My Story, My Journey, My Transformation: From Clinician to Patient to Nurse Health Coach.
I never thought this could happen to me.
The chronic urinary tract infections, the painful bladder, the unpredictable menopausal symptoms, the runaway thyroid and adrenals, the weight gain, and yes, the bladder control problems.
This is my story, my journey, my transformation.
Here I was just entering my 50s and I felt like my body was failing me. Up until then, I considered myself a healthy woman with a fulfilling life and professional career. Someone who only went to a licensed health practitioner for routine woman checkups.
The irony of being a Nurse Practitioner Continence Specialist who developed chronic urinary tract infections and subsequent bladder control problems stung the hardest.
I was supposed to be the clinical expert. Women came to me for their bladder control problems.
I had become my own most complicated patient.
It took me years to crawl out of that dark, dark hole.
I went from physician to physician looking for answers. I stared at piles of supplements meant to help me get healthy, and I cried.
And then I researched, and I networked with other health professionals, and I researched some more.
I refused to see and accept myself as this sick and unhealthy person. I refused, I got angry and even more determined to heal myself, knowing that I am stronger than whatever this invisible illness would throw in my path.
Yes, the invisible illness.
Except for the weight gain from being hypothyroid, no one knew what I was going through. No one really knew why I canceled social events. Why I didn’t want my photo taken. Why I often did not have the energy to do simple activities.
And why sometimes I did not change my behaviors that I knew I needed to change in order to heal myself.
With the help of functional medicine physicians and other healers, I am much healthier now, but I still have a long road to travel to heal.
I’ve not been on a straight healing path, but rather a path with many mountains and valleys.
I’ve made myself feel bad because I often strayed from what I knew was necessary for me to regain my health. At the time, I couldn’t tell you why I did this, I just did it.
I dug in deep to explore my feelings and confront my behaviors.
It was only then that I felt like I was able to truly heal.
As I was staying more consistently on my healing path, I started to reflect upon my journey. I’ve always been a believer that situations and obstacles are put in our path for a reason.
To learn, to grow and to help others on similar paths.
I knew from my clinical practice with women with bladder control problems that pelvic floor therapy and lifestyle changes significantly improved, and for many, reversed their bladder control problems. Especially if the bladder control problems were addressed early on.
But I also knew that there are many women, who for whatever their reasons, just could not make the necessary changes to get their best possible healthy bladder and self.
These women would often start off experiencing good results from their clinical sessions with me but would stop doing the home pelvic floor therapy exercises, or would not want to address some of the other factors contributing to their bladder control problems.
Was it their lack of motivation? Did they not have the knowledge to understand how important these changes are in order to get a healthy bladder and self?
Why wouldn’t they want to do everything possible to stop their bladder leaks?
Ambivalence to change.
I experienced something similar during my healing journey. I just wasn’t in a place to know what to call it.
A person’s ambivalence to change is the key factor that stops them from making changes.
Changes they know they need to make.
I began to realize that as a healer, in order to help women to heal and truly change, to experience lifelong change, I needed to meet them where they are ,and understand them within their social context.
I realized that I am merely the change agent.
That I can help women to recognize their ambivalence to change, and guide them to make space for their transformation, but the power to make these changes lies solely within them and no one else.
This means that although each woman is experiencing similar bladder control problems, they are all unique individuals with their own stories and paths.
She may be a hard-working professional in her 30's, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s.
She may be raising children or taking care of her elderly parents or special needs child.
She may be taking college courses to advance herself.
She may be starting a new career.
She may be active in community affairs.
She may be entering perimenopause or menopause.
She may be with or without a partner or friends to support her.
She may be a combination of any of the above. So many different stories; so many different paths.
Why I am now a nurse health coach.
I realized that within the constraints of a traditional clinical health care practice, I just could not provide the clinical care and the health coaching that I believe is needed to guide and support women with bladder control problems towards healthy change.
I realizedthat there is already an abundant amount of clinical information and resources to help women with bladder control problems, but there were few if any health coaching resources specific to bladder control problems in women.
I realized that helping women to attain their best possible healthy bladder involves so much more than just focusing on their bladder.
I realized that a holistic mind ~ body ~ spirit approach is key to helping women get back control of their bladder and their life.