Monthly NFP Update: Lessons in Drug Reactions

PSALM 73 (1)

August- a month of opposites. The Creighton Method and Naprotechnology treatment requires a huge helping of patience and humility with a hefty sprinkling of courage and trust. In these moments of increased suffering and confusion, my relationship with God shifts into a more pristine focus- better aligned and less muddled by my pride and control.

For a moment, I thought my body and reproductive track considered cooperating. Somewhere between the travel adventures and joyous occasions my body found enough time and energy to protest my Napro treatment for PMDD. About 6 months ago my PMS diagnosis was revised to a PMDD diagnosis. For those who may not be familiar with PMDD or Post-Dysphoric Menstrual Disorder in the most simplistic definition PMDD is a more severe and volatile version of PMS. After I passed with flying colors the screening for PMDD, my local napro doctor prescribed a medication which used in minute dosages can help your body reset the bio-chemical endocrine processes surrounding the transition from one cycle into the next. But it’s a medication to be respected.

Medical need finally tipped the scale outweighing my reservations, and I successfully took the medication for 5 months before the final hurrah. Looking back at my chart, a few positive affects can be noted. ***And I should disclaim this medication has been beneficial for many women undergoing Napro treatment without or with minimal side-effects.***

This month I only made it through 3 days of my 10 day course before having cardiac and neurological symptoms. I ignored the fluttering heart rate and palpitations the first 3 nights before the neurological symptoms hit which were harder to ignore. On night three, I felt a sudden decline in my mental acuity and a heavy mental fog descend, my rate of exhaustion skyrocket, followed by slowed speech and thought, catapulting into decreased balance and increased dizziness. This led to falls, topples, and bashed knees (and a rather scared and confused Hannah.) Two weeks later I regained my mental acuity and the fog dissipated. It took one week to regain my balance in full. My darkened mood hasn’t rebounded yet. I discontinued my med, consulted with my doctor, and spent time recovering. My doctor and I will need to re-evaluate and discern the next steps.

In many ways, I know I am blessed that nothing more severe or life-threatening happened. In other ways, I recognize my medical de-sensitivity played into my ignorance of the severity of my drug reaction. A hard lessen to learn but an important lessen to know when and what your limitations are and when you should seek professional medical help.

I am frustrated by this set-back in my treatment. I am concerned what the next step will be or if there is a next step. I am worried what the ripple affect will be. Already my cycle has changed without the drug treatment. The brokenness is coming back more recognizable and distinct in my charting. The weakness if pouring into where the healing was. I offer up my cup of brokenness and weakness to God. He makes all things good. Everyday He keeps repeating, “Hannah, you are good.” And to that light of love I cling.

“Though my flesh and my heart fail, God is the rock of my heart, my portion forever.” – Psalm 73: 26

 

 

 

 

Holy Person of the Month: Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, Patron of Chronically Catholic Blog

Photo Credit: cassiepeasedesign.com
Photo Credit: cassiepeasedesign.com

After 11 years of hoping and praying for a child, Ruggero and Maria Theresa Badano welcomed their daughter, Chiara Lucu, on October 29th, 1971. Born in the small Italian village of Sassello, she was considered a beautiful and simple child; Chiara exhibited an acute awareness and compassion for the poor and suffering, especially drug addicts and persons with mental illness. The simple, beautiful child grew into a vivacious and active youth filled with zest and love for life. She enjoyed swimming, outdoor actives, and socializing with friends. In 1980, Chiara became involved in the Focalare Movement and an active member in her local youth group. Chiara, though virtuous and unique, enjoyed being a modern teenager.

In 1988, while playing tennis, Chiara experienced excruciating pain in her shoulder, and soon received the diagnosed of osteogenic sarcoma- bone cancer. During her final two years, Chaira fulfilled her name’s mean “Clear Light” becoming a illuminating presence of joy in the midst of immense suffering. After an excruciating night, she stated, “I suffered a lot, but my soul was singing.” Even in her weakened state, Chiara’s presence touched many lives. One of her doctors remarked, “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.” Intrigued by stories of this heroic teenager, Cardinal Saldarini visited her in the hospital and asked, “The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?” Chiara replied: “I try to love Jesus as much as I can.”

Chiara in the Hospital
Chiara in the Hospital

Even after she received her terminal diagnosis and during treatment, Chiara keenly understood the value of redemptive suffering. She often repeated the phrase, “If this is what you want, Jesus, so do I.” As Chiara’s beautiful locks fell out due to chemotherapy, she prayed as each strand fell, “For you, Jesus.”  She even refused pain management wanting to remain lucid. She explained, “I want to share as much as possible in His suffering on the cross.” Chiara befriended another adolescent struggling with depression and drug-dependency. Despite how painful walking was because of a large growth on her spine, Chiara walked with this girl; “I’ll have time to rest later.”

As her impending death approached, Chiara encouraged her mother, “When you’re getting me ready, Mum, you have to keep saying to yourself, ‘Chiara Luce is now seeing Jesus.’” With her friends and family present, Chiara Luce died October 7, 1990. Her last words were: “Goodbye. Be happy because I’m happy.” Her family buried her in a wedding dress as requested.

bl. Chiara Luce Badano When Chiara died, I was one year old. Her first confirmed miracle involved a young Italian boy dying from meningitis induced organ failure. His parent’s asked for Chiara’s intercession. A panel of doctors ruled that there was no medical explanation for the boy’s full recovery. On September 25, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict VXI beatified Chiara Luce Badano- the first blessed from Generation X.

In the words of Chiara: “Previously I felt … the most I could do was to let go. Instead, now I feel enfolded in a marvelous plan of God, which is slowly being unveiled to me.”

Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, pray for us!

Why did I choose Bl. Chiara for my blog patron? I stumbled into her story and witness during a period of intense medical fragility and complexity in my life. I became dehabilitated. I was lost. More doors and windows were shut than opened. Then the Holy Spirit guided me to this young woman who died around the time I was born. I felt an instant connection. I felt hope. When I decided to chose a patroness for my blog, I chose her. I believe in the Communion of Saints. She helped me ad continues to intercede for me. And I want to share her heroic virtue and story with the world- even just a small corner. 

Getting Real with the Reality of High Risk Pregnancy

love beads
Photo Credit: Pinterest, Love Beads

Imagine vibrant hues dancing off placid waters while sand squeezes between your toes and water laps upon your bare feet as rest in your dearly beloved’s arms watching the sunset. But before he and I ride off into the sunset, real, potentially life changing conversations must take place.

Pregnancy, and delivering babies are beautiful, self-sacrificial, and life-giving moments in a woman’s life, but what about those of us who peer into the possibility of marriage and family knowing great love comes with great risks. During navigating her high-risk pregnancy, my friend quoted her fetal medicine doctor, “Every woman takes a risk being pregnant and having children. We just know more upfront about your risks.” Amen.

Well intended Catholics respond to my anxiety and concern with probing questions: “Are you sure you shouldn’t become a nun?” “Consecrated virgin?” or “I knew this lady who had three kids and was a high-risk pregnancy.” Part of me wishes I felt called to those vocations (would have made my life “easier.”) On the latter comment, I’m grateful for this woman, but life experience has taught me to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Baring a miracle healing multiple chronic and confounding conditions, my high risk pregnancy reality won’t change. After years of hoping, praying, and exploring, I closed the door to religious life or consecrated virginity. And now an unlikely, surprise of a man in my life challenges me to own who I am, wrestle with the risks of marital intimacy, and have the courage to discuss the real topics with a potential spouse:

1.) Tell Him:
Discuss the reality of marriage and family. Be honest and direct. Convey your feelings and emotions. Ask open ended questions.
2.) Don’t Apologize for Your Limitations:
You are Beautiful. You are Enough. You are Made in His Image.
3.) If His Response Leaves You Feeling Used, Confused, Anxious or Unloved, End the Relationship:
This won’t get better with time.
4.) Get Comfortable Discussing Intimacy:
Become comfortable discussing intimacy in a respectful and honest manner in order to set realistic expectations and boundaries regarding all types of intimacy in your dating relationship and within marriage. Watch & listen for red flags and warning signs.
5.) Discuss How You Will Grow A Family:
Will you attempt having a biological child? Explore adoption and/or fostering? Discuss expectations or the lack-there-of. Better to know now rather than learning too late. Your life could depend on it.
6.) Discuss How You Will Express Intimacy in Marriage:
If you are making love, babies could be in your future. God, two people, and the marital embrace create babies. The only 100% effective way not to conceive a child is not to engage in intercourse. For a woman dealing with the reality of a high risk pregnancy, this could involve refraining for significant amounts of time depending on the complexity of her cycle. A future spouse should not only respect this but advocate for this and cherish his wife for this. Discuss, learn, and utilize Natural Family Planning (NFP.)
7.) Ask the Tough Questions. Be Specific:
Let’s say a woman has a complex cycle or serious reasons for avoiding pregnancy are present, how will intimacy be expressed during extended periods of refraining from the marital embrace? Will those three days per month or every couple of months not only suffice BUT build deeper intimacy between spouses? Will he turn to masturbation, sexting, pornography, or adultery (or other counterfeits of love) when his sexual “needs” aren’t met? Will you? Will you love the other person not for what you can get from each other, but for who each other is ‘til death do you part?

Beautifully Flawed

In the 2011 movie October Baby, a local Mobile, Alabama police officer shares his wife’s saying: “To be human is to be beautifully flawed.” Hannah, (not me but shares my namesake and some similarities) the recipient of this wisdom, understands being human means being flawed- physically, mentally, emotionally, developmentally, etc. As the Jesuits or Society or Jesus like to say: “life is a journey.” How many of us make it through life without flaws, imperfections, scars, or brokenness? No one I know. Certainly not myself. For many of us these “flaws” or imperfections seem ordained and despite ourselves. What now?
Even Christ in the Gospels experienced suffering, death, loss, pain, and grief. But Christ also experienced profound life, love, joy, hope, and faith.  Being human means experiencing both. I know moments when I experience the deepest compassion is in the midst of the worst suffering. Peace and calmness rise in the midst of death and dying. Or the simplest awareness of joy and life in the midst of uncertainty. Sometimes the nitty gritty develops, shapes, challenges, and forms us by fire, but on the other-side, we could gleam with the luminescence of a divine love forged in pure trust, mercy, and abandonment. But each of us are faced with a choice to embrace our crosses and help our neighbors or not. Some days are easier than others. But one thing is for certain we all have are beautiful flaws or brokenness. Some types are hidden to others. For those that hide their brokenness, like me, a term invisibilities or “invisibilities” can describe many forms of mental, physical, and emotional health conditions that make day-to-day living extreme to challenging.
I understand and desire confidentiality. Not everyone needs to know everything, every little detail. I’m not one to overexpose myself or my loved ones. For a person that suffers is fundamentally vulnerable on various levels. I fear being taken advantage, trod-upon, misunderstood, and ostracized. But I fear less each day . . . Thank you to all with, especially the youth and young adults, invisible and visible disabilities for your silent, steadfast testimony. You keep the world afloat and filled with hope and light! We are beautifully flawed and broken, but undeniably valuable and treasured in the sight of Heaven and those of Goodwill on Earth!