Did you know, 6 in 10 adults are living with chronic illness? 4 in 10 are living with more than one chronic illness?
It's true! According to the CDC, chronic illness is the leading cause of death and disability and it's one of the leading drivers of our nation’s $3.8 Trillion in annual health care costs! (https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm)
Back in 2011, I was first diagnosed with chronic, a-typical anaphylaxis. That was quickly followed by a Mast Cell Activation Syndrome diagnosis. Next up, FUCHS Dystrophy; then Fibromyalgia; then, Dysautonomia; eventually Ehler's Danlos Syndrome. One of those diagnosis alone could have caused me to crawl in a hole and deem myself destined for comfy clothes, Netflix, rounds of medications and MD visits for the remainder of my life; but all of them together... By 2014, I was barely functional as a human. I needed assistance to get out of bed. I needed help to perform many tasks of daily living. I was on a ridiculous amount of medications and I was suffering intensely from widespread pain. The inflammation in my system got so bad, I suffered a cytokine storm and found myself on heavy doses of steroids and eventually oral-dose chemotherapy treatments for 4.5 years. I had to quit my job in education. I had to pick and choose which of my kids school functions or sporting events I could go to, if at all. I had to choose to put myself and my health first, even though I was a mom to 3, a wife, and watching out for aging parents. I had dreams and goals, I had BIG PLANS to do BIG THINGS, all of which seemed impossibly out of reach.
So how did I get from there to here... in my 50's, working out daily, eating 90% plant-based, running my own business and leading or participating in various coaching groups? I MADE CHOICES. First, I acknowledged my illness and I thanked my body for never giving up, even though many days it felt like the only thing to do. I resolved myself to the fact that my still "newish 2nd marriage" deserved a chance to thrive and therefore my husband deserved to look at me, not in my pj's binging on Netflix, but somewhat put together, dressed, bed made, and doing something productive. I adopted a new mantra: I AM NOT MY DIAGNOSIS. So what did I do next? My second choice - I made the choice to advocate for better care. I was struggling with diagnosis chasing, and with each new diagnosis came more and more prescriptions. I studied alternative nutraceuticals. I advocated for better care and attention from my MDs with implementing more holistic measures in my care. I found MDs that would listen, really listen. My third choice - to get informed! I enrolled in Integrative Nutrition and Functional Nutrition courses. I studied anatomy and physiology. I learned about stress and the mind/body connection. I took deep dives into gut health and autoimmune conditions. My fourth choice - to apply my knowledge - I began applying what I learned. I took my already cleanish diet and made it cleaner. I started more self-care practices, mindfulness, meditation and a stronger faith journey. I moved more. I complained less. Each choice led me to my next choice, and ultimately my fifth choice - I chose to become a Health and Wellness Coach and I started my own business, Health Coach For You, LLC.
So now, in 2022, 8 years after I had to quit my job, spent nearly every waking hour in widespread, intense pain, and with minimal safe foods, multiple trips to the ER, inability to walk my dog regularly, let alone exercise... I am off most of those meds, my Mast Cell Disease is in remission, I am the proud owner of new corneas, I have hearing aids (lost some hearing from oto-toxicity from chemo), I eat 90% plant-based and use food as medicine, I have reversed leaky gut, food sensitivities, and Fibromyalgia. I am stronger from strength training and my Ehler's Danlos is controlled. Better still, I am partnered with multiple MD offices for patient referrals, launching a Diabetes Prevention Program, the author of the book 30 Days to Gluten-Freedom: Break Up with Gluten and Really Mean It!, a guest presenter for wellness retreats, a guest host on Facebook Lives, hosting my own Facebook Lives, writing for my blog, and continuing my education to maintain my status as a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach. I am thriving in my 50's, feeling better than I have in decades and devoted to reaching others that are struggling to find purpose, maintain hope, and reach for their dreams due to the weight of chronic illness.
My message to you...
Oh love... nothing your heart desires is ever truly out of reach... this may not be your time, but it doesn't mean your time is never. Embrace the fact you have what it takes, you hold dreams in your heart and you are worthy of achieving them... Then resolve to get back to it all... when you are ready, when it's your time. But first, take care of you. Nourish you. Embrace you. Hold on to you. Love on you. Get informed. Advocate for yourself. Educate yourself. Pull yourself out of the sea of chronic illness and resolve to take back your life. You are NOT your diagnosis. *READ THAT AGAIN* Learn about your body, listen to it, take notes, journal... figure out how to reduce inflammation and heal the things you can (mindset too). Then make peace with the things you can't control and chart a path forward because you deserve a big amazing life! *READ THAT AGAIN* And if it all seems a bit too much to handle, I am here for you, ready to hold space for you on the crappy days, the hardest days, the days when chronic illness seems to be winning. I've got you. I have been where you are and I get it. As your personal Health and Wellness Coach, I will gladly stand in the gap and help you get your bearings until you are ready to go it on your own. Don't you ever, EVER give up dear one, because, you deserve to do BIG things!
All my love,
Coach Karen xoxox
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