What Makes Me a True Badass When I'm Ill

I’ve been contemplating “badassery” this morning as I drove my daughter to camp in the midst of passing a kidney stone. I knew that I’d be able to manage the pain until I got home, and I am on enough steroids to give me coverage this morning. In other words, it was safe to drive. But was it a good idea?

There was a time that I gave a presentation at a national conference in the midst of a massive gallbladder attack. Nobody knew. I remained seated the entire time and had some of my nurse friends at the back of the room ready to step in and help in the event that I passed out.

Throughout my life I’ve come to realize that I have a big survival response and I am certainly tough! Some might say that my ability to tough it out is “badass.”

As a single mom there are many occasions where I have to step up and do things that my partner would otherwise do for me if I had that option. Furthermore, I live with several chronic conditions (including dysautonomia, hypopituitarism, and chronic migraines to name a few) that will literally bring a person to their knees. I don’t talk about these every day struggles simply because it’s a part of life!

As I was contemplating badassery this morning, however, I noticed something different. “Toughing it out” is my default. It’s easier for me to do it myself rather than risk the vulnerability of asking for help. Every time I’m flattened by something, I experience a fear of being judged or abandoned or called a burden. And I’ll add that there’ve been occasions where I have been called these things by people that I loved, and there have been occasions where I’ve experienced support and kindness in ways that exceed my wildest imagination. Ultimately it’s about letting go of other people’s opinions of me and being willing to step into the vulnerability of self-care.

See… when you have adrenal insufficiency, energy and pain management becomes a different ball game. Pain burns through cortisol, and today the goal is simply to avoid another emergency room trip for an injection of hydrocortisone. My neuroendocrinologist was very clear about the importance of me managing the pain today and not toughing it out! But here’s the thing – managing the pain means that I can’t drive… and that means I have to ask for help.

Thankfully my dad’s in town so I will ask him. Thankfully my sister might be able to help too. Thankfully I have an amazing network of friends that will always step in and help. And most importantly, I can trust them to say “no” if they genuinely can’t.

But none of this changes the fact that true badassery for me is being vulnerable enough to write this post (because it’s real), vulnerable enough to ask for help when I need it, and being willing to allow people to have their reactions – whether positive or negative, understanding or judgmental.

They say that you deserve the love that you would so willingly give to others. I think that about sums it up for me.

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