I have a very special post to share today, written by my dear friend and author Abigail Widynski. She has been an inspiration for me in my life and throughout my medical journey. I am truly blessed to have her as a support. Here is her story…
Number four. It came back in the test results about two weeks ago. A forth auto-immune disease diagnosis. Sure, it wasn’t a death sentence. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say it ruffled my feathers or took me for a trip back down memory lane that I really didn’t want to take.
It’s a part of my story I don’t readily share. I don’t share even though my daily life is rift with what others may call adjustments and I just call…life! Maybe you can relate?
It’s the part that indeed occupied and now again occupies a great deal of time, energy and emotion. It is also the part that never really had a conclusion or tied with a sparkly, pink bow.
We all have that part, don’t we?
As I’ve had a couple weeks to process and mentally examine my health, past and present, I’ve realized that part of me doesn’t need hidden, isn’t a source of shame and can be a source of strength. Just maybe same goes for you?
I’m going to share with you the four truths I plan on taking with me on my life (and health) journey moving forward…
Denial is Not Nearly as Powerful as Truly Living
As much as I hate to admit it, I have a magnetic pull to denial when it comes to my health. Why? Because during certain periods I thought I had to push through.
Real life story: The summer prior to my moving from the United States to London for business school, I was suffering severely with abdominal pain. Through a process of illness elimination via a myriad of testing, Celiac Disease was suspected to be the culprit two weeks prior to my move. I pushed through and along with life changes, completely altering my diet. Yet, a few months forward, there was an underlying something going on and quite frankly, I was sickly.
I was running hard though and after all, I was in an accelerated business degree program. In between flying back and forth to the States for testing, giving 150% to my courses and colleagues in addition to job searching, I was mid-way through my degree was I received the treatment plan recommendation from my American immunologist: iVig treatment monthly starting immediately. I denied treatment, mentally, physically and emotionally pushing through.
And then after graduation, I couldn’t push anymore. Pushing stopped working for me. I crashed. Sound familiar?
Life had to change. Denial had to let go. And I needed to set a new pace as a gift to myself.
Whereas I used to see slowing down as a weakness, I now embrace the power in recognizing my health ebb and flow isn’t something to deny. I see the power in determining, creating and truly living the life I’ve been given.
My Life is Not Defined By My Results (Tests or Otherwise)
If you received your first diagnosis as a child, you’ll understand when I say this: Waiting comes easily.
There’s something about being a childhood patient that makes living life in ‘waiting mode’ seem normal. It took me a long time to understand that waiting isn’t passive but very much active.
It took a season of utter frustration and asking Heaven for an acronym (literally) before I understood that I can wait actively. Here’s my acronym: Willing Acceptance of Invested Time, or WAIT.
By taking ownership that I can choose how to respond to others, how to spend my time and what new opportunities I can pursue all while waiting, I realized that the results matter less than I ever thought.
It may seem counter-intuitive. But I challenge you, just try on this new thought for one day. See how it fits.
That Miracle Was Meant For Me (and Your Miracle is Meant For You)
I’ve believe in miracles, big and small, more and more.
When I was seventeen, I received a big miracle when my primary autoimmune deficiency went into remission. New horizons opened, literally. I was cleared to travel outside the country to places I read about in the books I’d devoured as a child. Just this one piece of my remission filled me with such anticipation and hope.
My fears decreased also. I wasn’t as scared to come down with an infection because they were further and fewer in between. I knew I was bouncing back quicker.
But not everyone receives a health miracle or healing. And this is where the small ones have impacted me.
In seasons where my health has been less than optimal and my energy low, I’ve been amazed at the encouragement that comes my way. One day, a tourist sat down beside me at the local coffee shop. I’m not sure how the conversation started but soon we uncovered that we’d been at the same ice rink outside of Prague. It may not sound meaningful, but looking back on that day, I needed reminded of a great memory and talk about a shared place with someone. It was a miracle that I didn’t even know I needed, a small miracle. It was meant for me.
And your miracles are meant for you!
A Setback is Really a Setup
If I learned anything in my journey back down memory lane it was that every single setback was really a set-up. Some just took longer than others for me to see the redemption!
As a child, I was in isolation at home for long stretches of time and unable to attend school regularly. A weakened-immune system meant that hospital stays presented greater risk of additional infections than properly treating the primary one.
With so much time at home for several years, I had a front row seat to a master of time management, a baking extraordinaire and a color scheme guru: my mom. At the time, I really didn’t know what I was observing and thought about all the friends I was missing.
Until fairly recently, I thought that those years at home were a set-back and I had a lot of catching up to do, a great deal of life to get to.
Now, I understand that what I thought was a setback was really a setup, my setup. Thanks to learning from the best cook and baker I know, I was invited to the Today Show as a finalist in a recipe competition! Being taught discipline to manage my own school studies and homework at home, I now absolutely love working from home, can juggle quite a few things in my day effectively and just wrote my first book!
There are so many others that I could share but I’ll leave you with this…
Number four may have just been the setback I needed for the setup I’m headed for. And that truth is for us all!
Abigail Widynski is an out-of-the-box strategist and connector who is excited by the opportunity to talk about ‘growing things’ and expansion of all shapes and sizes, organizations and people. A finance professional, Abigail is the owner of Sovereign Venture Advisors and founder of the Sovereign Venture Philanthropy Fund. Abigail holds a M.Sc. Management from Imperial College Business School in London and a B.A. in International Studies from American University in Washington, D.C. Abigail is proud of her debut book, Making Money the Millennial Way, which was widely released in the United States and Europe in January 2015.