You see, just as a life support machine keeps someone alive so too does my medication. Without it and without the constant supervision of a medical team of experts, my disease could take a turn for the worse and the reality is that I could die. The disease which resides in my body has the ability to cause major organ failure, including heart failure! Whoa, talk about major mortality wake up call! —
— and yet, I’ve done nothing to ensure this doesn’t happen. Nothing at all. Because I’ve always put myself last. I never feel like it will happen to me. But it could. It very well could. And if I continue down this path of pushing my health to the wayside, I’m going to end up in trouble. Big, major organ failure, sucky kind of trouble. My medication has acted as an armour of sorts, protecting me from danger while providing an unintentional false sense of security
I have taken it for granted since my diagnosis over 2 years ago. I’ve cancelled many appointments with my endocrinologist over the last 18 months because the nature of my occupation means others are affected by me taking leave. Yes, you read that right! — I have cancelled many (potentially life saving) appointments, without hesitation, because I have never, ever put myself first. I haven’t even taken any annual leave for almost 18 months for the same reasons. But truth be told, I couldn’t work if my disease took a deadly grip. I couldn’t cuddle my children, sit in the sunshine or read a book because I wouldn’t be here. That’s quite a scary reality.
Every morning I wake up to fact that I live with a life threatening disease. I have to live with this threat every day of my life. It’s not fun. Obviously. And while I understand that it’s not imminently terminal like so many others, I do wish my biggest concerns were the little things that grind at us all, but instead I’ve been forced to also think about things like who will give my children the tender kiss of a mother that they will need and desire if I were to pass away, on top of my daily stresses.
So it was with great happiness and relief combined with a bucket load of fear and confusion when my doctor told me last week that I am now in remission and can come off my medications. In no uncertain words, he also told me I had to take this more seriously. He told me to get well rested. He told me I need to lessen my stress and get serious about my health because without medication and without medical supervision, I’m at high risk. HIGH RISK. — double whoa!
So, while I am so relieved that my disease is now in remission, I am also now acutely aware that this means big changes for my lifestyle. It means good clean food and exercise must become familiar friends once again (hello chicken liver, goodbye chilli chips), it means that I have to have regular blood checks and doctors appointments but most importantly, it means I have to put myself first.
It means I have to rest my fatigued body. It means that I must reduce my stress. It means that if I do not attend every doctor appointment and get every check up, I could potentially die. This means I have to be more selfish and less of a yes person. I have to learn to say no, even if that upsets people, which it inevitably will, and that will be my hardest challenge because I care, because I’m a friend, a mother and a partner. But most importantly, I’m me and I can’t be any of those other things if I’m sick (or worse).
It also means that by doing these things I’m going to be healthier, happier, more energetic, more caring, more giving, less stressed. It means I will think clearer, cuddle more, love bigger and be a better friend and mother. It’s means I will be my old self. The happier me and I can’t wait for her return.
So even though I’m free of the medication, my journey with this disease is far from over. In fact, in my opinion it’s only just beginning but it’s going to be a great learning experience and I think it will enrich my life so much more than this disease has already done. You see, I don’t view my disease as a burden. Since learning of my disease my passion for food and healthy living is thriving and I’ve always had the mindset that it will change my life for the better. Even through all the up’s and down’s (of which there has been (and still is) many) it has given me more to be grateful for than it has taken away. It’s given me direction, clarity and new-found interests. It’s helping de-clutter my life and mind so I can enjoy the simpler things in life without stress. It’s made me aware of what I view as important and it’s helped me to rediscover who I am at an individual level. I’ve discovered a strong desire to live a much simpler life than the one I previous thought I wanted. A life which focuses on experiences not things. A life which focuses on the people in it not how much stuff I can fill it with. A happy, fulfilled life.
Now I just have to learn how to take time for myself, to breathe, to relax, to soak in the glories of life … so I can be a better mother, partner, friend and worker and live that life I desire.
And so on that note, I’m signing off to have a cuddle with my children and drink a nice warm cup of cacao on this glorious, rainy day.
It’s good to be alive!