Thursday’s Thoughts: Rebirth

Thursday’s Thoughts: Rebirth


Ten years ago I was struck with two debilitating illnesses that tested my strength and forced me to re-invent myself. I started feeling sick, but I thought I needed to be busy to overcome my empty-nest syndrome. My daughters were away in college, so I worked harder for my clients. But inside, I was falling apart.

My husband took me to the emergency room with fever and chills that threatened to shatter my teeth. I was diagnosed with two incurable, auto-immune diseases. I was wallowing in self-pity. All the hardships I had endured to assimilate in my new life in America surfaced and overwhelmed my sense of well-being.

But I came from strong stock.

My centenarian maternal grandmother was a strong woman. My ninety-year-old mother is a pillar of endurance. Surely, I must be strong. As I lay in my hospital bed crying, I could clearly hear grandma telling me the power was always within. I’ve been taking care of others for so long; I resolved that night to go on the journey of caring for myself.

“You look better today,” my doctor said the next morning.

I secretly smiled and thanked grandma. I needed a plan.

I went home with medications that could kill a racehorse. The treatments for both conditions could be toxic. I started the regimen and felt sicker from the side effects. I lost my sense of taste, smell and my hair was falling out. My days were spent being driven to several healthcare specialists. After each visit, I left their offices with another fistful of prescriptions.

Two months later, in response to my request to return to work as soon as I was better, a doctor gave me a disability booklet. When I got home I threw the booklet in the trash, along with most of the medications I was told I would have to take forever. Thus, began my journey of rebirth.

It was an uphill battle. Sometimes I had doubts whether I could get better with sheer will. Then I thought about my grandmother who lived long with her faith in God and herbal medicine, and I knew I could.

I joined support groups. I exercised regularly. I changed my diet to include foods that promoted optimal health. I practiced yoga, meditation and spiritual affirmations. I opened my mind to alternative treatments and gracefully accepted what I could not change in life.

I found the courage within to get healthy and start over. When I shared my story of living with my diseases, I gave people hope. My doctors were amazed six months later by my quick recovery and joked that people like me could put them out of business.

Conventional medicine has an important role in our society. I get my annual physical to ensure all my numbers are within normal range. But I needed to become partners with my doctors and take control of my health. Giving up was never an option for me. I had a lot of work I wanted to do and a lot of life left to live.

My life has been enriched by the experiences I have lived. I learned through my journey that nothing happens by accident. My birthplace, the family I was born into, my husband, my children, the friends and enemies I made along the way, my illness, were all put on my path for my enlightenment.

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