Learning to climb the ladder of life again

Posted December 10, 2020

A selfie of Christie smiling at the camera

I, like many working people, especially working mothers can do what I call ‘struggle with the juggle’ of everyday stress, demands, to-do lists, and overbooked calendars. Then add on chronic illness and it can feel like an impossible life. How can we possibly keep all of the moving balls in play?

I dropped my juggling act in one moment when I passed out driving. For months, I thought I had fallen asleep whilst driving, later to learn it was from lack of blood flow to my brain, caused by POTS, related to unknown underlying Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). At that moment, I lost my most important asset – my health. They say, “when you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing.” 

Right? It is true and all zebras know it. We can feel like we lost it all.

My new cardiologist soon told me after all the testing that I had PoTS/dysautonomia, sent me to a geneticist who diagnosed me with hypermobile EDS (hEDS). The cardiologist had also discovered a heart embolism and craniocervical instability. The diagnoses of dominoes came falling down and so did I. The doctor urged me to reduce stress to increase my quality of life, strongly urged me to dramatically alter our crazy lifestyle, find calm and peace, or I would not live to see my next birthday of 50 young years.

I spent the next few years learning to be able to climb: first to be able to climb the stairs in my home again, then climb out of my walker. I rose up, slowly, stronger. With patience I never possessed before, I found the resilience and courage to practice wellness becoming a ‘patient patient’ only to discover I could change and choose joy where I found purpose and fulfillment. I am rising up a new non-corporate ladder, to enabled, happier and more feelings of value and worth than ever before.

I am now certified to coach and mentor others on Life Purpose, Life Optimization, Happiness, Positive Psychology, Mindfulness, and QiGong Mindful Movement training. I am not a licensed therapist or healthcare provider, but a mentor, coach, and mostly a chronic illness fellow who serves as an accountability partner. I have turned tragedy into triumph. I have gone from exhausted to exuberant.

Life is about being present, not perfect.

EDS is a very challenging life to live. 

As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory suggests – I had climbed the ladder again from the foundational bottom to the top of self-actualization. Now, I am living a life with a sense I was given EDS and POTS as a purpose to learn and share. I started my own wellness and life coaching business to work under my own terms, as I could and I now serve others – more than my limited self, my disabilities, and frustrating lack of former capabilities. I embrace who I am, how different I look, move, act, and need. 

My Zebra friends, stay focused on living a joyful life each day and live it one day at a time. 

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