There are stories all around you

This conversation caused me to stop and realize that I’m not the only one with a “hidden” health story to share

With my follow-up mammogram and ultrasound, the great cancer scare of 2009 has resurfaced in my life. I guess it’s the rightThere are stories all around you month, since we’re surrounded by other scary goblins and ghouls! Once again, I’ve been feeling vulnerable and out of sorts, like I’m traveling in a strange new wilderness without any hiking boots or a compass to lead the way. And I suddenly felt mute, like I didn’t know how to speak about an illness—what words should I use? How do I start the sentences—do I just drop in on an unsuspecting friend and start talking about lumps and fibrous tissue as they type away on some report? Or call a friend as she tries to balance a three-year-old deciding between an Iron Man or Green Lantern costume and a crying newborn? As I began jumping in and spontaneously sharing my fears with friends I discovered that they had similar stories to share about their friends or loved ones and thus, I started to feel an outpouring of compassion and understanding that I didn’t expect. “Huh,” I thought to myself, “I guess I’m not the only one.”

On another morning recently, I walked past a very committed colleague who pitched the latest company blood drive to me. Little did she know, my blood is no good for the general public, so I had to let her know, rather than just shoo her away. But she had a great response—“Just send someone in your place!” So I tried to do just that. I dropped by a colleague’s cubicle and made a half-assed request that she donate “my” blood and learned she couldn’t do it. She shared about her recent pre-eclampsia prior to child birth and resulting blood transfusions and we got to talking about my lupus and risk for pre-eclampsia. Wouldn’t you know it—spontaneous disclosures about our health and I’m a little bit closer to a colleague who up until that point was just an acquaintance.

This conversation caused me to stop and realize that I’m not the only one with a “hidden” health story to share. There are stories all around us. Sharing, whether in the form of a spontaneous comment or question, or a planned out conversation, will likely reveal that you are not alone. Just a little bit of vulnerability on your part and you’ll find that there are interesting health stories all around us.

P.S. I want to wish all of you a Happy (belated) 1st Anniversary in honor of the Kristin 2.0 column! I’m going to get out there to celebrate life and I hope you will too. So, what does it mean to be Kristin 2.0 anyways? I chose this name because Kristin 1.0 was supposed to be a “perfect” model free of health problems, right? As you all know, the 1.0 model quickly revealed itself to be something we’d like to slap with a “Return to Sender” label. Since we can’t do that, we’re rebuilding and rewriting my life and that’s taking the form of Kristin 2.0. I’m always on the hunt for anything I can do better—whether that is how I wake up, how I sleep, how I make friends, how I sing, what job brings home the bacon, how to cook the tastiest bacon, how to incorporate my goofy side into my “serious” professional persona, how to give up Real Housewives of XYZ, and how to achieve every thrill seeking activity on my bucket list before my joints give out on me. Oh—and I’d like to lead a less painful life with fewer sick days. Not too much to ask is it? Kristin 2.0 says no way. So Carol, Beverly, Adrienne, Tessa, Britt, and all of the rest of you out there…let us know how you do things the 2.0 way!

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