It was the fall of 2007 when I heard the words “surgery is inevitable”.
This was after a series of visits to the doctor and specialists, so I had an idea that this was going to be the results …but when you actually hear “The Truth” – it stops you in your tracks –I felt like my world was caving in; and yet, at the same time, those same words were lifting the weight of the world off my shoulder.
I zoned back in as she was saying …” you can continue to go through this every month for the next 20-30 years …or you can have the surgery now, heal really fast (because you are young) and then ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR LIFE being healthy and pain-free. ”
Be healthy? Be pain-free? … Is that possible? My entire ‘adult’ life, I struggled with insurmountable health issues stemming from erratic cycles, extreme PMS, Bleeding and resulting in Anemia.
Knowing what I was dealing with every single day of my life – and knowing that each month the symptoms intensified. I realized that this was an opportunity to take back control of my life…no longer would my ‘cycle’ dictate my life! Was it true? Could I return to being physically active and LIVING an active healthy lifestyle. This surgery, which seemed to be impending doom to the masses; was actually a moment where I could see possibilities, I could see growth and I could see the possibilities. After discussing the particulars, my doctor suggested doing what I could do to get my body used to moving, so it would be easier to recover post-surgery.
During this time, I became willing to take small steps of courage (of self-love) to nurture myself back to life. Taking this opportunity to embrace my capabilities within my physical limitations to grow and be ready to blossom post-surgery.
I began by going for short walks on my lunch break- my strategy, start at the closest store and spend 20 minutes browsing, then return to the office, eat my lunch while I recall what stood out for me. I carried a small journal to capture what caught my attention, what I paused to look at and appreciate– be it a colour, a scent, a smile, the breeze blowing through my hair, a piece of art.
Rediscover myself while valuing myself. This was a huge step for me because in addition to my ongoing issues with my cycle; I was also incapacitated with a debilitating chronic health condition called Erythema Nodosum, in addition to ‘coping’ living with an Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia.
Walking into a new store, every day was growth for me, facing my fears in the face of adversity for the greater good.
I started capturing my acknowledgements, gratitude’s and musings for the day. I was being inspired, my thoughts were flowing onto the paper in the form of poetry. This was something new to me. Even though, my health condition continued to regress, I found that my intuitive side was being nurtured. It sparked hope that this proactive self-care was prepping my mind for when the surgery was done.
A couple months before surgery, I wanted to test my capacity within my limitation on a larger scale. I was willing to drive, once a week, towards the mountains. The first Sunday, I was not attached to how far I would get, I was just happy that I was making the effort. I made it about 20 minutes and had lunch at the first gas station. Within 3 weeks, I was able to drive 45 minutes and stopped at the restaurant along the highway.
Each week, I was willing to apply the same ‘small acts of courage’ to try new things – to rediscover what foods I enjoyed. Once a week, I drove out to this quaint restaurant, ordering the plate at top and working my way down the menu each time. The rest of the afternoon, I stayed and drank water as I read a few pages in a book by Eckhart Tolle.
By the time, surgery came along, I was growing – with a better understanding of who I was and what my body was capable of. I felt proud that I chose to Value Myself during this time leading up to surgery.
When I was in the hospital and convalescing, I read the book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ from cover to cover. It was empowering being able to focus on the words rather than the pain; provided me the ability to focus on the positive, staying out of the “woe is me” mentality.
I took 18 months to let my body and mind reconnect with each other. A full recovery included grieving my losses. I gave myself permission to grieve the loss of my uterus, my fertility, to make my parents grandparents, knowing that I won’t be able to make my sister an auntie, to have cousins for her kids to play during holidays, and so much more. I knew it was important to move through those feelings but not dwell on them. This process allowed me to lift the weight of the new world off my shoulders.
18 months later, I was awakening to the possibilities and began my journey into living an active healthy lifestyle.
I joined a group of women who were wanting to train for a triathlon and have the support of like-minded individuals. I few of us, full of enthusiasm, were willing to consider doing Ironman Canada in Penticton in 2012! I said Ok, let’s do this I was completely willing because I wanted something different. I wanted to live life, not just have a life.
I continued to take steps of courage. I joined a swim class once a week the other girls; then a few of us, joined a “Learn to Run” clinic. We started with 20 second intervals – muttering ‘this is crazy’ but doing it anyway. I acknowledging myself for every movement forward. I was now taking the effort to be active 4 days a week! And then – no word of a lie – I joined a cycling class…within 3 months, I went from NO exercise to a minimum of 30 minutes 5x per week! I stood in my truth – I wanted an active healthy lifestyle – over the next three years. I was witnessing myself blossom into someone who was gentle and kind to herself. I was open to all the possibilities around me. I stayed invested in my intention, while releasing myself from the outcome.
And on August 26, 2012 ….. I heard these words “Carrie-Ann you are an IRONMAN” Yes, I crossed the finish-line in 16 hours, 52 minutes and 10 seconds.
From hearing ‘Surgery is Inevitable’ to “You are an IRONMAN’ .
What I know to be true is this: Everything is possible when you believe in yourself! The Truth DOES set you free!
As you watch your garden grow, you see it begins to blossom into something beautiful when you tend to it –rain or shine-You take care of it.
Be willing to apply the same principles to yourself (as I did), this is ‘self-love’ …embracing that all you need is right here within yourself.