Mind your mind

So recently, I’ve added another conundrum to my medical history.

If you know me, you know that when I go to fill out a simple medical history form at the doctors, I’m going to have to do some explaining to someone. I’m 34 years old and I’ve undergone several of the most random surgeries. And these surgeries sometimes beg questions. And the non-surgical conditions I’ve fallen victim to, also beg questions.

And the answer is: I have no idea.

I’m basically a medical weirdo, and I should have a punch card. I’d for sure be cashing in on free medical treatments by now!

In the section that reads “Surgeries and hospitalizations,” I can include the following:

Wisdom teeth- not that unusual. They were impacted.

Tonsillectomy- again, not that unusual, except for the fact that I had my tonsils taken out at age 20 and most doctors won’t take them out past age 8. Apparently the risks are much higher for adults. I basically had to seek out a doctor who was willing to do the surgery, because at least two doctors told me they would not. But after 6 diagnosis of strep throat in 7 months and multiple steroid injections into my throat after losing my voice, it was a mandatory surgery in my non-medical opinion. I was an actor at that stage in my life. Having a voice is kind of part of the deal.

I had a surgery on my colon three days after my wedding when I was 25 years old. I won’t go into all the details- that will be for another blog- but basically my pelvic floor was weak because of the diagnosis of parasites as a child- yes, actual 3rd world parasites- and my colon wasn’t staying where it was supposed to. After four doctors, my surgeon let me know that my specific condition was something he had never seen on someone under the age of 70, so that’s fun. And let me tell you what… the surgery and recovery was worth extra punch holes in my hypothetical punch card. It was brutal. And it made for a beautiful honeymoon, believe me.

I had three C-sections. That’s normal for some people. But anytime you’re in an OR and you’re awake, I’m going to go ahead and say that’s just a little outside my comfort zone. But hey, I got a healthy baby each time and although my stomach will never quite be the same, other parts of my body are not worse for the wear if you know what I’m saying, so it’s not all bad.

When I was pregnant with Gage, my third child, my abdominal wall split. This is called diastasis recti. My OBGYN said that it would likely need surgery to resolve. It did not! WINNIG! But it wasn’t pleasant while it was happening, and it wasn’t pleasant while I was working out to repair it. But I did NOT have to go under the knife. So you can keep your punch in the card on that round!

During my pregnancy with Merit, my second child, I developed a septal hole. This is a hole through the wall that separates your nostrils. Why did I develop this? Well, the answer the doctors came up with was that during pregnancy, while you are producing more mucus in your body, the dry Nevada climate worked against me and the scabs that built up in my nose slowly eroded the septal wall in my nose. No, this is not the same as a deviated septum. Does this beg the question as to whether or not I am a cocaine user? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. So imagine coming into the specialist’s office, with a nursing baby, and being asked if you’re an addict. It’s fun. So I had to get this repaired because I was told that if it was left untreated, it could start to collapse my nose into my face. I’ve since learned that this is not true, but it made for a very compelling story at the time!

The surgery to have a septal hole repaired is terrible. They have to go in through the nostrils and ‘harvest’ a skin flap that they will fold down and over the hole from the inside of my sinus cavity. Then they have to shove as much gauze as humanly possible into my sinus cavity to prevent bleeding, and they have to shove two 3 inch rods up each nostril to stabilize the nose while it heals. They leave all this in place for 10 days.

Best 10 days of NO ONE’S LIFE. #worst

If you’re wondering, the septal hole is back. Fully back. I had another baby, more mucus, another hole. Just last week I confirmed that I do NOT have to have another surgery if I don’t want to- and I don’t- but I did have to convince a brand new doctor (maybe the 5th in my life so far) that I am not a cocaine addict.

Recently, just before the holidays, I developed a ganglion cyst in my wrist. I’m not sure why this happens in general, but I can’t say I was surprised that it happened to me! It appeared after a trip to Mexico and of course the first questions where whether or not I had injured myself while drinking. Give me a little more credit, guys! The cyst was about the size of a blueberry under the skin on the inside of my right wrist. It didn’t hurt other than the fact that I could tell it was weakening my wrist and this doesn’t serve someone who works out regularly. Planks and push ups aren’t fun on a cyst wrist.

Although surgery has not yet been ruled out on this cyst issue, the doctor- a new kind of specialist I can now add to my list: a bone and joint specialist!- was able to numb my wrist and jab a needle in the cyst and drain most of it. Then he injected a steroid into it in hopes of reducing inflammation. When in doubt, docs use a steroid! That’s what I’ve learned in my loops around the sun! The cyst stands at about 80% recovered at this point, so I’m hopeful to avoid a surgery! Keep that in your prayers!

With all this history, it was no surprise to me when I woke up about two weeks ago with sudden hearing loss in my right ear. It makes no sense, and seemingly had no cause, but this is my life. Random medical occurrences. It’s a thing at this point.

When I woke up that morning, I couldn’t hear well out of my ear. I wasn’t completely deaf, but it was really annoying and very noticeable. I kind of wrote it off as a plugged ear. About a month before, just before boarding a plane to Maui, I had a head cold that resulted in the same ear having a really dramatic plug for about two days. I thought this might be the same thing, only I didn’t have a head cold. I figured maybe I was about to get one.

Two or three days later, no improvement in the ear, and no head cold in sight. I kind of started to get worried. If I’m being honest, it didn’t really feel like it was plugged. I didn’t have any sinus pressure or anything like that. It just felt like I had lost my hearing.

Sunday night, after three or four days of complaining about my hearing, Thomas convinced me that maybe I should go to the doctor. My mom has really bad hearing and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe that was somehow swinging my way in my thirties, because I’m lucky like that! So Sunday night, as I’m agreeing to see a doctor in the morning, I start to go down the google road…

So I have a terminal brain tumor and my hearing is the LEAST of my concern. But seriously, although it could have been any number of dramatic things, according to google, it was most likely Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL). It’s described as waking up with hearing loss in one ear and should be considered and emergent condition.

Well, great.

Monday morning- Presidents day- I found myself in Urgent Care. I pretty much knew urgent care could do exactly nothing for me, but I figured they could rule out anything obvious like wax build up or an ear infection.

They ruled out these things and immediately referred me to a specialist. Although they said that I needed to be seen as soon as possible, the next appointment was Thursday- three days later when I would be in Oklahoma. So I had to call the office myself and strong arm them. If I’ve learned anything over the years in the medical world it’s that you have GOT to be your own advocate. No one is going to be more concerned about you than YOU. AND, although I knew perfectly well that my ear could be absolutely nothing serious at all, I’m humble enough to know that I’d rather be dramatic and push my way in, then be passive and have a tumor. Am I right?

I made my way to what would be a three hour appointment later that same day- President’s Day. Turns out they could ‘fit me in’ after all! After an hour and a half wait, I found myself in front of the doctor. He gave me a quick examination, where the question was begged…

“Do you know you have a septal hole?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you wrote here that you had a septal hole repair?”

“Yes.”

“It came back?”

“Yes.”

“Are you a cocaine user?”

“…. no.”

Moving onto the ear, he had to take me into a special room to do a more elaborate examination with a high powered something or other. He aerated my ear (popped it), but my hearing didn’t improve. He aerated it again, same result. He hit a tuning fork on his hand and set it to my front tooth and asked which ear I could hear it in.

This is a terribly hard question to answer. I heard it. But where did I hear it from?

He tried again. I still couldn’t decide. Could I hear my voice in my own head? Yes. From the right ear or just the left ear? Both… I think. I mean, I didn’t want to answer wrong!! Finally, he stopped all the questions and gave me a good old fashioned hearing test. After many beeps and static and words, it was revealed that I did, in fact, have actual hearing loss in my right ear. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, was that I had about 1/2 the amount of loss that would be considered ‘bad.’

What did all this mean?

Turns out I either had a virus in my inner ear that damaged the nerves or I had a stroke in my inner ear! Either way, that sounds bad, right? I was a little nervous. Would it continue to get worse? Would it get better? Am I going deaf? Am I dying? I asked a lot of questions about the causation, but he was not concerned about that. He explained that it doesn’t really matter what caused it, because the damage is done, but rather will we be able to repair it?

That was a good question.

When in doubt, docs give steroids!

He prescribed a high dose of oral steroids that I would take over the course of two weeks to try to reduce inflammation and restore the hearing in that ear. That was it. That was all we could do. And pray of course, which you know I did fervently. He scheduled an appointment for three months out, told me to take Afrin on my plane ride to Oklahoma and sent me on my way to hear or not to hear again. The prognosis was that about 1/3 of people will regain their hearing, 1/3 will have some improvement and 1/3 will not see any improvement at all. This wasn’t exactly promising to me, but because I’m young (he said it, not me!), and the damage was only 1/2 of what is considered ‘bad,’ he felt optimistic. So I did too!

Today is day nine of the steroids and although I can’t confirm by way of a hearing test, I’m willing to guess that I’ve regained most if not all of my hearing in that ear! Praise God.

So you might be wondering at this point why on earth I named this blog: Mind your mind. Well, let me pull the picture together for you…

Nine years ago, right around the time that my medical history really started to take a turn for the peculiar, I started down the road of entrepreneurship. Wrapped in that beautiful blanket of entrepreneurship is the journey of personal growth and personal development. That is to say, you can’t become better at what you’re doing- you can’t grow a business- without growing yourself. For the first time in my life, through this endeavor, personal growth reading was put into my life as a necessity. And through that, I have absolutely transformed my mind.

Let my perspective be your guide… whatever it is that you do in your life for work, whether you’re a parent, or wishing for advancement in your job or just your life… it really doesn’t matter what you’re pursuing. If you’re on this earth, you should embrace the gift of personal development. Don’t hear ‘self help’ like I did at first. Hear personal development. Because if you want to grow in your life- and trust me, YOU DO- then you’ve got to read books about growing yourself first.

This has made all the difference in my life. My WHOLE life, not just my business life.

The reason I write about perspective is because I fully appreciate the immeasurable blessing of a mental shift. I know that the way my mind receives and processes information- a lot of it is negative- is completely different than I used to receive and process information. Personal growth REPROGRAMS you to focus on and see the positive and the gratitude. THIS IS POWERFUL.

I use the word ‘reprograms’ intentionally. We are naturally wired to default to the negative. There is a reason we say ‘when it rains, it pours.’ Because once we start to see things one way, we literally default to seeing everything else that same way- as a negative.

Here is how I relate this massive shift in my default setting to the story about my medical history. I used to be riveted with anxiety. And don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with worry and anxiety from time to time, but I know that the battle is won. My default setting has been changed. In times of trial and concern, I literally default to the positive and gratitude in most instances.

For example, when I was driving to the specialist last week to learn the fate of my hearing, all I could think was, “Thank God it’s my hearing and not my sight! Thank God that it’s only one ear! Thank God for every time I’ve heard my kids tell me they love me. Thank God this isn’t something more serious. Thank God it’s only sudden deafness!”

Yes, I literally thought, “Thank God it’s only sudden deafness!”

You guys, I don’t mean to praise myself in this story and make it sound like I’m some beacon of positivity, but I will tell you that because I’ve worked on myself and I feed my brain light and love, light and love come out in the darkest moments. It would have been easy for me- and don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought it over the years- to think “WHY ME!?” You guys now know my history, you get what I’m saying. Just another thing to add to the dang list of random things that happen to poor Wendy. But I didn’t see it that way at all in that moment. I didn’t know what the doctor was going to say- it could have been much, much worse- but I knew that I was grateful even still.

This weekend the following idea was put in front of me, and I think it sums all this up quite well:

IMG_5479.jpg

You don’t have to believe in God to hear what I’m saying… but you do have to have faith that as much as their could be a negative outcome to any and everything you face in life, there are ALWAYS blessings there too. ALWAYS. Choose faith.

That’s the power of minding your mind. That’s the POWER of changing your default settings. And this happens all over the place in my life now… when the pigs are out for the 8474th time, when the yard catches on fire, when the kids get the flu for the 487th time this season… I think grateful, positive thoughts first. And I am able to laugh. And I’m able to immediately gain perspective.

And you guys, we live in a world right now, today, where this will become more and more challenging for us to do. And it will become more and more important all the same. We must learn to mind our minds and default to gratitude. Default to what is good. Because there will be negative. There will be tragedy. That, we can always count on.

But what perspective will you choose to take?

Even as I write this, I’m questioning if I have the flu or walking pneumonia. This season has been hard on our family. But God is good and victory is ours and I have a million things to be grateful for. And so do you. I promise you. You just have to mind your mind and then you’ll see.

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