Standing Up, Holding On
by Chynna Laird
My grandfather had a wonderful expression he used to say to me whenever times would get tough, or I’d think life stank. As he sat in is high-backed, blue-velvet chair (which I thought made him seem almost royal-like when I was a child), he’d make me sit down in front of his slippered feet, put his hands on my shoulders and say, “Life isn’t meant to be easy. If it was, no one would put any effort into anything. That’s why we have hard times. They make us work harder and help us appreciate the good times.”
Back then, I remember internally rolling my eyes whenever he’d say things like that to me. Kids at that age don’t appreciate the wisdom behind the advice. Periodically throughout my life, his words rang loud in my ears whenever I faced a hurdle in my path, but it wasn’t until recently that his words hit me full force.
After my separation from my common-law husband five years ago, I was finally on the road to happiness and success. Obviously it was a stressful time for my four children at first to go through the adjustment of new living arrangements and going back and forth, but we faced each frustration head-on and kept going. My at-home writing business was doing well; the kids were all getting along great in school; I was physically and emotionally happy and met a wonderful man. Then, as life always seems to go, I hit a pothole.
It started off as feeling exhausted after doing activities or over-exerting myself. The frustrating thing, though, is that I had always been that person who did four things at once, not including what I had to do for my kids, then suddenly I needed to lay down after doing one activity or chore.
I had such a variety of symptoms, it was difficult to pinpoint what was happening. Even my doctor was stumped. After experiencing test after invasive test, and seeing one doctor after another, no one could give me any answers and it was becoming disconcerting, to say the least.
I finally saw one doctor who’d sent me for one specific blood test that finally got me on the right path. The test was on my liver enzymes, which discovered that there was tremendous concern. Around the same time, I was also diagnosed with cervical cancer for the third round. Needless to say, there was a panic to see what else was going on. After several MRIs, CAT scans and various other blood work, it was discovered that not only did I have to face cancer again, I had an enlarged liver, a lung disorder that impedes on my breathing as well as only one functioning kidney. Apparently, from the amount of scarring and damage in the three other areas, it was determined I had been born with these problems but had never been properly diagnosed.
On top of all of that, due to the continued black out and fainting I had been experiencing, an X-Ray and CAT scan was performed on my neck determining that I had re-injured an old fracture in my neck after hitting my head on the floor during a fainting spell. You can imagine the distress I had felt being told that not only did I have to be careful not to over-do it, or participate in over-zestful activities (like my beloved Muay Thai) or do any heavy lifting as I could paralyze myself because of my neck. I had to change my lifestyle dramatically to help my failing organs heal as best as they could. And, at first, I didn’t handle all this news very well, or in the positive ways I usually do.
I turned to drinking for a short period of time which, of course, only magnified my symptoms as it is the number one thing I had to avoid, especially for a liver disorder. Once my weight plummeted to a scary eighty-eight pounds, I couldn’t keep food down, my fainting spells increased and I no longer had the energy to even keep up with my children, I heard my grandfather’s pearls of wisdom clang loudly in my ears, “Life isn’t meant to be easy… learn from the hard times”.
And so I did.
First, I stopped drinking. It was only a temporary crutch anyway, so it wasn’t difficult to get rid of. Next, I focused on listening to all my experts’ advice on leading a healthier life, which included staying on the medications I needed not only to beat cancer, but to increase proper functioning of the other organs. I created a ‘liver friendly’ diet that helped increase both my appetite as well as my energy. And, most importantly, I have reduced my unnecessary stressors and surrounded myself with positive people. Odd as it sounds, that is a very important component in healing. Positive people, positive thinking, and positive activities help to create the best environment for happiness and healing.
Today, I am happy to say that I beat cancer, again, and will hold on to the hope that it won’t return. I’m still having trouble gaining weight, but I was told to keep at my eating regimen and it will come back. Most importantly, I feel that I am in even a better place in every way than I had been five years ago. Why? Because even when we think things are going smoothly and we are doing everything right, life has a way of kicking you in the butt to remind you to hold steadfast to what’s most important.
For me, it was remembering that although inspiring to be able to do four things at once, I can’t do anything for anyone if I’m not nurturing my body the way it needs to be. And with four children, two with special needs, who had seen me in pain, visited me in the hospital even caught me when I’d faint, I realized a healthy me was better than a busy me.
And a healthy me will be here a lot longer for my beautiful ones.
About the Author
Chynna Laird is a mother of four, a freelance writer, blogger and an award-winning author. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and other special needs. She’s authored two children’s books, two memoirs, a Young Adult novella, a Young Adult paranormal/suspense novel series, a New Adult contemporary novel and an adult suspense/thriller. Visit her website www.chynnalairdauthor.ca.