and at the end of it, you can realize that your entire life is different, if you allow it to be.
I wrote a letter to announce my business changes and share that news with my clients, friends, family and contacts. The process of writing that letter brought clarity and focus to some awarenesses I’ve had about the intensity of the inner changes I’m recognizing in myself.
If you’re here, you got the letter, or someone shared it with you. Thanks for coming here to hear more. I’ll be sharing more about my insights, changes, and processes as time goes on – but you’re here for details about the ‘Life Crisis’ I mention in the letter – so. On with it.
The important note here is that WE ARE ALL EXCELLENT right now.
The second important note is that this is NOT a call for pity. (more on releasing my claim on the ‘survivor’ identity later) This is an acknowledgement that you can go through extremely challenging circumstances without completely collapsing, if you have the right tools.
In February, my 12 year old came to me with a minor health thing happening. I did my usual: If it’s still happening in 2 or 3 days, come back and let me know.
Then, I forgot about it. Got distracted – whatever.
10 days later, he came back and said “It’s still happening.”
Is it ‘still’ happening? Or did it go away and then come back again?
Nope. Still happening. Going on over 10 days now…
We made immediate diet changes, scheduled a visit with his pediatrician, and monitored it as it progressed and additional symptoms showed up that made me pretty confident we were going to need a specialist.
All this takes time – more than a month to see the pediatrician, be referred to a specialist, get an appointment, etc. Once we got to the specialist, he recommended a round of testing that would work fastest if we did it in-patient at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, 2 hours south of our home in Erie.
We received news that they’d have space for him on Friday for him to be admitted on Monday – and off we went, getting him settled, and Mark driving back to Erie for Matthew to sleep in his own bed and go to school the next day.
The initial testing took 3 days, and showed that he had inflammatory bowel disease, and we went home with medicine that seemed to work….
Until it didn’t.
More testing, more in-patient, and he’s getting more and more obviously, undeniably sick.
After his 3rd in-patient stay, they found a treatment plan that works for him, and things have now progressed back to normal.
Daniel is doing great. He did amazing throughout this entire process, and watching him navigate the entire experience was witnessing grace, strength, endurance, and hope in a way I’d not seen before, particularly from a 12 year old.
In between hospital visit #1 and hospital visit #2, I snuck away and had a biopsy completed on a thyroid ‘spot’ they discovered on the remaining bits of thyroid left after a partial thyroidectomy from 10 years ago.
I stayed in Erie on the first day of Daniel’s 3rd hospital visit to get the results from the biopsy. Because I had a really good relationship with my thyroid doctor, I knew if he wanted me to come in, there was something for him to share. My operating theory I shared with him after the visit was: If it was really good news, you’d have called. If it was really bad news, you’d have called. So, the news was that it was ‘suspicious’ and he recommended another surgery to remove all thyroid tissue, the ‘suspicious’ spot, and remove the primary risk of this happening again. (I have a minor thyroid cancer history.)
I asked how long I could wait, explaining that Daniel was back in the hospital, and there was a lot on my plate already, and adding this to Mark’s plate seemed pretty intense.
His response was: A few weeks is ok – a few months is not.
Again, this stuff takes time, and I was incredibly grateful that Daniel responded well to medicine, and stayed healthy after the 3rd visit. I’m unsure how my calm, collected, zen-type experience of his illness and my biopsy would have held up had he not found something that allows him to be healthy enough to experience life at full throttle – which is just how he rolls most of the time.
As his recovery progressed and Mark and I became more confident we wouldn’t have to return to Children’s, we were meeting with a surgeon, and scheduling a full thyroidectomy. I tried to get it before the boys were done with school – but the first opportunity was late June – so I took it. By then, Daniel’s symptoms had cleared, and we entered what we’re now calling remission for his IBD.
After my surgery, they did another biopsy, and discovered that I’d had a Papillary Thyroid Cancer recurrence. (In the lotto of cancer, this is the one to get. Easily treated, phenomenal survival rate.)
Since the surgeon was thorough, I was in great shape, physically speaking. (Aside from looking like the Bride of Frankenstein for a little over a week… this is where I admit to having a little meltdown.)
A quick round of ‘preventative’ radioactive iodine treatment, and my prognosis is incredibly positive, and I’m feeling amazing.
The RAI treatment just wrapped a week ago, and Daniel went through summer and returned to school without a recurrence of his symptoms, and we’re all settling back into our busy, normal, healthy lives.
But here’s the piece that’s relevant to my business.
I didn’t crash and burn. I didn’t stop communicating, or marketing, or meeting with current clients. I didn’t accept new clients during that time – but the overall sensation was of balance, and trust and focus.
There were moments, and whole days where I felt a little lost, frustrated and irritable. (the 4 days after my surgery was a full-on pity-party in my brain).
Overwhelmingly though – I saw clearly the results of having a spiritual practice that focused on my listening to my intuition, knowing it was all going to work out, and clearing out much of the noise of the outside world to be present with Daniel, with myself, with those I love, and with my fledgling business – all in the same space and time.
Things I didn’t do:
Share it all on FB.
Self-sabotage (not completely. I did, but not my typical crash and burn style)
Ask why this was happening. (The why question didn’t matter to me at all. It simply was – and I allowed it to be.)
Resent myself, or Daniel or Mark or Matthew in the process.
Things I did do:
Pack what I needed for each stay with D in the hospital.
Cry when I needed to cry.
Asked for what I needed. (clients to move from in-person to phone sessions. Being with Daniel in the hospital, or being home with Matthew. Chocolate.)
Take small steps every day relevant to my business. (and, tracked them, so mind-gremlins had a harder time negating my efforts)
Find quiet spaces to be.
In the 8 years since I started this journey of healing and growth, I’ve had at least two other equally stressful situations. Another cancer scare for myself where I shut down for a solid 2 months and just obsessed over what turned out to be nothing; and an intense health/ICU trip for my dad which went on for months, during which I worked not.at.all.
My navigation skills during those times were not even in the same orbit or Universe.
My cousin asked me in the midst of some of this: I know you’ve done a ton of inner work. How do you know it’s working?
My answer was somewhat generic – but the REAL answer is: When your life goes to shit, and you don’t go with it? That’s when you know it’s working.
That it works every day to bring me more peace, contentment and satisfaction is harder to track – but it’s there. The crisis points in life bring the effectiveness of a personalized healing practice into sharp focus.
Phew. Writing that all out feels like a huge purge.
If you read this far, Thank You.