Choosing Your Tribe

People in your life come and they go, and that’s okay. Something I’ve come to realize is that people are a choice, and they can be absolute blessing or they can drag you down. But it is your choice, not anyone else’s. Yes, God will put people on your path to help teach you and guide and give you the lessons that are needed, but not all of them are meant to stay. The only one that can decide your value and can make you happy is you! Yes you. That means you need to choose those that fit into your puzzle.

Maybe I’m just rambling on, but the thought that our entire life is directed by conscious decisions and consequences of those decisions has been circling my brain all day. Especially regarding people. It took me awhile to comprehend that I was the one with the choice. I chose to not leave toxicity and I chose to give power over myself to others. At the time, I thought I had no choice that it was just how it was.  It’s tough as hell to be able to wake up and realize that “Hey, why do I let this certain person, or people, treat me this way, why am I okay with it?” Sub consciously all through school I knew it wasn’t okay, but I wanted to belong and fit and have friends and be popular, but guess what? Each year I had a different group of friends because I made the subconscious decision that those people were not my tribe, that I didn’t belong with them, that they were just a small part in my long journey.

Only recently have I realized this though. Only recently have I realized that people are not a necessity but a choice. I guess that’s where all the rambling was leading. People may think I’m crazy when I say I don’t need social interactions but I choose to have them. It’s because I’ve come to realize that I can choose who I want in my life. I can choose because I am comfortable with who I am. I am comfortable in solitude, I am comfortable spending entire days alone. It doesn’t bother me, what bothers me is when people think they are needed for me to be happy. Don’t get me wrong I love the small number of people that make up my tribe and I would do anything for them, but I know that I can spend time away from them and pick up where we left off just as strong as ever. I choose to keep those souls that match mine in my life because they add value to my life each and every day! I consider myself super lucky for the people I have chosen to keep in my life and as equally lucky for those that I have chosen to step away from. Both choices of people have taught me valuable lessons and that’s what is important.

So, my lesson for you to learn through my journey is that it’s okay to choose some people over others because you need to choose to make yourself happy and some people stand in the way of that happiness. Make the choice to remove the toxic relationships, make the choice to keep those that help you stand back up on your own two feet. Remember to choose you. Do you. Be you. Make that conscious choice each and every morning that you wake up breathing. Just because God put people on your path does not mean they are meant to stay on your path.

You are in the Right Place in Life, Always

Quite recently I learned to embrace the darkness, whatever it might be. I was taught that only through embracing it and acknowledging it could you begin to build a strong foundation on which to start again. I had begun to hate everything in my life; my job, my level of self esteem, how I still lived in my parents house, how lonely I felt. So I turned to my dad because he always sets me back on track. I love getting his advice, even if I don’t like it, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it. Through his help I decided to look into other options, to enlarge my circle of influence and to find a way to better myself.

Through the process of uncovering who I was meant to be and how I could happily be her, I stumbled upon Chiara Mazzucco, founder of Bold Self and an inspirational person who had just started her own coaching business. I enrolled in her Beta course and started on my path to a happier me. It was she who showed me the benefits of embracing the darkness. And it was Chiara who let me know that I am in the right place in life. Because without the struggles and obstacles that I currently face, I won’t be able to change to get where I need to be.

I’ve grown up knowing that life isn’t easy, but I guess I had forgotten that over the last few years. I had to be reminded that I am in the Right Place in my life because it takes being uncomfortable to grow.

My lesson for you: Be a Lobster. Sounds silly right? Well if you really think about it it’s not. Let me tell you why. A lobster has a rigid hard exoskeleton; this shell does not grow, instead the lobster grows inside of it, and when the shell becomes uncomfortable and tight, the lobster finds a safe place to shed its shell and grow a new one to fit it, over and over again. It only can shed the shell to grow when it becomes uncomfortable. So the take away from that is that it is okay to be uncomfortable, its okay to struggle, and its okay to have challenges and obstacles. Learn from them and walk forward into growth and change!

 

 

Fear and Stubbornness

I wasn’t sure where to go from that last post, life happened, it went on. But in reality that’s where I got stuck, I let fear take over even if I would not have admitted it then. I was afraid of what people would say and I hated getting those looks. You know the ones, the look of pity because I was young and had this life tragedy happen. So I did what I did best and I pushed it all away, deep down somewhere, where that seed of fear would be left to spread beneath the surface unseen and undetected. I decided that I would choose who to tell and when to tell them. At first it was just my parents, and then it was my grandparents, 4 months went by before I told my sister, and I waited 10 months before telling the guy I was dating. Few friends knew and barely any family. I thought I was doing what was right for me, when I was actually strangling my support system. This fear of people knowing had me in cold sweats when I had to tell someone new. But I was stubborn, I refused to acknowledge this fear, because I felt I had to be brave and strong for those around me.

I went through years of riding this roller coaster. I got poked by needles, I had multiple doctors, and I even traveled across the country to seek answers. Over the years I slowly learned to accept the unknown, and to reach out to others. I’m still playing the waiting game, still have multiple doctors, still get poked by needles, still take a dozen pills, still struggle with side effects, still get tired, still have a hard time keeping my weight up, and still I live. Because in all of this I’ve learned that life is unexpected, no one has a crystal ball. You can make choice after choice and still you can not control the consequence of the choice.

So I continue to live with this disease and a transplant may be right around the corner, but I no longer let it define me. That is the important lesson: YOU and only you can define who you are, your aliments are only a part of you; they are not who you are. You have to live life to the fullest, pursue your passions and goals, and leave fear in the dust. Life is a journey, maybe it will take unexpected turns, but you are still a traveler in it and the only direction that can be taken is forward. So embrace what God has given to you and make something great happen!

 

Mystery Uncovered

I was lucky that blood tests don’t take very long at all and I was able to have a follow up appointment to go over them. All my levels were relatively normal, except for one major one. The GFR, also known as glomuler filtration rate. I was lucky, or perhaps unlucky for having taken Human Physiology and understanding what the GFR was and why it was important. When I was shown the test results I immediately knew what was wrong, it wasn’t something I could be naive about and wait to have it explained, but I also didn’t have to go through the shock in learning. Now that I have you all wondering what I’m talking about and have therefore hopefully successfully gotten your attention, let me explain.

The GFR is the rate at which your kidneys filter your blood. You can probably now guess where I’m going with this. The average GFR for a person in their 20’s is 116. My test results showed mine to be at 59. You guessed it, it was an ‘oh crap’ moment for me when I saw that, because I realized that my kidneys were for some unknown reason failing. Personally I think that because of the knowledge I had, I took it very well. My PCP then referred me to a Nephrologist: a kidney specialist. Of course there was more waiting, and I’m not the most patient person on the planet.

I’m not big on horoscopes, but there is an interesting characteristic that I have found that I have that is a “Virgo” characteristic: I’m not very outwardly emotional, I am more observant and tend to process emotions and feelings more then showing them. Some call it being cold, I call it an advantage, because it allows me to step back and see the bigger picture.

I am the baby to a very caring and loving family. Which is why I let my mother accompany me to the kidney specialist. Interestingly enough I’ve come to find that most Kidney specialist are not US born. My first doctor was from somewhere in Africa, he was a tall man with an accent, had great patient care skills, and could draw diagrams upside down with skill. He took his time explaining to me and my mother how kidneys worked and the functions of them. He pointed out that my GFR put me in Stage 3 of 5 of chronic kidney disease and then to get a better idea of why I had this, he began asking questions about health history, family history, and symptoms. It was at that first appointment I became a bit of a medical mystery. You see I don’t have any family history, precursors, or symptoms that are associated with the disease I have. I’m not overwieght, I don’t have diabetes, I’m not in my 50’s, and I don’t have any symptom other than low energy levels to explain why me.

My doctor was stumped, he ordered multiple blood tests, an ultrasound, talked to other specialists in the field of Nephrology, and finally, months later he had me get a kidney biopsy. The biopsy was done in April, it was quite a simple process. In and out. I was given a sedative, wheeled into a CT room (the one machine that looks like a donut) they took a large needle with a hollow spring loaded needle inside and took multiple samples without having to stick me multiple times. After I was groggy but only had to wait a short time after. *Taa-daa* A cause was finally found! The very non-invasive biopsy revealed that an estimated 50% of my kidneys were scarred. The biopsied samples came back with the cause: ANCA vasculitis. For those of you like me, with very little to no medical background, this is an antibody that attaches to certain receptors in the body and destroys the vessels. Yep that’s right; my body had damaged itself. Luckily for me this ANCA thing was no longer active, although that also meant that the damage had been done and there was no way to treat it other than to wait for it to become active once again.

The Beginning of Waiting

Your biggest life changes can happen so fast and when you least expect it. They can also seem so trivial until you look at the bigger picture. Mine came in the fall about 4 years ago. I was taking 15 credits at the local college, and working full time hours at a part time job to get ready for a Grand Opening. I was tired, exhausted really, but I figured I was just getting too little sleep, had too much stress, and was working my mind on overdrive getting ready for mid terms. My parents had decided to move out of the little town I had grown up in, and my mom knowing I didn’t take change exceptionally well thought I was depressed, my dad, well he thought my constant tired state was as uncharacteristic for me as, say smoking weed. After multiple arguments I finally agreed to go to the doctor, just so I could prove that being right about the cause of my tiredness was burning both ends of the candle.

I somehow was able to schedule an appointment with my busy schedule, and finally got in to see my primary care physician. (Some may wonder why I don’t just say doctor; its because she isn’t one, she’s a Nurse Practitioner). I don’t know how many of you have gone to the doctor for depression, but here’s how it went: she explained some things to me, pulled up a questionnaire and left the room. The questionnaire was a series of questions one would expect to be on a depression evaluation, plus it included the typical choose one of the five bubbles of which statement you feel is most true, with the middle being neutral.

At the time I thought it was a waste of my time because I knew I wasn’t depressed, I was happy with where I was at in life. But I also knew it was necessary to show that wasn’t the cause of my exhaustion. I also did some blood tests, and let me tell you just how valuable a good phlebotomist is, because it makes all the difference to a person like me who hates needles! And then I waited. That was when unbeknownst to me that the waiting game would truly began. That was the day that unknowingly my life would change.