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These last couple months have been rough.


While Memorial Day weekend kicks off a summer of fun in the sun, it differed for me that it jumpstarted a string of health issues for me. I was already dealing with health issues since March that marked a commencement of one doctor appointment and one radiology scan and test after another, but these health issues were familiar. I knew how to handle. I was able to manage. However, the health issues from Memorial Day and on were brand new and new can be scary and fear is ignited to fight or flight. Especially when you live alone.


The thing about me is I do not overtly or openly share all the health issues or really any ‘issues’ with anyone. I only share with the select few that I am extremely comfortable with AND even with these selective few, I do not share ALL the details, feelings, or turmoil that I deal with on a daily basis. Even now, I refuse to share all the health details that have occurred these past few months. The ones who know, know. It is just that simple.


So, why don’t I share?


One of the reasons is that it just exhausts me having to rehash and then reliving all that goes into managing health hiccups and hurdles. Another reason is I do not want to worry anyone. I grew up worrying everyone and now I teeter on a fine balance of trying not to worry anyone. Also, it is hard for me to ask for help and, at this point in my life, after doing just about everything on me own, I do not even know how to ask for help or when I really need help. Lastly, a lot of people do not know what it is like to deal with health hurdles every single day or more days than not WHILE working full-time and living all alone. Most people I know are now retired or have/live with a spouse/partner or caregiver around to tend to their needs to in a dire emergency. Juggling all those medical appointments while working full-time has proved to be daunting. I do have to work full-time. I am single. I live alone. I have to manage everything on my own. Many will say that they have had to work at some point, but, sorry, not sorry, working now post-pandemic and in a COVID world and in healthcare is extremely stressful and nothing like it was before pandemic. From what I gather and also what I remember when I began to work in my early 20’s, work was actually on the fun side at times as long as you got your work done. Now, the work world is politically correct, you are watched and your name is tagged on to everything, and you are covering your butt more than anything else. So, I won’t lie and you can probably read it as clear as day, I have spent these months angry, depressed, and wishing and comparing that I did not live alone and that I had someone here just to hear and hash out what I should do with my health and when I had the emergencies that I had or that I did not have to work full-time because of how drained and exhausted I am at the end of the day. But, but…I put up a very good front of smiling. Oh, yes, I do. Only the select know what lies underneath my smiles have been extreme stress and anxiety.


One of BIGGEST REASON OF ALL why I do not share about my health stuff so publicly and most selectively and why I value working full-time and handling just about everything solo is because I do not want everything to be about my health. My whole life has been about my health, partly because of others, but mostly because of me. It is very difficult to get out of NOT being what has been your whole life because when you have something (or really anything) about your health then you will belong somewhere and feel understood for just a little while. That is how I feel in the transplant community—that I belong and that someone understands for even just a little while, but the danger of this is getting so wrapped up in a community and wanting to belong that you forget what it is like to just live and not be your health hurdles and hiccups. That being said, me receiving two life-saving kidney transplants reminds and reinforces me daily that I can LIVE and do all the things that I could not do before: work full-time, travel, swim, walk in the beauty and glory of mother nature, being with my loved ones, and just enjoying and savoring all those moments that become the most treasured of memories.


I hear the stories that just because you are partnered or have a spouse that there will be a 100% guarantee that the person will take care of you and, if anything, the person can add to your stress. I recall people who have so much time on their hands because they do not work have to find activities to occupy their time and mind, which takes motivation and money on self or maybe another that, I must confess, I would not want to depend on anyone for money. I know all the facts people want what they do not have, the grass is greener on the other side, there is always a trade-off, and the list goes on, but it doesn't stop the mind that can make or break you.


My mind was breaking me with negativity. As we well know, mind and body are so related. One does not just go bad. Both go bad. Simultaneously. Crash and Burn.


Because of my health hurdles, crash and burn went both with mind and body. In the burning process with all these health issues, I forgot what it was like to really LIVE. I slowly and surely got sucked into the vortex of our healthcare system that has become more separated and divided in that you are seeing a slue of specialists rather than back in the good old days where you saw one doctor who seemed to be the captain of your ship to direct and assist. Our healthcare system has become too many hands in the pot where you are seeing one doctor after another who are more crunched for time, resulting in quality over quantity and where medical insurances rule the world and make or break someone’s care and sanity.


Last week, my last doctor’s appointment that reminded me about living because the appointment was a complete waste of my time. Everything the doctor said, I already knew and had been doing. I was really my own best doctor. After the appointment, it struck me how I was forgetting, not living, and not enjoying the times and moments because I had been so wrapped up with all my health challenges and how I had been so busy comparing and wallowing that I was not pausing or valuing all that I do have in my life rather than what I do not have. Maybe this doctor’s appointment was not a waste of my time at all, because it forced me to reexamine this health vortex and to decipher and focus on what parts of my health I needed to focus on and what I needed to let go of AND, most of all, to live through and in everything. To learn and live.


We can get so caught up in our stressors that we may lose sight of what really matters and get sucked into a negative and comparative cycle. When has the worst gotten the best of you? What do you see on the surface of others that you would think you would like? What does it mean to you to really ‘live’?


I am trying. I am learning. I am living. Aren’t we all?


Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary

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