I am thankful that I have been relatively healthy my entire life. No hospital visits, random falls or other freak accidents. It also probably helps that my mom’s remedy for everything was “put alcohol on it.” LOL!!! So two years ago when I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, I lost it! I’d never, ever in my life had a diagnosis and the thought of having to take synthetic medication for a week, day, month or even worse – according to my doctor – possibly for the rest of my life sent me into a frenzy.

The past two years have been much of the same. Although my Rx fluctuates between very small doses, I still hate that I have to take something every single day. When my doctor called on yesterday to tell me that my levels were elevated once again, I felt a little piece of my heart break.

Last week I was finishing an essay for an academic program and at the request of the writing center, my aim was to make it more personal. Why am I interested in the field of public health? Where does this passion come from? I started writing and the words flowed freely. Some of written before, many I have not. One thing that I never connected or shared was that I have never been able to spend time with either of my grandmothers – they both died prematurely from health-related complications. I started making my way down the list of family impacted by disease and illness: grandpa, uncles, aunts … the list goes on.

These two events are related because this year has really been about taking charge of my health. My physical fitness and eating habits are major components, but not the only components. As is customary for me, I have been evaluating and re-evaluating friendships. Taking time to breathe, celebrate, mourn, laugh, cry, release and rebuild. I think of my grannies, I think of my family, I think of my friends and I think of me. I can’t change my current diagnosis – although I am earnestly searching for an alternative – but I can work towards not adding to the list. I can do this! This diagnosis does not define me. I can use it as impetus to push forward and remain committed to myself and the health of others. I can do this. This is why I do this. This is why I am committed. This is my life’s work.