Join Juanita Woertz on Her Healing Journey

Campaign Created by: Juanita Woertz and Friends
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The funds from this campaign will be received by Juanita Woertz.

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Goal : $3,000

Raised : $2,660

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Two new opportunities have opened up on my health journey and I’d love for you to take the next step with me! Many of you have already been following my occasional Facebook posts and church prayer requests and have been praying and encouraging me along the way as I seek answers, treatments, and hopefully healing for my complex medical condition. I can never thank you enough for journeying along with me! Though I have more labels for the symptoms I am experiencing and more treatments for them, I still do not have an answer as to what is the root cause of my condition and how can I heal to be able to live a normal life again. A decade of various specialists and treatments have led to diagnoses of Carnitine Deficiency, Central Peripheral Hypoglycemia, Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction, and now the latest piece of the puzzle, PTSD. These diagnoses do explain my symptoms, but only offer cures or treatments that do no more than keep me basically functioning in life and wondering from moment to moment how my body will respond next. Eating only protein with a small amount of green vegetables every hour during the day and several times during the night keeps me from passing out and my body from further malfunctioning, but only right when I am eating. The constant necessary vigilance to try to externally do what my body internally cannot do is wearing me out mentally and physically.

But there is hope! Though I was greatly disappointed when my insurance company denied and then the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders program at Denver Health in Denver, Colorado, withdrew my acceptance into their inpatient complex medical conditions program, I had to choose to believe God had other plans for me. Now those plans are beginning to unfold! After being diagnosed recently with PTSD, due to previous experiences in life and how they have negatively affected me, I was referred to two new therapists. One is a nutritionist who works with people with trauma and eating disorders, and one is a trauma counselor. Though my symptoms have a medical basis that shows up on various tests, there is the possibility that they are partly caused or exacerbated by unresolved past trauma. The medical professionals who work with me believe that the next best step is to try to find out what, if any, affect the PTSD has on my medical condition.

Now comes the part I wish I did not have to write, that I feel selfish writing. But my friends are encouraging me to be honest and to just write this and then step back to see what happens. My hope is also to bring glory to God and to encourage others as I take this next step of my journey. The nutritionist is covered by my insurance for a limited number of visits, but the specialized trauma therapy and future related medical testing is not. I am not sure at this time how much the therapy and testing will cost, but I am hoping to raise $3,000 to cover the projected costs of treatment.. Anything raised above this amount will be used exclusively for future treatments and that is a promise. I am choosing to trust that God will provide exactly what is needed. My request is this, please be involved in whatever way you feel led. Praying, encouraging, donating will all be greatly appreciated and treasured. Please join me in these next exciting, scary steps, and let’s see what God will do! Thank you!!!

UPDATES

Update #9 - Purpose in the Pain
March 21, 2021
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Happy Spring Everyone!  The warmer weather, the bright sunshine, the protruding buds, and the lilting melodies of the songbirds all reflect my growing hope as I continue on this healing journey.  I hope that you never tire of hearing my continuing thankfulness to God and to you, my faithful family and friends, who without I would not be where I am today.  I cannot even think about where I might be or what may have happened.  Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for your prayers, for  listening to my story, for your patience and understanding, even when it may not make sense to you, for your kind words, for your donations.  I am forever grateful!

I am continuing to heal in many ways.  My body and mind will now allow me to go an hour and a half most of the time without having to eat!  This Is HUGE!  What I have come to realize, as my therapists have explained it to me, is that though I have documented medical conditions, I had become addicted to only eating protein every hours.  Just as some people turn to drugs or alcohol or other addictions, I subconsciously turned to eating only protein every hour.  My nutritionist said that instead of facing the harsh truths and painful emotions of the trauma, my body and mind found yet another coping mechanism.  If I focused on making sure that I ate only protein every hour, and my body and mind did their part to make sure that I had to do so, I could survive. The trauma could remain where it had been, broken in pieces in my mind and muscle memory, always right beneath the surface.  The problem was that this way of eating was completely controlling my life and serious medical conditions were beginning to develop.  The end result, I was warned, could be fatal.  Understanding the eating as a subconscious addiction and giving myself permission to take the time and the assistance to heal from it properly, has been life changing.  Though I want a miracle and to be free and whole and complete, like yesterday, it may take months or years.  In accepting this, I find that I accept myself and just that, is a breath of fresh air and healing in itself.

What I find even more healing is that I am beginning to see my calling, a reason, maybe THE reason behind the pain.  Though I did not choose to go through what I have gone through, I do choose to allow it to bring God honor and glory and to encourage and give hope to other people.  I have a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood education and feel energized when I interact with children.  I love their curiosity about life and their general acceptance of everyone, their desire to just have fun.  I have had several jobs working with children and they have been my favorite positions.  Over the past few months I have been sensing and have had this confirmed in various ways, that what I am learning as I work through my own trauma and find healthy ways of coping and healing, will be ultimately used to help children heal from trauma.  This desire burns in my heart and gives me more hope and a purpose in the pain.  I do not know when or where I will fulfill this calling, but as long as it continues to be confirmed and God begins to show me the way, I will keep focusing on this hope that my pain has not been in vain.  If I can help even one child can find hope and healing, it will all be worth it.  Please pray along with me.  THANK YOU!!!






 

Update #8 When Triggers Are Pulled
February 20, 2021
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Hi Everyone!  Time to let you know how I am doing and to thank you again so very much for taking this journey with me!  When I think about all of the prayers, donations, cards, texts, listening, asking questions, I will never be able to thank you enough for being a huge part of my healing!  

The irony with much trauma is that connections with other people are both part of the healing from the trauma and the triggers that cause the reliving of the trauma.  I am finding this to be true for myself also.  The things that I have shared I am struggling with to overcome and heal from are symptoms and manifestations of how my mind, body, emotions, and spirit have been altered by what I have been through.  What I find hardest about what I am going through now are the unpredicatable triggers that grab a hold of me and change how I am functioning in a split second.  All it takes is one spoken word, one thought, one word read, and I am back in the middle of it all again.  It is as if time stops and everything about me reacts as though I am experiencing the trauma anew.  It is as if all of the hard work has not happened.  I am again powerless, on my own, and afraid.  But then, more often as time goes on, a new thought will take hold and there is a slight shift.  Especially if I am able to get away and be by myself, I can use the techniques that I have learned, the new ways of thinking and physically responding.  I can begin to see past what is happening inside of me to the reality of the safety of the situation that I am actually in at the moment.  Looking back over the past few months especially I am encouraged as I see myself responding less and less as traumatized and more and more as someone with choices and power and boundaries. 

Night times are definitely improving as I am able to sleep through the night once in awhile and on average am not awake as long througout the night nor have to eat as often.  That is huge!  What is still so strange to me is why my body responds, while I am sleeping, as if I am being triggered.  I rarely have nightmares anymore, but I very often wake up in intense pain from internal inflammation and a feeling that something is very wrong.  The emotions and the physical responses go hand in hand.  But I was sound asleep and was not even dreaming.  My therapists have explained that subconsciously I am trying to work out what I have not had the time nor the strength to do during my waking hours.  This is a strange path of discovery that I am walking.  I am hoping and praying that as I share with you, you or someone that you know will be encouraged and will find strength and hope for your or their own path of discovery.

I know some people, mostly military veterans, who still suffer from their trauma, their PTSD, years later.  Maybe it is something that you never actually change back to your original self from, as I have always thought.  Maybe God uses what He has brought you through to teach you how much you still need Him, how much we all need Him.  Maybe through our shared trauma, and we have all been traumatized to various degrees, we discover how much we still need each other too.  

Update #7 - Talk and More Talk!
January 24, 2021
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Hello!  After another three weeks of intense therapy sessions, God continues to move me towards healing.  He is a God of unity and balance, I am learning, and teaches me the same concepts in various ways.  The theme these past three weeks has been the importance of having my story listened to and validated.  Both of my therapists have discussed this with me and the two trauma videos I am working through have also confirmed this very important part of my healing.  Science is revealing that neurons in the brain expand their function and new ones are created as we share our stories with each other, as we look someone else in the eye and listen, as they look us in the eye and honestly share.  It is something that I have experienced before, but had not known that there is a scientific reason behind it.

Part of the horror of trauma is that it isolates a person.  The trauma itself and the isolation actually change the structure of the brain.  When someone else takes the time to listen, to ask questions, to validate your story, the brain can begin to heal itself. You begin to feel worthy again, human again, and worth fighting the hard fight to heal.  Two friends, who I just recently met, sat down this past
week and just started asking how I was doing. They really wanted to know.  They listened and asked
questions, showing compassion and understanding where they could, encouragement where they
couldn't understand, but wanted to.  I left that conversation feeling lighter and more confident and
cared about.  It may seem so simple, but it is so huge.  We all have stories and we all have experienced hurtful situations.  We can be a part of each other's healing and it is so much easier to do so than you may have previously thought.

As my brain slowly starts to rewire, I am beginning to experience more and more little signs of healing.  I can now go an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and a half at times without my body beginning to show the symptoms of withdrawl and autonomic nervous system dysfunction.  I had two nights this past week where I actually slept 7 hours straight!!!  That is something that has not occurred consistently in my life, ever.  I still have really bad nights, but I have hope now that there may be more good nights in my future.  I ate a whole small bag of potato chips the other day.  It took me the entire 8 1/2 hour work day, but I ate all of the chips and they were good!  I had to space eating the chips throughout the day and make sure I ate them with protein, but I ate them!  So far the hypoglycemia has not changed and I still have to eat protein with any small amount of carbohydrates, but there is progress!!!  I am more aware of when the fear sets in and I start to get anxious with changes to my eating routine. I am learning ways to address and challenge those fears.  Learning physiologically how my body processes and digests food has been very helpful.  Remembering that I can bring myself out of a hypoglycemic event and carrying sugary foods with me at all times helps to ease my fears so that I do not depend on eating every hour to keep myself safe.  I am discovering other ways to begin to build up that feeling of safety.

Thank you again SO very much for taking the time, YOUR time, to keep in touch with me, to support me, to pray, and to listen to my story.  You are now a part of my story and for that I am eternally grateful!


 

Update #6 - Moving Forward!
January 10, 2021
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Hello! I know I keep saying it, but thank you SO much for your continued prayers, asking how I am doing, keeping up with the updates, and your donations!!! God is working through all of you, along with the two therapists that are working with me.  One of my "homework" assignments is to slowly contemplate my own trauma story as I listen to a training on trauma called "Living with Trauma Memories."  The part I am currently focusing on states that the three main ways to help someone work through trauma is through "Talking, Tears, and Time."  You are participating with me in all three of these vital healing areas!  I will share more about the specifics of each component of the training as I progress through it. 

A huge breakthrough this past week that both therapists have had a part in is that my body is going through withdrawl, similar to when someone needs to break free from a substance abuse addiction.  I have been able to go an hour and a half at times without eating, but my body fights it.  I can start to have trouble breathing, start sneezing and feel like I am developing a fever, have muscle tightness and pain, and feel overwhelmed with anxiety or stress.  These autonomic nervous system symptoms do not have anything to do with an actual blood sugar drop, but are my body's way of fighting to keep me eating protein every hour.

In the past I would go hours and hours or even a whole day without eating if I was really concentrating on something. Any time I felt negative emotions because of a situation, I would also stop eating. The therapists belive over time that my body, besides other ways of protecting me from the trauma, began to find ways to keep me eating.  At the time it was a good, protective mechanism, but it now has become destructive and is causing secondary physical problems.  The nutritionist gave me examples of how people have had to be hospitalized and have even died after a period of time on a restricted diet.  

Though I would love to be able to eat normally right now, I have to introduce other foods slowly and increase the amount of time in between eating at very small intervals.  This has been showing signs of being helpful already.  I ate a slice of an apple with some natural peanut butter recently for the first time in years!!!  And this past week I was able to order an entree in its entirety, without having to remove any food from the order!!!  I ate those two sweet potatoe wedges very slowy, enjoying every bite.  I have not had any negative reactions after either of these instances!

More good news is that both of my therapists and I believe that my body is slowly beginning to reset into a more normal way of functioning and processing.  Over the last week I have begun to have hunger pangs, which I had not had for years. Only recently did I realize that I no longer had them. I am starting to feel like my body and I are heading in the same healing direction, as strange as that may seem. 

My hope as I continue to share my journey is that it will encourage and inspire you, will give you hope and courage to share your own story,  We are not alone!


 

Update #5 - How It Is Going
December 26, 2020
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Hi Everyone!  I was thinking today how very blessed I am that so many people are walking and praying this journey along with me. YOU are part of my healing as you pray, ask me how I am doing, really listen when I tell you how I am doing, and stay the course with me.  It is a brutal, beautiful journey and hearing how you are encouraged and inspired in your faith energizes me.  This journey takes all I have and then some.  

But there is progress and therefore hope!  I have had 6 sessions now between the two therapists.  The nutritionist said I have unconscious rules about eating that have evolved over time in response to what was happening with my health and to the trauma. The best way to retrain my brain with better rules is to work through the trauma and help my body get the right food at the right time.  Our brains need glucose to function and since I have not been eating carbs or sugar, some of the symptoms may be from a lack of glucose in my brain.  But since my blood sugar is very reactive and will spike and then drop just as quickly, I have to be careful what carbs I eat and when.  The nutritionist suggested beginning with brown rice, black beans, and chick peas, complex carbs, along with the protein I am already eating.  I may have to go back to the University of Penn to find someone who is able to order and knowledgeably insert the glucose monitor that the nutritionist has requested, as my primary doctor does not have the expertise.

As I have described some of the nightmares that I have had to the trauma counselor, she said she believes we may be getting to the root of the trauma I have experienced.  She said dreams can reveal what the subconscious has repressed.  I am continuing to use the "Grounding" technique when I feel calm and I find it coming more naturally to my mind during times of anxiety and other fight or flight responses.  Deep breathing, especially the 4,4,4,4, is helping too.  I read about how the Navy Seals, to practice calming their own panic, push their breath out, breathe in deeply, hold their breath, and then slowly let it out, all in 4 second increments.  It really works! Writing my own positive outcome for the nightmares and a positive narrative of what I am experiencing at night, is also helping.  All of these techniques begin to retrain the brain in healthy, calm patterns.

The good news is that I am able to get back to sleep more quickly when I wake up in the middle of the night and my body calms down more quickly.  I am able to go an hour and a half without eating or having any symptoms occur during the day at times!  I have been able to consume small amounts of carbs, along with the protein, and have not experienced negative symptoms.  I had one episode when I did not eat when I should have and my blood sugar dropped quickly, but I was able to eat before it dropped too far and after some rest, was okay again.  I sense that I am on a forward moving trajectory now that will only continue to improve with time and effort.  Thank you again SO much for taking time out of your busy life to join me on this journey!!!

Last Week
December 13, 2020
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Thank you SO much for your prayers and encouraging notes!!! Knowing I am not alone on this journey and that walking it with me is strengthening and encouraging your faith is part of the healing! I had two appointments this past week, one with the nutritionist and one with the trauma therapist.  They are going to try to work together, along with my primary doctor.  So far everyone is on the same page.  

The nutritionist requested that the doctor order a glucose monitor for me to wear that records my glucose levels every 15 minutes.  I had worn one before, several years ago, for a total of a month.  This way as I try to vary the foods that I eat and try to stretch out the time inbetween eating, we can more safely monitor my blood sugar levels.  If my body is unconsciously trying to protect the blood sugar drops and when there are actual blood sugar drops, we will be able to compare the recordings with notes I am taking on what foods I am eating and when. I am also to document what symptoms I have as I gradually change to foods and try to stretch out the times.  I am to try to incorporate more fats and  carbs into my diet, along with the protein every hour.

The trauma therapist explained how "Grounding" can gradually decrease overreactive flight or fight responses, including anxiety.  During calm times, you narrate what your various senses are experiencing, which focuses your thoughts and brain activity on those experiences.  This takes away the focus and energy from the anxiety and other negative responses. In time, the brain is retrained to respond more calmly in previously stressful situations.  

Spending more time with Jesus and claiming His promises in the Bible, as well as just resting in His Presence is also helping to "ground" me.

Thank you again for sharing your time with me.  I hope that as we take this journet together, it will not just be about my healing, but will be about God becoming more real and intimate in your own life.  Here we go!!!

 

My Medical Diagnoses
December 8, 2020
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MY MEDICAL DIAGNOSES

Carnitine Deficiency

Carnitine is a natural substance that the body uses to process fats and produce energy. Carnitine deficiency is when not enough (less than 10%) of the nutrient carnitine is available to cells in the body. This can cause muscle weakness and heart or liver problems.

You get carnitine through some of the foods you eat. It plays an important role in getting fatty acids into cells to use for energy. Carnitine is especially important for certain cells, such as muscle cells. With carnitine deficiency, cells that rely on fatty acids for energy may start to work poorly. Carnitine deficiency can happen in men, women, and children of all ages and all ethnic backgrounds.

Symptoms can include:
Decreased or floppy muscle tone or muscle weakness
Tiredness (fatigue)
Irritability
Delayed movement (motor) development
Poor feeding in a baby
Symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) if the liver is affected
Swelling (edema) or shortness of breath, if the heart is affected
(from Cedars-Sinai website)

Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction
The autonomic nervous system is a component of the peripheral nervous system that regulates involuntary physiologic processes including heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and digestion. Dysfunction of this system manifests in problems with any or all of these processes.

Central Peripheral Hypoglycemia
The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system includes all of the nerves that branch out from the brain and spinal cord and extend to other parts of the body, including muscles and organs. With Central Peripheral Hypoglycemia, any part of the body may be internally affected when blood sugar drops.

Pictures of My Famous Eggs and Pink Water Bottle
December 4, 2020
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To give you an idea of how many eggs we have on hand to keep me functioning, please check out my Gallery.  The picture of the eggs is how many eggs we currently have in our refrigerator.  Some are hard boiled and some have not been boiled yet.  The pink water bottle in the next picture is my signature water bottle that I can be seen with every Sunday at church.  I have found that if I fill it with two servings of a whey protein shake, I can make it through the service without having to eat any eggs or any other protein.  

First Nutritionist Appointment
December 4, 2020
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Here is my first update!  I can't thank you enough for joining me on this exciting, scary, bewildering, hopeful adventure.  Thank you SO much for your prayers and donations!!!

On Tuesday I met with the nutritionist for the first time.  She said she is excited to research my condition and find new ways to help me!  She said she had never heard of Carnitine Deficiency, except in infants.  I told her that it is so rare that my primary doctor isn't sure what other specialists to refer me to and even my doctors from the University of Pennsylvania did not have any treatment suggestions.  

She said it seems that my body is extremely reactive to the processes of digestion.  She thinks that my body may subconsciously be trying to protect me from symptoms I had in the past.  I used to just pass out without any warning or suddenly lose my coordination or ability to think clearly.  I see her again next Tuesday.  Thank you SO much for your prayers!!!

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • Please pray that God reveals what is medically based and what is trauma based in my health conditions. Thank you!!!

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