Still, after all I've been through, I still see myself as my own person with a core identity that is disease-free. Yes, I have Addison's, but it is not WHO I am. Admittedly, some days, I am tired and it feels as if Addison's is the triumphing part of me, but I constantly work to remember that this disease is not who I am, it's only a part of who I am. This disease is not like a pair of uncomfortable shoes that I can remove at the end of the day, it stays with me, and I had to make my peace with that fact. I had to find a place for it to reside within me while denying it power to take over my entire existence.
In the beginning, I did have denial. I had a terrible time adjusting to this disease label. I was rebellious and questioning and disbelieving and difficult. But today, I've learned to not deny this side of me because this disease has helped to shape and mold the woman I am today. And, I like her.
All of the experiences with Addison's has brought depth into all areas of my life. Even so...Has it taken from me? Well, yes it has. There had been a huge level of loss before I could again start the journey to find myself after this disease caught me fully in its unmerciful grasp.
There have been big changes in my life provoked strictly because this disease knocked on my body's door. It tapped, knocked, pounded and then busted its way in uninvited. I had to face the intruder and do some fighting back, but after the intruder ransacked my body, I was eventually able to clean house and to make adaptations that would encourage the intruder to reluctantly stay in its little guest room. I feed the intruder special pills to keep it tame and I take care of my body so that I can feel the subtle signs of when the intruder has roamed out of its confines. If I can sense its roaming, I respond with rehearsed strategy. As the Addison's intruder steps out of confinement, I've learned to sound the silent alarm and swing into motion.
The Addison's intruder no longer has such an easy time creating havoc, but he can still be sneaky and destructive with a rapid assault. I must stay on guard. His environment is kept unconducive to his thriving nature and this helps me keep him sedated, in his corner. I must stay hydrated, keep my potassium regulated, make sure my body is in regular motion so I don't lose physical power and I take stress doses as needed, kind of like reloading the clip and firing another round toward the approaching intruder in an effort to keep him retreating. I take Addison's seriously. I started off with this disease on the bad business end and that means I had a fast realization of the devastation it can cause in all areas of your life.
All of these lessons in life and the strange "regimented flexibility" has started me on my journey in Finding Lana. The old me did essentially pass away as I laid there for months so sick, undiagnosed for too long and watching my life fall apart. I wanted to bound upward, be my old self and recapture all that was disintegrating around me because of my deteriorating health. But, I could only lay there. In many respects, the old me faded away, but simultaneously, a brand new me was starting to take its place.
How am I a new person? It is difficult to explain. Things I took forgranted in my Pre-Addison's days are no longer passing me by quietly. I have a different internal working; there is often a parade inside of me sounding at the most simple moments. When I am sitting at a dinner table with my husband and two grown children, the parade inside me is in full performance...the band is marching with high knees and the cymbals are clashing with excitement. I hold my niece and read her a book while the parade inside me has gymnasts doing backflips in unison and the drums pound deeply and beautifully. Late at night, my husband, in his sleep, reaches his leg over to touch mine, I feel the parade and the breath-holding expectation as twirling batons fly into the air and are always caught perfectly after rushing back to the owner's hand. It's exciting, beautiful, suspenseful, and never boring.
|Jumping into the Parade and living it up with old Abe!!|
|The Parade still goes on, from these Pre-Addison's days until|
my current life with Addison's and the Parade living WITHIN me!
I was in that pit for far too long and I know what it means to be in that dark place. Beyond a dark moment, I sunk into a place where my normal world turned upside down. My strong youthful body failed me. The unthinkable found me. My life as a daughter, wife and mommy was overshadowed by needing to be a survivor. I was forced to let go of all I had known, but I finally decided to go with it and this probably saved my life and helped my family.
As a teenager, I took water survival certification courses and learned valuable techniques for surviving worst case scenarios in the water. I found this situation to be similar...If you are caught in a current, don't fight. Relax, go with the flow. Go against all that is natural and if possible, float. While chaos is below you, lay back and float. Or, if the waves are too powerful, take a deep breath of air and let your head go into the water and completely relax every limb --- volunteer to be a ragdoll. Then, simply raise your head as needed to catch another breath of air and go back into the downward ragdoll position. Relax, don't even tread, you won't sink. I've done this in the ocean and it works. The point is...don't fight. Find your place in the chaos and be a part of it. Again, it goes against all things natural for us to embrace this kind of approach during an attack. Learning to fight in a different way is imperative. So, when I emerged after Addison's invaded my body, I found myself closer to God and further away from this material world. I gave thanks for this beautiful perspective of life, I am grateful. Thankfully, I did not have to grow old to gain this perspective...I simply confronted a near-death experience and came out with my vision and soul powerfully tweaked.
In so many ways, I am a stronger person, yet physically weaker; I am more patient, yet have more boundaries; I am more compassionate, yet have more expectations; I am more of a fighter, yet my strategy has changed; I am more of a drifter, yet have more purpose; I see material items as truly bits of plastic, wire and cement; I see a person's eyes and there is a deeper understanding that I sometimes wish to not be able to see so easily; I see "time" as a concept that encompasses much more than actual technical tracking of recorded time...it is a moment that will never return and should be seen as opportunity and savored; I no longer see a white coat and a stethoscope with blind trust and I no longer automatically insert a possible non-deserving pedestal under the white coat's feet---these days, the ground is completely even and I am respectfully in charge; best of all, I live in the here and now while never feeling alone because I know God is always with me and all will be okay, no matter what happens. All will be okay, no matter what happens.
Just getting the "label" of Addison's Disease would probably not have been enough to cause pivotal changes in my life. That's the difference for many people with many different conditions. The further down into bad health that you have fallen, the more deeply your life is impacted. It's pretty simple.
For me, the struggles stemming this disease has been far and wide. Addison's has nearly taken my life on multiple occasions. In the beginning of my original diagnosis, I was already going through huge changes due to my body weakness; Addison's had fully seized my life in all ways. Finally, after being diagnosed, I had so closely approached death that it would not be possible to simply bounce back. My body had suffered trauma for much too long. I was far, far away from the bounce-back phase. So, going back to the status quo that I had enjoyed in my Pre-Addison's days was no longer a possibility: those radiant days had become a hazy memory.
For a long while, I floundered during recovery and longed for the way my life used to be. But, I knew life would never be the same and that I needed to face my new existence. I needed to somehow face and embrace this new life before I could figure out how to move forward. Before I could really begin to vivaciously live again, I needed to say goodbye to the past and quit longing for my life as it had been.
I didn't know what the future held, everything in my life had been jolted off course, my business-life, my personal life, my home life, my marriage, my thought-processes...all of me, all around me, all that I contributed to in a passive or active manner was completely different. Was it easy? No, it was not easy. Was it a fast process? Absolutely not, I'd say it took about two years for me to really get back on track and in some ways, I am still Finding Lana after my life disintegrated from Addison's nearly pulling me under life's radar. But, I did it. It can be done.
Having the ability to remain flexible might help you regain more than you lost, but it takes time. I had my life turn upside down and inside out after being sick for an extended period of time and by falling so deeply ill with Addison's that I coded at age 33. The recovery after diagnosis was not a short road, it was a long road without nice smooth pavement. My journey was full of rocky pits, but it doesn't stop me and each step is a triumph for me...even while taking small steps toward Finding Lana I can hear the parade's beautiful celebration propelling me forward in rain or shine!.