The Struggle to Find Balance Again
June 6, 2023 - Shauna Jurczak

I’ve put in a lot of time and energy over the years to create a life of balance. It was time well spent and I was enjoying my balanced life...until this past March, when I was literally thrown off balance with a hospital visit and subsequent weeks in bed. It’s taken me until now to rebalance my life again.

When I say I was thrown off balance, I mean 100% couldn’t stand or sit up-right without falling over…like completely collapsing. I was struck by a vestibular attack, that I now know was caused by migraine phenomenon. Two days in hospital - followed by three weeks in bed - felt like a lifetime. I’m usually active, energetic, and very in control. Instead, I was immobile, tired, and had no control over my ability to stand, sit, read, or do basic daily activities. I couldn’t cook a meal for myself, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t drive…it felt like all I could do was lay down feeling frustrated and sorry for myself.

March 13, 2023 - laying in bed (still) but at least the cats were there to snuggle!

Lucky for me, I have an amazing partner who was willing to step in and care for me. He managed everything, even typing emails to my staff to help me coordinate being away from work during an extremely busy and important week. I needed help bathing, and he never complained once about helping wash my hair or scrub my armpits. He brought me any food I was able to keep down when my nausea would subside, even satisfying strange 11:00pm cravings like a single hardboiled egg and orange Gatorade. As I started to regain mobility, I still couldn’t drive, so he became my Uber. He gave a lot to help me.

Also lucky for me, I work with an amazing staff at the dance studio. I’ve never been away from the studio sick, and definitely not on such short notice, or for such a severe reason. I’ve also never missed a dance competition, but my vestibular episode happened the week of our first dance competition of the season. My staff stepped in, without hesitation, to help. It wasn’t necessarily easy or fun for them, but they did a fabulous job in my absence, and for that I’m forever grateful.

So there is the back story. I was off my feet for 3 weeks, and took another few weeks to finally feel “ okay” again – like I could function, go to the store, bathe, but I still couldn’t exercise, and my regular balanced routine was completely disrupted.

The whole ordeal left me feeling helpless, lost, frustrated, annoyed, and even a bit angry. Carrying those negative emotions made it even more challenging to find my balance and my purpose again. March 10 was when I became ill. I was able to get mobile and regain a bit of independence by March 30. I was finally feeling (almost) fully functional by April 15, and finally back to normal by the end of April. But all that time was spent on feeling “better”, not getting my life back in order. I wasn't regaining my emotional strength and well-being or balancing my stress or frustration. I knew by the end of April I needed to reclaim my spirit. I needed to reset, rebalance, and get back on track so I could continue to grow and flourish in this new season of life.

What did I do?

First, I had to stop feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I got sick and yes, it turned my life upside down. It also helped me see that I’m surrounded by a supportive, helpful, and loving team of people who are there for me at a moment’s notice. I needed to focus on that, not my own pity-party.

Second, I needed to stop being afraid of another vestibular attack. I’m a migraine sufferer and have been experiencing migraines since my late teens. This was the first time it hit my vestibular system - that doesn’t mean it will happen again, and doesn’t mean it won’t. I know the signs of it coming on. I have medication to take if it ever does to stop the dizziness before it becomes debilitating. I know what to do if a spontaneous dizzy spell happens. It actually has happened, and thankfully, the fast acting medication helped and I was fine! Living in fear wasn’t helping, so I needed to remind myself I was strong, capable and going to be ok.

Finally, I needed to reclaim myself as a whole, happy, balanced being. It was a struggle at first to create a new routine that didn’t involve laying around. It helped that the weather improved, so I was able to get outside more in fresh air and sunshine. I planted a garden, started riding my bike and going for walks, and reading outside. I remembered how good morning meditations made me feel, so I started meditating and journaling again each morning. I changed up the meal plans and made it a priority to stock the fridge weekly with fresh food so we could cook delicious, healthy meals. I made time in my day for work, but also time for rest, family, and play.

Most important, I gave myself grace. Grace to have a bad day. Grace to feel overwhelmed. Grace to be imperfect. And you know what? Slowly, but surely, my spirit came back to life. My body felt stronger and healthier. My stress levels became manageable. I was finding more reasons to celebrate than cry. And my productivity was increasing.

Today, as I sit here writing this, I’m sitting on my deck, with a caramel coffee, breathing in the freash air and listening to two squirrels chirping away as they chase each other. I’ve tackled a handful of things on today’s to-do list and once I press save, I’m heading out for a bike ride. Is life perfect? No. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But life is back on track and I’m regaining my balance, knowing I can get up after I fall.

June 4, 2023 - back up smiling again, celebrating life at my Nephew's birthday party surrounded by family, laughter and love!

If there's anything I've learned, and a reminder I want to share with everyone, it's this: It's easy to get trapped in the negative. It's easy to feel sorry for yourself after something negative or challenging happens. It takes dedication, effort, and persistence to find the strength and courage to pick yourself back up. That's not easy, but it is 100% worth it. You are worth it. You deserve to live your best life!