Do What Scares You
Whenever we make a decision out of fear, it’s almost always the wrong one!
“Do you need to speak to someone about your level of anxiety?” asked the nurse. “No,” I replied. I wondered if she asked that question to all new patients or was it that I scored so high on the Distress Screening Tool, that it was clear I was borderline.
I was at the Duke Cancer Center. It was unnerving to be engulfed by the low hum of intensity circulating the hospital. The veil between the two worlds was thin. Some of these folks might not survive much longer. Others might experience the miracle of being given another chance to live. Witnessing their pain added to my existing anxiety.
I was certain my test results would be normal, but they needed to rule out cancer before proceeding with surgery. I rolled some lavender essential oil onto my wrists. It wasn’t enough. I had to inhale the scent directly from the bottle. As the nurse watched me put the amber bottle to my nose and inhale repeatedly, I think it confirmed her instinctual question about needing to speak to someone.
My endless worry loop was fatiguing and the rapid heartbeat said, “Get me out of here!”
The concerned nurse took my vitals, asked a ton of questions, and then ushered me into a private room. Next, came the doctor. The top endocrinologist at Duke. He was wearing a mask so I couldn’t see his entire face, but I liked his eyes. They were kind. I can almost always detect character and a person’s heart space from the eyes.
He shook my hand and introduced himself. “Graves’ disease is the worst,” was his segway. "Yes." That acknowledgement pulled at something inside me. "Looks like you've been battling this for seven years?" He continued to search my eyes for connection. I had to hold back the flood of tears seeking to escape like a waterfall charging over the side of a mountain. “That is correct,” I said.
This initial conversation called upon the tears for so many reasons. One, from pure exhaustion. I was tired of my spinning thoughts and heavy feelings pertaining to health.
Two, I needed to honor the strength it took to hold it all together for so long while operating with a highly dysfunctional thyroid. Working, raising children, trying to save a marriage, and constantly on the hunt for natural solutions to cure this thyroid disease. Gripping so tightly in life is no way to live. Yet, I did this for years.
Three, a flash of all of the events that brought me to this moment appeared like an animated flip book in my mind. A wave of dizziness and nausea washed over me. My initial diagnosis had come at the highest point of conflict in my marriage. The link between the two is something Dr. Gabor Mate writes about in his book, When the Body Says No.
Four, I will do this next phase alone. It’s just me now.
For a little background, the thyroid is a major control center. It is responsible for firing off a variety of hormones that regulate sleep and metabolism. It plays a crucial role in controlling heart, muscle, and digestive functions, brain development, and bone maintenance. Turns out the thyroid is a pretty big deal. I suffer from hyperthyroidism. Meaning it’s overactive. There is no resting state available. During a flare up, I don’t sleep, my hair falls out, headaches are constant, my nausea prevents me from eating, and when I do eat, I metabolize food at warp speed. I appear skinny in a sick way. Additionally, my rapid heartbeat creates an internal buzzing sensation. That cues my anxiety to take center stage. It’s a real shit show.
After my initial diagnosis, I went on a prescription drug to stabilize my levels. However, I also found acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, Reiki, meditation, and diet to be extremely transformative. I followed the Medical Medium protocol, and after 18 months I was able to wean off of the pharmaceutical drugs. The disease went into remission, I was told.
The prescribed medication I took, Methimazole, causes liver damage. Knowing I didn’t have to ingest that poison any longer was cause for celebration. I threw a “good job” party in my mind. I was proud I did the work to heal my body. Unfortunately, a year later symptoms returned and I took the required trip to the pharmacy to start the medication again. I had confidence I would heal myself for a second time. This time, my deep desire for natural healing led me to plant medicine. The plant medicine ceremony provided only temporary relief. I will share that wild story another time.
Over the years, I was laser focused (maybe obsessive) on finding the natural path for healing. I had phases of being in remission and then crash and burn phases with intense flare ups. I traversed the mountain of hope many times looking for the golden doorway to health and freedom. All paths were dead ends for me. I swallowed my pride, put my ego on the shelf, and returned to the allopathic world for medical treatment.
The new and very handsome doctor at Duke had a gentle approach. He explained Methimazole is not a long term solution. It was time to explore the other two options.
The first option is a radioactive iodine treatment. Essentially, I would go to the hospital, a person in a haz-mat suit delivers the radioactive iodine. I swallow the pill. The pill destroys the thyroid gland. I’m given paperwork explaining that I’m not a terrorist because I will be emitting radioactive poison. The instructions also include a quarantine period. Meaning for a period of time I can’t be around other humans or animals, as they could absorb the toxic chemicals I give off. That option is a hard NO.
The second option is surgery. He explained the procedure, risks involved, and recovery process. His gentle approach with me worked. He sold me on the surgery. Was that his Duke training or was he just aware of how emotional connection builds trust and safety? Maybe both? After all, if I’m going to sign up for surgery, I need to trust the person and feel this is a safe procedure. Something from his eyes tells me he knows the value of heart centered conversation, and he took me there.
Honestly, I was shocked I was so willing to sign up for surgery. When I scheduled it with his nurse I even felt excited. I was finally going to get rid of this toxic organ that had held me back from living a healthy and fulfilling life, so excitement belonged.
As time went on, fear crept forward. Fear is an illusion. I know this, but I still allowed those fearful thoughts in. I sat with fear and we talked for hours. I explored that realm. Then, I found friends who were steeped in natural medicine to share my fear with. They encouraged me to cancel the surgery.
“You don’t need the surgery,” one said.
“Your body can heal itself,” said another.
“You can find natural ways of healing once this divorce is final,” another chimed in.
I could not stop wondering if I should try another natural treatment or just proceed with the surgery. My mind went to battle and the ideas were weaponizing one another. Finally, I decided to cancel the surgery and book a Panchakarma treatment (Ayurvedic therapy). I’d go the alternative medicine route one last time. I was fairly new to Ayurvedic medicine, and I wanted to explore this ancient traditional healing practice.
When an idea sparks my curiosity, I go into research mode. I devour books, podcasts, documentaries, and whatever I can find to understand the topic fully. I like looking at things from all angles. My initial research began by calling all of the top well known Ayurvedic centers in our country. I narrowed my search down to three places. My consultations with each center were lengthy, which I appreciated. The more information, the better. I finally decided to book a treatment in Vermont.
Days after making the appointment, something did not feel right. It was not fear. It was doubt. Doubt started to bubble up with a sound I could not ignore.
During one of my consultations, a very seasoned Ayurvedic doctor had illustrated that part of Ayurvedic medicine is, in fact, surgery. He explained that we can proceed with the Panchakarma treatment, but I may still need the surgery afterward. During my research phase, I chose to ignore that comment. I’m aware denial is a coping mechanism. Now his words echoed in my mind.
Still not knowing what to do, I turned to therapy. This therapy session called for some somatic work. She invited me to journey with her so I could feel grounded. After a brief guided meditation, I arrived at a place that felt safe, peaceful, and surrounded by my spirit guides. Begrudgingly, I shared the truth of what I felt. We talked. Processed. We allowed feelings to flow.
The next day I called Duke. I rescheduled my surgery. I am still scared, but I will not allow fear to be in the driver's seat. Fear can come along because truthfully I’m not sure how to get rid of it, so instead I’ve decided to look at fear like a little child who is clueless. A sweet energy who just doesn’t have enough information to live an independent life yet. Just wandering around hoping its loud calls will be heard. My big mental upgrade occurred when I introduced fear to hope, faith, and trust. That was a huge play! I recommend it if you have an aimless fear child roaming inside your mind.
Yet, fear often provokes change. Change is one thing we can rely on in life. Why resist it? If we view change as gaining something new and exciting, then change feels expansive and we can entertain endless possibilities that are positive.
Once I accepted change can be both scary and safe, I knew I could inch towards that jump my heart was nudging me to take. I’ve been doing a lot of scary things recently and I’m sure I’ll do more. I’m on a roll and it’s thrilling now that fear is buckled into the backseat.
I head into surgery in four weeks. I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions about it. It’s a big change. They’ll remove the entire thyroid. My holistic lifestyle will require a hormone replacement called Synthroid. I’ll take a pill everyday for the rest of my life. Fear has some words to share about that, but I give the mic to trust.
I’m trusting that this is the best choice for my body. I’m beyond ready to leap into what’s unfolding up ahead. My soul can feel the pull forward. There is momentum. I must first take a quick surgical detour.
The beautiful part is I get to choose how this goes. I can hold the vision of a smooth procedure and easy recovery. That is in my power. I have no qualms about asking for help from my family, my soul tribe, and my mom friends. I do not feel like a burden. Rather, I see myself resting in a nest of love. I see people coming to help me heal with a phone call, a meal train, a text message, or a good ol’ stopping by to say hello. When I entertain those images and those stories, I fall into gratitude. I’m choosing to place my attention there.
Our mind will make up stories. We get to choose those stories though. We can create a “what if” story that feels scary, small, or contracting. We could also create stories that are in alignment with our beautiful dreams and visions. Those stories feel exciting, expansive, bring a smile to our faces, and a “why not” attitude to our hearts.
This is the season when leaves fall, allowing for a wider horizon line. We can see things more clearly. The distant hills reveal things that have gone unnoticed. Constellations appear brighter at night. Stars may get more calls for wishes to come true. Those calls echo in the universal field and are heard. When our energy matches the energy of that call, magic occurs. Meaning, if I’m radiating love from the inside, then I become the vibrational frequency of love, as a result love will show up in my life. Therefore, my job to prepare for this surgery is simple. Be in the frequency of love, peace, joy, and gratitude. That’s the medicine.
It’s the season for change. Let’s embrace it.
I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get Let Nature Teach up and running. I love writing and sharing what’s on my heart and in my mind. This is initially a free newsletter. I’ll move to a paid subscription model soon. You’ll have until November 21, 2024 to take advantage of a one time 50% off subscription offer. Subscribers will have access to bi-monthly newsletters, recipes, book reviews, interviews, garden knowledge, and more!
Each and every time I settle into a new home, I plant lavender by my front door. Either in a pot or directly into the Earth. When I come and go out the door, I pick a few lavender leaves or flowers and slowly sip the scent inwards. Lavender has a musky scent that calms and settles an overactive mind. This plant is coded to find the pathways to ease tension or tightly knotted areas in the body. It’s a potent plant. It will join me at the hospital.
How to incorporate lavender in your life:
Grow lavender! Pick leaves or flowers and smell as needed. I like to rub the leaves in the palms of my hands to release the oils. The scent will last longer.
Lavender essential oil - use directly on the skin or use with a diffuser
Lavender eye pillow
Bake with it. My kids love this shortbread recipe during the holiday season. Substitute lavender for rosemary.
“I am not afraid…I was born to do this.” ~Joan of Arc