I have always been active. Running, playing basketball, volleyball and soccer in high school were supposed to help with the pain I was experiencing with my periods. When I was about 16 I was diagnosed with endometriosis (a condition resulting from the appearance of endometrial tissue on the outside of the uterus, which was part of the cause of my chronic pain). Along with endometriosis I also had fibrocystic cysts and every few months I would literally pass out with the pain when a cyst burst. This was all extremely painful and caused a lot of other issues growing up, but exercise was a release. Fortunately, not many women have these issues when they are in their teens, it normally shows up in late 20s early 30s so when I would complain about cramps, everyone thought I was exaggerating. Unfortunately for me it began at a very young age and I learned to internalize the pain and struggle through it by myself. I moved around a lot as a kid, and girls aren’t always the nicest to each other.
After ten years of chronic pain, multiple surgeries, being put on about every drug for this condition on the market (some side effects included medical menopause — remember I am only now in my mid-twenties) there were no other options for me but to deal with the pain and have other complications or get a hysterectomy. I put this option off for as long as I could and so at age 26 I agreed to get a full hysterectomy; a tough option knowing that I would never be able to give birth to children of my own.
Leading up to the surgery I wanted to try something new, so in January I started aerial exercise, which included a trial period of pole, hoop and silks, rather than continuing going to a conventional gym in addition to my running. I wanted something different and I had always heard good things about aerial exercise. I had just never imagined that this group would give me the strength I needed to get through the surgery. Aerialists are a community of acceptance and kindness. To this point I had never in my life met a more positive and uplifting group of women that would be there for me every step of the way. There were days where I would be crying to and from class because I was in so much pain but I would still go because I didn’t want to let anyone down by not showing up. I found a place where I was accepted for me with no judgement or criticism, just love.
Six months ago I had my full hysterectomy. It was an emotional roller coaster and I am just starting to get to a point where I am at peace with the decision I had to make. After surgery, I was not able to work out for 6 weeks so getting my endurance back up was key. Some weeks I could barely walk a mile without stopping for a break. Getting back to the studio was extremely hard, I felt like I had missed so much being off that long, but the instructors worked well with me. I had lost a lot of strength and having friends from the studio push me and build me up when I felt like I could do nothing was amazing. In six months I went from barely being able to stand up from the couch by myself to being able to complete a half marathon, hang upside down on a hoop and on a pole and do multiple inverted sit ups.
Someone said to me recently, “I can’t do that” and I remember that was how I used to think. Now I know that aerial exercise was a big reason I got through one of the toughest decisions and times of my life. I will never again tell myself I can’t do something. It’s all about positive thinking, trying to do what you believe is impossible and putting yourself in a situation where you have a support system and people who are positive and supportive. The silver lining in this is now I feel like an example that no matter what happens you have control of your body and with a little bit of drive and determination, anything is possible.
When we go through our path in life there are many times where we feel like we are running into a mountain and looking back I now realize they were only ant hills in the way. Everything is about perspective and having a group of people that brings you up instead of tearing you down.
Find your tribe of positivity.