Because of Malachi’s severe eczema, we had started looking into the world of healthy eating. Here’s one of the first (and biggest) things we learned: This new definition of healthy eating I was reading about was WAY different from anything I’d ever heard of.
For sure, I had spent years thinking that healthy eating meant eating as little fat as possible. Avoid the french fries and the pizza. Choose margarine over butter, don’t eat eggs, watch the cheese, eat chicken not beef. Drink fat free milk, choose fat free candy, eat fat free yogurt. This is what I’d been taught was “a healthy diet”.
Suddenly, everything I had ever learned about eating healthy was being challenged. Not only that, but if I was going to start eating these whole foods I’d been reading about, I was going to have to actually spend money on food. I didn’t like spending money on food. What was I going to do? How important was it to eat healthy, anyway?
About the time we were starting to wrestle with and learn about healthy eating, my asthma started giving me some real trouble. The boys were 8, 5, 3 and 8 months at the time. I was pretty exhausted, mainly from getting so little sleep night after night trying to comfort Malachi. I was still nursing him exclusively because we were very afraid to feed him any food. I was drained.
My guess was that it didn’t help that I was drinking a lot of Pepsi every day. Even though I was in the process of learning about raw milk and grass fed meats and free ranged chickens and organic produce…I was having the HARDEST time giving up my Pepsi. I drank Pepsi because I LOVED it. I drank Pepsi because it tasted so good. I drank Pepsi to “give me energy”. I drank Pepsi because I was in the habit of drinking Pepsi. And also, I just LOVED it. (But I think I said that already.)
I drank it in the morning with my breakfast (I always called it my “coffee”). I drank it with my lunch. I drank it in the afternoon if I had some “down time”. I drank it in the afternoon if I didn’t get my “down time” because well…then I really “needed it”! I would usually go through almost a liter and a half a day (or 3-5 cans, depending on what I had bought on sale).
And…if I went out to eat? I would SO take advantage of the free refills!!! Oh yes, I would. It’s almost embarassing. (almost?)
All that to say…my immune system was pretty shot. (I’m sure the Pepsi wasn’t the only reason, but, WOW that’s a lot of sugar consumption!) Once my depleted body started to have worse asthma symptoms…I found myself unable to fight back.
It started with what seemed to be a cold, but I could not get over it. I got so sick I could hardly walk across the room for lack of energy and breath. Friends came over to help with the kids and laundry. I lost a lot of weight (I looked terrible). I had no appetite. Every breath hurt. I coughed all the time. I fell asleep in the middle of a noisy room with the kids playing all around me. I couldn’t answer questions. I remember my friends asking me what I’d eaten for lunch and I’d just give them a blank stare. Matt was trying to juggle his work and the kids and a very sick wife. He would fall asleep at night with his clothes on, he was so tired from trying to keep up. (By the way, during the time I was the sickest, I wasn’t drinking Pepsi anymore…I wasn’t that stupid! But I hadn’t decided to give it up for good yet!)
My doctor was trying different medications to get the asthma under control, but nothing seemed to work. He was very concerned about my weight and overall health and wanted me to stop nursing Malachi since I was so depleted. He finally insisted on hospitalizing me so that we could do something about my lungs and get me hydrated.
I was in the hospital for four days. My friends and church family were incredible. They took care of the kids. They brought meals. Some of my fellow nursing mothers were even kind enough to pump extra milk for Malachi.
It took almost two months for me to finally begin to feel well again. And then, I began to drink Pepsi again because I missed it so much…and I was feeling so much better, so why not?!
It didn’t take long for my lungs to feel wheezy and my energy to wane. I was getting sick again…
To be continued…