It’s hard to believe 2019 is about to come to an end. What a year it has been! A year full of changes and challenges. I’m happy to say I tackled every last one of them! Looking back at where I was at this time last year, I see so much has changed in one short year. It has been a year of big gains and massive change. Last year at this time, I was exhausted and hobbling, limping my way through the holiday season. I’m happy to say, though I do limp a bit, I’m not hobbling anymore. Even the exhaustion, once a daily feature, is not nearly so constant and deep. It’s safe to say all the little changes I’ve made for my health have added up to big shifts in the way I feel.
I ended 2018 deeply depressed, my one resolution, to walk on the beach, had not come to pass. I missed nature, immersing myself in nature, loosing myself in a long stroll, escaping into the woods for hours, simply sitting quietly, alone, on the shore. I felt ripped off, as all of that had been taken from me. Then I realized something rather important, it hadn’t only been taken from me, I gave it up. Disheartened by my inability to walk deep into the woods, I’d stopped visiting the trees in my own yard. Unable to walk confidently on the beach alone, I’d not even set foot on the shore. I was punishing myself for my limits and it had to stop. I realized, of all the things I was missing, nature was at the top of the list. And so, I set my first intention, to spend more time connecting with the wild world, however I could. If that meant I could only walk ten feet into the woods and sit down on a stump, then walk ten feet and sit I would. I started shifting back to nature, the first stop, a long overdue visit with the old pine that lives out front. That first visit was full of tears. Tears for the time I’d lost, tears for the abilities no longer mine, tears for the path I found myself on, tears of gratefulness for that tree, standing sentinel over it all, for the grounding it gave, for the shade and the shelter.
I was punishing myself for my limits and it had to stop.
I began to remember who I was, small but mighty, inventive and adaptable, deeply connected to the natural world. I made the choice to reignite those pieces of me. To stop being sad and angry about the situation I’d found myself in and make the very best of it. To stop accepting it and CHANGE it! To stop waiting to get better and do everything in my power to be better. I gave up caffeine and the daily stomach aches it brought. Already on the highest possible dose of medication for RA, I added in many holistic remedies to help beat it back. Having previously tried managing RA with only natural remedies, then only medicine, I finally chose to blend them. How it took me so long to do that I will never know. It seems now that it was the only logical thing for me to do. After all, I AM a blend of nature and science myself. Those truly are two giant pieces of who I am. The magic of the unknown and the magic of the known. What ever made me choose? (If you guessed self-flagellation, you win a prize!)
I also stopped waiting for help. Instead, I chose to help myself. I knew what I needed, I needed mobility, I needed to walk on uneven ground. I needed to be well. So, I got loud. I stopped listening to doctors and started making them listen to me. Every bit as much as blending natural remedies with traditional ones, this changed everything. I made the decision to be heard. Two doctors, several months and three visits later, I was scheduled for a hysterectomy. Because I insisted. The doctor wanted to only take one troublesome ovary. I knew the problem was bigger than that. I really didn’t know how much bigger, or how much better I would feel until later, but I knew it was a source of issues I didn’t need to be dealing with. I also knew with all certainty that my reproductive years were behind me. So, I pushed for hysterectomy and got one. Both the doctor and my body agreed after the fact, it had been the right thing to do.
Still healing from my hysterectomy, I made an appointment with a second orthopedic about my hip. The first one had given me a useless shot and a line about being too young and being best if we can limp it along a bit longer. He was fired before I even left the office, that answer was unacceptable. So, I asked around and got a referral to the best hip ortho around. He agreed with me, the hip was ruining my quality of life, there was no reason to wait, I needed and deserved mobility now. I needed to get off crutches to save my hands. The moment he said that, I knew he was on the team for life. Anyone who’s ever seen a specialist knows just how rare it is for them to note anything outside of their specialty, the fact that he even noticed my hands proved he was rare. When he prescribed pain cream for the hands I hadn’t come to see him about and a list of herbal remedies to beat back inflammation, I realized I’d found an actual unicorn, a doctor who is open to all the possibilities and treats the entire patient. I told him I had to work around my husband’s busy season, I could have it done that month, or wait until fall. It was the first week of June. He got me on the schedule for June 28. Once again, I was blown away by the unusual care this doctor showed his patients. I was finally being heard and treated like a priority. In September, my new hip and I took our first stroll on the beach.
I definitely still have a long way to go. I’ve yet to find a doctor with an acceptable solution for my hands. But I am committed to myself in a way I never was. I know there are answers out there, I won’t stop until I find them. Meanwhile, I’ll continue this healing path I finally found. With self-love, nourishment, persistence, herbs, exercise, rest, patience, and time, I know I will be healthier and happier.
What steps did you take in 2019 to be a healthier you?