Hi! I am Georganne Schuch, and I am a native Texan. I love to travel, but Texas is and always will be home. If you don’t think it’s bigger and better here, you’ve never had the chance to visit.
I never thought I would have a big family, but one kid led to another until we ended up with five girls. Life is loud and dramatic. All. The. Time.
BK (before kids) I led a pretty active and semi-healthy lifestyle. I liked to work out, but wasn’t obsessed with it. I ate better than the average American diet of processed junk food, but I didn’t go overboard on the health wagon.
My pregnancies were pretty routine, though I had three miscarriages, until my seventh pregnancy. I struggled with extreme fatigue, swelling/weight gain, hot flashes, and other random symptoms. Though my doctor did many tests, nothing conclusive showed up. We chalked it up to advanced maternal age (I was 43), a summer pregnancy, and luck of the draw. But two weeks after delivering my fourth daughter, I had a nagging cough that I couldn’t shake and was short of breath. One night, I collapsed on my bedroom floor unable to breathe. My husband rushed me to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM), a rare and sometimes fatal pregnancy complication.
While cardiomyopathy is not generally caused by lifestyle factors, such as diet or activity, PPCM seems particularly oblivious to lifestyle. Young or old. Healthy with no heart history. No drinking or smoking. First pregnancy or fourth (as in my case). Doctors and researchers are mostly baffled by its causes, and treatment is not even like other forms of cardiomyopathy, other than the recommendation to reduce salt intake. When it was all said and done, I was lucky to be alive but in for a long recovery, or so I thought.
To everyone’s amazement, I recovered full heart function, or left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), from 25% to 55% in three months. I was able to join a cardiac rehab group where I received personalized training from a fitness instructor and began to regain my strength and energy. I even went on to have another pregnancy, something no one thought was possible.
Despite the gloom and doom prophecies during my last pregnancy, I did very well. I gained a normal amount of weight. My LVEF remained strong. Everything looked good with one exception. ‘Lil Pumpkin was real comfy lying transverse, not head up or down, but sideways. We scheduled the delivery date to enable the doctor to move her, and she cooperated perfectly.
But what no one could see or predict (again) was that she had pinched the umbilical cord between her head and the pelvis. As the labor progressed, the cord moved down with her and prolapsed. Her vitals dropped drastically, which caused a lot of scrambling among the doctor and nurses to get me into surgery for an emergency C-section. She was born blue and unresponsive but was resuscitated. She is now a healthy, active, and LOUD little girl.
My recovery this time was much harder. The PPCM did not return, but I just seemed to lose all my energy. I followed my low-salt diet and gradually made other changes to add more vegetables and eliminate more processed foods. I stayed as active as I could with the cardiac rehab group. But instead of improving, I began gaining weight. I experienced extreme muscle fatigue, weakness, and burning. My major joints, hips, knees, and shoulder, ached unbearably. I felt like I had the flu all the time.
With five children to care for, this seemed worse than the PPCM had. One doctor advised me to reduce my caloric intake from 1,200 calories/day to 800 and to increase my workout from 40 minutes to an hour of high intensity. She seemed positive that would help me lose weight, what was surely the source of all my problems.
No, that didn’t help, and, in fact, made everything so much worse. I survived on anti-inflammatory drugs for several years before I finally began a search for real answers. Something that would fix whatever was causing the pain and fatigue because I became convinced that and the weight gain were the symptoms, not the disease.
First, I found an acupuncture provider who helped both with traditional acupuncture and supplements to start peeling the layers of the onion, as she called it. There was a root to my problems, but we had to deal with the symptoms to get to it. Not mask them and pretend they didn’t exist, but give me some physical and emotional relief to better assess other factors.
Then, I changed doctors from a “medicate it and ignore it” approach to an integrative approach, one which combines conventional medicine with alternative therapies, such as herbal medicine and medical nutrition. It was here that I felt I finally began gaining traction.
It wasn’t a sudden improvement, more like two steps forward and one step back for a couple of years. But I feel like I am turning a corner. I have some pain-free, good energy days. I have a lot of tolerable-pain, decent energy days. I still have some miserably painful and no energy days, but they are fewer than a year ago. That’s progress. And I’ll take it.
So, now that I feel like I am a few steps ahead of this whole soap opera, I want to help other moms like me. I know there are lots of middle-age and approaching-middle-age moms who are caught in a mire of physical struggles. I want to shout the message that they are not without hope.
I’ve found that habits make you or break you. You can change almost anything by changing your habits, good or bad. I’m dedicated to developing better habits, and I want to lead a charge of other moms who have the same goal. Let’s turn our life around together and model healthy lifestyles to our children. Join me on the 12 Steps to a Healthier You Journey where we take one step at a time to develop new, healthier habits.
Let’s do more than survive. Let’s Live and Thrive!
Writing isn’t new to me.
- Editor of my college newspaper at Lamar University in the 1980’s.
- Assistant editor at Texas Libraries, a publication of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
- Article published in the Handbook of Texas on the Shivers Library in Woodville, TX, my hometown.
- Wrote and designed a newsletter for a now-defunct education and business coalition. I don’t even remember the name of it. Oops.
- Wrote software documentation for a tech company in the early days of wi-fi and signature capture. I call that my Dilbert-days because I had a cubicle. But, thankfully, I had awesome bosses and co-workers.
- Semi-regular columnist for two regional magazines, Austin Faith and Family and Bell County Family, and an online magazine, THYME.
Now, I’m a self-employed computer network manager, specializing in law firms. I didn’t pick them. They picked me, and it’s a long story.
I homeschool four of my five daughters, having graduated the oldest. Despite my fear that we might kill each other or that she would live under a bridge, we are great friends and she is starting college in the fall to become a nurse. It might have been a near miss, but a miss is as good as a mile.