breaking off constantly. I am not breathless going up the stairs or chasing after the kids.

I don’t know if the following is because of the iron supplementing or if it’s due to going gluten-free, or even both. But my thoughts are so much clearer, my memory is much more responsive (my Japanese learning is going on quite well now), I’ve lost weight (I am almost weigh as much as I did right before I was pregnant with Moose). My joints don’t ache and hurt. I used to need a sleeping aid each night to fall asleep, but now I don’t need anything and can fall asleep on my own. Furthermore I don’t wake up multiple times a night. I find myself getting almost 8 hours of sleep a night, which probably plays into how much better I’m feeling. My anxiety is dropping and OCD symptoms that I had flaring up are now subsiding.

We haven’t fully “gone keto” since we wanted to get the gluten under control first, as well as letting the iron take effect before doing a massive overhaul. I tend to gravitate towards more keto-y foods over all, but do have some carbs (like corn taco shells). But it’s not everyday for every meal, and I think it’s a good transition into a more keto lifestyle.

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Finally, I wanted to mention that if you wanted to get a good introduction to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, Charlotte Mason Soiree has “A Proper Introduction“, which is kind of like a CM 101 type online course. I’m working my way through it and have found it fascinating. It’s self-paced and free, so it’s a good way to get some exposure. I’m not affiliated with it in any way, other than I’ve really enjoyed it and I think you may, as well.

What I’m Reading This Week

Now that my brain is coming back online, I’m finding my energy level recovering as well as my concentration abilities. I basically had to pause anything that required some level of concentration – like reading, learning Japanese, thinking ahead (such as bringing a lunch for Greg if he came with me to kid-wrangle for appointments that happened over his lunch break)  – basically teaching the kids exhausted my mind as well as my body.

I’ve been working on pulling my house together. It’s wild to see how tired I was, as it was adequately reflected in my house’s state. It’s not like it’s a total dump but it’s definitely not what we’re all used to. I maintain that the state of my house is a great reflection of my health – I’m a weirdo who enjoys housecleaning, organizing, and decluttering (except the seasonal clothing switch, no thank you!). So if my house is really getting unkempt and there’s no immediately obvious reason; tell me to get to the doctor!

Now that I’m feeling loads better, I’m picking up the books that I put down because I simply didn’t have the mental ability to read them and really understand them. I’m also getting back into Japanese – shockingly I put the hiragana and katakana into long-term memory so it was merely a matter of refreshing things.

I almost purchased a hard copy of this book, after a friend on Instagram had mentioned it. I’ve heard about it before and had shelved it to the “someday” reading shelf in my mind. But after my doctor’s dietary counseling (stop eating wheat and go keto) and my friend talking about it, I figured I should move the book from “someday” to “now”.
And as it worked out, both Google Books and Kindle have the electronic version on sale for $1.99. I don’t know how long the sale will last, but it’s been going on for a couple days now.

I’m through chapter 10 and it’s been a very interesting read already. Some of it I already knew (such as why abdominal fat is not healthy at all) and a lot of it is new to me, especially the science behind modern wheat and what’s in it. I have read a lot that modern wheat isn’t the same as Grandma’s wheat, but this book has done a great job (so far) discussing why it’s so different and how it got to be that way as well as the effect on your body (it’s not pretty). Fascinating stuff.

The process of dewheating is slow and steady, it’s not that I was consuming massive amounts of wheat but there as definitely some wheat going on in the house (cookies…). And it’s funny, I started getting horrible cramps in my belly on our trip when I did have wheat – one would think I’d connect the two? Nope. But it looks like my body is starting to react how the kids all react. So even if I wanted to wheat it up, my body is reacting more and more to it.

My reading plan is to finish the books that I had started but had to abandon due to my inability to concentrate. It’s so great to finally be feeling better!

Just Call Me Iron Mom

I’m happy to report that I finally have an actual direction to pursue regarding my current health problems. A simple blood test showed that my ferritin iron levels were low, and that some iron supplementation should fix me right up. My original doctor didn’t think the iron was an issue as my iron serum levels were a-okay; but the new doctor explained that ferritin iron (the iron stored in your body) and serum iron (the stuff in your blood) are two different things, and you can indeed be low on the ferritin and normal on the serum.

I wasn’t as low as I could be, most likely due to our usage of cast iron pans and consumption of red meat. But, most likely due to these wonderful children; the iron basically has been sucked out of me and never really bounced back to where it should. The new doctor also knew darn near everything there is to know about MTHFR. Mine is the 1298 mutation, which I always understood as “no big deal” vs the more intense 677 mutation. Apparently the 1298 mutation can mess around with homocysteine levels, so he had that checked to ensure it was where it should be (it is). He also said I may need a different kind of methylfolate, as my current stuff doesn’t always play well with the 1298 mutation. Bottom line: any MTHFR mutation should be addressed.

We discussed in detail my Factor V Leiden and discovered that I am clotting more than I did in the past (aka I used to clot only when pregnant, now I’m clotting regularly and I’m definitely not pregnant). I absolutely need to stay on top of the low-dose aspirin all the time (I had been slacking on it, forgetting here and there. Don’t do that, self.)

So that’s the scoop. It’s disheartening that my original doctor, the one who had I had been seeing for years was 1000000% convinced that I was depressed and was more than happy to throw an anti-depressant (and birth control pills) at me. I’m definitely not against anti-depressants – been on them in the past with smashing success – but I knew this wasn’t depression. Even when I told original doctor so; he just ignored me.

I’m making the new doctor my new primary care doctor, as he obviously is better versed in MTHFR and FVL alone; and was very interested in why I felt so yucky and how to fix it. Rather than saying “you have five kids, OF COURSE, you’re tired” he recognized that the number of kids you have doesn’t always correlate to exhaustion levels. I feel like he took everything I told him seriously and didn’t brush me off as a ‘hysterical woman’, which was definitely how I felt when interacting with original doctor. I’m debating whether or not to write a complaint to the clinic where original doctor works, because I feel he diagnosed me based on my history and not my symptoms, and he completely blew off actually listening to me. Anti-depressants are powerful meds, but not every case of fatigue and joint pain is depression (especially coupled with all the other symptoms I have been experiencing). Anyways.

The plan is to treat the iron with iron pills, revamp my diet – new doctor wants me to go back to some form of a ketogenic lifestyle (not super hard-core but definitely lower carb than what I’m doing now) in order to treat my OCD (which had been flaring up since that pesky earthquake in July), and a couple other supplements. If I still feel junky in December (and if my ferritin levels show improvement), he will start investigating autoimmune disorders. Hopefully we won’t get to that point, but God’s will be done.

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 9 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 11

This week was one of those weeks where flexibility was the name of the game. It came apparent to me that we had something going on every day of the week and in some instances; had some double booking going on. Happily Grandma helped out by taking the kids to and from choir for me while I went to the doctor; and we basically forced ourselves through the rest of the week.

Monday and Tuesday Peanut (Yr 4) and Moose (Yr 2) discovered the wonder of having all their school done by 11:30 in the morning. I have told them until I’m blue in the face that if you finish your work well (as in, not slopped or rushed through) and don’t dawdle; you can be finished before noon – which leaves the rest of the day for playing, reading, visiting Grandparents, playing with friends, and so on. Sure enough they discovered that I wasn’t yanking their chains.

Peanut and Moose both had math tests and passed. Peanut finally finished up Math Mammoth Grade 3 and can begin Grade 4; Moose moves on to the next chapter in his Math Mammoth text. We also went on to the next list in both Phonetic Zoo and high frequency words.

Wednesday was a day where everything went south but we managed to get things accomplished. Our special needs kid had an extremely hard morning of therapies which meant that that child was fried and drained and needed to rest all day (but was irritable making it hard for others to work), I was fried and drained from whatever health problem I’m having, and it was just blah. I didn’t force school too much on everyone because when we’re at each other’s throats, sometimes we just need to shelve everything and have some hot cocoa (or a Snickers bar) and chill. The relationship with the kids trumps any knowledge they may gain. And besides, who can learn when someone’s antagonizing you, you’re frustrated because things “aren’t easy” and so on.

Peanut did have her heart broken a little bit more about Benjamin Franklin, she was entirely unimpressed that he stayed in England so long, despite his wife begging him to return (and not returning until after her passing). She still thinks he’s a “mostly good guy” though. 😉

Thursday was worse than Wednesday, in that I had a blood draw scheduled for 1 in the afternoon. “Please fast for 12 hours beforehand” said my doctor. Welllll I don’t know about you, but I’m not up at midnight getting my last meal in. I ended up having an unintentional 17 hour fast. At least I was hydrated enough for the five vials that needed to be drawn. I forgot to ask the phlebotomist (I was ready to go to the grocery for ALL THE FOOD) when my results would be in, and since I have no new lab reports in my online account I’m guessing all the tests are done across the state. Maybe on Monday!

(My doctor thinks that maybe I feel so screwed up because my ferritin iron levels may be low, so he’s having that checked, plus thyroid antibodies and like 249820675698719584867 other tests.)

Friday was swim class day and absolutely TGIF. Moose wasn’t impressed to learn that we’re finishing Understood Betsy next week. I find that we’re slowly “falling behind” except that we’re not, if that makes sense. Yes, we got off on our Latin schedule so the regularly scheduled quiz wasn’t on Friday, and next week we’ll do some extra reading to get done with Moose’s first term. But really, it’s not a big deal. I’m finding in necessary to cut myself slack and let go of some tightly held (and wound) beliefs. I’m participating in Brandy Vencel’s “Charlotte Mason Boot Camp” right now. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it while feeling so lousy BUT it’s so great, I’m glad I took the chance and signed up. Plus, I enjoy having to make some time to be quiet, read and discuss and pray about certain aspects of our homeschool and life in general.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

I’m still waiting for my labwork results. One result came back and it’s definitely indicative that something else may be going on; but what depends on the rest of the labwork results. Some of the tests had to go across the state for analysis and my guess is that’s where it’s all being held up at. It’s rather agonizing to continue to feel unwell, have a little idea of what may be going on but not the complete picture. I’m working on being patient, and trying not to refresh the lab results page too many times a day. 😉

It’s quite hard to do anything thanks to how poor I feel. Each day we just take as it comes, and I try to do things when I have energy. Some days are better than others.

(If you want to make bets about what’s going on/play armchair doctor/if you’re Googling around; here are just SOME of my symptoms: brain fog, losing hair, breaking nails, weight irregularities, poor appetite, heart palpitations, sleep disturbances, exhaustion, hard to concentrate, random hand tremors and more! And nope, not pregnant; although that would be a welcome reason to feel like trash.)

THAT BEING SAID, I’ve been attempting to read, when I can actually concentrate.

I found this book in a local thrift store for $0.50. I like it because no matter how brain-drained I am each day, I can read a little sentence or two from it and have something meaty to ruminate over. It’s the perfect low-energy book, at least for this stage in my life.

This book is my book when I’m feeling a little more with it in the energy department. Honestly, don’t let the title fool you (you can tell on the Amazon reviews who has read it and who hasn’t) – it’s not what you think it is. It’s a lovely book, written very light-hearted and self-depreciating at times; but does a great job of discussing that whole “submission” thing and how it relates to marriage. This isn’t a ‘let your man beat you’ or ‘say good-bye to having a life!’ submission books, but rather what submission IS and why it’s needed in a marriage. And if you’re curious; there’s one for the men (which I’ve not read) called Marry Her and Die For Her (just in case you were wondering what the men are called to do in a marriage…).

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite marriage-related books I’ve read in a good, long time.

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Say a prayer my bloodwork results can be posted soon and they show something conclusive, either one way or the other. I don’t like the whole “welllll you have symptoms of X but the bloodwork doesn’t agree so it’s probably not X, but we don’t know why you feel so bad.”