“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi
Yesterday was a challenging day and if I am honest, I had a complete meltdown in the shower.
There is a lot going on. My youngest left for college last week. Work is super busy. And – my health has decided to say f#@K you at a time that is just not convenient.
Then again when are health issues ever convenient. I’m not here to feel sorry for myself. Although I have. Nor am I here to compare one health crisis to another. Much like grief – it is not a contest and each person’s health journey is unique.
With that being said, I am here to try to share how recent events have started to change my life. In ways I would never have imagined. Change is a good thing and in the same breath, it is so hard.
I’m overwhelmed, distracted, stressed and there are days when I feel a bit down and sad. Change is tough regardless of the why that lies behind it. But sometimes change is necessary and to stay in the same place one has always been – can be really bad.
So let’s rewind a few weeks, months or years. I must come clean and for purposes of writing all that I want to say – I need to be transparent.
I have spent most of my adult life ignoring my health and like so many people, I honestly believed I was invincible. Healthy eating was not a part of my daily routine. I hated vegetables. Loved most foods that are bad. Drank very little water and money was constantly wasted on the gym. I never went. Insomnia stole hours of sleep from me every week and I lived the life of a party girl more weekends than I care to count.
My life has been a rollercoaster ride and while I can speak and write about many things – a healthy lifestyle is not necessarily one of them. Grief? No problem. Loss, change and forgiveness? Absolutely.
An exercise routine and healthy diet? Next topic please.
But – my blissful ignorance came crashing down this summer and the life I had come to know changed in the blink of an eye.
Looking back – I had not been feeling well for quite some time. I had a lot of stomach issues and in truth had suffered from IBS most of my life. Severe joint pain was leading to sleepless nights and my whole body hurt. My hands were numb and I would get strange sensations in my face and a chalky feeling in my mouth. Sometimes I felt like I was on fire. I was a mess. I still am.
Of course – I ignored it for far too long and I just assumed it was menopause. Blame it on menopause. That seems to be a common fall guy when it comes to women’s health. Be careful of that.
Then – as if I wasn’t feeling bad enough – an Ischemic Colitis attack came out of nowhere. I had never heard of Ischemia before and this “heart attack of the colon” would land me in the hospital for five days and at a super busy and stressful time.
My daughter was graduating from high school and our entire family was leaving on a Mediterranean cruise. How dare my body decide to become a rebel now. How rude.
But like so many things in life – we are not always in control and life happens. To all of us. It is never a question of if tough stuff will hit but when.
I was sick and in all honesty, I don’t remember ever being that ill in my entire life. Luckily, a trip to the ER, a CT scan and a smart Gastroenterologist diagnosed me quickly and I was admitted right away.
I’m not going to get into a bunch of details about my hospital stay nor do I need to get into the weeds on my recovery. Actually, I’m still recovering. But, I will say that I had no idea just how serious my situation was until a few weeks had passed by.
Details are not important but what is off the charts relevant is how a shift in one’s health can wake a person up without any warning of what storms are on the way. It can lead to a change in perspective and eventually, it can change a person’s life. If that person is open to it and as Rachel Hollis would say, ready to embrace the suck.
It has mine. I’m different. More aware. Vulnerable. And I’m not so comfortable in my own skin anymore. Ignorance is dangerous my friends. I appreciate things more and take very little for granted. My balance is off. I’m distracted. Worn out and there are days when simply put, I am afraid.
Looking back, I had settled into my life like an old worn out and comfortable shoe. I took my health for granted and despite the fact that I was aging, I would never have believed that my health would end up having a good laugh at my expense.
But here I am. Frustrated and insanely overwhelmed. Endless Doctor’s appointments, shifting from one specialist to the next, procedures, tests, and lab work have become a part of my routine. I find myself doing research, reading articles and looking for second opinions at every turn. It is hard to focus. I wish I could go back in time. Back to being care-free. But that is not an option right now. I have to be vigilant and determined.
Yes things are complicated but even when things feel super hard, I still have hope. I’m dedicated to healing my body and getting well. I refuse to quit.
So weeks later I am still digging and patiently waiting for answers. I am desperate to find a cause or a reason to this crazy disruption in my life and I am grateful to those that are helping me. Yet – like so many health issues there are no easy answers to explain the war that is raging inside of me and has become my norm. Many of these annoyances were here long before the Ischemic Colitis decided to come knocking at the door. A connection? Not likely.
Perhaps the Ischemia served a purpose on its own – perhaps it was my wake-up call.
Life is funny like that. Lessons show up when we least expect them. Wake-up calls can crash a really good party and leave a person dazed and confused. Wondering what the heck happened the night before.
Wake-up calls, while difficult, are a good thing. Wake-up calls are guides to help us navigate even the toughest of times.
My life has changed. But what if these changes can lead to a better life. A healthier lifestyle. A life with more meaning and clarity. What if I can take all of the things I must learn and help others in some small way.
I am not writing this blog because I want sympathy but rather I am writing because I believe there is wisdom behind every obstacle we must face. We all have a story and we can make a difference in the lives of others if we are willing to share. Even our mistakes.
There will always be things that are out of our control. Things that we cannot change. But it is important to remember that there are always things we CAN change. If you want something bad enough you will do what it takes to make the changes that are necessary to live a better life. And yes it will be hard.
I’m frustrated right now. I don’t want to give up certain foods. I hate that I have to try and give up dairy, gluten, eggs and so much more. Sugar? I’m pretty sure I am addicted to it. This is going to be really hard.
Perhaps I could have prevented some of these things. Or maybe not. It is hard to know for sure. But what I do know is that I am sick and blame is not going to get me anywhere. My body is rebelling and it is letting me know – loud and clear. I am digging for answers and whether it is auto-immune, connective tissue or something else, I don’t want to feel like this anymore.
So – I have made a promise to myself. A promise I plan to keep. I am going all in and will do whatever it takes to heal my body and get back to living life to the fullest as quickly as I can. It will not be a quick fix. I did not get here overnight and it will take time to heal.
It will not be easy. Complete lifestyle changes never are. It is a change that requires me to add in so many things that I hate and in contrast take away so many things that I have always loved. That kind of sucks.
But – I have come to learn that there are certain things in life that one should never negotiate on. Health is one of them. We are given one life to live and that life is precious and so short. There are no guarantees from one day to the next.
Health is something that you cannot put a price-tag on yet sadly, so many of us take it for granted until it is gone. Of course – there are health issues that show up that are completely out of one’s control and those that could be so much worse. But as I mentioned earlier – we should never compare health or minimize what any one of us is going through. It is not a competition.
My health issues are very real and they have impacted my life in a very big way. I am grieving the loss of my health and how things used to be. Many days are a struggle and I’m grateful for the days that I feel really good. I don’t often share how I am feeling but if I am honest this is all new to my journey and it has shaken me to my core. I had never worried much about my health before.
Yet here I am right in the middle of it. My health has taken center stage and as much as I would like to go back to the way things were; I cannot ignore my health anymore.
I am exhausted with all of this and frankly, I don’t feel like doing all of the things I need to do to try and heal or restore. But who does?
Let’s face it no one ever feels like doing hard things. Mel Robbins says that you’re never going to feel like it. Ever. I would have to agree. I want to get better but I don’t always feel motivated to do it.
But – I have no choice. I need to kick myself in the ass and do whatever it takes to turn this run-away train wreck around. And I will. Because I love myself and I love my family. I want to experience so much more in my life and I don’t want my health to stand in the way.
These past several months have led to an awakening of sorts. I believe that there is wisdom in our wounds and as down as I have been – I have set out on a mission to uncover the lessons I am supposed to learn and then share.
Health is a gift and it is something that needs to be honored and paid attention to. Sadly, it took me a very long time to find value in this precious gift. Don’t ignore your health or take it for granted. If there are things in your life that are hurting you in some way or causing you pain – do something about it. Find the courage to change.
Change is hard but it is possible. If you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes. I have never been a super disciplined person and in truth, I spent years struggling to finish most things that I started. Even those things that were important. If things were too hard – I would quit. If there was a risk of failing, I would quit because I was too afraid. But not anymore. I want my health back and I will do what I have to do one step at a time.
Fear will stand in the way of living your best life. Lean into your fear and find the courage to do it afraid. We all deserve to see what life can be like on the other side of fear and change.
Change does not happen overnight and I know I won’t be perfect at any of this. But – I am willing to try. If I fall I will get back up and try again. There is only failure if I am unwilling to do my best and just try. That is true for anything.
Failure isn’t the opposite of success but rather it is a key part of it. It is important that we believe in ourselves and turn what might feel like a roadblock into a stepping stone. I feel like I have a huge mountain in front of me but I know that my health is worth the climb. We are all worth the climb.
So – I am going to figure out a way to do life in a very different way. One day at a time. I am going to appreciate the small sweet things in life so much more. Take nothing for granted. Laugh more. Slow down and simplify. Love harder and stay close to my tribe. Rest when I need to. Listen. Find balance and learn to say no. Be in the moment because that is really all we have. Forgive myself. Forgive others. Just let it go. I am going to love myself enough to practice self-care and feel better than I did years ago.
We can all do hard things. Ask for help. Remember that you are not alone. People care. People love you. There are people in your life that will always have your back. Love yourself enough to change and grow.
It took me years to realize how sacred my health is and sadly, it took an emergency to send the message out loud and clear. I can’t turn back the clocks but like so many things in life, it is never too late to start over. To wipe the slate clean. Each day you are blessed to live is a new chance to start again and take steps towards living a better life. It is a choice. Choose well.
I wrote this note because I care deeply about people and I have finally come to a place where I care deeply about myself. There is a big, bold and beautiful life out there that deserves to be lived. For each and every one of us. There are dreams to pursue. Love and kindness to give. Experiences to have. Stories to share.
Live your best life right now. Today. And if you need to change something to do life different or better – just do it. Even if it is hard.
With Love and In Peace-