I have taken longer than usual to write this month’s blog and the reason behind it is simply this: I have not been feeling well. It all started late November when I got bronchitis. Since then, I went about my regular life of balancing my personal and my coaching schedules. As the weeks progressed, I traveled to visit my family for Christmas, I came back, got back in the routine and guess what? I was still sick. I did get much better at times, yet the upper respiratory problems persisted.
To give you a little bit of a background – I suffered from severe asthma as a child and all the health complications that come from a weakened immune system due to the constant rounds of cortisone and antibiotics. In spite of being under full-time doctor’s care, my asthma did not truly get under control until I was in my 20’s. I know what it is to feel like a fish out of the water; to be surrounded by doctors and worried-sick parents; to be given shots daily, to have all my stuffed animals taken away because of my allergies, to be denied of the wonderful taste of strawberries because they triggered my wheezing, to miss countless school trips and activities, or anything I deemed “fun” because of my health limitations at the time – I even had a tutor at some point because I was highly allergic to chalk and I couldn’t attend school. Just before turning 30, after years of prohibitions and regular medications, I finally found the doctor that not only put my asthma under control but made it go away altogether. Finally, I knew what it was like to breathe normally, to be able to work out without an inhaler, to eat as many acidic foods and drinks as I wanted, to even have a pet! For 8 years, I had not used any asthma-related medications and I had progressively become that super healthy person who never gets sick and whose blood work is always impeccable. For the last several weeks, I did not feel like I was that healthy person anymore.
After a few rounds of medications and getting disappointed at not seeing the upper respiratory problems gone, I started to worry and I stressed and became anxious. I kept wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't get back to being healthy again. That feeling worsened when after the third doctor’s visit, she suggested it was time to see an Ear, Throat and Nose specialist. Meanwhile, I got bombarded by exterior sources of stress, all while balancing my personal and coaching schedule. I was doing all of this, without truly accepting what was really going on with me. So, in an effort to feel “normal” and ignore my worries, I took my son to see a kid’s movie. While we were waiting for the movie time at a nearby park, I sat on a bench while he ran around and made some friends. I looked up the sky – it was sunny and beautiful and yet tears streamed down my cheeks. I asked myself what was going on. I instantly responded to my own question: “I’m exhausted.” Up until that moment, I had not even asked myself or admitted how I truly felt. That phrase summed it all up perfectly. I didn’t need to ask myself why I was exhausted. I knew that for almost two months I had been in denial about my fears – I was petrified about going back to that 5-year old version of me who couldn’t breathe normally and I was mostly afraid that this all potentially meant that my perfect health was gone and that my asthma and all its limitations on my life could come back. I did not want to be sick again and I was done being sick. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back and prayed to be given my health back. That night, I went to bed at 9pm and slept for 11 hours. I woke up to messages from my concerned boyfriend who had been trying to reach me. In my effort to act like a super woman, I had not let anyone help me.
The next day I made an appointment with a specialist. My energy was low but I had enough energy to affirm to myself that on that day I would get the exact help I needed; that this specialist would figure out what was going on; in short – I decided that day something amazing would happen, and it did. The specialist ruled out my false assumptions and he figured out the root cause of my recurring upper respiratory issues: it was an overlooked case of acid reflux that was the culprit for inflamed throat and sinuses, which in turn were prone to getting infected because of the exposure to the acid. And what was behind the acid reflux? Stress. Yes, I stressed myself to the point of making myself sick. And so, armed with this knowledge and a wonderful new medication plan, I am now on my way to recovery and I am getting better every minute, every single day. Since I am a big fan of learning and helping others, I am sharing the insights I have learned from this experience:
ONE: Your fears limit you in powerful ways – whether you admit it or not. In my case, the fears of potentially losing my “perfect” health or living with asthma again, not only stressed me out, but those fears also limited me from trusting the medications would work; from not taking the time to rest and take care of myself and instead exerting myself at the gym. Sickness and its physical, mental and emotional effects are very real. Instead of accepting that I was sick and giving myself time to heal and focus on what was under my control in order to get better, I decided to put myself on denial. Now, I’m honoring that acceptance and I’m taking time off the gym and taking it easy as much as possible. I am back at seeing things positively and I am back at affirming that even though I’m not back to “normal” right now, I AM getting better each day and now that I’ve faced my own fears, they don’t have the power to limit me anymore because I choose to be uplifted by the power of what is under my control.
TWO: No matter what the reason for doing otherwise is, let others HELP you. You DESERVE to be helped. Love and care starts with oneself and you cannot give that which you don’t have. How can I take care of others when I have no health or energy to do so? By focusing only on what I could do for others, I completely ignored myself. I lied to myself thinking that going to the gym implied I was taking care of myself; that drinking one extra glass of water was enough; that eating whenever I felt like it instead of regular times was enough. It wasn’t until I made my boyfriend worry and that he asked me to let him help me that I realized I was not taking care of myself properly and that I was not asking for help to anyone. As hard as it might be, as independent as you might be, let others help you because by doing so, you are naturally welcoming the blessing of others' love for you. By not reaching out, by thinking you can do it all alone, by minimizing your own condition - you are actually saying “I am not worthy of being helped and your love and concern for me is not welcomed.” Welcome it, even if you think you don’t need it. Trust me, it feels good.
THREE: Find the angle to be thankful, always. One of my morning -and recently- night rituals is to mentally say thank you for all the blessings in my life. And for a while, I had not included my health in that ritual. I am not saying this happened to me because I failed to be thankful for my health. I am saying the past two months of medications and doctor’s visits is a good reminder to always be thankful because even though I was sick, I also had insurance that allowed me to see a doctor – not all people can say that. Even though I have been feeling sick for several weeks, my condition is treatable and I did forget to be thankful for that; but now, I am.
There is always an opportunity to learn a lesson. Other than what I have already mentioned above, I have been reminded of the value of judging. What I mean by judging is categorizing something as being one way or the other. In this case, I judged this bronchitis/sinus infection as something “bad” that negated all my years of being healthy. Everyone gets sick, even “perfectly” healthy people like the one I categorized myself to be. I became blind for a moment and I deemed "complete lack of sickness" as the translation for “perfect health.” When the infections persisted, I stressed out and let it drain me emotionally, physically and mentally and that’s why I said to myself at that park bench “I’m exhausted” because I truly was. My “perfect” health stopped being so perfect when I let other situations around me beyond my control affect me. This has truly been an eye-opening experience for me and I am thankful for the opportunity to clearly see and learn from this. Now, it is time to take care of myself – truly.
How healthy are you? What conditions or situations are you in denial from right now? What are you not accepting to yourself? How have those conditions impacted your overall health? What lessons have you learned from dealing with sickness or stress? Leave your answer in the comment box below or contact me if you are struggling with the effects of “done with being sick.” Let’s talk!