• Joni Ganguzza

Paradigm shift: How My Illness Changed Me

If having paraneoplastic syndrome has taught me anything, it is to embrace a positive outlook in difficult times otherwise I think I would still be in a pretty dark place. Undoubtedly, this was not my attitude at first. A lot of me questioning God on why this happened went through my mind. It didn't make sense. I thought, "I'm 37, a vegan, I exercise, I work 60 hours a week and have 7 kids who I take to church every Sunday, why God would you let this happen to me?" Grief and anger overwhelmed me.

Getting my IVIG Infusion at home

I think my lowest point in the hospital was after surgery I was in a great deal of pain, I still couldn't move the right side of my body, I had a foley catheter, I couldn't swallow and was on oxygen to breathe and the nurses were log rolling me in bed to give me a sponge bath because I hadn't showered in 6 days. If it wasn't for my family and friends lifting me up emotionally and spiritually, it would have been extremely difficult to get through.

But by the grace of God, who can take horrible circumstances and turn something positive from it, my low experience allowed me to have a huge paradigm shift in my attitude today. For example, I am back at work and it is not easy. I still have double vision on my left peripheral vision and I'm a little weak on my right side, but rather than complain about my deficits, I am so overwhelming happy to be back at work and earning an income to support my family again.

Things that used to bother me at work, don't even feel like it is worth any negative energy. I can't let a rude patient get me down when I am just grateful to be able to work again. I also don't let my deficits I still have depress me because I live in a country where I can get a home infusion of the medication that helps me like I am getting today by home health.

Because I can't work as many hours as I used to, we had to cut back on expenses at our house, one of which was our housekeeper. This would have really frazzled me or had me complaining before my illness, but now I look at it as an opportunity for my kids to take care of their own bathrooms and vacuuming which honestly may make them into more mature and responsible adults some day. So yesterday, my kids learned how to scrub toilets and maybe this will help with my boys taking better aim in the future since they'll be cleaning it themselves.

I'm also not as hard on myself about my physical appearance. I worked out before to keep weight off, but now I go to get stronger just for me and nobody else. I am grateful exercise allows me to heal and strengthen my muscles rather than simply the goal of trimming my waist line.

So my challenge to anyone reading this is for the next 24 hours, anytime a complaint pops in your head, turn it into something turn it into a positive. Burned dinner? It's an opportunity to try a new restaurant or have breakfast for dinner. Your boss was rude to you?Maybe it was the push you need to look for the next career move. Your child got in trouble at school? Perhaps it will allow for a teachable moment so he doesn't make the same mistake when he is older and there would have been more consequences.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

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