Last year was pretty tough…

6 surgeries, months of disability and physical therapy really stretched this family’s physical, spiritual and financial resources.  When mom needs maintenance, the whole family suffers…yet, the suffering was such that it truly “grew” everyone.  Older children learned to manage home and hearth; younger children learned patience and compassion.  And mom?  Well, I learned that as important as I consider my “work,” there are many hands here that can do everything that I do.  I learned that the “work” is not really what I bring to this home.  A mother brings comfort.  All those little touches that make a house a home.  A mother brings gentleness and warmth.  These are the things that permeate her work, that make it vital.  Anyone can wash a dish, fold a towel or bake a cake.  But a mother does these simple acts from the depths of her heart.  Or at least she should…

So what happens, one year later, when the mother realizes she still feels awful?  When the immune system seems to be producing an inflammatory response that is causing pain in multiple joints with concurrent fatigue?   When the hands that serve can no longer open a jar or hold a pair of knitting needles?   When the simple action of holding a child’s hand or giving a hug, causes pain?   When the medications that could effect relief produce reactions that are nearly as awful as the pain?

Well…this mom poured her heart out to a priest.  Fr. Angelus Shaughnessy to be precise.  His kindness and compassion…the tender way that he took these hands so full of pain into his own, offering heartfelt prayer, was so beautiful, so moving.  He spoke of the importance of doing less, so that my children could do more.  And then he asked me a very unusual question.  At least unusual to me, because I’m a mother of many:

“Are you getting enough sleep?”

Sleep?  Sleep…rest.  Well…of course not.  What mother sleeps enough?  I will say my opportunities for sleep are certainly available, but I had developed a nasty habit.  When my children and husband had nestled in to sleep, I would still be up.  Tidying.  Reading.  Folding laundry.  Watching a movie.


I had been robbing myself of sleep to indulge my need for quiet time…and this was absolutely a contradiction to good health, physical and mental.

“Please…please rest.  You must try to rest, even nap during the day if possible.  There would be much less sin in this world, if the people of the world would rest themselves, ”  said Fr. Angelus.

Oh, so true!  All of my impatience, grumpiness and irritability can usually be traced to sheer exhaustion!

And thus began my first steps towards reclaiming health.  Rest.  Allowing myself a different kind of quiet time.  It began to make a difference…the pain decreased somewhat and I knew that additional, perhaps even more extreme measures would be necessary to improve my overall health.

A few weeks ago, I watched this documentary.  I noted that this gentleman experienced health issues tied to a poor immune system response and was, like me, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”   The prescription:  an extended juice fast.  I researched the idea and decided that it was worth a shot.  The weight loss that follows the detoxification process is an added bonus, but certainly not enough of a motivation for this gal.  I like food.  I like reading about food, cooking food and eating food.  Vanity, while certainly one of my flaws, is not enough to motivate me to do anything other than make sure my clothes match.  No…pain is my motivator.  And  “offering it up” isn’t the only response expected by our Father in Heaven.  This body has been given to us as a great gift…it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  My “temple” was a wreck…and in dire need of healing from the inside out.

So I purchased a juicer.  And a ton of veggies and fruits.   And my incredibly sweet hubby decided that he would join me…in many ways, his suffering is as great as mine and it is such a comfort to have his encouragement, support and companionship on this journey.

One week later:  I FEEL GREAT!!

The only solid food that has passed my lips in the last seven days has been the Host:  the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord.

The rest:  juice.  All the juice I want.  Within four days, I began rising at 6:00 a.m…not tired…no caffeine to get me going…just a glass of water to start the day, a hot cup of decaf chai tea and fruit juice.  For lunch:  green juices:  a mixture of spinach, carrot, apple…sometimes kale, lemon and ginger.  The vitamin “rush” is amazing.  I could never in a million years consume the sheer volume of veggies that I’ve been juicing, and yet I’m receiving all the nutrients they contained in a 12 oz. glass.  I’m walking a half mile every morning at sunrise…when before all I could do was sip my hot coffee while checking my email…

Did I mention that I’ve lost 12 pounds?  In one week.  That’s a bonus…and a great motivator.  It’s not easy…but when one considers some of the other extreme measures that others have undertaken, in desperation to accomplish improved health, this is certainly one of the easier, safer solutions.  Initially, I had prayed that I could make it through the first three days.  Then I set a target for ten days.  Now that those ten days are nearly done, I may just set a goal for thirty.  I’m listening to my body…and reveling in my new found energy.  And I haven’t taken a pain reliever in a nearly a week now…after months of NSAIDS.  After this detox, I’ll be making some hard choices.  It’s rather obvious that what I’ve been eating is hurting me.  And this from a woman who doesn’t do fast food, buys very little pre-packaged foods and cooks from scratch.  It just may be that gluten is a problem …I hope not, but I’m willing to give it up, if it means better health and less pain.  It’s time for this mom to take up the mandate to love herself…so that she can love those around her.

Extreme measures for extreme health.  Sometimes…they’re necessary!