Be The Hero In Your Story
I am not one who has ever claimed to be perfect. I don’t believe in the idea of perfection and I think that all of our differences and quirks are what make us who we are. Funny people aren’t “perfect.” Smart people aren’t “perfect.” Athletes aren’t “perfect.” We are who we are because of what makes us stand out from the crowd.
When you think of characteristics of different people, there are thousands to name. I would count myself as a lot of things (including stubborn, hard-headed, and sensitive), but there is one thing that I’ve always refused to be. Even before I really understood what the word meant, I never wanted to be defined as or seen as a victim.
I am currently on a new medical path. It wasn’t one I had planned for or asked for, but it’s here nonetheless. I have mentioned in the past that I have a number of autoimmune issues (including vitiligo), random health issues and surgeries, and more. Among these adventures are my digestive collection of IBS, GERD, and esophageal spasms. They happen, I take my meds, I know what foods make them worse, and I go on with my life. Case closed.
Two years ago, I went in for a routine endoscopy. I have them every few years, so this was no different. When I came out, I was told that I had three polyps in my stomach. Not super common, but not uncommon either. I’d have to have them removed, so let’s schedule that soon. Okay, no problem. I had two additional endoscopies that year to fully remove everything and leave my stomach clean and tidy. Excellent.
Earlier this year, I went in for my “all-clear” endoscopy to make sure that everything was status quo, but they found seven more polyps. Some larger than others, all of them seemingly benign, but not a good thing. Why was this happening, we wondered.
My doctor said that these had to be taken care of by a surgeon, so I went to meet with him. His feeling was that out of the most likely reasons, my stomach meds were to blame. There is a high correlation between taking this medication and developing polyps, so let’s wean me off the meds and book the polyp surgery. Okay, I totally get it. Let’s do that.
Over the next few months, I slowly weaned off of the stomach meds. I’ll admit that I took longer than I probably could have because every step down was more painful. My reflux was out of hand and it didn’t seem to matter whether I ate a piece of bread, peanut butter, an egg or a bucket of tomatoes (a trigger food for me), it was all really bad.
My surgeon said that I could take an over-the-counter medication to see if that would help. I was sure it didn’t do a thing (I’ve since learned I was wrong!) and continued to get worse as I weaned completely off my prescription.
That was just over a month ago. I now sit here with a larger surgery on the horizon because in order to save my stomach, I have to fix my reflux permanently. If you had asked me last year, I would have said that the four other surgeries I’ve had were enough for this body and there was no reason for more, but man, was I wrong! Without comparing myself to anyone else’s suffering or physical situation, this is the pits.
Yesterday I went in to begin my last test before a potential reflux/hernia/stomach surgery. It is called a ph Bravo test and it’s actually really cool. (I do get excited by the weirdest things.) They attached a little sensor to my esophagus (fifth endoscopy in two years, baby!) and I carry around a monitor. The monitor has five buttons on it, which I press when I feel heartburn, reflux, etc. It is literally monitoring the reflux in my esophagus. (You can see the actual device – which my kids have named Blake – in the video above.) That is fascinating to me!
But here’s the thing – I count myself as so incredibly lucky. I have amazing doctors who seem to hear me, I’m have a fantastic support system, I live in an area with excellent medical care, and I can speak, express myself, walk, dance, and live. This is just a new adventure. Not an adventure I’d have chosen for myself, but an adventure nonetheless. And when this battle is over, I’ll be able to look back and know that I chose to be the warrior and not the victim.
We have many choices of how we want to behave and how we want to be seen – by others and by ourselves. In your book, you can decide to be a victim or you can decide to be a hero. You are writing the story of your life. Choose which character you want to be.