Hope and Hitting Pause while on Your Health Journey

by Erica on September 22, 2014

While very acutely ill several years ago, I avoided looking for information online.  I was told by my doctor that there was so much misinformation out there, that I’d drive myself crazy if I started researching online.

At some point however, I decided to be a thrill seeker, and I googled my illness.  I wound up coming across one of the most helpful things I’ve ever read, and I still refer to it today.

A man wrote a very brief comment about how he navigates having Crohn’s Disease while being a triathlete.  He talked about how he deals with multiple doses of prednisone, and how he avoids the weight gain associated with steroids.  In summary, as soon as he could begin training again, he did.  And, at the end, he wrote one of the most inspirational statements I’ve ever read…

“No matter what, know that you will get better.  At some point, you will get better.  Never lose hope because it will happen.”

That statement stuck with me, especially at my absolute worst.  When I was struggling tremendously to find a way to heal and get better.  When I started to think there was no hope.  When I didn’t know what new doctor to consult with.  When I didn’t know which meds to try first, or when they didn’t work as I had hoped.  When I was in the hospital with a flare up, H1N1, and pneumonia, all at the same time.  (Go big or go home!)

Over the years, I’ve reminded myself of that statement, and oh how I wish I could remember who that man was.  I’d love to write him a thank you.

What I have learned through my own health journey is that he was right.  He was absolutely right, and I also learned you never know when the tide will change.  You never know what information you might stumble upon, or who you might happen to meet that can help you.  Or when your body will begin to bounce back.  You just never know.

On a whim, I decided to see a new ENT one year while visiting family over the holidays.  That doctor led me to the doctor who found the cause of one autoimmune disease I was experiencing, and that doctor led me to another doctor who resolved multiple health mysteries I had been dealing with for more than a decade.

This was after I had seen approximately 20 specialists and doctors within a three year period, some at world renowned hospitals.

Something else I learned along the way is that dealing with chronic illness can be incredibly exhausting and depressing.  While I would remember what that man on the blog shared, there were times I questioned whether I would truly find the healing I was looking for.  I was just tired.  Exhausted from all the thinking and strategizing.Me on Spin Bike

I finally figured out that I needed to hit the pause button a handful of times.  I was doing everything I could possibly do to get better, and while I didn’t want to give up on myself, I had to take a breather.  I still took my medicines and took care of myself, but I temporarily halted researching and advocating for myself.  I hit pause, sometimes for a day or so, maybe a week, or maybe a month.  I’d hit pause, with the plan to give my brain a break from all the work it was doing, and I’d resume advocating for myself as soon as I had the energy to do so.

Hitting pause helped quiet my mind, and it was during these times that I’d suddenly get a new idea, or new inspiration.  Or I was able to calm down and and get more rest.  Either way it was a win.

So, lovely people, given half the U.S. population has a chronic illness, there’s a good chance you do too.  If it’s a significant illness, and you’re on your own health journey right now, remember these two things…

First, never give up on yourself.  Things can change on a dime, you just never know.  I am living proof of this.  See my sweaty spin pic above…  If you told me I’d be healing and training like I am currently, a few years ago, I may have thrown something at you.  I am officially in love with spin now.  And this body of mine LOVES it too.

Second, taking a breather is not the same as giving up.  Hitting the pause button with the intention of getting back to business as soon as you can, can sometimes be just what you need to find healing.

Hugs,
Erica

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