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Cactus Jack’s Horse Camp 2015

This blog has been a bit slow because I am still struggling with overwhelming fatigue. I went to my naturopathic doctor a few weeks ago and had a full blood work up done. I was sure they would find something wrong with my thyroid, iron levels, Coffee Deficiency or something to explain the constant fatigue. But no, my blood work came back perfect. My thyroid is fine, my iron levels are fine… Even my cholesterol is fine. 

I can’t exactly pinpoint how long the fatigue has been this bad, but I know I was hoping for improvement when I dropped sugar in January. It is so bad some days, I can barely do laundry, cook and care for my family. I am so tired I could fall asleep at any given moment. And my brain feels foggy. I am so tired each day, I can barely stand to leave the house after dinner…even if its to meet with friends or do something fun.

I am taking a high quality women’s multi-vitamin, vitamin D and Phytisone. I am only averaging 6-7 hours of sleep per night, but even at that, I should be able to function better than I am. 

Enough about that. 

Cactus Jack's Horse  Camp runs every Wednesday in the summer. Bring your kids for free horse rides and a barbecue dinner.

I am happy to say we have made it out to Cactus Jack’s Horse Camp twice this year already. We went once in 2013* and never quite made it again. 

* Grabbing the link for that post, I was struck by how cute the expressions of anticipation were two years ago. Very similar to the ones from last week .Cactus Jack's Horse  Camp runs every Wednesday in the summer. Bring your kids for free horse rides and a barbecue dinner.

Cactus Jack’s Horse Camp is run by a local family who donates every Wednesday evening of the summer to letting kids ride their horses. Not only that, they provide a barbecue dinner (contributions to dinner welcome but not required). Every time I go, I am struck by the commitment of this family. They give of themselves to provide a bit of fun complete strangers. If you are local, you should really check this out. The horse riding is simply being led around a small paddock, but my kids love it since this is their only exposure to horses.

Cactus Jack's Horse  Camp runs every Wednesday in the summer. Bring your kids for free horse rides and a barbecue dinner.

I have been so proud of Apollo! The first time last week he wanted Kalina to walk with him…after that he marched right up and did it himself. He even go brave enough to pet the horse while riding! You should see him climb on. He puts his foot in the stirrup and climbs the rest of the way up. I am always looking for new opportunities for Apollo to stretch himself and work on separation, and this has been an amazing way to do it! He is getting very confident on the horses!

Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.



  1. Beckie Daniels

    Renee, don’t stop the blood work until you get an answer as to your fatigue. Are you having any other symptoms? I was the same way 3 years ago, and it took months and months, but finally tested for SLE (Lupus) and was positive. Lupus, RA, and other autoimmune diseases often show up as fatigue early on. I had a rough couple of years, but have finally been feeling pretty good this year.

  2. bakersdozenandapolloxiv

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have bookmarked it so I can go over it thoroughly later. My naturopath suggested taking fish oil, and I see this guy recommends DHA, so that’s good. Not only has life been very stressful with Apollo over the last five years, but we are going through a very difficult time with Mordecai as well. Thanks again for this lead.

  3. Nikki

    As a new reader here, I’m not sure of your stance on gluten but I’ve also read that a sensitivity to gluten or an intolerance to it can cause fatigue and “foggy brain”. Might be worth looking into, if you haven’t!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      The naturopath mentioned that…it is just so hard to keep up when I am feeding 11 other people every day. I went gluten free for several months when Apollo was a baby, hoping to clear up some of his issues.

  4. Liz

    I also had pretty awful fatigue. I think it slowly crept up on me and I thought it was just before the birth of Silas being stressful. I had my levels checked and even though my hemoglobin was OK and my iron level was so so… My iron stores were basically ” nothing “. I ended up getting to infusions of iron. Actually they were more like IV push but they were really expensive but I did have many side to it. Just throwing that out there because I’ve had my iron checked many time but usually they don’t check the storage. It’s funny right after that my desire to crunch ice went totally away. Something I really have done most of my life. That being said I also feel extreme fatigue and my labs are all normal right now We are also having challenges mainly with one of my children as you know and I think that can just wipe you out beyond what anyone can even imagine. Especially when you feel you have exhausted all options and certain doctors just want even see you anymore

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Liz- my ferratin levels were fine as well. Yes, I think stress plays a huge role in this, but I have no idea how to reduce it. Chuck is working 10-11 hours a day right now too, so it is all on me.

      • Kate

        I also have a very high-stress life that is impossible to reduce the stress right now. Although I am not dealing with the level of fatigue you are, I do have several symptoms (including some fatigue) due to the stress. This is what a doctor friend recommended to me to help normalize hormone levels so my body can deal with the stress better. He has had several other people who have been able to elevate their stress-induced symptoms while following this advice (I just started the supplements a few days ago). This is what he suggested rhodiola rosea capsule 3 times per day, 2000mg Maca every day, 250-400mg L-Theanine every day before bed, fish oil daily, 85% or higher cocoa every night, matcha tea daily. He also said to avoid intense exercise as things like running, etc. add extra stress to the body. He suggested I use pilates as a good way to get exercise right now. Also no skipping meals and lots of water. He also mentioned aromatherapy massages or baths and playing peaceful/happy music as frequently as possible. I hope you find answers soon!

  5. Alex

    I second on looking into autoimmune issues- the difficult part is that even if your doctor runs an ANA blood test the chance of false negatives are really high. While chronic fatigue syndrome is an autoimmune disease in and of itself, nearly every other autoimmune disease lists fatigue as a symptom. If you’ve noticed any other random symptoms or aches and pains then it might be worth bringing up with your doctor 🙂

  6. Lindsay

    Renee – for what it is worth I had a period of extreme fatigue a couple of years ago and one of my naturopaths didn’t check my B vitamins even though I had a “full” blood work up. The other naturopath did check them and they were very low. I started with injections to build up my levels now maintain with capsules. It was unbelievable the difference it made.

    Captain Jack’s Horse Camp looks wonderful. What an amazing family to provide such a thing.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thanks for the insight. Very frustrating when they don’t check things like that…especially when fatigue is a complaint…

  7. simonanderin

    Just a thought on separation. Have you considered a pet? A friend of ours who breeds labradors recently donated a pup to a lady with a child who had massive issues with separation. He wouldn’t even have a shower without someone there. He had a small time of having a dog and it made a huge difference. Suddenly he could shower, sleep, play outside, etc, without having to have someone with him. Once the dog was no longer with them he regressed. Since having the pup it’s been all good again. It does mean he is sleeping with a dog, but if that’s what it takes…. Just a thought.

    As for tiredness, could it be depression or anxiety?

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      No, I hadn’t thought of a pet…and believe me, I’d rather he slept with a dog at age 5 then me. He is a very restless sleeper and keeps me awake.

      • Tarynkay

        Yes- even if you are getting six or seven hours of sleep a night, I doubt it is very high quality sleep with a restless five year old next to you. A therapy dog might be a great option if Apollo will go for it (and if dealing with a dog won’t cause you even more stress.)

        While 6-7 hours is fine on occasion, over time, that does add up to a sleep deficit. I know that is pretty much impossible right now and thus a very frustrating answer- sleep more! Avoid stress! Yeah, right! But that might be the best place to start rather than more blood draws/more vitamins/more food restrictions.

  8. Helen


    After my second child was born, I went to the doctor several times for fatigue. Each time, they did blood work, suspecting thyroid issues. It turned out to be very low vitmain D, but I only found out by doing my own research and requesting a vitamin D dosage myself. Fermented cod liver oil has literally changed my life. I was so relieved to find out that all of my misery was so easy to fix. I realize you are taking vit D, but you can still be deficient. The doses in multivitamins are usually way too low. I recommend the Weston A Price Foundation for great information on the subject.

    Anyway, whatever it is, I pray you find out where the problem is ASAP!

  9. Sunny

    Thinking of you. Do check into depression, anxiety, exhaustion. Or more of a post traumatic stress situation. You’ve been through soooo much the past years and you already had a big load. I know you arent big on doctors, but please dont hesistate to take depression meds if needed, to get yourself back on top. You have years to go raising kids. Its too easy to let it go too far (situational depression experience here.) take care.

  10. Jodee

    Thank you so much for bringing your family! Cheryl commented last night how proud she was of Apollo and how much more confident he has gotten each time he got to ride! I had a great time visiting with Kalina last night when she came to ask if she could hold the baby. We don’t always know the impact Horse Camp has on the families who come so I really appreciate you sharing your experience.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Yes, its been amazing. And I consider it therapy for Apollo. Not only has he been getting on the horse by himself, but he is so much more confident when he is on it. Instead of holding for dear life, he is petting the horse, looking around, etc. I’ll be sending you a link later so you can get the photos I took. Feel free to post them on the Cactus Jack FB page.

  11. Tabitha

    If your low in vitamin B12 that can make you tired and foggy brain. I have depression and at times I am so tired that I have a feeling that I could sink through the floor with tiredness. When the doctor did some blood tests specially for B12 and folic I came back so low he didn’t know how I still operated. So my doctor put me on folic acid, B12 and added for winter some Vit D and now I have a lot more energy and even feel like facing the day 🙂 You have to be careful that your folic acid doesn’t get to high though for a prolonged period of time though. Don’t know if that is helpful or not. Maybe the years of sleep deprivation are catching up?

  12. musherpeg

    I agree with Ruby McGill….my brain immediately went to sleep apnea. That can cause some serious fatigue and life-threatening illnesses! And contrary to popular opinion, it is not just a condition of folks who are overweight!

    • Mary

      Yes, definitely check for adrenal fatigue! My doctor had me do a saliva test at intervals throughout the day that gave a snapshot of how my adrenals were functioning at given times. I have moderate adrenal insufficiency. I have found that addressing inflammation by taking probiotic supplements has helped. SAM-E also helped a lot. But do you know what has helped me the most? Karate. Yes, 2 hours of hitting and being hit is actually relaxing, lol! For my entire married life and most of my teenage years before, I have gone from one crisis to another. I am convinced that I have burned my adrenals out so that now I can only function in a crisis. I am on this roller coaster of being so exhausted and foggy that I can barely move. I respond by cutting out all non essential activities and really focus on nutrition and exercise. I gradually start feeling better and then a crisis comes along and I am instantly hyper. Even though I know what the consequences will be, it’s hard to slow down. Then I eventually crash. It’s a vicious cycle, but now that I can recognize it I can do a lot to help even it’s impact out. Keep searching!

  13. Suzanne Tiger

    So sorry you are suffering from this crippling fatigue. I have had it and sometimes currently have it as well. The root for me was some chronic conditions that won’t show up on blood work. These chronic conditions were triggered by a very stressful time of loss and family illness. I found a doctor that is simply amazing, and she will help you. Look into the comprehensive medical center in Kirkland. I am not kidding when I say that I saw over 30 doctors, and spent over $80,000 out of pocket before finding her! Nearly every doctor told me I was normal because my blood work was in fact normal. Not so–I had debilitating levels of fungus, parasites, and infection. My advice is–and you know this VERY well–if you know something is different or wrong, then it is. You know your body and don’t stop when doctors tell you you’re fine. It’s exactly what you’ve done for Apollo all these years, and I know you’ll do it for yourself too! Blessings, Suzanne

  14. Jennylou

    I am sorry to hear that you are juggling all of your adventures while battling fatigue. I am on the opposite coast and over here the tick born lyme disease is often the culprit. Although there have been fewer incidences of lyme where you are, there are enough incidences in every state to think it could be the cause. It may be a good idea to rule it out, even if you think you have not been bitten by a tick.

  15. AKS

    I ditto Jennylou. Check Lyme. If I went to any doctor in my area with your symptoms, they would assume Lyme first. Especially if I was experiencing brain fog.

  16. Kelly

    The comment above about a pet for Apollo reminded me of a blog post I read about a family with a deaf child and a child with cerebral palsy. They qualified for a service dog and it made an incredible difference in their lives. Given Apollo’s special needs, maybe this is something that you could qualify for? Here’s the link to the post about their experience.

  17. Julie

    Oh Renee, what a great thing for the kids! (The horse camp.) Warms my heart to see Apollo being so brave, and the other kids having fun with it 😀

    The fatigue… well, it just doesn’t seem like much of a mystery to me. You have a lot of kids still at home. GREAT kids, but a lot of kids. Some of them have very demanding, stress-inducing needs – physical/emotional/etc. You’re battling to get your kids the help and care they need. You’re running a photography business, blogging, and trying to write a book. And you’re only sleeping 6-7 hours a night. And I bet that sleep is interrupted. Mind you, I’m not being critical about your choices or about having a lot of kids or about their needs. It’s just the reality. I have a hard time imagining ANYONE in your situation not being chronically fatigued. I certainly couldn’t function well trying to do all that on so little sleep on a long-term basis!

    Is there any possibility of getting some respite care? Creating a situation where you have a night or two a week where you can sleep all night, uninterrupted? (I know, if I could wave my magic wand, right?)

    I wish I had some wonderful suggestion, some wonderful solace to offer. Maybe it’s small comfort that perhaps there’s nothing “wrong”?

    Praying for rest,


  18. Kristal

    Sorry about your exhaustion. I have no suggestions. I’m a helpful commenter 😉

    Love the horse farm – that is awesome. My daughter would want to be there every week!

  19. Yona

    I’d have your CRP levels checked for inflammation. I had very high since I had my asthma uncontrolled and an autoimmune disorder. Could it be linked to the malaria you had once? I’m on Plaquenil now for my autoimmune disorder. While I’m still pretty fatigued, I’m doing much more. I Hope you feel better soon!

  20. Aurora

    Renee, I´m sorry about your fatigue. Been there, done that: after stressful years with infertility, a miscarriage and the sickness and sudden death of my Mum I was knocked out. At first everybody (including my doctor and I) thought it was due to the stress but it didn´t get better and after a few months and very good talk with my doctor I got the result that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrom:
    They don´t have blood test for it yet and the cure is different for everybody. I tried several things out and the best for me was cutting down working time (might not work for you, sorry) because of a very understanding boss, learning to say “no” and listening to my body. The diagnosis was 3 years ago and this is the first year I´m back to my old self.
    Keep on trying to find a diagnosis and I wish you all the best! If you want to have more information just contact me.

  21. sarah

    Renee, I would look into adrenal fatigue. I have it. I take a vitamin supplement to support it, and essential oils. There are many diff form of vitamins for it. I stay clear of ashgwanda (spelled wrong sorry ) because it messes with my hormones. Basically you can support your adrenals, but time and relaxing is what heals them. 🙂

  22. Misha

    Just getting caught up on blog reading and saw this. So sorry, friend. I feel awful for you that it’s this bad. I know that’s not super helpful but just had to say that. <3

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