I was reflecting recently with a friend about who I was prior to my diagnosis fifteen years ago and who I am today.
Even though my symptoms have worsened and new ones have been added to the list from time to time, I truly am grateful for this journey.
I started this journey immersed in a doctoral program I didn't even want to do, but my ego and desire for status were my ambitions in life. I would never have said that honestly at that time, but that is still my truth.
I remember having headaches for many years and they became progressively worse. To make a long story short, I was admitted to the hospital for eight days because my kidneys were failing. I did not have kidney disease. Rather, I was taking too much ibuprofen for my constant pain. They did a contrast dye MRI and found the problem.
I remember spending 8 days in that hospital room and realizing that my life was not my own. I was doing what I thought people wanted me to do to have their approval.
I was not in any way aligned with my true calling. I quit the doctoral program and started a master's degree in counseling. Since then, I have become a grief counselor (family therapist) specializing in hospice and bereavement. We even created a project in East Central Africa to expand hospice services in Tanzania.
I believe this journey has taught me to live on purpose, to be compassionate with people who are struggling because you never know what it is like to be them each day, to forgive everyone because people are doing the best they can, and to receive from my family and friends. I can tell you that I have been blessed beyond words over the years with love, compassion, and support.
How has this journey changed you? What lessons of gratitude do you now carry because of this challenge?
Lastly, to people who are newly diagnosed, I don't want to "paint pink" over how hard this journey is. It is incredibly challenging. However, I believe this has made me a more loving, kind, and caring person. I used to judge others who were struggling in life, and this experience has taught me to hold compassion and kindness for every person on my path. I am incredibly grateful to be who I am today.
My husband and I have been together for twenty years (now legal in Colorado - Yahoo!!!!), and he has stood by me from the very beginning. I have learned what loyalty and love really mean. Because my neurologist has me on driving restrictions, he takes me everywhere. I cannot believe I have a partner in life that loves me this much.
Blessings to all my fellow Chiarians (sounds like a Star Trek term - Yes, I am a super nerd. Sorry...but not really),