Estimated Read Time: 15 – 20 minutes
- My Diagnosis
- The Invisible Rug
- How I played the cards handed to me
- FIGHT – Be part of the 1%
Think about your childhood… Playing with your siblings, being part of a sports team, getting ready for your first date or even trying to think of what outfit to wear to for your school dance. Well, most people can look back at their teenage years and just think of the crazy stories of being a normal, growing teenager. For me, the story is quite different.
When I was young, I was always the outgoing, spunky girl that wanted to be part of everything! If there was a sports team tryout, then I would join; if there was a party, I wanted to attend regardless of how strict my parents were; if there was a volunteer opportunity, then I would be the first to sign up. Sometimes, when you least expect it, your life unexpectedly changes within a blink of an eye. At the time, it wasn’t something I expected to be a BLESSING.
In July 1998, I got different symptoms that were unexplainable at 16 years old … High blood pressure, fatigue, hair loss, butterfly rash, weight loss …
But why? And why me? These questions would soon haunt me for years to come.
After weeks of being unexplainably ill, I was diagnosed with having Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). I was treated by a local Nephrologist and a top Rheumatologist at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, all I knew about the disease was that it could be terminal and there was no cure. At that particular time, internet wasn’t as accessible to everyone as it is today. There was still dial up speed and the price was extremely costly, in which it was an added expense in most households which could explain why the education was not there when I was first diagnosed with Lupus & CKD. However, the idea of living with a chronic incurable illness was not the easiest to grasp.
What 16 year old do you know that goes thru chemotherapy, hair loss, massive weight gain, and multiple medications? Just imagine what one goes through at this time…
Well, in the mind of the “sickly teen” as many would call me, I felt that shoving all my emotions under an invisible rug would be the best idea. Why solve the problem now? Maybeeee … if I didn’t face my emotions head on, then it would slowly disappear right? OOOOOHHHH BOY WAS I WRONG …
Throughout the years, I battled Lupus like a champ, but the questions always arose in the back of my mind and probably in the mind of many family and friends.
Why me? Why her? What next?
Shortly after being diagnosed with Lupus, I undergone Cytoxan treatments, I.V. steroid treatments, oral steroid treatments and many more medications. The spunky and active teen that I was would slowly disappear to someone unrecognizable. I gained a massive amount of weight, lost a lot of hair and became super insecure. But to top everything off, the steroid medication would soon catch up to my teenage body in a negative manner. My hip bones deteriorated and killed both hip bone sockets, which ultimately meant that I needed hip surgery on both hips. To make a long story short, I underwent hip surgery (Avascular Necrosis) in September 2001. Unfortunately, the left hip was unable to be saved and eventually the medical decision was to leave it as is until further collapse of the hip bone socket.
BUT the rollercoaster ride wouldn’t stop there…
Due to taking a year off college for the hip surgery, I was determined to finish on time. I ended up joining a business fraternity, switching my major from engineering to finance as well as switching universities and getting an internship with Scottrade while dealing with my Lupus. With extreme determination and perseverance, I graduated on time and got hired at Quicken Loans. When everything seemed to finally be working in my favor, the so-called rollercoaster ride would take another deep dive.
On the way to work, I was in a terrible car accident that left me with a broken ankle, body bruised from head to toe, red-shot eyeballs, weight gain from the medication and a perforated intestine, which eventually lead to a colostomy bag (from 2004 to 2005). The accident should have opened my eyes to how life should be treated as a blessing but instead it made me extremely insecure. An insecurity that would not be dealt with until later on in my life.
How would one overcome these insecurities?
Would you give up and just live with the bad cards that are handed to you or would you play the cards regardless of what is handed to you?
After years of hiding all my emotions underneath my invisible rug, I decided to take my life into my own hands. WHY? Simple… I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. I educated myself about my Lupus and decided to deal with the fact that it is a part of WHO I AM. Yes, it wasn’t an easy road. There were A LOT of trial and error with exercises on how to lose weight without any weight loss procedures, food elimination and of course who to trust in my inner circle to help me with my insecurity issues. I knew one thing for sure … the one person that I could help would be myself in order to help others going thru similar trials and tribulations. Eventually, I would lose over 60 pounds but there was always something missing… CONFIDENCE!!!
Social media portrays everyone to be happy, in love, successful … so why was I never feeling this way? I felt fatigued, sad and unaccomplished despite fighting like a champion throughout the years and being successful in my career. With the assistance of my life coach and mentally & physically practicing the importance of mastering a positive mindset, I realized that happiness comes from within. I held on to so much anger and pain that I didn’t realize the abundance of blessings that were in my life … my family, friends, career, my home and most importantly, my health. Yes, how crazy to think that health would be seen as something positive after years of hating my situation. But the reality is that my health, my lupus, my so-called rollercoaster rides molded me to become the person I am today … a blessing in disguise.
HOW DID I BECOME THAT 1%?
How do I pull the negative emotions out of my invisible rug to vanish all hidden insecurities, problems & issues?
My advice … you find a reason to FIGHT! I was overweight and I wasn’t happy so I educated myself on techniques and sought after help from trainers/instructors. My blood pressure and kidneys were not at its best so I researched what was best for my disease, changed my eating habits and reached out for alternate methods of treatment from a holistic coach. My body image issues were always a huge problem so I sought after a life coach to help change my mindset as well as set personal challenges to overcome my body dysmorphia.
My loneliness would get the best of me at times because I felt as though no one understood my frustrations so I reached out to other lupus warriors via social media i.e. Instagram, chat rooms and/or different organizations. I kept getting Lupus fatigues so I decided not to fight it all the time and did what was best for my body which would be REST; but when I did decide to fight, I would automatically change my mindset in a positive way so that I would have the energy to get up and fight through the pain. What would I say to myself you ask?
LUPUS DOESN’T HAVE ME, I HAVE IT … SO GET UP AND FIGHT!
If you want something so bad, the only person stopping YOU is YOU. Please DO NOT get discouraged if your life doesn’t change overnight. It took me almost 19 years to learn how to overcome these issues and I’m still learning how to battle through the unexpected obstacles. Practice takes time … healing takes time but in order to do so you have to love yourself first to make significant changes.
People would look at me and say “well you don’t look sick.” Before, I used to say …
“BUT I AM SICK AND LUPUS SUCKS! WHY ME? WHAT DID I DO TO DESEVERE THIS LIFE?”
How you interpret these questions will eventually make or break your emotions going forward in life. Put a spin on what you thought was negative and practice seeing it as a positive reaction. Now I say I’m a Warrior of Lupus and it made me who I am today … A FIGHTER, AN ADOVOCATE, A LOVER OF LIFE AS WELL AS A POSITIVE, STRONG AND BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.
Each and every one of us fights for a life we have always dreamed of … but the reality is, it is UP TO YOU to get up every time you fall. Don’t settle for mediocre when YOU ARE MEANT TO BE THAT 1%!
My challenge for you today is to look at your life and see what is under your invisible rug. Are you hiding things that you may not even know is there? Are any of these negative thoughts or experiences that have been tucked away for so long keeping you from exceeding your goals? If so, I challenge you to face them like the warrior you are. Pull the rug so that you can move forward and not have anything from holding you back in life.
Feel free to contact me for any additional questions, concerns or if you need my support. I am always here to help!
Until next time,
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