Back in early 2009, I was loving my life as a professional pilot. Being a pilot had been a dream of mine for the past decade. So I was pretty much on top of the world, knowing that I had worked so hard to accomplish my dreams and goals. Life was great! Then I got a call from my physician that told me my routine lab work came back abnormal. Whaaaa? I had never had abnormal anything in my life!
"No problem!" I thought, "I can handle this - I'll fix it and be on my merry way." What I thought was going to be a quick turn around, turned into a multi-year tumble down a hormonal flight of stairs that left me very ill, and unable to work. Yet, I continued to hide how I felt physically and emotionally from everyone.
Even though my husband and a select few of my friends/family knew I was having health challenges, none of them knew how bad it really was, nor did they know I had days I couldn't get out of bed. (yep, I'd go back to bed after my husband left for work.) I never told my mom about it before she died. I never talked about, even to my husband, any emotions surrounding my illness. I conveniently hid behind the fact that a chronic illness is hard to see: no stitches, no cast, no hospitalization, no chemo... it was easy to avoid by everyone, myself included. When asked, I reluctantly talked about it - heck, I even debated with myself for months about whether to write about my health on this blog!
Why did I hide all of this? I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I had gotten sick to begin with - hadn't I been so health conscious before all this (or so I thought)? I was ashamed that I couldn't be well enough to pass an FAA medical - I didn't want to admit to other pilots that I was having health problems. I didn't want to worry or burden my mother, or my friends, or anyone in my family. Heck, I didnt want to face the fact that I had a diagnosis!
It's funny how something can feel so threatening at the time, then when you look back on it later, you realize that the scary monster with fangs, claws and venom was really an innocent bunny rabbit just hoping along down the trail. Perhaps, hiding was my means of coping with learning I had a lifetime illness, that my path was meant to be something different than I once thought it was. The day I realized I was ashamed of my illness was the day I was able to take responsibility for how to move forward.
I'm very grateful that I kept writing about health on the blog. Through writing, I have been able to realize my potential for helping others. It's led me to realize that being who I am, right now, in the moment, sick or not, is perfectly okay. It's also let me realize that instead of worrying about being burdensome, I can turn my knowledge and experience into helping others on their healing journeys. So even though my path now is in uncharted waters for me (aka, I don't have it all planned out like I used to do), I'm excited to be leaning into helping others with their own health and well-being.
Have you ever had your tables turned on you? Share in the comments below how you found the silver-lining in your experience.