Sometime in November, after my doctor suggested trying to avoid the immunoglobulin infusions, I realized that if I wanted to stay truly healthy, I would have to reroute my thinking and some of my habits. My focus became a broader Wellness that included lifting and running shorter distances, and a much more pointed focus on nutrition: more vegetables; a greater variety of vegetables; sleep; water; tea... Basically a shift to a sustainable lifestyle that would keep me healthy.
Last time I wrote, I was a few days away from my chem final and my quarterly PET scan. I ended up with an A in my class and a clear scan. Hooray! I also found out that after six weeks, my immunoglobulin levels had fallen to nearly undetectable levels. Boo! Most doctors are funny in that they don't believe something until they have tested and proved or disproved it themselves. Not one doctor over the past three years has believed my Ig levels could be as low as they are until they test them themselves and are appropriately shocked that, Yes, I am still here. Without those globulins. Needless to say, a few days later, I received an IgG infusion, which did help with how I was feeling.
As a brand new year gets underway, I have been reflecting on this last year and what I want from 2013. 2012 went by lightning-fast, and I am still trying to process everything that happened. Between learning the ins and outs of a new relationship, innumerable hospital visits, figuring out how to change my diet and lifestyle following a celiac diagnosis, marathons, hikes, travel adventures, Burning Man, going back to school, and a sense of incredulity that This is really my life?! Every month, almost every week, brought me some new reason to wake up with a smile on my face. I truly believe that it doesn't matter much what happens in your life. It is most important how you approach the challenges and appreciate the good moments.
Disclaimer: I used to be a raging pessimist and cynic. I had very low self-confidence and little appreciation for everything I am capable of accomplishing. Having cancer did little for my confidence. It doesn't help a 20-year old to lose her hair, her strength, to see her weight fluctuate an incredible amount. Yet, everything that has come my way since 2006 has only made me so much stronger. The immune issue and now the celiac issue both tried to once more take away my physical strength and confidence. I chose to laugh (after a little crying and self-pity) and start baking delicious cookies and muffins full of nutrients and non-gluteny grains that could only help my body. My poor body has gone through so much these past six years, and thankfully my attitude and perspective have changed almost as much.
So on New Year's Eve, I sat at home with a gluten free pizza, a movie, and time to reflect on what I want from this next year. I wrote down a whole bunch of things, some fantastic, most definitely within my reach. Not resolutions, but a loose map of where and how I want to find myself this time next year. I fell asleep shortly after midnight, mostly satisfied. I woke up a few hours later for work and realized that everything I had written down is wonderful, good ideas, nice to set goals, but I really only want one thing: I want myself and my friends and family to stay healthy this year. School, work, travel, running, all of it will fall into place if I can make it happen, but it will all only matter if I am healthy. If I have the energy to do everything, the strength to carry my bike all over the place, to study and work and dance around my living room and love as much as I am able, then it will be a Great year.
The best part is, to an extent, this is all within my control. I've been reading a lot about immunity and self-care through nutrition. I'm not sure how well it all applies to someone with a super compromised immune system (globulins! *still shaking fist), but it certainly won't hurt anything. So to bring this (probably unnecessarily) long post to a close: Wellness. I haven't run in about 3 weeks due to finals and then family in town and then I crashed on my bike and my knee has been out of commission. I haven't gone grocery shopping recently and my supply of vegetables is basically nil. While delicious, cereal for breakfast And dinner does nothing for my immunity. I am hitting up the store shortly, and while my knee is still busted, I'm stretching and doing push-ups and planks and dreaming about the day I can start running again. Even if I will once more be starting at ground zero. This is my life and my body and my health. I've come too far to throw in the towel now, so why not make the effort to truly take care of myself? Like I said, if I can do that successfully, everything else will happen as it should.
And finally, a challenge! I challenge you to figure out what is best for yourself this new year. Is it eating more leafy greens? Making time for breakfast? Doing yoga or giving yourself at least five minutes every day to sit, clear your brain, and think about Nothing, just let go for a few minutes? Figure out something sustainable that will ultimately make your life a little better, grow your confidence a little more, keep you healthier. Let's do it together! I think resolutions are stupid, hyped expectations that generally lead to guilt-induced bingeing. Make a long-term plan, plot out a change that can only improve yours and others' lives. I, again, am shooting for a plant-based diet with the occasional bacon strip thrown in. Less (no...?) refined sugar, more sleep, moderated and consistent exercise. Climbing mountains! Live this life, full of love and gratitude - share it with others. Thank you, 2012, for everything you brought me. Here's to 2013 and a whole new slew of adventures, challenges and growth! Cheers!