I have quite the collection of IV scars on my arms to remind me of the torture and torment I have endured over the past year. Since this mystery illness began, I have suffered debilitating migraine headaches, lasting for hours, sometimes days. I have lost my sight and hearing, and had continuous blurred vision. Dizzy spells became a way of life. I have been paralyzed, dealt with frustrating stuttering and slurred speech, constant vertigo and the list goes on! Sometimes these symptoms would appear one at a time, sometimes, all at once! I was sure at some point I might just die! I became so horribly depressed I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror looking back at me. I remember sending a text to a friend that said “If I wasn’t such a coward, I would kill myself.” I spent days crying and I could not go to sleep without my husband right beside me because I was so afraid that tomorrow would not come for me. It was a horrible existence; I was living in complete paralyzing fear. I honestly didn’t think I could take much more.
After over a year of going from Dr. to Dr., Specialist to Specialist, and one emergency room visit after another, I finally found the answers and the solutions I so desperately needed. Finally, I was diagnosed with Hemiplegic Migraine. It is a rare neurological disease that presents itself with stroke like symptoms. In severe episodes, permanent brain damage, coma, and even death are possible.
They can call it what they want… I call it… a blessing. What you say?! Maybe she has had one to many of these episodes! No, I have not lost it! As a matter of fact I would say I have found it! “It” being that place of gratitude, and “it” being a state of grace and peace and the true ability to appreciate life and fully live in the moment.
We have all found ourselves saying “life is short”! I have uttered that same statement myself a million times! I know enough about loss to appreciate the saying. I have experienced true loss several times in my life, but I never truly realized the value of my own life until I began living “this” close to the edge of losing it. I had to admit, in my previous post, Living in a Place of Gratitude, I have always been one foot in the moment and one foot someplace else. All that changed when I personally came face to face with how fleeting life truly is. It’s amazing how everything became crystal clear, like I had been walking with blinders on all this time. I had to ask myself, what the heck have I missed out on?! Now, suddenly, I have both feet firmly planted in the present moment at all times! The mere fact that I woke up is cause for celebration! My waking prayer every morning – THANK YOU, life has a much deeper meaning for me these days.
I am not saying I am all of a sudden some sort of super “enlightened” being. I am saying, I have been living in a state of fear and emotional chaos and I am finally free of all that. I am lighter in spirit, a lot less stressed, and beyond grateful for the opportunity to start again.
My transformation has amazed not only my friends and family, but medical professionals’, complete strangers, and even myself! By taking matters into my own hands and making what some would consider drastic lifestyle changes, (if going vegan, juicing every day, exercising, losing 70 lbs and meditation and yoga are extreme, then call it extreme) I triumphed over this debilitating disorder. I found out that drastic changes are what you must resort to when your life is on the line. Before I knew what “it” was I knew I had to take control. I knew I was the only one that could take charge of what was going on inside my body, mind and spirit.
Will and determination are powerful things, more powerful than fear. I am living proof of that. 70 lbs later, I may be on my way to being in the best health of my life! Though I am told this “condition” might never actually go away, the “episodes” I was experiencing are far less frequent and far less debilitating. I have a 1 gallon zip lock bag full of bottles of medication I was on and, I have a bunch of hospital wrist bands to serve as reminders of where I was and how far I have come.
For my next chapter, I will live my life with a little more spontaneity, face my fears, live my dreams, and most importantly, express my love to those around me daily and often because… this moment is all we have! As a matter of fact, as I type this paragraph, this moment is already a memory. No more missed moments, no more lost opportunities, and definitely no regrets. If I knew today was going to be my last day, I would want to go into the next life dancing barefoot in the rain, wearing a pink tutu, and princess crown, laughing uncontrollably saying “dam that was fun let’s do it again!!” This is the good stuff, this is the stuff that living is made of, and that is the stuff I want to fill my world with.
So I say, “thank you” mystery illness “thank you” very much, you have helped me see the beauty in everything! You have helped me tune in and focus on what truly matters. There is a saying I have seen several times all over social media it goes something like, “It’s the really important stuff that never makes it on the “to do” list.” My to-do list has been drastically rearranged, #1 on my list of things to do – LIVE!!!
*image from Little Birdie Blessings.