Season 3, Episode 59: I got sick... AGAIN.

SEASON 3, EPISODE 59

SHOW NOTES

We have chatted this season about so many of the things I’ve learned through starting over and going through a divorce, one of them being about taking care of ourselves. And yep, you guessed it, I got sick… again!

Well friend, in this chat I’ve got an update for y’all. It’s an encouragement for you and a practice that I have to keep at because it does not come naturally.

Thanks for being here for this chat and sharing the transitions you’re going through. I am so grateful for this space where we can chat. Let’s keep this going over on Instagram at @NicoleWalters!

Season 3, Episode 59

Nicole:

Hey, friends. So this chat is actually kind of personal, but I’m excited to share it with you because I just had like another realization and I was Googling everywhere. You know how whenever you have something that occurs to you, whether it’s an idea or something that happens to you health-wise or an experience, one of the first places we hit is like, Dr. Google, right? We’re going to self-diagnose by looking things up. And I could not find anything about this. So I am excited to share with you kind of what I’ve learned through research and all that jazz and asking questions of professionals.

Now, this is actually about my health. If you’ve been tuning in and hanging with me on these chats since the top of the season, you know that I’ve gone through a bajillion transitions. I got divorced, I fell back in love. I am parenting now as a single mom, but not really because Alex is here and he’s awesome. But I mentioned somewhat briefly, but I’ve had a couple dedicated chats about it, that I had a lot of health issues that kind of initiated or were part of the transition out of my marriage. And what’s interesting was I talked a lot about some of the things that I had noticed initially and how I was just so grateful to really have had the time upon my divorce and that separation season to really just focus on getting healthy again.

Well, I have got updates. So you’ve heard me talk recently about how I’m excited to kind of get my body and my physical self ready for the fertility process. Like, I’m really excited to possibly bring kids into this world with my new partner. And I announced that me and Alex are engaged and we’re getting married. And I’m just very excited to grow my family. And so part of that has been going through the whole fertility thing, checking your hormones, getting blood work, but also knowing that I’m coming off of a season of heavy stress on my body, just really staying on top of things.

So for the mamas who are listening, the sisters, the friends, all of you all just starting from the top, there’s not going to be any horrible news here, but it’s definitely worth listening to so you can breathe easy. I’m not going to say something horrific, but I do want to let you know that I am going to share with you just some things that I’m learning that I think may be hugely eye opening for you, if you’re making certain choices around your health, your body, your environment.

So this past week, I went in for a follow up visit with a dermatologist about a mole on my back. Now, I want to say, just to be completely transparent, I am a sun lover. I am African. It is my natural way. You can bake me in the sun. I don’t even know, if I feel heat in a normal way. Put me outside on a beach, direct sun, 90 degree temperatures, and I am like a happy clam. Okay. I love it. Also, without spending an entire episode talking about colorism and issues around complexion within the black community and the greater racial constructs within the world, I like being black. This really ties in. This really ties in with my loving being in the sun. Listen, roast me until I am the color of midnight. Oil me up so my skin is reflective. I am here for it, right?

So this is a thing that I just have times where I’m like, this is all I need is I just need a good sun soak and obviously that isn’t in alignment with sun health. Yes, I use sunscreen. No, I don’t do it perfectly. And as I get older, I have to be mindful of that for cosmetic reasons, if not health ones. Well, fast forward about a month ago I was dealing with a real stretch of travel. I had three speaking gigs across four different cities. I was traveling from LA back to the east coast. I had a couple of VIP clients.

If you don’t know about my VIP days, I’ll actually drop a link in the show notes below. People and clients and small business owners and people looking to start a small business. Book me, spend a day with me. We build their business. We answer questions. We do pivots, we build products. And I do that all from my office in Beverly Hills. But occasionally I’ll go to my clients. So that said, I had a bunch of those. So I was in Austin. I was in DC. I was in Pennsylvania, I was in Atlanta, and then I was back home. And I did all of this in a span of about six days.

So this is about like a month, six weeks ago. And when I headed out, I remember just not feeling great. And I thought it was just general fatigue, partly because I knew I had this stretch coming ahead of me and because frankly, recovering from the divorce process and the transition, managing a baby, all that, girl, I’m tired. We’re all tired. And so I was certain that that was what it was.

Well, I landed in Austin for the first sort of stretch of my speaking gigs, and I felt like trash. I mean, I was like, I’m just going to rest as much as I can and that’s going to be my goal so that I can at least show up for the things that I am obligated to show up for. And also I was excited about it. I love meeting you all in person. I just love getting out there. And I still think I’m getting my fill after COVID kind of had us all locked down.

So I land and I rest and I’m just kind of chilling and I didn’t feel like. And I think all you all relate. You know, how you can tell where it’s not allergies, it’s not a cold, it’s not whatever. So I just knew that this wasn’t like a sick, sick thing. But my body felt heavy. So I rest and I get going. But I also noticed that my back was aching on my shoulder blade on the right side. It was just aching, aching, aching. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It seemed centralized around a certain spot. But I also have this horrible habit of feeling like I’m just going to pull through it. And that’s going to tie into this conversation because I just don’t have time to deal in the particular season.

So I was like, you know, it doesn’t seem that bad. I’ll be fine. So I managed to get to my gig and I do my gig and everything’s going well and I’m rallying. But by the end of the gig, it was a particularly hot day in Texas. I actually almost fainted. Like I was so lightheaded and I blamed it on the heat, maybe not eating enough hydrating enough, whatever it was but by the time I got back to the green room, I was just shy of like a full on pass out. My head was spinning. I was dizzy. I managed to recover enough after getting some water and food in me that I thought it’s just got to be the heat. So I slept a little bit, hopped on a 04:00 a.m. flight back east to continue my stretch. So all along the way, I’m feeling this ache in my back. But I’m just kind of dismissing it. So I finally managed to see my sister.

If you follow along over on Instagram, you’ll see that I got to see my sister during that stretch of travel, which is always so special. And I call her my baby sister, but she’s like in her 30s. But my baby sister and I had her take a look at my back. And she took a look at my back and she was like, Nana, which is what she calls she’s like, nana, there is a spot on your back. It looks like a bad spider bite. Like you’ve got to get that checked out when you get back to LA. And I was like, oh gosh, not a spider bite. Of course I’ll get it checked out. But at least I knew that there was something going on there. But it seems surface even though it ached, like into the bone. But I was like, just a bad spider bite. It happens. So I brushed it off and I continued doing what I was doing. But I knew that because it still ached when I get back to LA, I was going to get it checked out.

Well, when I landed in LA. It didn’t hurt as much after this week of travel. So I was like, well, I’ll put it on the calendar, but I won’t stress it. So I get in and to my doctor’s appointment maybe like a week and a half out from that point. And at this point, a lot of the bump itself had subsided, but the ache was still kind of there. And at this point we’re talking two and a half weeks of like a shoulder blade ache. So the doctor takes a look and says, yeah, maybe it’s a spider bite. We’re going to take some photos and send it in for a better look and do a referral out for you.

But then when they look on my back, they also find a weird looking spot. And they’re like this spot, it looks a little bit concerning. Concerning meaning they were worried about it being a possible melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer. And so they’re like, this spot looks a little concerning. We’re also going to take a picture of this and send it out. Now I want to let you all know right out of the gate, and this is rare, usually I do not share information when I am in the process. I usually share it once I have an answer.

But I think it’s important enough to share this because I don’t know where you may be in your personal journey and I don’t want to delay on this. So I don’t have an answer yet as to whether or not that was a melanoma or not. On the positive side, I don’t even receive, you all know I’m a God girl, I don’t even receive that it was right. So no matter what, I don’t have a formal diagnosis, but I know the diagnosis from a god, okay, it ain’t nothing, right?

But even if it were fortunately slow growing type cancer, easy to treat. And I did go in and get it biopsied, which means that they essentially take it out and send it in to get examined. But when I went to get it biopsied because I’m also team extra, I was not about that, oh, just take a piece of it. We don’t want you to have too bad of a scar. Let’s just take little bit. No, I already have a man. You can take out half my back, okay? If it is cancer, we’re not going to wait for an answer. You’re just going to take the whole thing and then you can come back and tell me later it was nothing and that’s fine. I can have a dent in my back. I do not care, right? I’m too old to care about that.

So either way, the whole thing is gone. But I will find out probably in about a week’s time kind of what happened there, if anything at all. But the one thing I wanted to call out is actually not even that. What if I told you that that wasn’t even the thing? So upside, because I had this ache on my back, I found this spot that could be questionable, possibly could be skin cancer, and got it removed because I never would have known it was there if this thing hadn’t happened. Look at God, right?

But aside from that, when I went into the dermatologist, they took a look at this bite on my back and immediately diagnosed it as shingles. Let’s talk about shingles. First of all, it’s not contagious, it’s not like a weird type of thing. Shingles, you may have heard of it. There are lots and lots of ads for vaccines for, like, American adults, older adults that are, like, I think they say, over the age of 65 or over 70 to get a vaccine for it because it presents as a rash that usually shows up along one side of your body and a lot of nerve and joint pain. And it is extremely painful and very uncomfortable. And you pretty much only get it if you have ever had chickenpox because it is related to the chickenpox virus that literally no one gets anymore because there’s a vaccine for it.

So there’s a secondary vaccine for shingles, which is what occurs when the chickenpox virus pops up again when you’re old. So here’s how this all plays out. One, I am not even 40, y’all? I am not even 40 and my body is breaking out in a reaction to something that is typically presented in people twice my age. First note. Second note shingles is known for being incredibly painful and very difficult to the point where they prescribe very strong painkillers and creams to help people have comfort while they’re dealing with this nerve pain, possibly for months on end. I was working and traveling during this.

Lastly, I completely let this go over this time and didn’t address it till later. Here’s why this matters, y’all? The person who did all those behaviors is very much the me prior to divorce. And shingles is something that typically only represents itself when your immune system is either suppressed or when you are living under high stress. Are you picking up what I’m laying down, Nicole? Yes, talking to self now, but I hope you’re listening in on the conversation I had with me. I said, Nicole, you came out of this divorce situation and you said to yourself, you will never get yourself into a physical condition again, where you are operating at such a high bandwidth with so little capacity that you make yourself ill.

In the past, it was a ridiculously high blood pressure to the tune of 173 over 153 stroke range. In the past, it has been Bell’s Palsy where my face has presented all the signs of a stroke and become fully paralyzed. And now I’m seeing shingles because with all the things that I’m juggling, I had a week here where I just let myself go and the combination of everything and now I had nerve pain.

So the lesson in all of this is this thing that I was googling and searching, which is, I think really relevant to kind of this tide that we’re seeing turn on social media. Have you all seen you can just give me the virtual nod, right? Because I know we’re having this conversation like friends on a couch. Have you all seen this turn towards social media where everyone’s talking about soft life, where everyone’s like, live a soft life, girl, do you, travel by yourself? Relax, like, make time, light a candle, play some Erica Badu? It’s like this whole thing, right? Soft life.

So I want to tell you, I am not anti. Please. We deserve a life that is not hard. We can work to earn it, but we also deserve it without earning, right? Like, you are entitled and you deserve the right to peace, right? That’s not something you have to pay or sacrifice or fight for. But I also want to talk about the fact that friends everywhere online, all this talk of self care is diluted and confused with personal care. I can’t tell you how many friends I have that take “me” days and they do things that are just personal care.

Self care is about nurturing yourself, feeding yourself. I think of it as fertilizing a plant. A plant can grow and bear fruit in ideal circumstances with just water and sunlight. But we know that life, just like for plants, is not always going to give ideal circumstances meaning, you’re going to need to nurture the soil. You’re going to need to add extra ingredients. If it’s short on something, you’re going to have to get that and apply it. There are things that we sometimes have to do to nurture ourselves so that we can actually flourish and bear fruit the way we’re supposed to. And that is what I think of when I think of self care.

Self care is not tilling your soil, pruning your leaves, doing maintenance. Self care is the extra above and beyond to nourish to make sure you are bearing the largest, sweetest, most bountiful fruit and continuing to flourish. Are you picking up what I’m laying down? We will literally post on the internet ourselves, getting nails, eating lunch and buying ourselves new bras because, you know, you wear the same three all the time and the wires been poking you in the side for years and talk about some self care.

Girl, you deserve new bras. You should get your nails done. They just need to be done. You deserve to take yourself out to lunch. You cook for every single body else all the time. You deserve a moment of peace and quiet and a good meal cooked for you. These are totally separate. This is not self care. This is personal care. It’s your well being. Just like I deserve to go to my regular doctor’s appointment, and I deserve to stop working and take a moment to get checked out. Like, all of those things are personal care items that should be better integrated into my life and something I do naturally.

Now all those things are therapeutic things. I tell you when you live for decades where you have not been taught personal care or shown personal care, and if you read my book, Nothing is missing, for the first time, I actually dive into a lot of my childhood and how the way that we learn to treat ourselves is something that’s really based on how we are treated and how we see our parents treat others in the very beginning.

So if you grow up in a home where it is common for the women of the household to treat themselves as second class citizens, or if you come from an environment where basic necessities are not prioritized as needs but seen as luxury, it’s not uncommon that you may treat yourself like that as well.

And I’m not judging any of that based on neglect or abuse per se, but it may be done because of circumstances or poverty or ignorance. They just may not know. And so we then will perpetuate those cycles in our relationships. We will likely bring them into our homes. And until someone calls it out, which hopefully is me doing that for you right now, friend, right? We won’t actually take the steps that are required to change it.

And that, for me, has been an ongoing journey. I have chosen relationships where I have permitted these cycles that are so harmful, literally to my health, where if I’m dealing with a medical condition that is visible and apparent, I don’t surround myself with people that will care for me. I have now, which is great. Alex in particular, is a very great partner in saying, like, slow down, stop, or I will physically stop you. I will carry you in. Are you okay? You don’t look good. Like, checking in and also outright caring for me, getting me things, taking me like, he’s tremendous.

But it wasn’t always like that. And so I really was in a place where self neglect was a priority, and self care wasn’t even on the table, let alone personal care. So the thing that I had to cope with when, my reaction to this doctor’s appointment and I was fortunate because Alex came with me, which, again, is new. Having a partner that’s present during my appointments is just such a relief because it allows me to just focus on my condition.

But I have someone there who’s asking questions and making sure I’m okay and remembering what meds I’ll need to take and reminding me, it’s so nice to share that mental load. But when I was in that appointment, my first reaction, because of so much trauma around neglect and also fear that I’m going to repeat behaviors or I haven’t shaken enough behaviors from before. My first response was, I can’t believe I did this to myself again.

After all my growth, after everything that I’ve done, I cannot believe that I felt something wrong with me and I neglected it for work. And again, grace, grace, grace. We talk about this all the time, especially if some of you are hearing this right now and you’re thinking, my foot hurts, or I have that bump, or I have that thing I haven’t checked out, or whatever. Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace. Right? It does not serve us to beat ourselves up as we’re trying to learn and grow and do better and all that, right? I’m learning that just when you think you are healed and through, you probably have another year ahead of you.

Just as I’m thinking, gosh, I’ve made so much progress from this divorce. I’m nowhere near where I was before. I’m not as shaken. I’ve healed so much. I have moments where I’m just like, oh, girl, you’re still doing some of the same things in smaller scales, and the recovery is quicker, but I’m still doing stuff. So I had a moment, and Alex could sit. He saw it. I was literally tearing up because I was so mad at myself for letting this even go on as long as it did, or even get to my place where I had that shingles circumstance. And I was grateful that, again, just, like, reducing my blood pressure or the recovery of my bell’s palsy, which that was by the grace of God alone, because that could have been permanent, a paralyzed face.

But I was so grateful that I recovered from this. And I want to let you know, friend, that a lot of times we hear these stories about how people who are young, essentially, like, in their 40s, in their 60s, like, young and otherwise seemingly healthy and with so much promise in their life and lots of great things going on, how they just, like, fall out and they’re gone, right? Like, they drop dead, they have a heart attack, they slip away in their sleep, and we’ll hear about the end line, which is, oh, their heart just gave out, like, too much stress or whatever.

But I want to tell you that the thing I’m learning and really receiving right now is that your body shows you so many signs before that big moment. It’s not like your stress, stress, stress, stress, stress, fall out. It’s stress can show up in your life and reflect it in your physical self in so many ways. It can show up as a rash. It can show up as, I just found out I have Psoriasis, which I didn’t even know. I just thought that I had really dry hands after pandemic, and the dermatologist again said, no, this is Psoriasis.

And you don’t notice it as much because when you are more stressed out, it’s more likely to be activated. I’m just like, not my whole body falling apart based on stress. My other numbers healthy, all my other blood work, healthy. I am healthy and physically well. And every single thing I am dealing with now is stress related. My Psoriasis showed up about three years ago when I first left my marriage. And so the reason why I’m speaking out about this openly, particularly in relation to my divorce, particularly in relation to the transition, is because I really want you to hear that one, your lifestyle can hurt your body.

And not just in using drugs or activities or things like that. But I want you to hear that if you are seeing things like rashes or headaches that don’t seem to be explained or nerve pain or joint pain or heart palpitations or whatever, it’s not just like, oh, maybe I’m doing too much, or I need to eat better, I need more exercise. It could simply be stress. I am an otherwise healthy person and whenever I talk about how I had to find safety for myself and I use that word, and I mean that word, I had to find safety for myself in my lifestyle and peace to keep myself alive because my body was breaking down because of the way that I was living and the choices I made and the relationships, plural, that I had.

The people around me were affecting me in the form of pressure and stress, and I was permitting it. And I say this to you friend, because I care about you. And there’s already so much pressure on us from the grief of the pandemic and there’s so much pressure on us from needing to show up for our kids and our family and our jobs every single day, but you ain’t showing up for nobody if you’re not here. And so I want you to know that if indeed there is something right here and now as I am saying this to you today, that you know you need to get checked out. It isn’t even self care for you to make that appointment. It is personal care and you are deserving. It is necessary and you should do it. Make that appointment and get seen.

But outside of that, I also want to encourage you as you are going along, to engage in self care. And self care is that nurturing, that fertilization, that extra care. It’s not even the massage. A massage isn’t a treat. A massage is maintenance. There’s a reason why they assign physical therapy for bodies that are breaking down and in treatment. It is not a treat. It is actually something that if you ask a lot of doctors, they recommend that you do like weekly. I recognize the privilege of the cost. Yada yada. But I just want you to understand that you deserve and need that self care so you can be as high functioning as you are.

So please, friend, take good care of yourself. Hear that from me as someone who is taking this journey and is three years out from recovering from being at my worst and still feeling the effects of that time. And I’m not so naive as to think that I’m going to recover from decades of living a certain way and having a certain mindset in minutes. But I was surprised, I’m not going to lie to you, I was surprised. I thought I’d done so much better because all my numbers and my blood work and things like that had come in pretty well. But it’s still here.

And so I’m doubling down, I’m creating more space, I’m shifting things around in my business to minimize stressors and responsibilities. And I’m going to tell you, just I’m really grateful because I’m even looking at it and saying to myself, the money’s not worth it. In some areas, my money is not worth my life. I do not want to leave this planet sooner than God calls me because of work. It’s just not worth it. And I’m excited for the ways that I get to show up in our relationship here with our chats weekly, with this incredible book that I think is going to give so much color and insight to the stories that I’m telling now.

I mean, you are going to read this book and say, girl, no wonder. And that’s exciting to know that we can have a richer, deeper conversation. It’s also scary and very vulnerable. I feel very vulnerable putting myself out there that way. But I really, really hope that the book, coupled with our chats here, gives you the tools you need and the lessons so that you don’t have to repeat some of the things that I’ve done.

So friend, make the appointment, go to the appointment, do the things your doctor has told you, set up your systems of self care and make sure that you are leaning into it completely because you are valuable.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, or iHeartRadio
 
In this episode, we chat about:
  • How the talk of self care has diluted what personal care is,
  • What healthy boundaries in a relationship looks like with personal care (I’m learning this now, friend!)
  • How I found myself being sick… again!
  • What to do if you find yourself in a recurring problem like this

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:
  • Pre-order my memoir, Nothing is Missing, HERE!
  • Send me a DM on Instagram and Facebook!
  • Book a 20 min call to see if working together is the right next step for you!
  • Don’t miss our last chat about doing more so you can do less! Listen here!
  • I love reading your reviews of the show! You can share your thoughts on Apple here!

More about The Nicole Walters Podcast:

If you’re looking for the strategies and encouragement to pursue a life of purpose, this is the podcast for you! Week after week Nicole Walters will have you laughing hysterically while frantically taking notes as she shares her own personal stories and answers your DMs about life, business, and everything in between.

As a self-made multimillionaire and founder of the digital education firm, Inherit Learning Company, Nicole Walters is the “tell-it-like-it-is” best friend that you can’t wait to hang out with next.

When Nicole shows up, she shows OUT, so tune in each week for a laugh, a best friend chat, plus the strategies and encouragement you need to confidently live a life of purpose.

Follow Nicole on IG @NicoleWalters and visit inheritlearningcompany.com today and click the button to join our betterment community. Your membership gives you access to a world of people and tools focused on helping you build the life you want.