No, I know, that title sounds a bit ridiculous. Mono is awful. It is exactly as my doctor described it... "profound fatigue". And my bout with it came with trying to finish up my last week of work, moving 1,000 miles, and a quack of a doctor suggesting I had cancer (lymphoma to be exact) before I got an official diagnosis of mono. My mom had to fly to Nashville to help (and by help I mean do all of it) me pack up my apartment and drive up to Connecticut. Then both of my parents helped me move into my new apartment in Boston. The first 3 weeks of my new job I was battling fatigue and I had major setbacks with both my fitness and my business as a health and fitness coach. The 6 week long experience came with feelings of guilt for the help I needed, fear for my life and overall health, frustration at the limits of my once healthy body, and sadness as I had to spend my first month in a brand new city sitting on the couch on weekends trying to recuperate from the week of work. So why, after all of that, am I thankful for it? Because I was forced to slow down, to depend on others, and to reflect on what happiness means to me.
As someone who is happiest working multiple jobs and often burning the candle at both ends, it was practically torture to have to sit, constantly. The moment I knew I would have to ask for help with my impending move was when I had to sit down about halfway through washing a sink full of dishes. Yep, standing and moving my arms for more than 10 minutes was too much, I had to sit down. When my mom came, she was constantly battling me and telling me to sit down as I would try to get up to get her something instead of just telling her where it was. I had to sit, and my body made very sure I knew it when I pushed too hard or for too long. But it made me realize just how much I value my health. The fastest way to get my antsy self to sit down and stop moving was when I was reminded I could prolong the illness if I didn't get enough rest. I can be stubborn like no other, but being healthy is essential to me and I learned to sacrifice what I wanted to do at the moment for the long term goal of getting healthy again. Something I hope to do for the rest of my life when it comes to how I fuel my body and the exercise I choose to do.
I learned to accept help. Honestly, I don't know exactly when I became so fiercely independent and more than once I've had someone find out I did something somewhat challenging or laborious by myself and said "you know, you could have called me, I would have helped", but it's just how I am. If I can do it myself, I will, and if I can't, well I have to be very sure I can't before I ask for help. And then, suddenly, I have to call my parents and ask someone to drop everything, book a last minute flight, and come down to do manual labor to get me packed up. Now, my parents are absolutely wonderful people who would do anything for their children, but the knowledge that they would do it without hesitation didn't make it any easier to ask for help. To admit I was too weak to take care of everything in my life was a serious challenge. But it was a good reminder that there are people in my life who will drop everything for me and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. I hope if you need help, you ask for it.
And finally, I learned that if you really want something, you're not afraid to start over again. As a woman who has completed "the toughest workout on DVD" and is certified to teach it to a room full of people and has run a marathon (yep, a full 26.2 miles) 6 weeks of no workouts would have been unimaginable if you told me at the beginning of August that I would be taking such a leave from fitness. But that's what I had to do to get better. Not only did I not have the energy to do it, my spleen was so enlarged it caused physical discomfort in my abdomen and I was at risk of bursting it if I lifted anything too heavy. In fact, I struggled with some abdominal exercises when I did get back to it because of that enlarged spleen which had caused some serious knots in my muscles. When I got back to working out, it was so maddening at how little I could do, how weak I was, and how quickly I got tired. But I pressed on. I eased myself back into it as best I could and just kept pressing play every day. Today? Well I'm kicking butt at my favorite insane workout program. I could have easily said forget it, I'm too far behind. But that was not an option for me. I knew it would be mentally tough starting over, but it was absolutely worth it!
I realize this blog post is a lot of storytelling on my part, so let me sum things up with a few key takeaways that I think apply to life in many ways...
lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and feeling confident.
If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done. - Thomas Jefferson