20 Aug MY HEALING JOURNEY – PART 2
Hey everyone! Welcome back to my healing journey part 2! If you have not read part 1 yet, I highly suggest you read it here before continuing on. If you are all caught up, then sit back and get cozy because I am about to sum up the last 5 years of my healing into one blog post.
Originally, I was going to make my “healing journey” a 5-part series with each year being a blog entry, but life happened and that fell to the wayside when I did not make it a priority. So here we are! Today is my 5 year anniversary of brain surgery. This feels like a giant milestone for me; and I wanted to share with you all what I have experienced and learned over the last 5 years after going through a life altering event.
Part 1 ended with Clark and I moving back to Michigan in fall of 2015 and living with my parents.
“While being back home, reality started to set in. I was starting to feel physically better, but the gratitude of simply just being alive was not as apparent in my everyday life and I was starting to panic about my “new life”. A life without driving, running, drinking, staying up late, going to concerts, lifting my nephews, no high intensity workouts or hot yoga. A life NOT in New York City, and a life that is not independent. A completely new shift…. So how did I cope?…”
The gratitude of a successful surgery and the progress of my physical body healing was fading and fear was subconsciously settling in. I missed my “old life”. The one where I had complete independence living in a city I loved. Which is ironic to say right now because many of us may be able to empathize and understand this feeling due to the current conditions in our world over the last 6 months. Change is hard. We want to resist it. We don’t want to trust it. It is uncomfortable. It can be scary. It can feel very unfair!
Shortly after moving home my incision became infected. It wasn’t bad, but it was enough to be concerned about. This can be serious if not treated, so my neurosurgeon in Michigan put me on antibiotics right away. Antibiotics would not have been my first choice, I have a history of being highly sensitive to medications, but I was not educated enough at the time to know what my other options were. After 3 days on the antibiotic, I spiked a fever, my body broke out in a rash, I felt very nauseous and overall very unwell. This happened over the weekend and my doctor was not on call. The ER staff told me it is not side effects from the medictation, it’s probably symptoms from an infection and to keep taking the medication. I had a gut feeling this ER doctor was very wrong. I knew my body and I was learning how to tap into my intuition. I had been through the medical system for over a year and I knew not to trust everyone. I learned to trust myself. So, I went against his advice and I stopped taking the antibiotic. First thing Monday AM I went to my surgeon’s office. I told him my symptoms and he did a bunch of blood work. He said it was absolutely an allergic reaction to the antibiotic and was happy to hear I stopped it. My blood work was a disaster. All my levels were VERY low, specifically my blood platelets. The antibiotic was literally slowly killing me. He looked at my incision and said it looked much better even with just 3 and half days of meds. He wanted to give my body time to recover from the allergic reaction so I went home for a week and rested. I came back the following week and had an MRI to make sure there was no infection in my brain and to redo the blood work. MRI came back great and my labs were perfect. THANK GOD! I couldn’t believe how ill I got from the medication. It was terrifying to be honest. However, this was the moment where I knew I wanted to educate myself on holistic ways of healing, both mentally and physically. I knew there were other options to explore as a first resort that would agree with my body better.
With that being said, there is a time and place for everything. Being informed and knowing how to make the right decision for you is empowering! Do your research. Listen to your body. You know you better than anyone else. If something doesn’t sound right or doesn’t feel right, challenge it! Do not blindly trust. You know what is best for you. Every body is different and every body needs specific care.
Shortly after this incident I met a health coach, Nadia. She was my sister-in-law’s neighbor and funny enough would soon become my neighbor 4 months later. I had never met a health coach before or understood what health coaches do. But after talking with her for about an hour and sharing my experience with her, she was SO kind to invest in my healing and offer some really amazing support and advice. I am SO grateful for her and we are still great friends to this day.
Before meeting Nadia, I felt like an injured bird. Completely lost and helpless. Once we connected, I recognized my power and strength; and I knew I could do anything I wanted to do, and I would overcome this obstacle stronger than ever.
She really inspired me to advocate for myself, to seek out extra support and to turn to alternative healing methods. I started to work with a therapist, I had regular chats with Nadia, I started meditating, using essential oils, seeing an energy healer, taking piano lessons again to strengthen my brain, cooking nutrient dense foods and juicing, I was practicing self love and self care, reading self-help books, taking online courses..etc.. I was starting to transform more and more and starting to lean into my power.
Fast forward to Spring 2016, I am feeling better each day. These lifestyle and mindset changes were helping, but life was in no way how I remember it feeling – meaning feeling like my old self again, but I was progressing. At this time, I am still taking daily naps, I am still only walking for exercise and I am very much taking it slow. I couldn’t stand going out to eat because the noise was too much for me to handle. I couldn’t have a conversation with someone for more than 20 minutes without completely exhausting my brain power and needing a nap. I had a difficult time concentrating. These were all “normal” post brain surgery symptoms I was told. I feared they would never get better and this would be my life forever. I would have moments where I would just cry and cry wondering if this is how my life will be forever. But then, I also was slowly learning I would never feel like my own self again. I am a new being. This is a new body and I was starting to adjust to what that felt like. I also realized no one can heal me, but myself.
In April after having a 48 hours EEG test, I was cleared to be able to drive again. IT FELT SO FREEING! I bought a car, Clark and I bought a house and things were really looking up! For 9 months I couldn’t drive and I wasn’t working. I was healing and resting. Everyday I would challenge myself to do something out of my comfort zone. I was eager to get back to “normal life”. Looking back, I wished I would have lived more in the moment, but I learned from this experience. Never rush anything.
Prior to brain surgery I worked in HR. I hated working in HR. I have never followed a rule in my life, and then I am suddenly the one enforcing rules? It was SO NOT IN ALIGNMENT WITH ME! After chatting with Nadia and learning about Health Coaching I wanted to become a health coach myself. I wanted to help people who have gone through health traumas. I wanted to have passion behind my career and love what I do everyday. But fear got in the way. It was easy to go get a job doing what I was doing before. I was craving “comfort” more than anything. I went back to conditioned behaviors and got a job in HR in downtown Detroit.
Without going into too many details, the job was terrible. My boss was unkind to me and the working environment was hostile. I stuck in it for a YEAR! A damn year – I abused myself in this job everyday. However, I have since learned to never shame myself for my past decisions. Everything happens for a reason and I have grown from that level of consciousness since.
While at work, I had many moments of telling myself “I had a second chance at life and this is what I am spending my time doing?” Everytime I went to quit, I got scared. Scared of what? I didn’t work for 9 months and there was no pressure to work right now. Healing was my main goal and I had all the support to do that. But for some reason I was tied to feeling “normal” and having a job like everyone else. I was really ignoring what I had been through and healing the deep layers of it. I also was subconsciously scared of the unknown. In April of 2017, the universe helped me out and my job was eliminated during a company merger and I was FREE.
During this time I was still dealing with post surgery symptoms mostly including major fatigue and headaches. Stress made everything way worse, it was stunting my progression and I am so thankful that the universe helped save me from that job.
I enrolled in Health Coaching School in May 2017 and that is when my health coaching / wellness career was born. The feeling I had when I was let go was of such RELIEF. I was able to do what I have been wanting to do for over a year. I wanted to go back to school, become a health coach, work with clients, share my own health journey and what I have learned to then inspire others. After I had brain surgery there was such a lack in support – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I did not want others to feel how I did. I wanted to be there for others like Nadia was there for me. I knew this was the next step and I was very excited about it.
There was an initial HIGH. No work, no commute, no dealing with the low energy of a corporate environment, and I was going to school and enjoying my everyday life. It felt great! Then a couple of months later came the fear. URGH. That damn fear. “What if I am not successful” “What if I am not a good coach” “What if I am late to the game” “What if this all fails” and I forgot to ask “What if this is exactly what I am called to be doing and everything is working out perfectly for me”. When the fear came, I got small. I lost track of my vision and just was going through the motions of school and being a health coach that “works with anyone”. I played it safe and focused my energy on other things.
During this time, Summer 2017, I was finishing planning Clark and I’s wedding. Yes, we got engaged! And we were about to get married in August in northern michigan. Did I mention we also got a dog? Charlie, our sweet (and naughty) goldendoodle. A lot of major life decisions were happening, buying a house, getting engaged, changing careers, getting a dog, and now getting married! It was all very exciting and the joy of it all adding to my healing experience.
As I was progressing in this journey, I learned that in order to have a successful business and in order to heal, I needed to ditch the fear and self limiting beliefs. I was changing my lifestyle, meditating, exercising, cooking quality food, etc. But I wasn’t believing in myself. Like TRULY believing in myself. I subconsciously was living in fear that I would never get better. That I would have neurological symptoms forever. That my business would be a flop. I learned you can tell yourself positive thoughts all day but if you don’t truly believe them yourself, they have little effect on your life.
I knew something had to shift. I started to get very serious about retraining my subconscious mind. I started reading a lot, a lot alot – specifically Dr. Joe Dispenza and other books on neuroscience and neuroplasticity. I started to really think and believe I am healed, I am healthy and I am capable of accomplishing anything I want. Affirmations were and are my best friend. I saw my energy healer every 3 weeks and she was truly the largest piece of my healing puzzle. She taught me how to be my own healer, how to step into my power and how to retrain my thoughts. 2017/2018 were years of MAJOR MAJOR transformations for me. I was finally ready for big things and I was believing everything is possible for me.
I launched my business in Spring 2018. My health was drastically improving (thanks to completely shifting my mindset) and I was feeling very comfortable. Clark and I were happy, we owned a home, had a sweet puppy, and life was easy for the most part. It felt like we had gotten through something very difficult, personally and together, and the dust was finally starting to settle. It was a very “picket fence” type of reality we were living in. It was very comfortable…
We started traveling a lot more because I had the energy to do it! Every month we had a trip planned somewhere and in my spare time I would fly back to NYC any chance I got. I missed the city SO much and everytime I went back I would cry when I would have to leave. I have met so many amazing people throughout my career in the wellness space and NYC seemed to be the place where I would get to meet up in person with these new wellness friends. I would network, go to fun events, and I just THRIVED off the city’s energy again. It felt like home there.
Fall of 2018 Clark and I planned a trip back to NYC to visit and I threw out the idea that we should look for apartments “just to see”. He was hesitant, but thought it was just for fun. Well that “fun” turned into reality and one year later we moved back to NYC! We sold our home, sold our cars, sold most of our stuff, sad goodbye to our Michigan family and friends and moved back to NYC! It was the easiest transition I have ever made. I felt like I was moving home. In August 2019, we left a 4 bedroom home with a backyard and said hello to a 1 bedroom cube in the sky.
I have to share that after I had brain surgery I feared NYC. I associated the city with feel very very ill. I was so ill for over a year, literally fighting for my life before I had surgery. I had many moments where I felt very sick and had to push through. So many cab rides and subway rides where I felt like I was going to pass out. So many dinners I had to leave because I would feel ill. So many events with friends I missed out on. So when we first moved home, I looked at NYC as scary. I had so many deep, sad, difficult memories there and going back there would trigger them all. But I knew deep down I loved the city and I did not want this experience to ruin it for me. So I pushed myself to go back. I fought my fears and faced them head on. I was able to heal this relationship with NYC with all the work I did in my healing over the last couple years.
Fear is something we create, therefore we can change it. As soon as I started doing the REAL work, the retraining of my brain, the subconscious re-writing, the self-reflection, self-awareness etc. I started to not fear anything. I started to recognize how badass I am and how I am able and capable to do anything I want. As soon as I stopped telling myself I am sick, I will never get better etc. I got well. Our life is created by our thoughts and our behaviors. Recognizing and being aware of how we are talking ourselves, how we are behaving, how we are responding to situations etc. is powerful and transformative.
So here we are, August 2020. Clark and I are still in NYC. We still love the city and we have no plans on fearing the future. I am still working as a health coach and working with clients FILLS MY SOUL. Life is always going to present challenges. It is how we respond to challenges that creates our reality.
I realized I was fighting against myself a lot after I had brain surgery. I was resisting what was really happening. I was mad at my body for “failing” me. I was angry this all happened and messed up my “life plans.” As soon as I surrendered, accepted the situation and learned how to best take care of myself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually in the present moment, I was able to heal and grow and expand.
Thank you for sharing in my journey. If any of this resonates with you, please reach out. I love to connect with you.