We shouldn't wait for a global pandemic before we start prioritizing (and investing in) our health. Aside, there's never a better time to start than TODAY.
While this virus serves as a bit of awakening, we can utilize this time to hone-in on supporting our innate immune response as well as supporting our immunity through regular chiropractic care, food as medicine approaches, supplementation, and other mind-body modalities.
When it comes to food, making conscious decisions to best support you and your family's immune system is key.
Here are some foundational tools when it comes to food as medicine and immune support:
probiotics (on a daily basis)
Probiotics also provide synergy outcomes; meaning, they not only help with immune enhancement but also support other favorable health outcomes (gut healing, less bloat, enhanced mood, etc.)
bone broth (on a daily basis)
herbs (pulse in as needed)
vitamin D3 (on a daily basis)
multivitamin + minerals
1) First, empty the lungs of air.
2) Next, breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds.
3) Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
4) Exhale (forcefully) through the mouth, pursing the lips, for 8 seconds.
Repeat this cycle for up to 4 times.
30-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):
10 box step-ups [body weight] (fireplace ledge, step, chair, etc.)
10 push-ups [use knees or allow self to lay flat on the ground and push upwards]
10 weighted squats [air squat] (jugs of water as weight)
10 weighted lunges [body weight] (jugs of water as weight)
200-meter sprint [walk/jog] (treadmill or run outside)
[modifed version] | (if no access to a gym or equipment, alternative ways to perform each exercise)
A note on elderberry - There might be reason to not supplement with elderberry if you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 if you also have an underlying autoimmune condition due to increased cytokine release and this virus mechanism. At this time, there is much unknown regarding the virus. However, including small, regular doses for immune-supporting benefits and pulsing-in elderberry provides an added layer of protection. Consider making our elderberry gummies (recipe shared previously) to provide a little boost as well as gut support (gelatin).
If you know anything about me, you know that I am just a tiny bit obsessed with Disney.
When I came across this quote from Rafiki in The Lion King I wanted to share it with all of you. How powerful are these words!? And coming from a kid’s movie!
I have hurt from my past.
One of these major hurts just came back up recently, haunting my dreams and my everyday life. So much so, it got to the point that it started to affect my thoughts and attitude. I felt myself creeping back into that depression I had once been too familiar with. The negative voices started getting louder in my head. I thought that just because it had happened years ago that it would just go away with time. I was wrong. I never properly dealt with it when it happened, and now it came back, feeling just as fresh as the day it happened. I quickly realized that I couldn’t handle this on my own. I couldn’t push it back down because I knew it was going to come back again. I decided to speak with my counselor about it. The worst part was reliving those moments again while explaining it to him. He gave me some really helpful tips on how to handle it but my biggest takeaway was learning that while I may always feel hurt about it, dealing with it head on and talking about my feelings lifted such a huge weight off my shoulders. Of course, I ran from it at first. But in the end, I learned so much.
When Matt died, I assumed I was going to handle things the only way I knew how, which was by running from my problems. I am so thankful to Sam, Chad, my parents and the rest of my family who encouraged me to seek counseling. I not only learned coping skills while I was grieving, it helped my mental health in every other aspect too. I made a commitment to myself to face every feeling, every holiday, every tough moment, and conversation head on. I’m so glad I did. By dealing with my problems as they passed and putting in the hard work in each moment that felt too difficult to handle, I learned coping skills that will not only help me in the future, but hopefully are things I can pass to Bennett to break the cycle of unhealthy coping habits.
I want to encourage you, friends. If you are hurting, it doesn’t matter if it’s past or present, DON’T RUN. It’s hard, I know. And sometimes it hurts even more at first. But I promise you, things will get better. I’m not saying you should see a counselor (just kidding, I am. I think everyone should have a weekly meeting for their mental health, but I understand this is not always feasible). If you have a trusted friend or family member that you can check in with, do it. Chances are they will be glad to do it.
I’ve said this before, but if you want to continue the conversation or have any questions for me, let me know! We can chat in the office or you can email me at the office and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
The best is yet to come!
As you may have noticed, we carry Vital Proteins Spirulina capsules at the office. A common question we get is, "what is spirulina and why would I need it?"
what is spirulina?
Spirulina, a blue-green colored freshwater plant (and cousin to chlorella), is one of the most researched superfoods today and known for its intense flavor and nutrient-dense profile. There are two species of the spirulina plant, including Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima, both of which are cultivated worldwide and used as a dietary supplement and whole food.
To date, there are over 1,800 peer-reviewed scientific articles evaluating spirulina's health benefits. (!!)
That said, contamination by toxins and heavy metals is a serious concern, so it's important to choose a spirulina supplement with reliable third-party testing and quality assurance.
what is spirulina good for?
Of the many research studies done on spirulina and its benefits, conclusions include (among others):
a note on serotonin
Serotonin, probably the most famous neurotransmitter of the bunch, is an inhibitory compound that aids in relaxation, anxiety, depression, memory, socialization, sexual function, sleep, blood pressure stability, pain, appetite, and digestive regularity.
Serotonin receptors are found in the heart, intestines, blood vessels, uterus, and ovaries. Beyond its direct effects, serotonin has the ability to modulate the release of other neurotransmitters and hormones that regulate both the stress response and sexual function.
Consuming a diet rich in tryptophan aids in the production and utilization of serotonin. Tryptophan is found in poultry, beef, fish, dairy, seeds, chocolate, dates, and spirulina (among other food sources). Additionally, low levels of tryptophan have been associated with anxiety and depression.
Did you know?
Inflammation drives the depletion of tryptophan. So, removing pro-inflammatory foods as much as possible is a great place to start when supporting levels.
top 5 benefits of daily spirulina supplementation:
1. Antioxidant + anti-inflammatory properties
A 2013 review suggests that spirulina may play a role in preventing heart disease due to its cholesterol-lowering, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative effects.
2. Positive impact on blood lipid levels
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that taking spirulina supplements may have a positive impact on blood lipid levels. In the study, spirulina was found to significantly reduce total cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.
3. Heavy metal detoxification
Research has shown that spirulina supplementation is effective in decreasing arsenic (and other heavy metal) levels in the body. A 2016 review found that spirulina had antitoxic properties that could counteract pollutants in the body, including arsenic, fluoride, iron, lead, and mercury.
4. Gut microbiota support
Candida overgrowth has become one of the revealing signs of most autoimmune diseases today and intertwines with leaky gut syndrome (increased intestinal permeability), improper digestion, and imbalances to the gut microbiota. Spirulina supplementation has been shown to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria (which inhibits candida from thriving). More-so, the immune-strengthening properties of spirulina can help the body eliminate candida cells.
5. Memory support + for brain disorders
A 2012 study concluded that Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) may “prevent the loss of memory possibly by lessening Aβ protein accumulation, reducing oxidative damage and mainly augmenting the catalase activity.”
Gram per gram, spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth.
Just one, 3-gram serving contains:
how can spirulina be taken?
Since spirulina can be found in powder form, you can supplement your diet by adding it to smoothies, juices, salads, or soups. Another fun way to use it is to mix it into energy balls or smoothie bowls.
Note: If using capsules, simply break open the capsule and tap it until the powder comes out.
why we love Vital Proteins Spirulina capsules
We love that Vital Proteins takes measures to ensure the safety and highest quality of all of their supplements. They use third-party testing and rigorously examine every lot of finished goods, as well as raw materials, to ensure full compliance with Prop 65 standards. Their capsules are easy to take and can also be used to add to recipes or to sprinkle on top of soups/salads (simply open the capsule!).
While you may have only seen spirulina as an ingredient in a green smoothie you had at a hip juice bar, the nourishing benefits of this superfood are so profound that strong consideration for adding it to your daily supplement regimen is warranted!
Those with phenylketonuria (PKU) should first consult with their healthcare practitioner before supplementing with spirulina. Anyone taking any type of anti-coagulation medication should consult with their healthcare practitioner before beginning (or stopping) taking spirulina. Those with or who are susceptive to autoimmune conditions, be considerate as spirulina may cause autoimmune reactions.
There’s a saying I read once and think of often:
Hurt people, hurt people.
Simple, but it makes sense, right? When others hurt us, it is often a reflection of who they are (or on a deeper level, how they are emotionally hurting), not necessarily who we are. Occasionally, there is some truth to what is said. Take this into consideration, and use it as an opportunity to reflect on those things that you may need to work on.
Remember who you are, and think before you get down to their level and throw hateful words back.
You can’t fix the people who are hurting you. You can only change how you respond to them.
I know this can be hard to do, but I know you can do it!
Let’s work on changing our mindset together. One day at a time.
The best is yet to come!
one of my biggest struggles lately is not being fully present.
I am constantly looking ahead at the future (and maybe trying to speed through my current life).
Do you have moments like this?
These are the “here and there” moments of life. I remember not quite a year ago praying that I would be healed enough to love again. I was trying to rush the “here” moment I was in and was hoping to be “there.”
I’m so thankful things worked how God planned and not according to my own!
Well, now I’m “there” and I find myself looking ahead from time to time to the next “there.” I am constantly reminding myself to slow down, look around, and be grateful for where I’m at today. It really puts life into perspective.
A year ago I was trying to figure out who I was. Today, I have more of a sense of awareness of who I am than I ever have before.
Trust the process. Trust God’s plan. STOP trying to rush.
Look at where you are today and see how far you have come and be grateful, always.
The best is yet to come!
If you're a migraine sufferer, this post is for YOU!
Did you know migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world and affects 12% of the US population?
Migraines are the seventh leading cause of years lived with disability, with a worldwide prevalence estimated at 11.6% (greater than 20% of chronic migraine sufferers are disabled and the likelihood of disability increases with the number of comorbid conditions).
Migraines are most commonly experienced between the ages of 18-44 years and not only affect men and women, but children as well.
For many migraine sufferers, migraine is a chronic disease that significantly decreases their quality of life and the overuse of medication is the most common reason episodic migraines turn chronic.
Interestingly, other common ailments for those with chronic migraine include anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.
what is a migraine?
A migraine is a common condition characterized by recurrent, throbbing headaches which include moderate to severe pain that can last up to three days. Migraine sufferers also report symptoms such as photophobia (light sensitivity), phonophobia (anxiety disorder/fear of loud sounds), and nausea.
Common migraine-associated signs/symptoms:
**may occur right before or during a migraine (aura)
Migraines are often undiagnosed and untreated. Diagnosis of migraines is highly individualized and is often based on a person’s symptoms.
potential migraine causes + triggers
Potential migraine triggers include:
With this, the expression of a migraine may be influenced by specific dietary and/or nutrition-related factors that can play a role in inflammation, vasodilation, glucose metabolism, and attack frequency/severity.
Many foods are known to cause neurovascular and neurochemical effects in individuals prone to migraines either directly (i.e. endogenous or artificial chemicals) or indirectly (release of immune mediators such as inflammatory cytokines).
Examples of endogenous chemicals are the amines:
Additionally, food additives such as nitrates (often found in processed meats) and MSG (found in meat tenderizer, soy sauce, Asian foods, and a variety of packaged foods) have also been associated with the presentation of migraines.
Other food substances often considered to be triggers include tannins and phenols found in:
Other diet-related factors that may be associated with increased expression of migraine symptoms includes:
common food-related migraine triggers
determining food triggers + cause
When it comes to determining the root cause of migraines, there is much controversy as to what exactly to consider. How a practitioner accurately determines the specific food triggers and/or nutrition intervention to mitigate or eliminate migraines is still inconclusive. There's a lot of discussion as to whether or not dietary intervention and/or elimination protocols are an appropriate, successful intervention in migraine prevention.
Emerging studies have identified support for the role of comprehensive diets in the prevention of migraines (performed under the care of a credentialed practitioner ensuring adequate macronutrient and vitamin/mineral intakes).
It has also been reported that a diet rich in omega-3 and low in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) appeared to decrease migraine frequency.
It may also be possible that a migraine is associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which is why an in-depth symptom diary and health history is vital for a practitioner in getting to the root-cause of the presenting migraine.
Migraines can also be triggered by impingement of the vertebral artery which is encased in the first 6 cervical (neck) bones of the neck.
Finally, keep in mind food sensitivities can be dose-dependent. This means that a client may experience symptoms with a certain amount of a specific food consumed (e.g. ¼ cup nuts = no symptoms vs. 1 cup nuts = symptoms present).
what you can do...
Because there are so many 'unknowns'' surrounding migraine, a full evaluation by a licensed chiropractor and integrative dietitian is a great place to start. Practitioners who focus on a root-cause approach can help to identify triggers or 'blindspots', address these areas, or suggest further testing.
Once environmental, lifestyle, and hormonal factors have been ruled-out, a practitioner may suggest nutrition intervention in which the elimination of food triggers is used. If, after an introductory elimination diet is implemented and migraines persist, Mediator Release Testing (MRT) and a Lifestyle Eating and Performance (LEAP) dietary approach may help to identify food sensitivities that are contributing to migraine symptoms and allow a practitioner to suggest a more long-term approach to eating to best support the clients and his/her nutrition needs and symptoms.
Testing to identify food allergies and/or sensitivities can be useful in identifying an appropriate anti-inflammatory or anti-migraine diet. MRT and the LEAP protocol help to correctly identify foods or food chemicals that may be responsible for symptoms/hypersensitivity reactions and give the practitioner a framework for constructing a diet plan that will be beneficial for the client using ‘safe foods’.
The key? Every body is different. It may take time to experience symptom relief, identify triggers, etc.
nutrition + lifestyle practices to consider
Want more information on the above recommendations or to set-up an initial exam with our chiropractor? Make an appointment today and ask about our FREE Foundations Class!
For a complete nutrition assessment including nutrition-focused examination, recommendations, and more information on lab testing, contact our integrative dietitian.
to health + wellness,
samantha schleiger ms, rdn, cd, clt, miep
integrative registered dietitian nutritionist
Here's a great way to use Vital Proteins gelatin to make Elderberry Gummies; perfect for on-the-go or a fun way to get the kids to supplement with elderberry.
Added bonus of our recipe: Includes gelatin and probiotics!
We get asked A LOT about the benefits of gelatin... here are just a few:
improves skin health
maintains strong bones
Click here for your free elderberry gummies recipe.
Need supplement recommendations/links? Here are our favorites:
to health + wellness,
samantha schleiger ms, rdn, cd, clt, miep
integrative registered dietitian nutritionist
Black elderberries (sambucus nigra) contain vitamins A, B and loads of C, flavonoids (such as anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants) and can help to protect cells against damage... all of which provide an excellent immune boost during the long winter months when sickness lingers.
Studies show that supplementing with elderberry can lessen the severity and duration of both colds and flu. A 2004 study of elderberry extract in flu patients revealed that symptoms of the flu were relieved 4 days sooner than flu patients who didn’t receive elderberry. Supplementing with elderberry has also been shown to improve sinus infections, aid in skin and hair health, and more! The elder plant has many medicinal uses including: treatment of colds and other infections, allergic conditions (allergies, sinusitis), and more.
what's in our elderberry syrup?
We do our best to thoughtfully source and curate the highest quality supplements to offer you and your family.
Seattle Elderberry uses only organic, simple ingredients that are sourced sustainably. The organic elderberries are wild-grown and hand-foraged by a woman named Joanna (no, not Joanna Gaines). The berries are harvested in the fall and dried slowly (using only natural materials) at a low temperature via solar power (to preserve nutrients).
What does that mean? The elderberries used in our syrup never come in contact with:
Only organic spices and raw honey or pure, organic maple syrup are used in the process.
+ filtered water
+ raw honey or pure, organic maple syrup
+ organic elderberries
+ organic lemon juice
+ organic, fair-trade Ceylon cinnamon
+ organic ginger
+ organic clove
why Ceylon cinnamon vs. Cassia cinnamon?
Ceylon cinnamon is known as "true cinnamon." Cassia cinnamon (the traditional cinnamon that many of us know) contains a chemical called coumarin which is present in higher concentrations in Cassia than in Ceylon cinnamon.
Coumarin has been shown to be toxic to the liver and kidneys and may also be carcinogenic. Ceylon cinnamon has potential beneficial effects on glucose metabolism and body weight and contains antioxidant compounds called proanthocyanadins. Other benefits include antimicrobial and anti-parasitic activity, digestive health and blood pressure reduction.
Our elderberry syrup comes in a reusable, recyclable glass jar that's packaged and shipped in 100% recycled material (yeah!).
Elderberry could potentially interact with several medications. If you currently take any of the following medications, you should talk to your health care provider before using an elderberry supplement: Diabetes medications, diuretics (water pills), chemotherapy, immunosuppressants (including corticosteroids and medications used to treat autoimmune diseases), laxatives, and theophylline.The information provided here is not intended to be or replace medical advice.
1. Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. doi:10.3390/nu8040182
2. Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. doi:10.3390/nu8040182
hi, I'm Becca!
If you're a practice member, you’ve probably seen me at the front desk when you come in for your weekly check. Since we only get to see each other for a few minutes, I’d like to share a little of my journey with you.
My story is in the making, and this is just an overview. I've been asked (many times) to share it and I finally feel like now is the right time. My purpose and intention behind these words and my story is to help someone, anyone. As hard as it was to relive these moments in my life, it brings me so much joy to know that my story can touch others.
I am the proud Mama to a little boy named Bennett. He’s two and is the JOY of my life. Many say he looks like me, but if you ever got a chance to meet his Dad, you’d probably think otherwise. 😉
In 2015, I married Bennett’s Dad, Matt, and we moved to Franklin, WI. A few months after we were married, we found out Matt had a golf ball sized tumor on the bottom of his spine that required surgery. In the weeks preceding his surgery, we were terrified. We didn’t know what kind of tumor this was, if it was anywhere else, or if it could be cancerous.
I should note, during this time in my life, I was on edge all of the time. I was constantly anxious and repeatedly missing work and other commitments due to my anxious thoughts, often sending myself into panic attacks - some so severe that I would have to pull-over on the side of the freeway and Matt would have to come and walk me through things.
If you deal with anxiety, you can understand how I was feeling while all of this was happening.
I was taking anti-depressants and was also prescribed Xanax to take as needed when I would have a panic attack. I felt like at the time, the anti-depressants were working (or 'doing their job') but when I would take the Xanax my body would not react well.
Once Matt's tumor was removed, he was sent for physical rehabilitation at St. Luke’s for two weeks to re-gain strength and to heal after having such an extensive surgery. While he was there, we found out that the tumor was called a Schwannoma and that (thank God) it was benign.
The doctor told him that he had a better chance of winning the lottery than getting this type of tumor.
He was also told to have regular scans as this type of tumor could pop up again in any part of the body. We were so relieved to be in the clear and begin a normal life as husband and wife.
Shortly after this, my anti-depressants stopped working for me. I began having suicidal thoughts. After discussing this with a doctor, I decided to wean myself off of the medication to see if that made a difference. If I needed to try something else, I would. After that experience, I made the decision that I wouldn’t go back on medication again (I am not advocating this for everyone without a discussion with your doctor - This is what I decided was best for me, personally).
After getting off the medication, my suicidal thoughts stopped.
I still had times that I felt sad and anxious, but they were not nearly as bad as they had been once before. I made a commitment to work on my mental health, although to be honest, I did not focus on myself during the next year and a half...
In October of 2016, we celebrated our first year of marriage. I’ll never forget the day of our anniversary, Matt brought up the idea to me of moving back to Elkhorn into my parent’s basement. I thought he was crazy. The plan was that we’d get to save money to buy a house and the bonus was that we got to be closer to my family. We prayed about it and decided that God was calling us to Elkhorn. So, at the end of the month, we moved.
About a month after we moved, I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying to conceive for about a year... and many negative pregnancy tests later, I began to think that motherhood may not be in God’s plan for me. That said, I'm sure you can imagine all of the emotions I was feeling after finding out we were expecting (!!).
Overall, I had a relatively smooth (and unsubluxated 😊) pregnancy and on August 9th, 2017, Bennett William Anderson was born. Seeing Matt become a dad was amazing. It changed him in so many ways. He wanted to do EVERYTHING for Bennett. Some people thought that was strange, but being a dad was one of Matt’s dreams…he wasn’t going to waste a second of it.
As for me, motherhood wasn't exactly what they portray in the movies. If there was a struggle that new moms face, you name it, I was dealing with it. Bennett was an easy baby overall, but I struggled more with my mental health after having him. When it came to nursing my baby boy, he would not latch, which was not only frustrating for me, but also heartbreaking. One of the things I was looking forward to most was bonding with my baby through nursing and we couldn’t do it.
During this time, I was a stay at home mom.
For all of the stay-at-home-moms (and dads) out there, YOU ARE AMAZING.
It's a tough job, especially when your littles are with you all day. To top it off, some people have a misconception that staying home to raise children entails an easy job where you don't really do much all day.
This misconception couldn't be more wrong.
I struggled with lack of adult interaction during the day and also struggled with the fact that I couldn't contribute to our family financially. The isolation alone was enough to bring me down. I had no self-esteem and constantly spoke negatively to myself.
Bennett was about the only thing in my life that brought me some happiness.
Around March of 2018, Matt had started to complain of back problems again. He was in a lot of pain and it was all in the area where his original tumor was removed. We went to the doctor and had a few scans taken. The tumor was back.
Matt’s primary doctor called a few days later and told him that the way the tumor looked on the MRI indicated that there was a high chance it was cancer, but that we’d have to do a biopsy and a PET scan to confirm the type of cancer it was. The day Matt came home and told me the news, I was devastated.
How can a 32 year old man have cancer?
Why would God allow this?
After receiving a PET scan and biopsy of the tumor, his official diagnosis came, on his birthday in April. Matt had Metastatic Melanotic Schwannoma (a malignant form of his original tumor) and it had spread to his lungs, liver, kidneys, brain, and various areas throughout his body. He was to start immunotherapy a few weeks later to try and fight it.
In a matter of months, I went from receiving the best gift of my life (my son) to receiving the worst news of my life.
When you're faced with a life altering devastation, you have two choices: Lay down and let it consume you or fight with everything you’ve got.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to lay down and surrender but Matt had other plans. He was going to fight. The Devil wanted him to give up and he knew it. He wasn’t going to let him win this one.
Shortly after immunotherapy started, Matt began having extreme pain that could not be controlled at home. He had a couple of hospital stays in Janesville, with one lasting an entire month. I can’t tell you how good it felt the day he came home after being in the hospital for a long time… it probably felt better to him but for me, it gave me a little hope that everything was going to be okay.
After another scan, we were informed that the immunotherapy was not working and that Matt’s tumors were growing, with another developing behind one of his eyes. This was the same time that his doctors told us to prepare for the worst.
Matt continued to fight.
He was an inspiration to everyone around him, including myself. This man was connected to a pump that continuously pushed pain meds into his system, connected to oxygen, and mostly wheelchair bound at this point, yet he showed such extreme faith in God’s plan.
He wasn’t afraid of the future.
He knew God had already been there and that it was going to be okay no matter what.
Once the doctors here told us there was nothing else they could do, Matt found M.D. Anderson, a cancer center in Houston Texas that was willing to give him a consult to see if they could provide any help. At the end of June, we flew to Texas for our appointment. We thought this was our answer.
Going to Huston meant leaving Bennett at home. We didn’t know how long we were going to be there and I had a really hard time leaving my 10 month old baby at home. I was totally torn between helping my husband find a cure and being there for my helpless child.
Unfortunately, we did not have the experience we had hoped for.
Almost immediately after arriving at M.D. Anderson, Matt was hospitalized because his oxygen levels were so low. From there, things got worse. We were told that they could only offer palliative care because Matt’s condition was so extreme.
They could not offer any help to cure him. That was it.
It was only a matter of time, and they could not say how long he had. He could not take a commercial flight to get home in his condition, so we made arrangements to have an air ambulance fly us to Janesville from Huston. Once we landed in Janesville, we were transported by ambulance to Mercy Hospital. It was a strange mix of emotions when we arrived at the hospital. It felt almost like home with all the time we had spent there over the last two months, but at the same time it was dreadful.
This is where my husband was going to take his last breaths. I didn’t know when, but I knew it was coming. The next days were spent with Matt requesting to see a few very important people, praying, crying, laughing, hugging, saying “I love you” more times than I could count, and asking lots of important questions. I needed some guidance on how he wanted me to raise our son, since I was going to be doing it without him.
Matt had specific instructions for those closest to him. He wanted to be sure that Bennett and I were going to be taken care of. I have never seen a heart change more than Matt’s did while he was sick. I am so thankful that it did.
I am so thankful that I know I’ll see him again someday.
I won’t forget the last time Matt spoke to me. We were sitting in his hospital bed and he suddenly felt very tired. He said “I think it’s almost time, I love you so much.” I told him that I loved him too and helped him lay in bed. Hours passed and he just slept. Much later in the evening, we noticed his vitals were dropping faster and that he didn’t have much more time. Family came in and said their goodbyes as I sat next to him holding our son, soaking in the last moments we would be together on earth as a family of three.
Close to 10:30 PM, he took a turn for the worst. His breathing slowed down and they disconnected him from the vitals machine. It was just a matter of time. I remember holding his hand and watching him, but I sat silent. The entire time we had been back in Wisconsin, I kept telling him I couldn’t do this without him.
How would I live without him?
How would I raise a baby by myself?
Then it hit me, maybe he was holding on for me.
Maybe he didn’t want to leave me because I said I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t, but I couldn’t watch him suffer any longer. He put up such a good fight, he deserved to be fully healed and in the arms of our Savior. Finally, I said to him, “Matt, it’s okay. You can go. Bennett and I will be okay.” A few breaths later, Matt left his earthly vessel for a perfect one in Heaven at 10:56 PM on July 4th, 2018.
fast forward to today, 2020.
My life is very different than it was almost two years ago. I am very different. Grief changes people. I learned in my time as a widow that the last words I spoke to Matt were true. Bennett and I are okay.
I’m not going to lie and say I had an easy time in the last year and a half, I dealt with many, many dark times, but I clung to the hope that God has better days in store for me.
A few weeks after Matt passed, I started seeing a counselor. I didn’t necessarily want to but I knew if I wanted to go through this process in a healthy way, I had to. I had no idea how to cope without harming myself through words, thoughts, food, isolation, etc.
Through seeing my counselor, I learned SO much, and I continue to see him today.
At this point in my journey, I don’t always talk about grief, but there’s so much more to life than that. It feels so good to have a safe space to talk about tough things. I look at counseling as a form of self-care that I can do now to set myself up for a healthier future.
One of the biggest things I have learned is how to speak kindly to myself.
I have discovered that all of the negative things I used to say about myself are lies! Not to say that I don’t speak harshly to myself anymore, the voice is just much quieter these days.
Being a single parent has been a difficult journey, but I’m so fortunate to have the help of my family. I don’t know what I’d do without them! Previously, I was so dependent on Matt for everything. He provided financially, but he also took care of almost everything else - bills, insurance, car issues, you name it, he did it. My job was to take care of Bennett.
You can imagine the shock I experienced as I slowly realized that this was now all on me.
It was a huge learning process, but I really have enjoyed learning to be independent. Not only from a provider standpoint, but also personally. I have grown so much in learning who I am on my own, apart from being a wife and a mother. I think that has really helped in learning to form new relationships.
I know who I am.
I am confident in who I am.
If you don’t like me, that’s okay.
I like me and that’s more than enough.
Although I like my independence, life can get pretty lonely. For a long time, I prayed that God would bring me someone to love again. I was open to dating but terrified to do so! And I most definitely didn’t want to unless I knew God had a hand in it. I wanted to give myself a year after Matt passed before I really started thinking about dating again.
It wouldn't be fair to me or the person I was dating if I was still dealing with the “firsts” of losing someone. One of the questions I had asked Matt before he had passed was if I could have his blessing if I met someone in the future. I had no plans on doing so when he passed, but I knew it wouldn’t feel right moving on if he said no. He told me he wanted me to be happy, if that meant I stayed by myself or met someone, I had his blessing.
Over the summer, I met a wonderful man through a great friend of mine. We spent a while just getting to know each other and developing a friendship before deciding to try dating. After all, I have a child and wasn’t about to bring someone into Bennett’s life only for him to leave.
Joe is all of the things I prayed for in a partner.
He is patient, kind, loving, hilarious, and understanding of where I’ve been. He never makes me feel bad for talking about Matt. He never tries to erase my memories of him or minimize Matt’s place in mine or Bennett’s lives. It’s such a great feeling to love again. I feel like I can finally see a bigger picture for my life instead of just a few feet in front of me. I am excited to see where God leads us!
Today, I’m learning how beautiful life can be.
It’s a mess some days, but I’ve survived 100% of my worst days, and I know I will continue to do just that. I am excited to see what else is in store for Bennett and I. I am looking forward to learning more of life’s lessons, and embracing each one as they come.
As a way to share my thoughts with our TWP community, I am going to start writing in our weekly e-mails (I promise it won’t be as long as this one!!). I hope if you liked reading a little about my journey, you’ll continue to follow along as I journal some of my thoughts going forward.
And please, if you ever want to know more, just ask! I'm an open book. I’ve found that sharing my true feelings helps me process things and also can give others a different perspective that they may not have thought previously. I know we don’t get much time in the office together, but I’m always willing to e-mail if you’d like to continue the conversation.
If you made it this far, thank you! I look forward to seeing you in the office soon!
The best is yet to come!
+ If you or a loved one are experiencing grief or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
+ We are not promoting or advocating anyone removing themself from prescription medications without first speaking with your doctor about your wishes.
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