"Every ten minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. On average, 20 people die each day* while waiting for a transplant." — UNOS www.unos.org/data
For over 10 years, my sister has been in and out of the hospital due to internal bleeding — the tumors on her liver would erupt.
The bleedings would be sporadic and unpredictable. Once every blue moon, we would have a scare, sit in the ER until they would give her morphine to dull the pain, and then she would go back to work as if nothing happened.
It was apparent she was a miracle.
She was sent home to die during the first year of her diagnosis — clearly neither God nor we was having it. We got on our knees and prayed like never before — ugly cries and all. Over time, she miraculously, and unexplainably, recovered.
But as I recall, her doctor saying about four years ago after an episode, "She's not going to recover after this one." In other words — her now fatigued demeanor was going to be the new normal and she could die "again." I remember I wasn't having it, and walked out of her office in middle of the meeting.
She ended up recovering — our faith was too strong.
But last year, something tipped the scales and, at the time, it felt like her miracle juice had ran out. She was sent to the hospital yet again via an ambulance. She passed out because of the pain. A surgical operation was performed where they inserted a needle in her to stop the internal bleeding. Her vitals dropped and that is when I received a call from my crying mom to come home. My mom rarely cries, so I knew this time, it was different.
I recall praying a different prayer. In the past, I prayed she lived. This time, I prayed that God's will be done.
I no longer selfishly wanted her to live if she was going to continue to suffer.
While in the recovery room, the conversation from her team of doctors was different.
Even our experience and treatment was different. The once disconnected, non-empathic conversation turned into inclusive, connected, and compassionate communications that made my mom and I feel safe even while they were stating her fate: if she doesn't get a transplant, she could die because her liver took a serious hit, and the next one could be fatal.
They have been wrong before, but this time my sister agreed. She said she prayed about this so a few years ago she got on the transplant list. Only now did I found out that she would need a caretaker. I proudly volunteered.
The other most important thing was the long list of people waiting for a transplant and her low MELD score (Model of End-Stage Liver Disease — The MELD score is used to prioritize patients waiting for a liver transplant.) Thankfully, her miracle juice didn't run out like I once feared. Her doctors wrote a letter to the people higher up to increase her MELD score and chances of getting a liver transplant.
After two weeks, it was approved.
But the journey didn't stop there, it had just begun.
We returned home to wait for the call, worrying about what effect this episode had on her. Her once vibrant, round face was now thin and depleted. Her weight was lower. Her larger liver (due to the amount of tumors) and small frame was going to be hard to match for an organ transplant.
So, of course, we prayed.
As we prepared, a month went by with no call. We did, however, receive news that if you don't get a call within 30 days, they'd have to reassess your MELD score. This was the first time I felt fear. The thought of her being in pain always hurt me. This was the first time I thought, I hope she is not getting better. I was ready for a change. We all were.
Again, her miracle juices were still at work. We got a call stating they wrote another letter to extend it — which was not only granted — but she was bumped to the second position on the wait list.
One week later, she got the call.
Now, they say, you can show up, wait, and end up coming back 5-6 times to the hospital for numerous reasons, and may still not receive a transplant. But even after we called my mom to inform her, we looked each other in the eye and said it is happening — we could FEEL it.
And it did happen. The next day, and 8 hours later, the transplant surgery was successful. The doctors stated the liver was so big it took two hands to take it out. It was the second largest her doctor had ever removed. Later, we found out she had 84 tumors, two of which were cancerous.
Now, we faced complications. She had to have two more surgeries. One of which they found nothing wrong and the other so minor I forgot. A mixture of things caused her kidney to fail, forcing her on dialysis. The drugs they gave her raised her blood sugar, inducing diabetes, so she had to take insulin.
But the power of prayer, having faith, using sound healing — Tibetan singing bowls, spraying the room with sage spray, using essential oils, laughter, positive thinking, having affirmations and goals — carried us through it all. Also, what helped was reducing the negativity by only sharing what was going on to a very limited number of people until we knew it was the right time.
She spent 28 days in the hospital, 26 of which I was with her, because my mom would not let a day go by where she was alone, and if she was alone, it was no longer than a couple of hours.
Now, thankfully, she is back to work. Beautiful, vibrant, and cheeks so chubby, I sometimes call her CC.
During this time, what was also challenging was the lack of empathy and support I was given by some nurses, social workers, friends, and even some family members. I dealt with racism, mistreatment, and people taking advantage of the situation. But if I had chosen to focus on them, I know I would have missed the biggest blessing that God has given me, which is my sister, who has always been my resilient miraculous angel.
Her doctor actually told her, "Aster, you have a resilient spirit." If that doesn't tell you the power of prayer, I don't know what would.
So, pray on, friend, pray on.
Originally published at Medium.com.
Featured image by Giphy
Saba Tekle is a Filmmaker, Publisher, Mentor, Former Huffington Post Contributor and an Award-Winning Best-Selling Author. She is also the creator, co-author, publisher and producer of best-selling book series, "20 Beautiful Women" and soon to be docu-series. This compelling book series and movement inspired the #20beautifulwomen challenge (in which over a million women participated) and was a blog section in The Huffington Post.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash