Movement is Medicine

Movement is Medicine

By Andrea Klein | June 7, 2023

As a mother of two children under the age of three, I think most would agree that life gets really busy. Add in an undiagnosed genetic condition shared by both children with a slew of medical complexities, most days feel like utter chaos. My journey began five years ago as my husband and I tried growing our family. We suffered three miscarriages prior to our firstborn daughter. After Ada was born, Oliver quickly followed 19 months later. Life, as we know it, has been overwhelmingly challenging, yet rewarding. Unexpected, yet purposeful. It is a thrilling roller coaster ride where we have already experienced our share of ups and downs. 

My life experiences, up until motherhood, were exactly as I planned. I had a successful high school career, earned an athletic scholarship to the college of my choice, became a pediatric nurse and later a pediatric nurse practitioner. I felt like I had everything within my control. But then I became a mother. My two children with complex medical needs quickly taught me that I actually have very little control over the situations life throws at us. I had to let go of everything I once imagined life would look like and learn to let go of the comfort in predictability. In hindsight, I have realized it was those predictable scenarios that helped alleviate my mind from anxiety; however, there is nothing predictable about living with an undiagnosed medical condition. Now, I confront my anxiety head on more days than not. 

Every day I strive to provide the best care for my children. In order to achieve this and get through each day I had to develop a routine. My husband works full time to support our family’s financial needs and I am the full-time caregiver to our kids. After a few months of struggling through their daily care and needs, appointments, hospitalizations, procedures, and therapies, I truly felt as though I hit rock bottom. My anxiety was at an all-time high. I struggled with fears over my children’s health and was even worrying about my own health. Over several months I gained weight, felt I was lacking energy, and became obsessed over my own bodily functions and discomforts. Luckily for me, I have a supportive husband who helped me find what I never prioritized as I dutifully cared for my children: myself. Amongst the chaos of our day-to-day life, I never made time for me. I lived a life of social isolation and stagnation, and never exercised or moved my body. Every day I completed all of my tasks to ensure my children’s wellbeing but didn’t realize I had even more to give once I started taking care of myself. 

As a full-time caregiver, it was often suggested that I take care of myself in order to take care of others. I was aware of this but faced too many obstacles and had too many excuses to follow through with taking care of myself. I had to “hit rock bottom” before I realized that I needed to prioritize myself. I made changes to our routine to ensure 45 minutes of daily exercise. From my experience, I strongly believe that movement is medicine. The more I moved, the better I felt, both mentally and physically. 

The journey to get to this place has certainly not been easy and my battle with anxiety is still a work in progress. Luckily, I have reached a point where I now understand that it is when my mental and physical health is in check that I am actually able to enjoy the thrill of this crazy undiagnosed disease rollercoaster ride. Ada and Oliver bring me an immense amount of love and joy. I am beyond proud of all of their achievements and will continue to try to take life a day at a time and not let my fears of the future affect my today.