A Personal Note About Health on the Winter Solstice

Winter solstice dresden holden wellness santa barbara acupuncture, thyroid health and thyroid cancer

Over the past month, the darkest month of the year. I've been intimately contemplating, and physically tending to, my health. It's both a long story and a short story.

Here's the short version. On Nov 1st I was healthy and the next day I was sick. Here's the longer, more intriguing version. What would later be given the official name of Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma, on Nov 2nd I simply went from well one minute and sick the next. It felt like language whiplash. Health status is a concept that seemed easier to conceptualize when talking in third person, but to have the juxtaposition of healthy vs sick, good vs bad, in relation to my own living, breathing, human body, flip-flopped within a single moment, was hard for me to really wrap my head around.

On Dec 1st, I had surgery to remove my thyroid and extensive thyroid cancer from my neck. Since that date, though considered sick, I have felt better than I have in a long time. This time of recovery has also been a time of remembrance

From the moment my doctor called me from the Solvang Country Clinic (I just love how quaint that sounds) and said “It looks like you have cancer, we just have to figure out which kind.” Giving me instructions regarding biopsies and doctors to call. The beginning of a crash course in how to follow instructions that take you right out of your comfort zone into a whole new normal. From the moment I realized I wasn't healthy by medical standards I wanted to hold the door open for a deeper healing and recalibration I knew I couldn't access without this experience. 

Our language creates a distinction for health vs disease on the physical level, but one of the reasons I am passionate about holistic medicine and bodywork is because there is room, and reverence, for healing on multiple levels. Healing is coming back to wholeness. Yes I'm leaning in to western medicine on the physical these days, so grateful for every last thing they have thought of and created, I am blown away and humbled. And I'm also listening to what wants to be heard from deep within my soul during this process, from the physical, emotional and spiritual, because I honestly don't know what wholeness looks like for me. This may sound strange, but I feel like I've been given an opportunity to perhaps connect some wholeness puzzle pieces and I don't want to miss it. 

Don't get me wrong, my introspective deep dive is actually pretty shallow, I haven't felt physically comfortable or consistently well this past month post surgery and treatment. I've clocked many hours watching TV and movies, not reading the books on my nightstand, and turning a blind eye to my to-do list. But the stirrings are present. A slow simmer of introspection.

A few notions that has been close to the surface of my heart are pretty simple and straightforward. Life is SHORT, UNPREDICTABLE, STRANGE even, but also FASCINATING and SURPRISING. I've been trying to move slow and stay WIDE-EYED during this time. Soaking it all in. Even the uncomfortable parts. Looking for all the places I can ask (as my friend Jessica Rios articulates) “How is this perfect?” 

Surgery, in the voice box, the seat of inspiration and expression, to clear out physical stagnation and dis-ease, is a major call to action (in my book). So, naturally, as I open the door to healing, wholeness and recalibration, some questions have popped into my mind about what may want to come through on the other side of illness

How do I want to spend my time now? 

How do I want to live my life? 

What am I passionate about? 

I've found that I don't have easy answers for these questions. Like a kid putting on last year's pants to find they are this year's high waters. Have I grown out of myself? Did my interests and passions change? Has my head been down, sticking to the grind and keeping pace on my DIY'd hamster wheel for so long I forgot who I was? This realization has me giving thanks to illness as the catalyst for an internal review. Moving toward Wholeness. 

When I check in with my body since surgery, assessing my energy, reviewing the various small complaints I was having prior to Nov 1st, I can honestly say I feel better. Healthierrrr. I feel super strong, deep trust (I was guided to an incredible healthcare team and aftercare support), and can see parts of myself that can grow and better serve, for me as a person, but also as a health practitioner. 

The whiplash of language has now kind of morphed into a whirlpool, unsure of where illness ends and where health begins. My final scan is December 27th. Will I be healthy? Perhaps our language isn't capable of describing the microscopic, multifaceted distinctions that times like illness present? (If you can think of words let me know!) So, I am tryingggg to move slow, to recognize the ways this experience doesn't fit the two dimensional mold of good vs bad or healthy vs disease, but calls for an expanded understanding of what health and healing can mean. 

Thank you for reading this truly intimate and personal story. However, I used to love writing (!!!) and I do believe that what we live through can perhaps serve someone else down the road.

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