Pain to Power

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.” – Michael J. Fox

(Thank you to Nourished To Healthy for publishing this very personal article!)

I had brain surgery on November, 21st, 2017.

Brain surgery is no joke (shocker alert!) but if you absolutely have to have it then this is the kind you would want. Through the nose, not through the skull.

Being a visitor in the Neuro ICU is a very sobering experience. It is a very, very quiet place. Not much activity. Patients like me are the lucky ones with only a brief visit.

I had the world’s smallest tumor. 2 mm. But hells bells that little blighter caused some serious havoc with my body, and with my life. 

Within hours of waking up from surgery I looked different. Felt different. And it wasn’t long before the changes in me were so drastic and so obvious. The relief, and celebration in our family was palpable.  

How do you explain a veil of darkness being lifted from your entire being? How do you explain the power of the light that you now feel around you? I was on my knees in gratitude for healing that just cannot be expressed with words. I felt so light, like I could fly. My soul was dancing in the clouds. Pure joy.

I. Am. In. Remission.

The relief, the joy was all encompassing. I was weeping as I wrote about it. It is a victory that brings you closer to God and to yourself. I saw the blue sky, I saw the beautiful trees, I felt the sun on my back and every single moment felt different to me. 

I stared down at the new scar on my right thigh… a fascia graft had been taken to ‘plug’ up the hole made between my sinus area into the opening to my brain. I loved my new scar, it was my battle wound for the world to see, something that will forever serve as a reminder of the greatest fight of my life. 

So poignant that one part of my body was used to patch up and heal another. Pondering on my physical scars, I was all too aware of the deeper, more painful emotional wounds that would need healing too. Not yet, I thought. Not yet. Let me bask in the light of being in remission.

I had told people close to me that I knew exactly what this lesson was about. Self-acceptance. Self-celebration. Self-love. It was about finally changing my inner dialogue, changing how I saw myself, and treated myself. I assumed that because I knew what this life experience was about that just the realization of that was enough. Was enough to start shifting it. But no my girlie… not so fast.

Healing begins with clarity, yes, and as such it is a powerful starting point in the process of growth. Clarity is the beginning of the healing journey, where information starts to slowly rise from your subconscious into your conscious mind and is no longer buried deep within you.

The moment you start to allow that magical process is when the stuff you had buried starts to lose its control over you. 

But understanding what something is about doesn’t mean you’re healing the wounds. Clarity had formed such an enormous part of this journey for me thus far, but it wasn’t the end of my story.

I realized that I still had so much more work to do. How was I going to shift things forward? How was I going to heal from such devastating loss of myself, of time? I knew I needed to finally heal those parts of myself that were broken.

But before I was even given the chance…

“I’m sorry. We’re broken again.” I whisper to myself as I’m tracing the veins in my left wrist with my finger. As tears rolled down my face, I had to admit I was relapsing. I still silently begged God to make this not be happening again.

In that moment I just needed to be devastated. To feel the crushing blow that I had relapsed and I would ultimately be headed in the direction of having organs removed. I was scared shitless so put it lightly. It felt in that moment that I would never live a normal life. 

I had Cushing’s Disease. It is when you have abnormal production of cortisol caused by a a hormonal brain tumor. Cortisol is the stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands and it literally keeps you alive. In someone with CD  the excess cortisol slowly starts to destroy every organ and bodily function and ultimately carries a significant cardiac mortality risk & dangerous mental health.

I just a few years I went from a thriving fit & healthy mom of 3, to being bedridden, unable to drive or walk most days. I gained 100lbs. I had pre-diabetic blood sugar, dangerously high triglycerides, heart arrhythmia, cognitive decline akin to being a 80-year old, bowel problems, extreme swings of anxiety & depression. The list goes on.

My relapse hit hard & fast. I was way sicker the second time around. It took me a further four months of testing to get re-diagnosed (CD is one of the hardest clinical diagnosis in medicine). Since there was no clear target on my MRI, my only option was to have my adrenal glands removed. It was a sobering realization and one that I struggled to make peace with initially.

On August 7th, 2018 they removed my adrenal organs. I was finally cured of Cushing’s disease! Now I had the opposite problem of having a body that is life dependent on 3 medications. Sometimes I manage my medication hour by hour. I have to listen constantly and closely to what my body is telling me through symptoms as to what it needs. This is because your bodies’ needs for cortisol and electrolyte balancing is a constant juggling affected by stress, menstrual cycle, climate. 

I had told people close to me that I knew exactly what this lesson was about. Self-acceptance. Self-celebration. Self-love. It was about finally changing my inner dialogue, changing how I saw myself, and treated myself. I assumed that because I knew what this life experience was about that just the realization of that was enough. Was enough to start shifting it. But no my girlie… not so fast.

As a young child, I experienced extreme rejection, abandonment and criticism. What I learned about myself was that I was not enough, that I was embarrassingly imperfect, that I should be ashamed of who I was and what I looked like.

But you are who you are, right? You have not reference point of comparison. Until that inevitable day when God gives you an opportunity to learn. A life challenge. A trauma. Heartbreak. Pain.

Those are the opportunities you are given to grow into a new and better version of yourself. They are a chance at a new beginning.

If you want your life to change, you have to change.

The solution to your problems lies in changing yourself.

If you keep repeating the same patterns and doing things in the same way, what is showing up for you won’t change.

It is not a coincidence that this broken soul, who suffered through decades of continuing the self-worth bashing that she had been taught, attracted a rare disease that is referred to as The Fat Ugly Disease, because it literally distorts your body to where you are unrecognisable. 

I did not appreciate my health when I had it. I did not appreciate the gorgeous brain, body and personality God blessed me with. I suffered from body dysmorphia and I chose to continue the cycle of self-hate I was taught. 

But every time life has thrown me trauma curve balls (of which I have many more stories!) ,I have risen up to dig deep and become a better version of myself. I have transformed my pain into my power. 

And now? A year since my big surgery… 

I am strong. I am resilient. I am a warrior. I am beautiful. I am well. I am happy. I am at peace. I am so grateful. I am perfect. I am alive. 

Through my pain I have emerged from that cocoon of hell, not just transformed but transmuted. I have literally began changing shape again. Metamorphosing into the new me.

I now feel the changes in my heart, in my bones, in my spirit.

I love myself. Every square inch of myself. That chapter in my life was now closed, and this being, this body, is now healing and rejoicing in life. 

I had told people close to me that I knew exactly what this lesson was about. Self-acceptance. Self-celebration. Self-love. It was about finally changing my inner dialogue, changing how I saw myself, and treated myself.