Oh friends, you are in for a treat today: today’s guest post writer is one of my favorite people on this earth. Mindy and I stood next to each other at our weddings, and I have no doubt that we’ll continue to stand next to each other in life. So, take her real, raw, honest, truthful words to heart today – for you won’t be disappointed. I promise.
At the start of my 25th year, I met a dashing pianist who swept me off my feet.
Later that year, we were married.
By the end of the year, I was fired from a job, had a miscarriage and was diagnosed with an extreme version of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Not exactly what I’d planned, to say the least.
In the months that followed my diagnosis, I pieced my life together. Kind of from scratch. All bets were off. All previous habits in question. I had hit bottom. I was 25.
And I’d never felt so free in my whole life.
For some reason, the diagnosis of the RA actually was kind of relieving for me. I’d struggled with anxiety for a few years, including full-blown anxiety attacks.
And the RA diagnosis was almost like—“Hey, that’s right. You’re going to die. Why don’t you focus on living instead?” The doctors said it progressive and degenerative. I would always have it and it would only get worse over time. I was 25.
It was the excuse I needed to go balls out, make my way in the world and stop apologizing for my beliefs and decisions.
My doctors weren’t much help, aside from getting me my medication quickly. They told me RA could be induced by stress and that I should try to lower mine.
I asked how. They had no idea.
I continued to take my medication, but started digging to figure out how I was going to stay healthy with this new albatross around my neck. I was 25.
See, my grandma had RA and it was pretty bad. 30-plus years laying on a couch. Confined to a wheelchair outside her home. On loads of medication.
Not exactly the life I envisioned in my first year of marriage. I was 25. I mean, 45, maybe. But 25? I remember feeling—and still feel sometimes—like that was so long. Such a long distance to run.
Thankfully, I quickly realized that the medical community couldn’t help me much. They were great for diagnosis and medication, but not so hot with lifestyle, diet and exercise.
The onus was on me to make my life better.
And so I did. Day-by-day, I started making small choices. Like taking yoga more seriously. Making sure I got at least eight hours of sleep. Drinking more water. Praying for peace. Letting go of dramatic and stress-inducing relationships (some of whom were not happy with my new, stress-reduced lifestyle). Eating an uber vegetable- and protein-heavy diet, with virtually no grain.
Amazingly, the medication worked great (a cocktail of Methotrexate (low grade chemotherapy) and Enbrel (the “wonder” drug), for those familiar with autoimmunity drugs). These drugs knock out your immune system so it can’t misfire on itself and cause inflammation.
At one point I got really sick with a cough/cold/flu thing and had to take a break from the meds. I was surprised that I didn’t feel any of the joint paint. I let another week pass with no meds. Still no pain. Another week. Another month. No pain.
Kept doing the yoga, the sleep, the food, the prayers, the water, the no-drama friends. And, minus one other flare-up after I had my son, I’ve been 100% symptom-free and med-free.
I still get teary-eyed even writing that in a flipping Word document.
Y’all. Y’all! I still can’t believe it, but I’m a really healthy person now. Like, by far the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m now 34. I have a long, long road ahead of me.
My doctors have no idea why I’ve been symptom free for so long. They all say, “We’ve never seen this happen before.”
Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s those damn little details. Those little, mundane details. The ones that are not glamorous. The ones that are routine. That can’t be forgotten. That demand responsibility. That are small. And profound.
But guess what? I’m not on chemo. I’m not going to the hospital once a month for blood tests. I’m not constantly getting infections. I’m able to walk, run, do headstands and wrestle with my son.
It’s those little details that are keeping me alive. Those five minutes of yoga at the end of the night.
Those five breaths of acceptance. Yes, someday I will die.
I’m not dead yet.
Mindy spends her days interviewing people about their dreams, hopes and disappointments on behalf of large American brands. Sometimes she’s a secret shopper, sometimes she’s sleuthing on the interwebs, but always asking questions, always seeking to know more. Mindy loves yoga, avocados, foreign films and New York City.
I mean, are you encouraged or WHAT?! What do you have to say to Mindy today? How are you made to LIVE by reading her post?