Thursday, January 28, 2010

In the Refiner's Fire - Those First Years of Marriage

This is part 4 in my faith and health story and it focuses on the first 2 years John and I were married.

Those First Years of Marriage

John and I moved to a new state when we got married. I had lived there for a year, attending a Master's Degree program while he was finishing up his Nuclear Medicine Degree. It was a 14 hour drive to visit his family and mine was another 16 hours on top of that! We were about 1 1/2 hours from my grandmother and an uncle, but other than that we had no family around.

We did have a faith community and they were the rock of our 'family' so to speak during those years.

Why? I had the advisor from you know where and had one of the worst - if not the worst - educational experiences I have ever had (and I've had a lot of educational experiences). I was teaching three labs, taking classes (3 a semester) and trying to work on research with little or no assistance from my advisor and with a non-existent research group. I later figured out that the lack of research group was due to my advisor rather than having a small-ish department but that wasn't until I was almost done. The second year I took a job teaching at a local tech college - loved the teaching, but I continued my teaching and schoolwork at the same pace I had before. How loud can you stay stress? And no sleep?

Were there good things? Oh yes. Being away from our families meant John and I only had each other to lean on. That really helped our relationship grow. I got to meet some incredible people. I got to work on some really neat projects and do some really fun and exciting outreach. And we had this incredible faith community to be part of. A very long-time friend of my parents was faculty at the school and I got to know him and his wife quite well too - which was a HUGE blessing and just plain fun. I walked a lot - we had one car and John needed it for work most of the time. We did buy another car - but not until right before we moved.

The bad things?

Oh my word, there were many!

I decided that John needed "fixing" - I didn't like the way he did so many things, and I felt that by hollering, nagging, constantly correcting, and otherwise badgering him I could 'fix' him. Yes, I did realize that many of the things that needed 'fixing' had never been on his radar screen to begin with much less listing as important but I didn't realize I needed to teach him about those things and be an example rather than being a general pain in the neck.

I took an extra year to graduate because my adviser wouldn't even look at my research. He finally did because the department chair told him to. Problem fixed in 5 minutes. Seriously. I had an extra number in my equation that no one else in the department would have known enough to understand that it shouldn't be there. The consequence of all of that was that I seriously began to doubt what I know - something I had never done before. Basic subject knowledge and technique was in question in my mind. What do you mean you can't find a simple math error? How stupid are you? And that kind of thing constantly ran through my head. I felt like God had deserted me and I seriously started to question whether I could do anything of any worth at all much less what I had always felt God had called me to do.

We also found out that I really can't take hormonal contraception. I had every side-effect symptom on the packet except blood clot, stroke and death (which I'm very grateful for) and not only had them, but had them severely. After talking to my mother, I found out that both of her sisters had had the same problems and that was why she had never taken them herself. I wish I'd asked her sooner. So, after having three doctors tell me it was stress and not the contraception, I quit taking them. Back to normal in one cycle. Sure, it wasn't the contraception. When we moved here and I told my doctor what had happened. She quickly gave me a list of non-hormonal alternatives and said "most people have symptoms, but only about 5% have them that severely." I was just relieved she believed me. Having three doctors tell me that it was stress and that I should practice stress release techniques, take up yoga and the like, I started to doubt my own mind even more. I felt like I was going crazy - that I didn't really understand my own body and that I was just making things up in my head for attention or something (which I actually had one doctor tell me).

By the time I graduated I was sick of school, sick of working, and just plain physically sick - which I didn't know was partly the result of poor health choices and bad (really bad) eating habits and partly the result of being a preemie.

All in all, I'm very surprised John stayed married to me. I have told him many times that if I had been married to me during those first years, I would have divorced me. :) He stuck with it and was eventually the catalyst in helping me get back to 'normal.'

I left that school and that state, angry at God, angry at myself and probably clinically depressed as well, even though I never officially got diagnosed. John found a job here in the Twin Cities and we moved. I decided that I was going to take a couple of classes and wait on a job for a while. But I also kept getting sicker and sicker...

I write more about that next week.

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