I planned a ski trip exactly 9 months to the day after leaving the ICU, having no idea if it would be a success, but knowing that I needed it as a part of my healing.
While in the ICU from complications with Grave's Disease, I had only 2 thoughts in my head. Please don’t draw my blood again, I don’t have any left! And I have to be able to ski again with my boys. I know, odd! I got a lot of questionable looks from my doctors when that was my only request. They would tilt their heads, look wide eyed and just say “one step at a time”, while probably thinking I was nuts to be thinking about skiing when I was in a “she might not make it” state.
I can’t explain as to why this was my only wish, it’s unexplainable, other than the pure immense joy that my boys and I experience together the moment our skis hit the snow.
Each and every experience tops the last one, and watching my sons pass me in ability and become great skiers fills me with more joy than I could possibly explain. I taught them well, and now it’s their time to fly. Wanting to ski with them was no longer something that I wanted to do, but something that I had to do!
So nine months after being blessed enough to leave the hospital, nine months of blood, sweat, and tears to get there, overwhelmed with a feeling of joy and gratitude, we headed to Colorado to ski our hearts out!
Don’t get me wrong, I had fears…What if I’m not ready? What if I can’t ski like before? What if something happens on the mountain that none of us can control? What if…?
Greater than my fear, was my need to feel free of my illness…MY NEED TO BE ALIVE…and ski like there is no tomorrow, so off we went!
Day 1 was full of nerves, but I was fulfilling my ONE wish while in the ICU, and was overwhelmed just to be there. It was no longer a dream, it was happening…I was skiing with my boys! Life was better than good!
Day 2 was ON!!!
Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully God blessed me with a child that knows me better than I know myself. He instinctively just knows what I need, when I need it, and always has. He knew that I needed to be pushed in order for ME to come out, in order for me to feel "normal" again.
I had no intention of skiing blacks on all three mountains, but we did. I had no intention of skiing moguls, but we did. I had no intention of skiing 30+ mph down the runs, but we did. I had no intention of skiing all day every day, but we did. Thankfully he pushed me, and thankfully I listened!
It was the time of my life, and it was the first time in nine months I felt ALIVE, and the first time in nine months that I didn't feel bogged down by my chronic illnesses. My competitive nature kicked in, and once again I was leading the pack instead of looking to my boys for support. Life was the way it should be.
On Day 3 as we stood on top of Outback Mountain at the hardest, longest black. I just didn’t think it was a good idea to go down the run…I couldn’t see the run…I could only see the sky. I didn’t know what was on the other side, it was just a cliff.
It didn’t seem like a good idea, but thankfully my son knew better. He said “MOM, you’ve got this! GOOOO!” and that’s exactly what I did.
As soon as I leaped over the edge, it was magic the entire way down, almost as if I was skiing on wings. As I reached the bottom my arms went flying in the air, and in that moment I was back! Literally!!!
I felt as if I was going to explode with excitement. It was like a boulder of uncertainty was lifted from my life. The tears underneath my googles were the happiest tears I've ever shed. I didn’t feel the fear of ending up back in the ICU that had plagued me for the previous nine months.
I felt free in that moment. I felt like I just conquered everything that I came there to conquer…I WAS ALIVE AGAIN!
Just as in life, so much is unknown, no one knows what is around the next corner. Who cares? Jump, leap, ski, run into whatever it is! You never know, it may end up being the best thing that you could ever do.
Day 4 was full of long, fast, invigorating runs racing down the mountains. I was on top of the world! I was FREE! I was HAPPY! I was ME...for the first time in a long time!
The trip was more than I ever thought it would be, and probably was the best skiing of my life. Not sure if it was pure determination or just feeling freer than I had in a long time. Either way, it was priceless!
You might say that this was an odd way to heal...to go skiing. For me, it was just what I needed, and was the catalyst to putting me in remission a mere 4 months later. Up until then I hadn't felt emotion. I hadn't felt anything. I was numb. I knew I needed to fulfill the one wish I had in the ICU, I knew that I needed to feel alive again! And skiing was the last piece of the puzzle.
If you're feeling stuck in your healing journey, and not sure which way to go next. Try incorporating more joy into your life. Do the one thing that you LOVE to do, and do it as often as you can. Finding more joy in your everyday life can have miraculous outcomes, especially if you are dealing with autoimmunity and chronic illness. We need joy in our lives! We need to feel happiness and fulfillment. Find yours!