Monthly Archives: October 2015

I Am Not Broken

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Leah Pearlman Dharma Comics

Leah Pearlman
Dharma Comics

The betrayal began ever so slowly in 2008. At first I blamed the stress of crazy work hours and raising a family alone for being sick. Unable to eat without frequent trips to the bathroom (sorry, I know TMI), nausea, dizziness and weakness…  Feeling broken and betrayed by my body, I went on a quest to regain wellness. I dove into the land of doctors, tests, hospitals and specialists. One doctor told me I had IBS (nope), another said it was GERD (test said no), still another said it was my gall bladder. She sent me for a gall bladder scan, said it was malfunctioning and to go see the surgeon… have it taken out. Surgeon said no, just don’t eat fried foods. “You’re a healthy woman, just eat right and you’ll be fine.” Oh. Ok. I didn’t eat fried foods but I figured he’s the expert, maybe I just needed to eat even healthier than healthy.

I went in for food allergy testing at the suggestion of a friend, about 15 foods show up. I cut them from my menus, including gluten, soy and dairy. Already down 15 pounds, this new change in diet spurred another 15 pound weight-loss… I’m now down 30 pounds, feeling even weaker and more fatigued. My long-time doctor suggested I see a nutritionist. She’s very concerned and afraid for me and says so. I appear to be suffering from malnutrition. The nutritionist tells me that she believes I have adrenal fatigue in addition to the food allergies and a lowered immune system. I follow her menus, feel a little better, however I gain no weight. I know. What a problem right? But I’m in a size 2 now and that’s just too thin.

Mid-2015, I have no vacation or sick time left. My body has betrayed me big time. I am frustrated and embarrassed. Confidence has faded. My social life is non-existent. I’ve become a recluse. I’m afraid to eat but force 2000 calories of anything I can stomach down so I won’t lose any more weight. The doctors give me medications for nausea, medications for dizziness, medications for GERD (which I don’t have), medications for acid reducers (I don’t have acid reflux). I see a gastro dude, he does all the tests, they come back clear. No cancer, no celiac disease, no ulcers. He tells me to take the acid reducers. What? I don’t have indigestion. I don’t have acid reflux. I don’t take them. I will have none of it.

Caring for the family and holding onto my job were my driving forces throughout this challenging time. Despite how I felt physically, except for the very worst of days, I went in to the office. I found side streets through small neighborhoods that took me the 11 1/2 miles in every day rather than the main roads. If I felt sick, I could pull over and wouldn’t be in the midst of traffic. I kept plastic bags in the car and a change of clothes. I knew where all the bathrooms were on the way to work. I took naps at breaks and at lunchtime, drinking bone-broths and water, living on boiled chicken, potatoes and rice. I stopped socializing completely, sometimes hitting the pillows at 7:30 p.m. hoping I would get enough magical deep sleep and feel better the next day. I couldn’t trust that this body, this earthly vehicle would function from moment to moment. I became anxious and fearful.

Life had become nothing more than trying to make it from one moment to the next. Enough. I took my health into my own hands. July of this year, based on “gut” feeling (pun intended), I went to see the surgeon who did my emergency appendectomy 3 years ago. I explained what had been occurring and told her I thought it was my gall bladder. She listened, affirmed the symptoms as possible gall bladder disease and ordered another scan. She called and scheduled gall bladder surgery the next day. Yes. It was distended. After the surgery she said, “You should have had this out years ago, it was completely inflamed.” Who would have thought one little organ could wreck such havoc?

Surgery was August 12th. It’s October. I am a new woman. I had pumpkin pancakes and chicken-apple sausage for dinner last night. I am joy-filled. I am no longer sick after I eat. I’m regaining strength and have gained a pound or two. It’s been a long, long journey to wellness. It will take more time to feel 100%, especially with the anxiety and fear of illness that has become my life. I had an ah-ha moment the other day when I realized how cautious I’ve become about what goes into my mouth. Living with chronic illness had become a way of life, it was MY life. I will have to rebuild the trust that this body will do what it is supposed to do, to reprogram mind to know body is doing ok now.

During the years of illness, I lost contact with several friends because I couldn’t make it to their parties, celebrations, life-events. I was too sick. Still, there were those, both family and friends, who stood by me and supported me regardless of my condition, they showed up at the hospital, they took me to appointments, they did my grocery shopping and brought me food. They helped me clean house and let me sleep when I couldn’t keep going, sometimes entire weekends. In addition to family and friends, there were many women, earth angels, at the office who supported me throughout the years. I am deeply grateful for their prayers, support, encouragement and everlasting understanding while I walked this journey to a new state of wellness. You know who you are!

In addition to moving onto a path to wellness, the four-week recovery from surgery provided downtime to finish writing my book, “An Awakening – Life’s Journey is a Workshop for the Spirit: We are more than this.” I finished writing the book, had it edited, worked with a book cover artist, contacted an e-book formatting company, pulled the book together and released it on Amazon. It was literally effortless. Each step flowed from one to the next. This is when you know with conviction that you’re doing what you’re meant to do.

So what do you think? A happy ending wouldn’t you say? Each day I feel stronger and healthier, happier and more alive. I’m still a bit of a homebody, baby steps might be a good idea for now. I received the first royalty check today from Amazon. Wow. It can only get better. Many thanks, much love and deep bow to all who held me up through these last 7 years. I am forever grateful.

And so it is. And so it shall be.

 

 

 

 

Go… do it.

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I turned 60 this September, a milestone birthday. I celebrated with my children and longtime friends. We had a fabulous time sharing memories and celebrating life. It warmed my heart. This morning on the drive to the office, I reflected on how I would not have done anything differently in life, but also at the same time it occurred to me that I wouldn’t advise anyone to live the way I have. There is so much more to life than what is dictated, than what we’re taught by society, we are  so much more than this.

We are more than education and careers, houses or cars or stuff and stuff and stuff, we are more! We are more than work or fame or accomplishment, we are more than what mainstream dictates is important to be happy. So what would I tell young adults? Or even those closing in toward middle age? Change your path, do what you love, be joyous, be wise. Yes. I know it sounds very cliché’ doesn’t it? Follow your dreams, be yourself… but it’s right on target. This is what we discover later with experience and the wisdom that comes with it, when half of life or two-thirds have played out.

It’s not too late really. I can, you can, make a change, small or huge, no matter what, it’s not too late. It’s a conscious choice. It’s a courageous choice. To look at the order of one’s life with a discerning eye listening to the inner questions that have nudged at you forever, that voice you’ve pushed aside again and again. Maybe because the responsibilities overshadowed that small, timid voice. Maybe because you thought it was unlikely, unimaginable, unthinkable that dreams could become reality. Maybe because it would be too much work or too much change and what about those around you? What of them?

So. What to do… what to do. Pull out that notebook, art pad, newsprint paper and make lists, draw, scribble out dreams and words and deepest hearts desires. Examine them, reorder, organize and reorganize and then come up with a plan. Why not? What do you have to lose? What do we have to gain? What life-journey chapter is unwritten? Go… do it! Take the plunge. Live big, out loud, vigorously and with childlike joy. You’ve carried others along, moving them to independence. You’ve done your job as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, father, son, brother… more.

Now. It’s time. What have you imagined? What are those words? The dreams? Have courage. Go… do it.