Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Near Death Experience On Christmas+New Year Goals

My 2015 ended with a major blow. Instead of having the pleasure of spending my Christmas holiday season with family, on December 22nd while flying back from visiting family in South Carolina, my right lung collapsed (also called Pneumothorax). I was on the plane flying into Milwaukee when suddenly, I felt the most intense, sharp shooting pain in my right side, and sunk into my chair. Suddenly, I was struggling to breathe, couldn't move, couldn't sit up or get up. It was pain beyond words could express. It was the kind of pain that brought tears to my eyes and made me shake. My partner could see I was in distress and I knew my lung was in trouble. 

Months before the incident I had dealt with chest pains and unusual episodes of collapsing to the floor. My health condition called 22Q11.2 Deletion Syndrome which I'm sure you've seen me tweet about, comes with many symptoms (200 medical symptoms) and sometimes can be overwhelming, like what happened December 22nd. Immediately getting off the plane, my partner carried me to his dad's car and rushed me to the emergency room. I remembered lying in the car, in tremendous, extreme physical pain, drifting in and out of consciousness as the city lights blew passed me. My partner's dad was driving fast to get me to the E.R. Next thing I know, just over 24 hours later on December 24th, Christmas Eve when most families are gathering for the holiday, I had lung surgery. 

And, I was angry, extremely sad, in a panic, and distraught by the idea of all I knew I'd have to throw away because of that surgery. All of 2015, I stuck to my resolution which was to focus on my well-being and get as healthy as possible with blending fruits, veggies and super-foods daily, exercising and doing Yoga almost daily the whole year, and I had never felt better. Sometimes health things happen that are out of your control, no matter how perfect your diet seems to be or how physically in shape you are. My right lung had always been problematic with an eleven centimeter congenital (since birth) cyst and a chest X-Ray showed an abundance of air had filled my lung, punctured a hole where my cyst was, and the air began leaking. There was a lot of air and my doctor at Froedtert Hospital that was assigned to me, performed a very meticulous surgical procedure to remove most of the cyst, care for my collapsed lung and for six days I endured tubes in my chest and pain that I can't describe in words it was so bad. I wouldn't wish that pain on my worst enemy (if I had one). 

In light of this immense struggle I faced, I received a lot of love from family, friends, colleagues and people all over the world, literally, ALL over the world. I got so many emails, comments, and calls that my phone even crashed. Though I was delirious from the medications, I knew that people had my back. The last three weeks of my life, I could seriously write a book about all that had happened because of how bizarre things got. I reconnected and reunited with even old friends from my past that saw what had happened through social media and reached out. Even though it was the most painful, challenging and chaotic experience of my life being in the hospital for a week straight, it felt wonderful to also feel the love pouring in from all kinds of people in different areas of my life and different areas of the world. It was profound.

To say I had dodged a bullet would be an understatement. Doctors could see my lung was struggling for some time and had collapsed more than once. Pneumothorax, depending on how severe, (and my case was) is fatal if not treated right away. It's a miracle how everything unfolded and if I had gone to any other hospital, I would not have made it. That was my reality. As I was lying in the hospital for seven days, I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to see unfold and happen in 2016. 

For one thing, I wanted less physical pain but for the last three weeks, I was able to tough it out. Trust me, there were many times I wanted to give up on life altogether as I watched many opportunities just fall through the cracks as the seconds, minutes, hours and days went by in the hospital. A fashion show competition I had January 2nd (which I attended in a wheel chair, but my opportunity to win was erased because of my health). 
My online store I hoped to launch in early January. New York based fashion bloggers that wanted to work with me, I had to postpone. Get going again on my tailoring and alterations business, which was on hold for two months because of my health. And of course, collaborate with an incredibly successful musician whom I got the pleasure of meeting personally through Wisconsin's radio station FM102.1, Meg Myers. 

All of those opportunities had to be put on hold. My life was on hold. Everything I hope to do came to a screeching halt. So, as I write this now and it's already 2016 and I'm three weeks into my recovery from this lung surgery that wrecked havoc on my body and flipped my life upside down, here's what I hope to see happen this year:
1. Launch my online store at least by early March
2. Collaborate with those awesome bloggers at the end of March (more on that soon)!
3. Meg Myers, the amazingly talented singer/musician reached out to me today on twitter (see interaction here) so it looks like by February I'll get to start designing some awesome outfits for her live shows and events! She is one of the kindest people I've met in the music industry so far and has a powerhouse voice! If you have not heard her live yet, I highly recommend you do! 
Meg Myers performing at Snow Show 10 with FM102.1 Radio December 10
4. Kick start (AGAIN) my tailoring and alterations business and get moving on that (mid-end of February). 
5. Collaborate even more with the amazing International 22Q11.2 Foundation Inc.

For me, the good and not-so-good things come in three's and four's, but hopefully, in 2016, the best is yet to come. This near death experience I had inspired me to make a few huge career moves (which I'll pursue in late February) and if you know how the fashion industry works, you might be able to guess what I'm planning. For now, I will not be making big announcements on that just yet, but a plan is in action, guys! For now, I am taking a lot of siestas, a vacation (figuratively speaking) and will not jump start into work of any kind until my lung and recovery is 100%. This 2016 though, I'm also re-evaluating my priorities and making sure I am living in such a way that allows me to rock at these goals I hope to accomplish this year. Though I was not happy to have lung surgery on my holiday season, I was happy to take a lot of time off to figure out how I can make the most out of the talents and abilities I have. If you know me, you know I don't let anything go to waste. 

So I hope you liked this post and make sure to subscribe to me so you guys can be the first to see what fashion items of mine come on sale and also follow my Snapchat@tessakoller. Snap-chatters are the first to see my new creations, exclusive behind-the-scenes at shows, and follow my path in fashion, good health, and more awesome stuff yet to come.     
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