this is how we do it: WELLNESS

I started this post during my "this is how we do it" series in 2017, and am only just now finishing it! Carry on.

Obviously, ground rules first. I’m a registered nurse and I only just started vaccinating my kids. So there’s that.

I get a lot of questions about health and wellness because of my profession, and because of my family size. When one of of us comes down with something, we typically all follow suit at some point. It gives me that much more motivation to try and keep us all as healthy as possible. I know as soon as I publish this post, my family will contact some bizarre exotic virus. However, I’m writing it anyway, for two reasons. First, we were recently kicked out of our primary care office for being too healthy. Like, we did not use a single sick visit all year and were therefore going to be charged as new patients… even for the kids’ yearly physicals. Second, last winter was the first one without a single stomach bug in the house. After twelve straight months of no vomiting, I decided to start writing this post, most assuredly to seal my plague fate for this winter (it happened).

PREVENTION.

Like any good healthcare provider, I’m going to tell you to stay healthy so you don’t have to get healthy. In our family, that looks like one might expect. We exercise, we eat healthy at home, we drink a lot of water, and we try to sleep well at night. I carry disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and Lysol in my purse at all times. But my kids also bathe only once per week and eat off of the actual ground, too.

I take supplements every night; I do believe they help with immune support. My regimen currently consists of a probiotic and turmeric every night, with garlic and cranberry on occasion. I’ve noticed improvement in my gut, my skin, and my mood. My husband puts me on a short course of zinc whenever I feel I’m getting a cold, and the kids take a multivitamin when I remember to hand them out. In the winter, I keep an essential oil blend in a roller ball bottle with me at all times. It goes on the kids and myself most nights (feet and belly buttons and sometimes spines). We also take colloidal silver and elderberry syrup during episodes of the creeping crud.

A giant jug of hand sanitizer sit on the bathroom floor by the door, so even the little kids remember to clean their hands on the way out. I clean the bathrooms with bleach, and the doorknobs and light switches with Lysol, on the same day every week so I don’t forget.

TREATMENT.

When we’re sick, we start by trying to wait it out. My kids have never been to the doctor for symptoms of a common cold, stomach bug, etc. We figure that since typical viruses aren’t treatable anyway, what’s the point in spending all of that money to hear someone tell you to go home and wait it out? I also don’t treat fevers most of the time. Because a fever is the body’s natural response to a foreign invader, I’d rather get the whole battle over with as quickly as possible. The exceptions? I’ll medicate a fever to help my children rest for a short period of time, and I’d also medicate if a fever was getting really high really fast. I just caught myself doing that parent fib thing. The truth is a) it’s been years since I used a thermometer and b) new literature actually links febrile seizures to genetics and not a sudden temperature spike. Long story short, all of our family fevers have resolved with sleep and a good sweat session.

WHERE BEING CRUNCHY HELPS.

We swallow garlic cloves  whole and tape them into ears. We take shots of apple cider vinegar. My husband makes a drink that will knock a chest cold right outta here. Coconut oil is our lotion of choice. Essential oils really do work for us, when it comes to certain ailments. I’ve used them every which way possible, from drops in the bathtub to capsules to undiluted to a blend with a carrier. Generally, I believe that nature has a place in healthcare culture, even in the world of advanced medicine and technology. My wound care weapons of choice? Apinol for cuts/scrapes, and honey for open wounds that take time to heal.

WHERE BEING A NURSE HELPS.

I have to regularly remind myself that bacteria and viruses are very different processes, with different symptoms and different treatment protocols. Diarrhea is typically defined as several loose stools in twenty-four hours, not just one or two. Kids are typically much better nourished and hydrated than we think, and even adults can go a long time with very little to eat or drink. I never panic about oral intake as long as everyone is still making urine. A lot of rashes are a mystery to even the doctors, and tend to be self-limiting or treated easily at home. I try to avoid antibiotics for the little things, because I want them to work when it really counts. Even in my own practice, I’ve seen patients have to switch drugs mid-regimen, because of overuse.

I think that about sums it up. Oh, and if you want my prescription for lice or pink eye, hit me up! My mania has actually paid off toward a pretty effective protocol, if I do say so myself. Best wishes on a healthy household.

Five things on a Friday.

Parenting hacks.

1. This cooking spray works as a moisturizer for freshly bathed babies. Your little ones can simply spread arms and legs and turn slowly while you load it on like sunscreen, pat it in, and send them on their merry ways. Beware of the greasy floor, but it’s nothing a little towel or dog tongue can’t fix.

2. Pajamas and toothbrushes should accompany you on evening outings. Friend’s house? The pool? Church function? Fancy restaurant? Just kidding, maybe. But for real, taking five minutes to get kids ready in someone’s else’s bathroom before the return trip home makes all of the bedtime difference.

3. Never, ever order kids’ meals when you’re at a sit-down restaurant. Well, I mean, you can. But you don’t have to. Try a big appetizer or one entree for the little ones to share. This might save you money and help your babies grow to enjoy new foods, eating a little of whatever the grown-ups can’t finish.

4. Lay out everything the night before. I mean, EVERYTHING. While you’re tucking your kids in (or just throwing air kisses across the room because you just can’t with story time tonight), arrange every single article of clothing for tomorrow on the floor, including shoes and jackets. Apply toothpaste to toothbrushes, place the hair stuff within reach, the whole nine. It makes the before-dawn hustle so much easier.

5. Sign up for vacation bible schools. As many as you can. My best friend taught me to research early (like late winter) and set alarms for registration. Do it! And don’t feel pressured to volunteer. If you’re already serving elsewhere in life, use the time to work or rest! (Do consider sponsoring a child from your kid’s school, specifically low-income families who might not have access to internet or know about the magic of VBS, as well as donating to whatever generosity drive the church is doing.)

The problem with performance.

At my worst, I’m obsessed with improvement. Addicted to movement. My allegiance is to the forward progression. I find solidarity with the ones who believe they can be better tomorrow than they are today. One step forward, even a shaky step or a baby step, feels better than standing still (forget about sliding backwards).

Part of this mindset is due to the way I was raised. Part of it comes from the way I was wired. None of it is wrong, unless or until it comes from the wrong place. And for most of my life, it has come from the wrong place.

I recently sat across from a friend and told her that if my flesh was given the option, it would choose to follow a guru with a ten-step plan to fulfillment over a Savior who promises only His presence as I stumble through this life.

“But when you got to the end of those steps, you’d still feel empty, right?”

Of course, I told her. But I’d be happy to start over. A hamster on a wheel doesn’t repulse or repel me. My flesh is happy to be a hamster on a wheel. My flesh wouldn’t mind waking up each day with a to-do list that leads nowhere.

Why? Because the journey of walking with Jesus can be a long one. Aside from the very small (very important) salvation part, it doesn’t produce instant results. And thinking about it like that? Thinking about the life-long process discipleship entails? It makes me tired. It makes me uncomfortable. It doesn’t fit neatly into my predilection for improvement, movement, and forward progress.

Much of my journey as a Christ-follower has consisted of trying to unlock and achieve the next level, whatever I’ve made up for that to mean. I’ve been following Jesus my entire life, and it’s looked different but the same at every stage. Early on, I tried to just stay out of hell. In my teen and young adult years, it became about fixing my problems so that God could use me. Later on, I scolded myself for needing Him daily. I hid my sin from the people I loved most. I felt that for the sake of movement and progress, I should only have to apply the gospel to my life one time, not every waking moment. That would be weak and needy. And God didn’t need weak and needy. He needed me to perform, right?

To look back at this point is hilarious, considering I perceived my worldview to be a less tiring option than abiding with Jesus daily. And what’s worse, I thought my performance-based living actually saved God some time and effort on me. You know, for when I’d really need it.

Pointless? Yes. Wrong? Sure. Twisted? Absolutely. But for some reason, none of those things changed my heart. Exhausting? That’s what did it. I got too tired. God let me wear myself out, like a toddler after a tantrum. And then he scooped me up and wiped my tears and smoothed my hair and whispered sweet somethings in my ear. Stuff about grace, abundance, and transformation.

Improvement and movement and forward progress are not bad things. They are typically part of the package of walking with Jesus. But the idea that I can do it on my own, without ever screwing up or taking a time-out or backing up a few steps… that is just ludicrous. Because even at my best, I am weak and needy. I always need the gospel, the good news that God is only too happy to remind me of, every waking moment. Praise Him for that.