As moms, we tend to put ourselves last. That includes our health. I am guilty and when I started having vision changes, I ignored it. I told myself it was from being tired, maybe hormones or stress.
After a few months and my vision getting progressively worse, I decided to bite the bullet and make an appointment with my nurse practitioner. Kids in tow, I went to her office and explained what had been happening over the last few months. She was stumped and sent me to get an eye exam.
My optometrist did an exam and immediately saw a problem. My optic nerves were “bulging” and she suspected I was suffering from a rare disease called pseudotumor cerebri, or a false brain tumor.
From there, things moved quickly. It took a retinal specialist, neurologist, MRI and a spinal tap to confirm the diagnosis. A diagnosis that has no known cause or cure, but just a medication that helps with the excess cerebral spinal fluid. I was also ordered to have my IUD removed immediately, because the type of IUD I had was thought to cause this condition. Another shot in the dark, but I did what I was told.
Fast forward four months and I’m balancing motherhood (I’m a stay at home mom of two), being a wife and most of all, being human. When you become a mom, you get your superhuman badge, or at least think you do, and this has been a harsh reminder to make myself a priority. What’s that saying? You can’t pour from an empty cup? Well my cup was empty and breaking.
I think the biggest lesson I learned was knowing when to ask for help and when to communicate to my husband that I need a break. We never thought we’d have to exercise the “in sickness and in health” part of our marriage vows four years in.
While I am so grateful I don’t have an actual brain tumor (just the symptoms) or something much worse, I am still struggling everyday with accepting that I have an illness. I’m hopeful that one day they’ll figure it out. For now, I’m taking one day at a time and going easy on myself, especially those days when I feel awful.
I am learning what triggers certain feelings and symptoms, what helps make me feel better and little steps I can take to be healthier. I hate being labeled as “sick” and want to do everything in my power to not let this define me. Putting my health and well being at the top of my priority list, not the bottom. My family needs me, my kids need a mom, a healthy one at that!
I just have to remind myself daily that it’s a marathon, not a sprint…and that I hate running, so I’m doing things at my own pace.