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“Finding joy in the little things each day is not easy...but it’s possible.”

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By Andrea Miller

When I first read about “Option B”, I thought, “hey, that’s me” - or at least the person I’ve become. In an attempt to keep to the word limit, here’s a brief overview of my last 4+ years:

April 2012 - knee surgery

May/June 2012 - my mother is diagnosed with, mesothelioma, an incurable cancer

December 2012 - left my overseas home of 9+ years

January 2013 - learned my knee pain is actually severe arthritis in both hips

June 2013 - quit my job to be closer to my family

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January 2014 - barely able to walk a block, I have bilateral hip replacements

November 2014- my mother’s passes away the day before thanksgiving

Sept 2016 - hit by a car crossing the street

Nov 2016 - MRI shows a herniated disk pushing against my spinal cord - 1st and 2nd opinions confirm surgery is urgently required.

December 2016 - give up my consulting job and 4th floor walk-up apartment to have a posterior fusion/8 screws put in my neck (possibly worse than it sounds); father falls and goes into hospital 2 days before I do.

Even as I write this, I get a bit overwhelmed. Did I really go through all of that? Why me? Yet, throughout it all I’ve rarely lost track of the fact that I have a choice in how I react. I can let it consume me or I can find the “good” in it, staying positive to benefit my healing as well as to support others, going through similar things. That said, I wasn’t unaffected by the physical and emotional pain of these experiences. When the surgeon told me I had to have another big surgery, so soon after having my other major surgery, I burst into tears. And, when my mother died, somewhat more suddenly than expected, the lack of time and feeling I had wasted so much time, was incredibly hard. Though painful, I feel these experiences have made me a better, more compassionate person, who has a greater value for how brief life can be and how quickly it can change. It also helped me connect to people on a deeper level. I’ve met several people who lost loved ones and I was able to give the gift of hearing them, sharing my experience and being present. And, related to my surgeries, in some ways, I’m far healthier than I’ve ever been. I had struggled with my weight for years, I now eat for health, which is a far greater motivator.

I’ve learned that resilience and finding the joy in the little things each day is not easy (and I don’t always do it), but it’s possible. In the end, the choice of how I show up in life and what my life will be, is mine. While it is far from perfect, I’ve learned that it’s far better and happier experience, if I choose to make it so.

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