Four years ago, I left my doctor’s office with a double diagnosis of fibroids and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Fibroid tumors are benign so they did not trouble me as much as the hormonal imbalances of PCOS.
I knew I was experiencing more fatigue than usual and stress seemed to exacerbate the situation. Several months later, I quit the case management job I had been in for almost seven years. I immediately felt relief.
It wasn’t just that I could breathe, it felt like I had more room in my brain to remember the things I truly cared about. The dreams that I felt were dead and decaying were now renewed. They seemed like they were in reach again. Quitting that job may have meant a significantly smaller income for my household, but the peace of mind I gained made me feel like I had received a raise.
I knew that was a first step -Subtracting something from my life to make way to add other blessings. And it was. I started working part-time and life was pretty good for a while.
I know this life makes no guarantees of being pain-free so there were other challenges coming ahead. A year later, I woke up and there was a dry patch on the bridge of my nose. I didn’t bother worrying about it as I had always had a clear complexion. But that was only the beginning.
Months later, psoriasis plaques, red and angry, blanketed every surface of my brown body with the exception of my hands and feet. I had open sores underneath my breasts and on the back of my neck. Even my scalp became unforgiving.
Along with my husband, I visited my first dermatologist who prescribed me with steroid creams for my face, body and scalp. They did provide relief. However, I was disturbed by the fact that I would have to use them forever.
The thought of my husband coating my back with steroids for the remainder of my life and the urge to hide my face, ears and arms from the world when the creams were not as effective as they could be slipped me into a depressive fog.
The light and the clarity that I was living in the year before was dissipating with each plaque, each rolled down sleeve, extra layers of foundation and a forced smile I showed the world.
One Valentine’s Day, my husband and I were out of town and the plaques on my thighs were so painful, I could barely walk from the hotel parking lot to the room. Wearing clothes had become somewhat painful at that point, but I did my best to power through.
I ended up weathering the worst of it for almost seven months before quitting the steroid creams and looking into holistic treatment. I found out that psoriasis is an autoimmune condition so ingesting anything inflammatory made it worse. I have been adjusting my diet to become more plant-based (which I have been now for the past three months). I quit caffeine and I drink more water than I ever have before. I also pay attention to the triggers that bring stress.
I share all of this, not to make anyone feel sorry for me or bring a mood down, but to educate and uplift. That’s right, after all of this, I use the word “uplift.” And I will throw another one at you: inspire.
And here is why: After four years of fibroids, hormonal imbalance and psoriasis, I am still here and I have the nerve to be a pretty happy person. With every book I read about how to manage my disease and every video I watch about healing, I arm the warrior inside of me to fight and win against these conditions.
The more I started to believe there was something there for me, a brighter light at the end of the tunnel, the better I started to get.
My plaques still exist but I don’t hide anywhere near as much (I’m getting there). I haven’t had trouble walking in over two years. I no longer use steroid creams and when my doctors suggested the use of biologics with potential harmful side effects, my spirit said No. I felt my confidence grow and my inner voice got louder.
I don’t have to wait to be “all cured” to know that I have control over what I think about myself and how I treat myself.
I may no longer be complimented for beautiful skin, but why would that ever be the most important thing to hear?
Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I strive to live this way because people ultimately do or do not want to be around you because of how you make them feel, not because of how you look. They want some of your shine, your light, your smile and want to know when you look at them, you are not searching for a fault, but a recognition of who they are.
In the face of my health challenges, I am grateful. I am stronger. I now know what it means to rise to the occasion. And the occasion is every day I get to wake up and breathe into this life.
Have you faced a health challenge? If so, what advice would you give to anyone reading this?
Leave your comment below! We would love to hear from you!
Writer, Wellness Seeker and Wife
Kristina is a writer, wellness seeker and a wife. Her work has been featured on kimberlyelise.com and the online literary magazine, lifein10minutes.com. She was also a featured author at RVA Lit Crawl 2017. She is currently at work on her first book of essays. You can find her at kristinahamlett.com.