re-beginnings and beginagains

Your trials have not come to punish you, but to awaken you.

Paramhansa Yogananda

Starting a project at a grand age has its merits.

When you’re older, you find yourself giving less thought to what others think about you, and more about how you can help others in life. You look back at events in your life, assess some of them at significant turning points and realize that all the major turning points were (in the retrospect of time and wisdom) didn’t seem particularly momentous or important. And, the events you just knew were going to be life-changers were just “meh,” and really didn’t pan out to be quite so propitious.

So, this will be a meandering sort of blog, some will help, some may not. But, you’ll get to know me, and maybe you’ll comment and we’ll get to know each other along the way.

At this point in life, I’ve faced a diagnosis that quite literally changed my thoughts, body, and life in ways I could never have grasped before. About 11 months ago, on April 8, 2020, I was floored to find out about a diagnosis. I got up that morning in my usual state of excellent health and went to sleep waiting to die.

My usual life is now and has been for decades one of being firmly organic vegetarian or vegan, avoiding alcohol and smoking, choosing natural remedies instead of pharaceuticals, gymming 3 or 4 times a week, and living a life where I worked happily as an RN. On that day of April 8th, 2020, I suddenly felt out of breath, and my heart was racing. I quite literally felt like I could not walk the distance from my car to the elevator up, a distance of about 20 feet or less. Heretofore, I had never experienced anything quite like this. I made it upstairs to my apartment, and sat down at my dining table, with my elbows on the table and breathing quite heavily. It took about 3 minutes to self-assess and ask the question “Okay, Elizabeth… if a patient presented like this, what would you say to them?” Then I realized I was in a classic orthoptic position and called the VA (Veterans’ Administration) intake center. I described my circumstance and was referred to the nearest emergency room.

I got to Tacoma General hospital, and they found in an x-ray series that I had fluid on a lung. How strange, I thought! Well, as the adventure progressed, I had to have a thoracentesis, a procedure I’m sure I never did anything to deserve, where a tube is inserted in your mid-back between ribs into the space between your actual lung and the sac that the lungs live in. If it sounds like it’s painful, well, you are right. A little over two liters of fluid came off my lungs, and I could see the glass container into which it was draining, and it looked like a Hefeweiz beer. I already knew something was up, since a benign pleural effusion would present with a much clearer fluid. After I could breathe again, I was discharged home much later that day.

That night, the online medical records system called “MyChart” sent me an email to sign in. And there, all alone, at about 11pm, I found out that 21% of the cells in the fluid they withdrew were adenocarcinoma cells, Stage 4 cancer.

Things changed that day, and pieces of a broken life started to gel and become clearer. More of the story as we go along, and some new insights along the way. Also, against all this, the backdrop of why I have chosen to finish my life’s work as a counselor and professional RN Coach for Health and Well-Being.

© Three Moons Medicine®
Elizabeth Bennett

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