Let’s start here. At this writing I’m 49 years old. I hope it doesn’t take you this long, but if it does, it’s ok. The point is to get here.
Last month, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. It’s an autoimmune disease and in simplest terms it means that my body has been attacking itself, my thyroid to start with and now other systems. And it’s led to all kinds of crazy health issues that made zero sense until now. I wasn’t planning to write about this quite so early in the Wildflower Uprising (and so soon after diagnosis), but I feel called to share, because coming to terms with my body is tectonic shift stuff. And if I can come to terms with my body...well, let’s just say this is a massive mindset shift for me and I hope you can have the same breakthrough.
For the past four years I’ve been exhausted all the time and gaining weight. No matter what I did, no matter what I did or didn’t eat, no matter that I quit drinking alcohol, no matter how much I exercised, the weight didn’t budge. And, to my horror, the harder I was working out the more the weight was rising. It was confounding. I ate an impressively healthy diet by anyone’s standards. By the time the diagnosis came in, I was eating very little in the processed foods department, barely any sugar, lots of whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, limited meat, tons of fish, fruits and vegetables. All organic.
Joke’s on me! Most of the things on that list are toxic to a person with Hashimoto’s. All of those foods except meat, fish, fruits and vegetables were slowly inflaming my body and fogging my brain. I’m still drinking from the firehose on the details, in an accelerated learning phase to make sure that I understand how I got here and, far more importantly, how to get healthy again. Which I will. I know personally people who have put Hashi’s into remission – my personal hero, a dear friend, utterly transformed her life in 6 short months. I’m on the path and feeling better already, surrounded by my man and friends and a team of healers who support and believe in me. I’m doing the work, they are right by my side.
But for the first few weeks it wasn’t so rosy. I was grieving. The grief was coming from deep inside and settled in right next to the surface and kept showing up in the worst possible moments. (Working out, talking to my clients, trying to focus on work, in the grocery checkout line, to name just a few delightful examples.) What was I grieving? Well, gluten of course. Gluten, delicious gluten that sticks together pasta, bagels, bread and all the other yummy things on the planet. I was grieving my foodie palate, my easy food life where I could go out and eat whatever the host served. I was grieving having a glass of wine on the patio at the end of the day while my fella drinks a crispy cold beer. I was grieving grabbing a handful of nuts or seeds to stave hunger so I could stay on track with my day. I was grieving my life as I knew it. I felt very victimized and terrorized by it all. Poor, poor me.
Then one day I was talking to my naturopath, a man whose kindness and desire to heal is so palpable that you can’t help but feel uplifted just to be in his presence. He explained to me that it’s helpful to determine what the root cause was for the disease. He asked me to tell him the times in my life that I was the sickest, like memorably oh-my-gosh SO sick. There were three. Once was about 15 years ago, I had influenza. Not a stomach “flu” but the respiratory illness that kills people. I suffered for about 45 days with that bout and was certain at one point that I was dying. There was mono in my Freshman year of college. And there was the summer between 6th and 7th grades when I went to horse camp (Montana, yo) and came home with Herpes Simplex 1. JUST SO YOU KNOW, 1) that’s the cold sore on the mouth kind; and 2) most people who have Herpes Simplex 1 get it as a child or infant, transferred from some gross grown up who has it and touches the child, or from a shared utensil. (Who knew?) I barely remember that week at camp, I think I was sick and neglected the entire week (great job, camp people!). I went from camp to my aunt and uncle’s wedding, an event for which I can only recall snippets, and those are prompted by photos. I was just really, super sick.
That was 37 years ago. And that’s the source illness.
Thirty. Seven. Years.
From that point forward, between the 6th and 7th grades, my body started breaking down. And I just nutted through it for the rest of my life until now.
When this revelation happened, 37effingyears!, I immediately started really feeling sorry for myself. But then a few hours later it dawned on me.
My body has been holding me up, driving forward and protecting me, sticking with me while I graduated from law school and held down big, heady jobs, did century rides and Olympic distance triathlons and traveled the world and established deep relationships with wonderful people all these years. It’s been such a trooper even though it felt badly. All these years. Out with the pity party, in with the profound understanding: I have the most powerful, protective body a person could ever ask for. She’s strong, and vibrant. She’s ME. I’m her. And I wouldn’t trade my 5’3” curvy body for anything. I’m so grateful for her.
And now? Well, it’s only a couple weeks after diagnosis but I can say with certainty that I am lighter (literally and figuratively). I’ve completely changed my mindset AND my diet, the right food is medicine and it is already healing me. I have a plan and a path and I feel grateful to be right here, and sweetly hopeful about what comes next. I'm enjoying that my body and I are in concert again, we are connected and I’m taking so much better care of her.
Of course you don’t have to have an autoimmune disease diagnosis to come to terms with your body. If you recognize your body for all of the amazingly wonderful things it’s capable of, and the things that you’ve been able to do with it, it will change your relationship to it. Your body is everything, and health is everything. You deserve to love it, it deserves to be loved.
And so it is.