Author and uROk founder returns to online musings on life, love, achievement, faith and resilience. Sharing personal stories to underpin the illuminations and awakenings received in the process of dealing with both success and challenges.
Well kids it appears I’m back! For long
time listeners of my podcasts and members of my old website uROk.tv (don’t
bother searching for it – it no longer exists) it’s been a long time between
drinks as they say. The last time I reached out to you was in January 2014 and
a lot has transpired since then. And I guess you’re wondering ‘what the heck
happened to her?’ and the answer is too much to tell in this one blog so I’ll
start with just this one thing.
In September 2014 I was diagnosed with
aggressive Rheumatoid Arthritis and for those of you who know what that it is,
I know you’ll be feeling for me right now. Fortunately it’s under control now
and I’m in remission with only the occasional bad day, which I’ve since learnt
to manage. For those of you who aren’t familiar with RA (as those in the know
call it), it’s an autoimmune disease that can turn a once vibrant, lithe and
energetic woman like me into a shadow of my former self.
I’d had recurring bouts of bursitis and
some weird crampy things going on in a few joints for about 2 years prior to
the diagnosis, which I’d just put down to stress. We’d been going through a bit
of financial stuff and my mum had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and I had
a baby still on the breast. So when I woke up one morning in July 2014 and my
fingers wouldn’t extend like normal, I freaked out. We’d just moved back to
Sydney so I thought it could’ve been from all of the packing and unpacking and
dismissed it as such, until it kept happening.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye my
whole body started to betray me. Wrists, elbows, shoulder, knees, ankles – they
all kept seizing up and I was in diabolical pain. I kept my condition secret
for a long time and just pumped up on the pain-killers to keep up appearances.
Thankfully my work was such that I could be flexible and I just started working
more and more from home, limiting my days in the office to once or twice a
week. My brain was still perfect but my body was severely letting me down.
didn’t want to accept the diagnosis and went into a typical ‘this can’t be
happening to me’ phase.
I decided I could beat it with all my
knowledge of healthy eating, alkalizing, antioxidising and meditation. I
stepped up my sauna and prayer rituals, went to a Chinese herbalist, took a
bucket load of natural supplements and did everything to stay in a state of
gratitude but to no avail. Finally after about eight months when I could no
longer walk for more than a few meters, was unable to raise my arms high enough
to wash or comb my own hair, my joints and body swollen like a balloon,
desperately sleep deprived, I had to come to a place of acceptance. I remember clearly the day when I bit the bullet and decided to go back to my Rheumatologist.
I was languishing on the
couch in absolute agony when my then 4 year-old son came over to give me a hug.
His gentle touch on my arm was like a fire poker glowing at full steam, and I
winced and screamed out in pain. “Mummy, will you ever get better again so we
can hug properly?” That was it! My life long distrust of pharmaceuticals had to
come to an end and I realized that I needed to do whatever it took to rejoin
the productive and functioning part of the human race.
To cut a long story short, I’m now on
weekly Methotrexate injections, Arava and Prednisolone. I’ve managed to reduce
my Prednisolone down to 2mg a day from the original 10mg and my body is finally
returning to normal. When I first started on the treatment regime, I gained 10
kilograms in what seemed like a heartbeat. I couldn’t fit into any of my
clothes or shoes for that matter, my face had puffed out and my hair started to
fall out in handfuls. I used to joke with close friends and family that I
couldn’t go out before because I couldn’t walk and now I didn’t want to go out
because I looked like a mess!
Every day now as I have done since the
diagnosis, I take magnesium, high potency Vitamin C, Vitamin B and astaxanthin.
Almost every meal has some combination of turmeric, garlic, ginger, capsicum,
cumin, fennel, greens, greens and more greens. I use my infrared sauna as often
as possible, meditate, get Vitamin D from small doses of natural sunlight and
keep up with the inner gratitude work. And the funny thing is I actually am
grateful now for the RA as it’s given me a whole new perspective on what living
actually means. Sure I was compassionate before, sure I had empathy for others,
I was a kind, decent, loving human being but the RA has made me an even bigger,
As an example, I used to get really
frustrated with ‘slow-walkers’ as I had knick-named them. I’d think to myself
‘stop schlepping about and get a move on, walk as if you have purpose, stop
shuffling along’ until that one day I had become a slow-walker myself. As I
shuffled slowly up the hill for my weekly GP visit, each step an agonizing feat
of will, chanting to myself ‘you can do it, you can do it’ with each footstep, I
realized the obvious. Not everyone who walks slowly is doing so because they
have no purpose, or because they’re lazy. I said a silent apology to every
person I’d every admonished in my mind and felt a humility like never before. I
was deeply ashamed of myself for being so quick to judge and felt embarrassed
that I had never realized the small ways in which each one of us can be haughty
Thankfully now I’ve regained my quick step
but each day is a gift that I can truly treasure. When we are put into a
position of simply being grateful for the smallest things, like moving without
having to will our feet to take the next step, the achievements in our lives
take on a far greater depth of meaning. Like being able to dance again! What an
absolute thrill that day was when on New Years Eve 2015 we danced up a storm
and I felt the freedom of a bird in flight. You can only imagine the joy I feel
when all three of my kids can now scramble all over me and hug me all at the
same time. I can run, work a 12 hour day, cook up a storm and I feel stronger than ever before. I just need to listen to my body and take it easy when the early warning signs appear.
I looked in the mirror today and saw my old
facial features returning, my hair starting to thicken out again and low and
behold I actually fit back into a pair of the jeans that had sat lonely in my
cupboard for over two years. What had not so long ago felt like a descent into
hell has actually turned out to be a gift from heaven; the gift of being able
to feel true gratitude at simply learning to live again, laugh again, dream
And to close today’s blog I’d just like to
share one more thing. When I started uROk back in 2002 I argued with my team
that it had to be about You not Me. They all insisted it had to be about me so
that I could connect with you on a deeper level. I never wanted to be a guru or
have people ‘follow’ me. I wanted to help others connect with their own inner
strength. I didn’t see myself as a role model. I felt inadequate to put myself
up there as that. I didn’t want you to ‘do as I do’ but to do what’s right for
you, to follow your heart and find your own inner light.
I’ve now come to understand that by sharing
my stories, my less than perfect self (which by the way is imperfectly,
perfectly me), my struggles and my pain, that in some small way, it does help
you to find the way back home to yourself. To reconnect with that part of you
that is more than just your body, your job, your family, your bank balance or
any of that other stuff. That part of you that is uniquely, wonderfully you.
So fellow travellers on this magnificent
journey called life please know that whatever ‘happens’ to you, in every moment
there really is a choice and you can make it at any time and learn to live again,
believe again, dream again. Small steps in the right direction are all you need
to take. It’s working for me and I’m back, so please feel free to post your
comments and I’ll be here for you to laugh with, cry with, hold your hand, lend
an ear or share a shoulder.