Growing up as a competitive gymnast, I had a fierce determination and tremendous appreciation for hard work, focus, and risk taking. After a back injury ended my gymnastics career, I switched to dance as my exercise and creative outlet — earning a BFA, then performing and choreographing professionally for several years before settling into “real” work.
I’ve always considered myself healthy — even though I was diagnosed with my first autoimmune condition (hypothyroidism) in my early 20s and disordered-eating/body-issues were no strangers. As I plugged along, checking off the boxes of life — getting married, having babies, building a career — I didn’t quite realize how much stress I was accumulating and how my overachieving, perfectionist tendencies were draining my lifeforce.
That all become apparent in 2014, when my pancreas stopped functioning properly. I was diagnosed with Adult-Onset Type 1 Diabetes. My initial reaction was shock and disbelief, followed quickly by, “How do I fix this?” Through frustration, anger, AND the belief in my body’s ability to heal itself, I started digging deeper and asking questions. Why was my body attacking itself? What did I need to change to prevent further destruction? When I stepped back and started connecting the dots, the timing was understandable.
The previous 5 years of my life was a constant state of fear over losing my daughter, who was born with multiple heart defects. While I was doing everything within my power to support my daughter’s miraculous healing-journey, I didn’t realize how much my own health was suffering. I prayed endlessly that I could switch places with my little baby and take on her burden.
Ironically, I was diagnosed with diabetes exactly one week before learning that her heart was healed and open-heart surgery was no longer required.
My journey living with multiple autoimmune conditions continues, yet I hold on to the belief that my body can regenerate. Although I’d like instantaneous healing, I’m becoming more realistic with my timetable and expectations. Fixing 40+ years of stress-induced damage isn’t likely to occur overnight. These days, I focus on living in the present moment, offering myself copious amounts of compassion, and being grateful for all life lessons, whether painful or pleasure-filled.