As many believe, everything happens for a reason. Even if that certain thing is in the form of something negative, it can still be considered as a birthday gift. Jennifer Hurvitz celebrates her birthday with everyone through this episode in a very special way. She talks about an important gathering called She Podcasts and encourages women all around the world to join. She gets down and personal on a challenging turn of events within her life and spreads the importance of self-awareness. Jennifer tackles the development, hardships, and support she has received and then emphasizes the significance of surrounding oneself with people that bring you joy.
Listen to the podcast here:
My Birthday Gift To You
October is my favorite month of the year because it’s my birthday and this is my birthday episode. I decided that I was going to do a birthday episode, a solo episode because this is my birthday present to you all. Every year on my birthday, I like to give presents to my kids and to my family because I feel that it’s not only my birthday. I feel that I should celebrate with everybody. I decided that I’m going to give a birthday present to everybody. To all my audience, happy birthday to you all. My birthday is on October 12th, which is Columbus Day.
I don’t know if it falls on the same day of the year, but Columbus Day is October 12th. Happy birthday to everybody. This is my gift to you and it’s a gift of awareness. Everyone should be aware of your body and take a deep look at yourselves. I’m going to share with you why it’s a little health awareness present for you. I’m going to give you a little secret that I’ve been carrying around. People who have read my blog that I posted already know about something that’s going on in my life. I’m going to share that with you and my readers.
I want to say thank you to a bunch of people. If anyone has been following this show, you probably know that I have a sponsor. I want to say thank you to Worthy, which is the most amazing sponsor ever. If you go to Worthy.com, you will know what it’s all about. Shout out to Worthy. Thank you for being a sponsor. I love you all. They have an amazing podcast and Jennifer Butler is the host. She’s amazing and she’s been on the show. You will hear all about her. Thank you, Worthy.Be smart. If your intuition is telling you something feels funky, it usually is. Click To Tweet
Back to my birthday, which is so selfishly all about me. I’m going to share something with you, but first, another thing that’s exciting. I’m a little bit hyped up and excited because of the She Podcasts Live Event that I’ve been talking about ever since they asked me to be a speaker on a panel. I’m going to be in Atlanta, which is the coolest thing ever for the She Podcasts Live Event. It’s their first podcasting event that they’re doing. It’s an all-female podcasting event. They’re going to have between 600 to 1,000 women meeting up in Atlanta for a four-day extravaganza.
I cannot even wait. They’re going to have fairy hair. That sprinkly fairy hair that you put on your hair. I’m getting it for sure. That’s not the best thing about it. The best thing is, we’re going to all get together, women podcasters from all over the world and collab, talk and do amazing things. On my panel, we’ll talk about the good tips to take home with you. I’m going to be speaking about doing podcasting right and all that good stuff. I’m super excited to be there. I’m going to be surrounded by phenomenal women. Even if you don’t have a podcast and you’re thinking about starting a podcast, it’s the most amazing place to be.
Battling An Autoimmune Disease
You can get a virtual ticket. Join us on She Podcasts Live. I’m going out to Atlanta and I’m flipping out. I can’t even believe it. I’m excited. That’s all about me and my birthday. Here’s my gift to you all. Take a deep breath. I’m a little bit nervous about sharing this because it is not the greatest news. It’s hard to share something like this, but I feel it’s important and to be aware of your body is important. As women, sometimes our health doesn’t come first. Sometimes we don’t put ourselves first. We’re so busy caring about everybody else, our kids, husbands and families. We’re worried about our job and everything else that we forget about ourselves. We don’t read the signs. We don’t notice things that are changing in our bodies and we ignore them.
We say, “I’ll go to the doctor next week. It’s okay if my stomach hurts. Who cares if I haven’t pooped in three months?” I’m exaggerating, but things like that are important. You need to check yourself and you need to take notice of things that are going on in your body and changes that are happening and go to the doctor. If the doctor says, “That’s nothing. Let’s watch it for three months. It’s okay.” Be your own advocate, push forward, ask questions and do research. I know everybody says, “Stay off of Google because Google is super scary if you’re in the wrong place and you’re getting the wrong information,” but be smart and educate yourself.
If you think something feels wrong or your intuition is telling you that something feels funky, it usually is. Let me start back with my journey. It was a few years ago, I started having some stomach problem. That’s where it started, “Stomach problems maybe?” I started having your typical gastrointestinal issues like IBS. My stomach hurts, bloating and all this gas stuff going on. I was like, “That’s probably nothing.” It turns into a little bit of something and I went to the stomach doctor. They diagnosed me with IBS. Not to get too personal, but I’m going to, I was constipated from this drug. This one was causing me this and maybe it’s gluten. I brushed it off. I had to have an endoscopy and they put the scope down my whatever.
They said that I had a polyp up here and I had GERD. They found something that they thought was a tumor. They called it a GIST or gastrointestinal stromal tumor. I wrote a blog and I freaked my family out, my friends and everyone that I thought to myself, “I’m dying. I have cancer.” Around the same time, I started getting this crazy eye infection, which I thought to myself, “My eyes are always red. It’s hurting and it’s got this goopy thing in it.” I went to the eye doctor. One eye doctor said, “It’s nothing. Let’s give you some antibiotic drops. It might be conjunctivitis,” and he sent me on my way. It never went away.Don’t surround yourself with people that don’t bring you joy. Click To Tweet
It’s the same time as the stomach. The stomach was going on and the eye was going on. I was having gas and bloating. I said to the stomach doctor, “I don’t know but maybe this is all connected.” The doctor’s like, “Let’s do another scope and we’ll take you in. We’ll see what this crazy tumor is.” I’m making it short. I went back in and the new stomach doctor who did the second endoscopy said, “It’s not a tumor. It is your spleen.” I had ultrasounds and I don’t know why they didn’t see that in the ultrasound, but whatever. They said, “It was your spleen pushing against the side of your stomach, which made it pucker. It’s not a tumor at all.” I’m like, “Okay, great.” He said, “It’s all inflammation. Everything’s inflamed and you have IBS.” I’m like, “No tumor. It’s just tons of inflammation and tons of gas.” The ultrasound tech was like, “We’ve never seen so much gas.” I’m like, “Oh my God.”
All this time and years had gone by. I still have not cleared up my eye. My eye infection keeps coming back every 3 or 4 months. This eye thing is flaring up. It’s this jelly stuff over my eye and I can’t see. My head hurts and my eye hurts. I go to another eye doctor and he says the same thing, “It’s just an infection. Let’s give you some more antibiotic drops.” I keep switching antibiotics and nothing’s getting better. Finally I’m like, “This is crazy.” My eye is totally a mess. I can’t wear makeup. People think I’m contagious, but I’m not contagious. I switch eye doctors altogether. I’d gone from a whole different practice because I’ve seen two doctors in the same practice. I went to a different practice. The name of the practice, because this is the woman who saved my life, Vanessa Mills at the Providence Eye and Laser Center. I’m only naming the good ones. I’m not going to bad mouth the bad ones that totally missed everything.
I’m going to tell you the good ones. I could cry. I walked in the door and it was Dr. Mozayeni and Dr. Mills. She looked at me and she’s like, “That is not an infection. That is called uveitis and it’s a symptom of something different.” She didn’t name it but she said, “You need to see a rheumatologist.” I looked at her and I’m like, “What do you mean?” She’s like, “You’ve got stuff going on internally in your body and this is not right. Uveitis is something that’s a symptom of something bigger.” I looked at her and I was like, “That’s crazy.” I bad-mouthed her and I got a little snippy. I was like, “That’s nuts.” I told her that my stomach is bad. I have IBS. She’s like, “Did you mention the inflammation of your eye to your stomach doctor?” I said, “Yeah. She said that it was stupid.” She goes, “Right,” and gave me a look like does she have letters behind her name kind of look. I was like, “Okay.”
I brushed it off, but Dr. Mills gave me a steroid. Not an antibiotic but a steroid. She said, “Try this.” I’m telling you, within days my eye was better. This was a total a-ha moment. It wasn’t an infection. It was inflammation in my eyeball, which is uveitis. It’s inflammatory like a jelly over my eye. I was like a new person but meanwhile, steroids are dangerous in your eye. You can’t use them long-term and they cause all this other stuff. She’s like, “You need to see a rheumatologist.” I didn’t listen because I was like, “This is fine. My eyes are better. I’m good.” I went about my day and I’m super busy. Women, we are so well and men too are super busy. We don’t make time for ourselves. I didn’t make an appointment with the rheumatologist. I had a speaking engagement in Detroit. I had to go home for this. I had to do this and my kids came first.
The Gift Of Self-Awareness
I waited and waited. I went back to her because it came back and it keeps flaring up. If you don’t treat the big problem, the symptoms don’t go away. When you have an autoimmune disease, which is what I was diagnosed with, it doesn’t go away when you treat the symptoms. You have to treat the entire disease. Take a deep breath and I’m only telling you and sharing this with you because I’m giving you a gift. It’s called my gift of self-awareness, self-love and self-care. I don’t want to cry but do what you have to do to make time to take care of yourself. I was diagnosed with something that’s called ankylosing spondylitis, which is an autoimmune disease. It’s in the family of lupus, MS, Hashimoto’s and all of those diseases. There are actually thirteen of them. They’re genetic and they’re autoimmune diseases. You cannot treat the symptoms. You have to treat it like a fire burning from the outside of the building. You only put out the fire from the outside but the inside is still burning. You can’t treat it that way. You have to treat it from the inside out.
This amazing and fantastic woman, Vanessa Mills, who I took a present to her after I saw the rheumatologists. She said to me, “Jennifer, this is not okay. You need to go now. This week you need to see the rheumatologist.” She got me in immediately. We drew blood, twelve vials. I have the marker, which is the HLA-B27. It’s a protein and it’s a marker for ankylosing spondylitis, which I can’t even say it. I only learned. It’s ankylosing spondylitis and it is super rare. I can explain to you what it is. Don’t Google it. You’ll be scared for me. My family and I were horrified.If you don't treat the big problem, the symptoms don't go away. Click To Tweet
I’m going to be okay. I have to get amino globulin infusions every six weeks, which I’m not so thrilled about. It could be worse. I’m going to be okay. I have to change my lifestyle. I have to stop eating gluten, which sucks because I love bread and I love all the good stuff, but it’s part of the life that I’m now living. Dr. Charles Withers is my new rheumatologist. He’s amazing and he’s in Charlotte. I’m blessed to be surrounded by amazing family and friends. I’m freaking out and I’m going to cry. My sisters and mom have been amazing. We’re all freaking out a little bit. My boyfriend is my rock and it’s scary because I have no family here. They’re all in Detroit, LA and in Japan.
I have a few super close friends here that I can’t even imagine going and sitting for two hours every six weeks to have an infusion. I haven’t started them yet. Hopefully, my insurance is going to cover them because they’re super expensive. I don’t know how anybody can have an autoimmune disease and able to afford this. It’s expensive without insurance. I don’t know how people do this. I have an amazing insurance agent that I started working with Katie McGee. She’s amazing. I’m giving her a shout out too. You have to listen to your intuition and you have to take care of your bodies.
In my whole life, I was a hypochondriac. Women are always made to feel like big babies, maybe some men too or, “You’ve got to go on with your day.” This is so weird but ankylosing is all about your spine fusing and now your joints are hurting. Eventually, it causes something called bamboo spine where your discs have degenerative spine disorder disease and scoliosis and that thing. They did all of these baseline spine x-rays. I do have scoliosis and I had no idea. I would sit in a movie theater and I can’t get up afterward. It hurts to walk down the stairs and it has been for years. I’m like, “That’s normal because I’m a dancer. I danced my whole life and I was a cheerleader. It’s the pain I’m supposed to have.” It’s not normal at 47 years old to not be able to walk up a flight of stairs. You’re not supposed to have knee and joint pain or lower back pain when you wake up every morning.
Every morning I wake up and I’m like, “My lower back is killing me.” That’s not normal. I thought it was. I thought I was sleeping funny. It’s not normal to have a jelly-like fluid over your eyeballs. You’ve got to take the big picture of things and you got to slow down. This has completely changed my whole outlook on things. I’ve been a stress ball for the last few years since my divorce. This has been such a wake-up call for me because now I’m doing things that make me happy. When I get a phone call and someone says, “Can you come to such and such a thing and do a book signing?” If it doesn’t pay me, it doesn’t make me happy, it doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t love the person or people make me stressed out, I’m not doing it. I’m saying, “No.”
I no longer have the time or the energy to surround myself with people that don’t bring me joy. My body, my children and my family are more important. I said to my boys when I told them about this, I’m like, “This is a wake-up call for me.” My birthday gift is giving myself back my life. Happy birthday to me and happy birthday to you all because now you need to go and make a list. Sit down and make a list of what’s the most important thing to you. Is it your health? Is it your family? What brings you joy every single day? It’s such a wake-up call for me. I’m sharing this because it’s who I am and it’s the truth that I’m sharing.Check yourself and take notice of things that are going out of your body and changes that are happening. Click To Tweet
It has been a tough few years and people see that happening. Social media is such a bull crap. People put up their posts, the life coaches that are so perfect, everyone and their families are so perfect and their traveling is so perfect. It’s not. Life is hard, tough and it’s difficult. You only see the goods. You don’t see the noes and the struggles that I’ve gone through. It’s okay. This stuff makes it real. It gives you a slap in the face to take a deep breath and get yourself together.
I’m getting myself together and I’m doing things that make me happy. Happy to me is now changed. My happy looks different and I’m freaking out about this first infusion. I don’t even know what it’s going to look for me sitting in that room. Hopefully, it’s going to makes me feel better and hopefully, my eyes will get better and not worse. My prescription has already changed. I already see blurry at night and my eyeballs hurt. I had to cancel a photo shoot because I have to wear my glasses. I woke up with a flare-up.
Don’t feel bad for me because I don’t feel bad for me. I feel good for me because things are going to get better. I want you to be aware of your bodies. If you think that you have something going on inside, go to the doctor and get a blood test and check yourself. Knowing and having knowledge is power. Thank you to everybody who’s been such a strong support system: my sister, my mom, my family, my boyfriend, Jim, who’s my rock. He’ll be embarrassed because I’m talking about him but I don’t care, my girlfriends and everybody. You guys are awesome.
One day when I feel I’m ready because I’m not yet, I will start doing some fundraising for the AS Foundation. I’m not ready yet. I’m not there, but when I am, I will go to the Ankylosing Spondylitis Foundation. They have a group here in Charlotte. It’s some kind of support group, but I’m not ready. I will be soon. I have started doing yoga again every day because you have to be all limber, flimsy, stretchy and bouncy. I’m going to get there. The gluten thing is freaking me out, so I’m going to get there too. Everybody, have some bread.
If you like this episode or you any of the episodes, please rate a five-star review and all that good stuff. Be happy and love each other and happy birthday. Thanks for being here and thank you to Worthy, my sponsor. Go look at Worthy.com. It is awesome. If you have an engagement ring lying around, go and sell it with Worthy because it is amazing. That’s it. Thanks. As always, peace, love and so much truth.
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