On the 7th November 2007 my life changed.
I have always been a fighter, and most people wouldn’t have known that there was anything wrong with me at the time (apart from my facial changes). I have always been a believer that thriving not surviving is what life is all about.
Six months before my surgery I had been diagnosed with Acromegaly, a condition which is caused by a tumour on your pituitary gland which results in your body producing too much growth hormone. I was in pain, I was exhausted and my mood was all over the place. If you want to read more about my story at that time I wrote a blog about my experiences.
It was a lot to cope with, mentally and physically at the time. I had been told for 6 months that my body wouldn’t return to what it had been before, that I wouldn’t be able to have any more children and it is a long and invasive surgery which took me a good six weeks to recover from.
I have never experienced fatigue like that.
I had just got my head round the fact I couldn’t have any more children when I found out I was pregnant with my son. This was a huge blessing but also led to lots of unanswerable questions; would I go full term? could I go into labour? would I be able to breastfeed? My consultant wanted to do follow up tests which couldn’t be done because I was pregnant so it was a time of uncertainty.
Fortunately I’m built of tough stuff and 14 months after my surgery, my son Dan was born.
Happy, healthy and almost 11 years old now.
It was a difficult time looking back but it’s incredible what we can do when we need to. I challenged my body as much as I possibly could have all within months of my pituitary surgery. During the first three months of pregnancy your pituitary gland grows significantly, which six months after surgery probably isn’t adviseable. But here I am 12 years on and I’m still thriving.
Is my life the same as it was before my diagnosis?
No of course not.
I am acutely aware at times that my energy levels are seriously affected. I have to plan my work around my body’s capabilities. I rarely book more than two days out of the office in a week because if I do it takes me a few days to recover. I have created a business that allows me to work around my numerous medical appointments, my energy levels and my physical limitations.
I was asked the other day if I would ever consider going back to teaching. The reality is that I couldn’t, for many reasons but mostly because I couldn’t cope with the long days, the amount of standing and squatting (I taught primary), the amount of marking (my hands are probably the part of my body most affected by my joint damage) and no school these days would employ me knowing that I need one sometimes two days off every six weeks for my injection, the consultant appointments, MRI, colonoscopy… I’m not exactly an appealing prospect anymore.
More importantly though, for the first time in my life I have realised that sometimes it’s ok to put myself first. For years my priority was making sure everyone else was cared for and happy. I can’t pretend that I don’t still care for everyone. I’m a mum and a wife and a sister and a daughter… but I have learned that if I am taking time to care for other people I need to give myself the same amount of time, sometimes more.
I don’t give myself a hard time for needing a nap or an hour in front of Netflix. I will go for a long, hot bath if I feel that it is what my body needs. Whatever it is that I need to do to help me feel calm and as though I have enough energy I will make sure I do it if I possibly can.
Life has changed a lot in the last 12 years. I have gone from having a fiercely independent 3 year old daughter to having an even more determined and amazing 15 year old young woman. I have gone from thinking I would never have any more children to having a lively, brilliantly funny, football mad little man. My marriage is stronger than ever. I have discovered who my real friends are and made lots of new friends. I have built two businesses from nothing and grown in confidence in every part of my life.
I was reborn
It might sound dramatic but that one event in my life changed me forever, for the better.
Yes I have physical limitations and I have to be very careful what I eat and how I care for my body, but the mental and emotional changes were possibly even more dramatic.
I have learned:
- The world keeps turning with or without me.
- I don’t have to do everything.
- It’s ok to ask for help.
- To wear clothes that make me feel happy and confident not save them for best.
- To not keep anything for best. Every day is the best day to wear/eat/use your favourite things whether it is perfume, crockery, clothes…
- Busy isn’t always better. So many people think that being busy makes you more important. It’s ok to not be busy all the time and to be happy doing nothing.
- To appreciate everyone in my life. My family and friends are amazing and I love them all very much.
- It’s ok to create a life that works for you. It might not suit anyone else, that’s the point.
- To do what makes me happy.
I have met so many people who have been though similar life changing events and come to similar conclusions. I just think it is a shame that for most people it takes a health scare or a big tragedy in their lives for them to starting living life to the full.
What small changes can you make today to ensure that you are living your best life?