Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge: Day 13. “These are a few of my favorite things” It may not be brown paper packages wrapped up in string or warm woolen mittens, but what are some things you love? What can’t you live without?
MY ANSWER: 4 of My Favorite Things:
- Rocky Boxing Gloves/Strength: Everyday I wake up, I face another battle—one where my body is fighting against me and I need God’s strength to go on. When I feel like I can’t go on, I put on my Rocky boxing gloves and pray. (Specifically I pray Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”) I started loving Rocky when I was in college—one day I was really depressed and couldn’t do my homework or prepare for Nationals (Speech Team) and I turned on the TV. Apollo Creed was telling Rocky he needed to have the “eye of the tiger.” I thought, I’m Rocky! Whenever I got depressed from my bipolar disorder, I would play Rocky DVDs. Whenever Rocky prayed before his fight, I would ask God for strength for my fight. These days juggling four illnesses, Rocky is even more relevant. Bipolar disorder is Apollo Creed. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is Ivan Drago. My asthma is Mr. T. And Myasthenia Gravis (MG, my neuromuscular autoimmune disease) is Mason Dixon. Like Rocky, I never give up.
- Lipstick/Courage: When I get nervous, I put on Arbonne’s lipstick in Strawberry. Before an important presentation, I put on red lipstick for “lipstick courage.” It never fails me. (As I’ve blogged about before, I am a consultant for Arbonne, a vegan cosmetics and skincare company. Our products do not contain toxic or synthetic materials that are used by 90% of U.S.’ cosmetics companies. Interested in learning more? Leave a comment below.)
- Medical Gloves/Immunity: People with autoimmune diseases can easily develop infections. I’ve gotten infected from things as mundane as shampoo getting into paper cuts. The more I wear my medical gloves and masks, the fewer infections I get. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I got an infection. (For more info on buying masks or gloves, see my previous post, How to Look Great While Wearing Masks; Tarte’s Awesome Eyeliner.)
- New Kids on the Block DVD/Innocence: It’s really easy to become jaded when you’re fighting mood swings, physical pain, and chronic fatigue. When I was diagnosed with MG at the age of 24, I already had been fighting bipolar disorder and PCOS for years. I was hospitalized in critical condition and had two weeks of plasmapheresis. I was also bedridden for over a year and I was insulted a lot as my appearance dramatically changed. Losing some long time friends (see 5 Reasons People Abandon a Sick Friend) added to the emotional toll of chronic illness. However, the same year I got MG in 2008, the New Kids on the Block reunited. It was something I never thought would happen—I even wondered if CNN was playing an April Fool’s prank. All the pent up frustration that was built from their 15-year exile retirement was released the day they reunited on TV on April 4, 2008 on The Today Show. It’s like the sun started shining a little brighter and the skies got bluer. And 20,000 fans attended their first performance in 15 years on the show (May 16, 2008) even though it was only ten minutes long.
During their 15-year absence, I would watch this DVD of their 1989 performance. I was too young then to see them perform; basically, I was a teenage girl trapped in the body of a five-year old. When I finally got to see them in concert in October 2008, I was in pure ecstasy even though I attended their concert a few hours after surgery in bloody bandages and a wheelchair. NKOTB takes me back to a more innocent place in time. They came of age before the Internet era when there was just the radio and MTV. Because MTV thought they were too wholesome, they didn’t play New Kids’ videos. In spite of that, the New Kids would go on to have eleven hit songs in four years. When I watch this DVD, it takes me back to my childhood when I had no idea what the words “neuromuscular autoimmune disease” meant. I’m reminded that illness can’t take everything away from me.
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno
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