Columnist's Corner: Do You Have Chronic Resilience?

sharmBy Sharmyn McGraw

Do you have "Chronic Resilience" If not, why not?

I've had patients ask me time and again over the years, "After your pituitary surgery did your life return to normal? How soon after surgery did you feel normal again?" Well, that's no easy answer and this is why....

Dealing with any chronic illness isn't easy. There's something you have to develop and that's "Chronic Resilience." I recommend the book of the same name by Danea Horn. The author gives you step-by-step suggestions to develop the skills you need to deal with the challenges that come along with a chronic illness. I highly recommend this book for ALL pituitary patients. I recommend it because I wish I would have had Danea's book 13 years ago to help me through all the fears, changes and unexpected challenges I dealt with while recovering from Cushing's disease.

I also recommend this book because Danea knows firsthand what Chronic Resilience is. She's currently waiting for a kidney transplant, but not as one would imagine. Danea was born with only one kidney and it's not strong enough to last much longer. When I think of someone who is in chronic kidney failure, I imagine how I would deal with it....probably laying on my sofa, in my pajamas for days at a time, feeling sorry for myself, eating ice-cream and wallowing in my own self-pity, wondering, Why Me? But not my hero Danea Horn - NO WAY! She's touring the country signing books, doing television and talks, inspiring everyone she meets. Danea was born with VACTERL Association; this is an acronym for each of the body parts it affects. V for vertebral, A for anal, C for cardiovascular, T for tracheal, E for esophageal, R for renal (kidney), and L for limb. A child has VACTERL Association if she has a malformation in three or more of the systems listed. Danea's included all but C, cardiovascular. The book Chronic Resilience is a real-life, day-by-day, inspirational story written by a patient who talks the talk and walks the walk. She's my inspiration and I hope she will be yours. Danea, has also featured in her book 10 awesome women who have developed Chronic Resilience to thrive in - spite of their challenges with illness. I am proud to say, I am one of those ten women Danea wrote about.

So, I will try to answer the question: "After my pituitary surgery did my life return to normal?" It sounds like my answer should be fairly straightforward, but it's certainly not. After my pituitary surgery, nothing was ever normal again. I've learn to not like normal and I don't care if anything is ever "normal" again. I love to look for the diamond in the rough that most people are too busy to notice. After my long journey with Cushing's disease and after my successful pituitary surgery I was scared to death to start back to a so-called "normal" life. The tumor was gone; I was in remission and now what? For seven years my world had revolved around the limitations of living with a chronic illness. Every day had been dedicated to researching so that I could figure out what doctors were missing. What was this horrible disease that was killing me? Even though no one else believed I had a medical condition, I fought every day, and became more and more Chronically Resilient: I never gave up. However, after my surgery, I didn't know where to start. Going back to a "normal" life wasn't ever going to happen, I wasn't normal any more, I wasn't the same person. I was different; I had learned lessons, saw life differently, and grew in consciousness. So here is my answer: I love every minute of my life after pituitary surgery. I wouldn't change a thing but it didn't happen overnight. My journey is every day, moment-by-moment. And I pray I never settle for "normal" again.

So you can probably imagine how I'll answer the second question: "How soon after surgery did I feel normal again?" After living with Cushing's disease for so long I couldn't even begin to remember what "normal" felt like. So through the years I've decided it's best to just be grateful for the day I have right now and not waste time pining for the way I felt before the illness or even yesterday. I enjoy life: moment-by-moment. I love this quote: "We'll collect the moments one-by-one. I guess that's the way the future's done." This cute little quote packs a big punch. I first heard it watching Rain Wilson's Soul Pancake series, You can watch them all on YouTube. They're short and sweet and so good. You are guaranteed to be inspired. What you do with the inspiration is up to you!

The thing about having Chronic Resilience is this: you have to remember to fill your life with inspiration, hope and lots of love. Life happens but a great life happens because we work to make it happen. A great life is a choice. Our health can be taken from us but our happiness can't because it's a choice, moment-by-moment.

Many blessings my friends and remember to BE INSPIRED – it leads to Chronic Resilience.

Please join us at our next pituitary patient support group meeting in the Los Angeles area on October 08, 2013 for more information visit our website: and watch our latest YouTube videos at:

Sharmyn McGraw
Patient Advocate, Published Author, Professional Speaker and so much more!