Giving Thanks for the Difficult Journey
November is a strange month for me.
While I’ve always loved Fall, my world changed dramatically and forever four years ago this week.
Within minutes I went from a gal who moved at the speed of light to a house full of first responders, a lights and sirens trip to the ER and a week in the ICU of our local hospital.
Without any warning at all.
One minute I am sitting at the desk in my home office working on the final details for our parents surprise 40th wedding anniversary at the end of the week, and the next I’m trying unsuccessfully to find the phone to call 911 for help.
I’m not gonna lie y’all… it has been a long, painful, anxiety-riddled four years.
The doctor shuffle. More biopsies and painful procedures than I can truly even remember to count. And a stack of medical bills taller than all 5’3″ of me.
Learning to manage and cope with a chronic illness is tough stuff.
It’s a battle you wage every. single. day.
But it also brings in to focus —in a big ‘ole hurry — what really matters.
When I had my physical with my fabulous internal medicine doc at the start of this year, she looked a little surprised to hear me say I was thankful for the journey. She knows just how tough it has been and continues to be.
Yes… I definitely could have done without alot of it. Six or seven people carving you up trying to get an IV started? Not so much fun. Biopsies without anesthetic? Also not cool.
Its been painful for me and oh, so tough for my family.
There is almost nothing more difficult than looking at the very frightened faces of all the people you love most in the world as they come in to your little cubby in the ICU to visit you two by two. And unfortunately, they had to do that more than once for me.
But good things do come from dark days.
The Gains and Losses
The toughest loss is good health. We take it for granted until we don’t have it. And it can come without warning.
What I’ve learned though is how to be healthier within the context of living with a serious illness. Learning more about meditation, organic food choices, and exercise for more than vanity. While I know I will never be healthy, I believe I am the healthiest version of me!
I also had to give up the fast-track career path I had worked hard for since grad school. It was such a big part of my identity that having it ripped away was a real struggle.
I replaced it with my own business that I started from the ground up about 10 months in to my illness. Its grown to a team of 7 people in just 3 years. It is one of the things I’m most proud of in all of this.
My life-on-the-go traveling from city to city for work is history. Monthly trips to D.C. and Boston, frequent trips to the West Coast, Nasvhille and Annapolis are distant memories.
The flip side is my new business allows me to work from anywhere. So my posse and I can spend the whole summer in northern Michigan.
Which has always been a dream.
That bucket list we all have?
Mine was full of dreams of taking watercolor classes…
And more time to spend prowling the greenhouses and digging in the dirt in my garden…
Check. Check. And Check!
I also had the chance to create this blog! It started at one of my doctor’s suggestion as a place to document the journey.
Now its grown to so much more. I’ve made friends with fellow bloggers and learned so much from this whole process.
But most importantly…I’m more present in my own life now.
I’m here physically and mentally to spend time with my peeps.
To take Cleopatra to pottery class with me
(Sorry for the poor iPhone pics!)
And to help the little dinosaur get his hands (paws?) back on…
And to watch the girls put a mustache on my little momma…
Life teaches you lessons.
If you aren’t listening, the wake up call you get can be dramatic and painful. But the blessings are still there. You just need to dig deep for them sometimes.