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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

26: A Year in Retrospect

As I ride the mower along the edge of the bush around the outer parameter of the lawn, I see that the black currants are in blossom: tiny, delicate yellow blooms set against the bright green leaves. It takes me back to the beginning of June a year ago.

The first day of June 2011 brought a much-anticipated event for our family: the U2 concert in Edmonton. Later, after a full evening’s entertainment, Melissa and I, having got separated from the other four, stood outside in a crowd of 60,000 people waiting to get on the LRT. After we’d stood for half an hour and not seen any progress, she suggested that we walk back to our parking spot, about three and a half kilometres away. She phoned the others, passed along the plan, and told them we’d meet them at the vehicles.

She set out at a sizzling pace, her long legs eating up the metres. My legs are long too, but I haven’t near as much sizzle anymore. She is a long-distance runner, so her stamina is formidable. I tried to match her pace, breaking into a run intermittently to close the gap. Now bear in mind, it was almost midnight, and I had been up since 4:30 that morning. Dinner was a faraway memory, not a good thing for someone who tends toward low blood sugar. But I’ve always had this mentality that it’s good to push your body hard, that this is what makes us strong.

This attitude comes from long-distance training back in my own distant youth. However, I’ve come to realize that this is a dumb idea, especially when there are other mitigating factors, like being overtired and hungry. And all this on the heels of several weeks of operating with uncontrollable anxiety. I was running on fumes; more accurately, as I understand now, I was running on adrenaline.

Thirty minutes later we reached the vehicles, far ahead of the others. As I leaned against the truck, my equilibrium went strange for a few minutes and I found I was having trouble keeping my balance. The rest of the family caught up with us after a bit, and in due course we all got something to eat and got home to bed.

I didn’t think any more about the demands I’d made on my body, until I got up four days later. I tried to go for a pleasant walk on a Sunday morning with my husband and found I simply could not do it. (Adrenals Amok, Blog #10).

You may be wondering what all this has to do with the black currants being in blossom. Well, I’m getting to that. The following day I was still completely drained. I was pretty sure I had exhausted my adrenal glands. I looked up an email that had come from a reader less than three weeks earlier. She had written me about something called Ribes Nigrum, which “resets the adrenals.”

On Google I discovered that this is the Latin name for black currant and that this remedy is made from the blossoms. I ordered a couple of bottles from a supplier in Ontario, wondering how long it would take to get here. I was feeling quite beside myself. I wanted to dig out my old anti-anxiety medication, but it had been 17 months since I’d used that crutch. I wasn’t going to give in without a fight.

Midday I wandered outside in my robe and slippers, too tired to bother dressing. I climbed down the grassy embankment behind the house to the westerly edge of the lawn, looking for the currant bushes that grow wild there. They were in blossom. I picked a handful and chewed them slowly, thinking I must look like a real nut-case. They didn’t taste very good.

To my amazement the Ribes Nigrum arrived the following day around noon. How is that even possible, ground shipping from Ontario? An answer to prayer for sure. I eagerly began on the suggested two-daily doses.

Two days later found me at a naturopathic clinic in St. Albert that the same reader had mentioned. The doctor, after confirming my self-diagnosis, put me on an adrenal support product containing freeze-dried bovine adrenal and spleen, as well as 3000 mg of Vitamin C daily, and gave me some other directives. He indicated that it would take my adrenals about a year to recover.

But taking stock in early April, the ten-month point, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel any better. In fact I felt like I was still losing ground. And then I had an amazing breakthrough, which I’ll talk about next time.

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