Monthly Archives: November 2015
The impact of internal dialogue is immeasurable and can take us into a deep abyss or help us climb a mountain.
I’ve been on a journey over the last seven weeks. I was recently diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, something completely manageable and common. That seems pretty logical and easy to deal with saying it that way.
But, truth be told, there were times when my internal dialogue led me down an unproductive path. Being a person who has been a runner since eighth grade, somebody who has learned to eat healthy due to IBS and someone who is constantly looking for ways to be my best self, it caught me off guard to learn that something was physically wrong with me–beyond the normal cold and flu we all get. I have always been a healthy person.
Unfortunately, over the course of these last several weeks, I did not always effectively navigate through the on-going headaches, neck pain, nausea, dizziness and sore muscles.
I would say to myself…
“What if I have cancer? What will my family do? I won’t see my son grow up.”
“This is so frustrating. If only I didn’t have to deal with this, I could really focus on “x” and excel in it.”
“This is really slowing me down.”
“I’m so sick of having a constant headache.”
On the flip side, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, looking for the message in it all. Because I know without a shadow of a doubt, this is about more than my physical body.
This is an opportunity to learn.
There is opportunity in the struggle.
I wasn’t familiar with neurology, physical therapy, MRI’s, EEG’s, the structure of my spine, and all the other array of conversations I’ve had with my medical team over the last seven weeks.
I am better because of this. I know more. My knowledge on the human body is deepened and despite the seven-week struggle (that still continues), I am convinced that I will be healthier as a result of this.
This is the opportunity in the struggle. If one chooses to embrace the struggle, learning will follow and life will be better because of it.
Instead of letting my internal dialogue being led with fear, I let it be led with a growth mindset.
“This is pretty exciting to learn so much about the body that I didn’t know before.” (This is so accurate; I find an immense amount of motivation in learning).
“Let’s embrace the joy in the small things today.”
“I choose to embrace the struggle because it is making me a stronger person.”
“This is part of my journey in learning how I choose to balance my life.”
“I am better because of the struggle.”
That’s worth repeating: “I am better because of the struggle.”
For that I am thankful. Because of that, I can climb a “mountain.”
Six weeks ago is when it hit.
A seemingly normal Saturday morning in early October, a great morning to take in a quiet run by myself. An opportunity to slow my life down a bit after an intense couple of months.
As the day progressed, I began to feel a pressure in my head and I just felt off. I stay pretty tuned into my body, how it feels and why and I quietly said to myself “something is wrong.”
Something was wrong and it continued to worsen over the next five weeks. It seemed as each week passed new symptoms arose: back aches, numbness throughout my body, dizziness, nausea, neck pain, lethargy, sore muscles…
My day to day life honestly became the concept of “just put one foot in front of the other” all with a smile on my face. Why the smile? Because mental toughness is my go-to strategy for curve balls in life. Sure, I felt horrible, but I could overcome it with a healthy, positive and determined mental attitude.
And I did for several weeks. Then I grew tired and became downtrodden a bit. It was winning.
Or, was that not it at all?
It was at this point I opened my arms to life and said, “Okay, there’s a lesson I’m supposed to be learning here. What is it?” I said to myself “I’m willing to learn, whatever it is, just reveal yourself to me.”
There was daily physical ailments that challenged me. But, what I know to be true is this: it is during times like this that there is a deeper message to be learned. Something I wasn’t seeing. A lesson to be re-learned, perhaps.
Did I uncover some of the lesson? Sure, part of it, I did.
You see, I had gone two months with a life out of balance. There was a part of my life that demanded a lot of hours at the expense of my exercise, the time to refuel myself and life a life according to what I value most, my family. I can sit here and tell you I thought I had to. I was tasked to do something and the bottom line was it had to be done.
But the truth is that it was at an expense. I know I needed to slow down life, to refuel, to be the best me I could be for the people that mattered most, my son and husband…and me.
I wasn’t being the best me, the whole me, because of that.
I re-examined my scheduled and reprioritized my life, again. I had already started this process prior to the physical pain, but the physical pain forced me to put me first. It forced me to put only the highest priorities at the top of the list.
The physical ailments continued, but so did the reflection and, in time, a bit more balance in my life.
I do think there’s still a bigger lesson I haven’t uncovered yet. And, I may not know that for a while.
Luckily, most of the symptoms have subsided and I’ll get answers to the physical ailments soon.
But, I would end with this: I am grateful for the five weeks of pain. There are lessons in the pain. I am fully confident of that.
I was holding him when it happened.
I had allowed a bit of peace come over me as we were finally at urgent care where a doctor could help my little boy. A very kind-hearted nurse had just left the room after giving Jonas, my three-year-old son, ibuprofen for his increasing temperature. And he even made her laugh despite the fact that his little body was worn out.
And then, moments later after making the nurse laugh, he turned around in my arms, and his body went stiff…and began shaking.
“Focus,” I told myself.
“Lay him on his side. Protect his head. Get help. Then let him have his seizure because there’s nothing you can do.”
That’s what I heard instantly in my head in the five seconds it took me to lay him down and call a doctor for help.
Doctors and nurses came and I had to just let it happen.
It was completely out of my control.
As tears rolled down my face, my son endured his third seizure. I had to step out of the room.
It is beyond difficult to live through those two minutes during the seizure and 10 minutes in his postictal state. I had to let his body do what it was going to do. Even worse, the doctors couldn’t stop it.
I focused on the ony thing I could control…me.
Despite the tears rolling down my face, I steadied my breathing, regained composure and entered back into the room where my son endured this. I waited for his eyes to open.
I knew, if I let myself think about it, the tears would roll again. So, instead I focused on what I had to do.
Be there for him.
As the paramedics loaded him in his car seat so they could transport him to the hospital, he finally showed an awareness of what was going on…he was scared and didn’t want to be in that seat. That’s when I knew he was coming back to us.
I hated this. But, as in all difficult challenges in life, we had a choice. To be courageous despite fear for our son. To be steady and focused. To be composed. And, to be there for him even when we couldn’t control the circumstances or outcome.
I found strength in that moment. I found strength in me.
I don’t ever want anything bad to happen to my son, but I do know it is the most difficult challenges in life that test us, that call us, that even beg for us to be our strongest person.
And, if I can find courage, focus and composure in a time like that, there’s really nothing I can’t handle.
As we return to normalcy tomorrow, I keep things in perspective and am reminded of what I am really capable of.
And, I have a heart of gratitude because my son is now on the mend. There is still the uncertainty of future seizures, but his smile is back and he is back to his old self, always making others smile. (He actually picked up his humor and kindness at the hospital when he called the nurse “pumpkin.”)
Gratitude. Courage. Composure. Focus. Strength. That is what I choose.