Finding What I Can Say 'Yes' to When My Body Is Telling Me 'No'


There are times when “yes” feels too hard. It feels like a mountain as tall as Kilimanjaro. When you battle a hidden illness, you battle with saying yes. All the time. It is exhausting at times and so easy to say no to that outing, meal prep, time with friends, the trip to the grocery store, that weekend away from home. My heart says yes but my body tells me no. For now. Not always, but most of the time. I recently had to bow out of an invitation to attend the Women’s March in Washington D.C., simply because I knew what saying yes would mean. Large crowds, long lines on the metro system, and the ever-present fear of terrorism looming in every opportunity. Plus the desire to never hold my healthy friends back due to my ever-present lack.

But just because I feel like I can’t say yes to that trip doesn’t mean I can’t be with them in spirit. I can participate in my heart and mind. And while I am doing that, I can say yes to a whole host of other things until I can physically be there and show up in person (with energy and enthusiasm). I will get there. I say “yes” to the entire possibility of getting there. One of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, once penned the words, “I dwell in possibility.” This has been a huge part of my journey to wellness.

Hippocrates once penned the words, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I decided to walk a different path to be able to someday do a march or a marathon or get through an entire day of work without nagging pain and exhaustion.

Recently, I said a resounding “yes” to making nutrition my biggest champion. I need to cherish this body as my temple. I created a temple wellness plan. I met with a whole foods/plant-based nutritionist who has seen the biggest progress in her own life by adopting a greener approach to her diet. I said “yes” to giving my body the best nutrition I possibly can, starting with a food and symptoms diary. To that end I said yes to plant-based foods, started shopping online for the best vitamins and purchased a Fitbit to track my movement. A few days have passed since I began to focus on what I could do to improve my mood and energy. I started out small and removed chocolate – known to be a stimulant and cause inflammation. I turned down the heat at night in my room so that slumber and deep sleep might be more of a possibility. I even banished my dogs to their crates at night and let the cat slumber with me, as his purrs help me when I feel that nagging chronic pain coming from my interstitial cystitis.

I have had years to say yes. I have attempted to do it on many occasions, but now I know it isn’t a matter of whether I will do it or not. I will do it because I am worth the effort. As each day passes, I am beginning to feel better. I notice my mood improving. My focus is getting better. I am drinking way more water. Watching movies and television programs that make me laugh. What a gig! For those of us who spend way too much time struggling, I am here to say that although we cannot take our maladies entirely away (I will always have interstitial cystitis), I can and do have control over some tiny things that make my world much easier. And there are times that surprises come along the way. This morning I found a treasure in my refrigerator! Having given up eggs and dairy for a bit to see how I feel, I tossed around the idea of drinking that milk. I am not radical about this, but I am really trying to get a very healthy gut (I had a major, life-altering gastrointestinal surgery last May). To my happy surprise, I found a bottle of Everfresh Premier Granny Smith Apple juice tucked away in the back of the refrigerator, making a statement to me that my health begins with yes.

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