Chris Wilkinson column: It all matters

Chris Wilkinson column: It all matters

A decision to put on her fighting gloves and battle.

By Chris Wilkinson

I met with a friend recently. Actually, I asked to meet with her. She mentioned something in an email that I absolutely had to find out more about. She said she made a decision.

She said in that email that she had been battling some autoimmune health issues that are serious, and that she made a decision. A decision to put on her fighting gloves and battle.

This friend, she was a professional in the financial services industry. She was good at it. Successful. But then something started to change. Namely fatigue, memory issues, muscle weakness and pain. She was concerned and tried to get help. It was a very difficult time. She saw many doctors and got very few answers. Eventually a diagnosis, but no resolution. She became more stressed.

This was severely disrupting her life now, causing her to make changes to her career and work environment a number of times to see if this would help. Eventually she gave up her career because she was unable to function…her symptoms were closing in on her and taking over her life. In the end she had to quit her career. It was life changing. Energy at an all-time low. Not able to keep up with all that life demanded. The feeling of failing her family and of failing herself — she was profoundly disappointed. Dissatisfied to her core and unhappy.

One day just recently in March she had enough. She reached her limit. She remembers it vividly — it was March 21. She made the decision. She decided it was “go time”. She committed to fighting back and getting active. She started a light exercise program at a gym. She eliminated soy, dairy, gluten, and processed foods. She started to wean down the coffee intake. She started having a breakfast smoothie with a rainbow assortment of garden ingredients. Learned about supplementation and added some. She had always been trying to improve her situation over the last decade but with limited success. Yet, our darkest times can in fact become a gift. As she told me, it allowed her to see her situation with a different point of view. To be more nimble with her tweaks in her lifestyle. To be completely open to investigating and looking for solutions. Taking a driver’s seat in her health care and in getting her health care providers to listen and heed certain signs.

It wasn’t solely exercise and nutrition she studied and acted on. She also focused on improving her sleep patterns and sleep hygiene. This is a great place to focus as one of the world’s leading high-performance coaches, Brendon Burchard, states this as his first recommendation for those who are feeling stretched with energy and approaching burnout!

My friend shared with me a great insight. She said, “The thing is, I feel like I am fighting for my life AND WINNING…and everything I do is either feeding and supporting my cells, or it is making them weaker.” That is such a profound statement. When you understand it. It’s simple to hear, yet so difficult for people to digest. EVERYTHING we put into our bodies influences our cells. Becomes part of our cells. Our brain cells. Our muscle cells. Our skin cells. Or provides an effect on our blood sugar, or energy, or thinking ability. It ALL matters.

I asked her during our chat, “What has been the most important thing you’ve learned going through this?” She replied with a few key insights. She was full of conviction when she said, “Don’t give up. You can never give up on your health.” It was very powerful. She went on to say that she would encourage anyone struggling with some health issues to believe in themselves. To take ownership and learn everything they can about it. To listen to their body! And act.

I am certainly inspired by her taking ownership of her health. By her action. By the improvement she is feeling. And by her commitment to herself. It all matters.

And one last thing…when I shared the draft of this story with her prior to submitting it, she added this part below. I was touched and wanted to include it. She wrote it, I think, for you:

“Our habits create who we are, how we feel, and in the long run, determine how our health or lack of it is expressed through our bodies. Changing what is comfortable is a difficult thing and takes concerted, consistent effort. The importance of having a support system and being open to having frank conversations with your loved ones when you need to is so important. Many of us are isolated by our health conditions and sometimes being open to tough conversations will open the door for others to give insight into your life and help you with their words, encouragement, and guidance — no one needs to be a lone wolf…it doesn’t help. This is a journey and not a race. And I would love to have everything back the way it was before. I am trying to make the decisions every day that will bring me day by day, moment by moment, closer to full recovery and maybe even beyond.”

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com