My life of late has been a little like that show on Discovery Health Channel, "Mystery Diagnosis." For the past few years, I've been feeling increasingly cruddy with issues like non-refreshing sleep, ulcerative colitis flare ups, exhaustion, confusion, depression, and most recently, ringing in my ears and constant inability to feel warm.
A lot of this you figure could be traced back to poor sleep, but a full diagnostic at a sleep center indicated my night-time sleep was somewhat unremarkable, but my daytime sleepiness was abnormal. Which could be traced to a million different things for which a million medical tests would be necessary. Since we had just sunk about a thousand bucks into the sleep study and we have high-deductible insurance, I wasn't about to run off for another battery of tests, which would need to be charged on credit cards.
So I started a process of internet research to figure out what was going on with me. Some indicators pointed to my thyroid, some to clinical depression and anxiety, but neither of those quite wrapped up all my issues.
Then I ran across information about adrenal fatigue.
I was getting desperate. In the afternoons at work, I was getting so tired that it was making me nauseous. I was literally struggling to keep my eyes open while I was working. So after an internet search for "afternoon nausea" (and after I ignored all the pregnancy sites that brings up) I found information on adrenal fatigue. I literally have 90% of the symptoms literature lists. In one online test I took, a score of 25-35 indicated significant adrenal fatigue. I scored a 78.
So, like a good writer, when I see the problem in a story, I head into deep revisions. My life is under revision now, because I feel way too much like a pile of plop for someone who's only just shy of 38 years old. I've started on an herbal regimen in an effort to combat my adrenal fatigue symptoms. For most people, this is like "big deal, you're taking a couple of pills a day." For me, this is pretty earth shattering. For no good reason, I have always been resistant to any sort of regimen, to a fault. So it is a huge hurdle for me to commit to even just a couple pills a day.
I resolved that I simply must live on more sleep than the average person. I can't go to bed at 11 and get up at 6. 9:30 or 10 pm will have to be my limit. What that means for my writing life, I'm not sure. I'm not quantifying that yet.
I'm cutting out Coke. Again, some may say, "So what?" I love Coke with an unreasonable passion. You would think there was still cocaine in it the way I crave the stuff. But there's nothing in soda that will help me. The corn syrup is probably made from genetically modified corn, of which I am mistrustful, and the little bit of caffeine in soda isn't even effective for wakefulness anyway. I may drink an occasional soda if we're out to dinner or something, but as for my everyday routine, Coke is out. (sniff.) The trick will be to find an alternative that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup. The stupid fruit-vegetable blend I'm drinking today has it. A lot less than soda, but still a bad sweetener under the fruity-carroty veneer. Baby steps.
There are other dietary changes I need to work on as well--namely refined sugars and grains. I don't know if I will be able to let Italian bread go. One thing at a time here.
But even after just two days of the herbs, I do think I feel a little better. Last night, I still woke up a few times, but it was a gentle, pleasant waking, not the "slam awake, feel disoriented, struggle to still the anxiety that surges because of that, and fight my way back to sleep, repeat 6 or 7 times" version of nighttime I'm used to. I was still tired this morning when I woke up, but right now, my eyes are significantly more open than they were before I started the herbs. That's a big deal, in my mind.
So we shall see if I'm just having a rogue good day or if I continue to see improvement. Because I can hardly imagine what I could accomplish in this life if I didn't feel like a suicidal, exhausted, freezing malcontent with stomach pain all the time.