Healing Lessons: The Blessings of a Crushing Diagnosis | by Andrea Mastrobattista

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 27, 2019 # Health

My life is now divided into two parts: before the diagnosis of a stage IV pressure ulcer and after it. Upon receiving this diagnosis on August 28, 2017, I broke down crying.

I felt tremendous guilt over the fact that I brought this situation on myself. I had neglected my health, carrying 50 pounds of extra unhealthy weight, and I had put off getting a new wheelchair cushion that I clearly needed.

I had to get over that guilt so I could focus on healing. My career as an inspirational speaker also positively influenced my determination to heal, because the lessons I was to learn on my healing journey would not only help me, but I could use them to help others as well.

Losing Weight and Gaining Control of Myself

I needed to get my priorities in order and adopt a healthier lifestyle so I would not get into this mess again. So that’s exactly what I did and, because I fully committed to treating my body with respect and taking the best care of it, my health began to improve almost immediately.

Eight months into my healing journey, I had already lost the 50 pounds, which was a third of my body weight. One of the differences between my life before the pressure ulcer diagnosis and after is that I don’t intend to go back to my unhealthy lifestyle full-time. Don’t get me wrong. I am not perfect. I still crave some of the foods I ate before and I cheat on my nutrition plan occasionally. But now when I overindulge, I feel the negative physical and psychological effects more than ever. Because I am learning to listen to my body, I return to my nutrition plan at the next meal. I am a work in progress and I intend to win this fight.

I have made the mind-body-spirit connection, and it and I, are getting stronger every day.

Adaptability: Focus on What You CAN Do

As a person with Spina Bifida, adapting to physical issues is part of my lifestyle. I focus on what I can do and, if there’s something I can’t do in the conventional way, I figure out an alternate method. As one of my favorite inspirational influences—entrepreneur, writer and philanthropist Marie Forleo—says: Everything is “figureoutable.” I believe that wholeheartedly.

Prior to the pressure ulcer diagnosis, I led an active lifestyle. I am an entrepreneur with two businesses—inspirational speaking and web and print design. I was used to sitting for as long as I needed to and driving my van wherever I had to go.

With strict bedrest being non-negotiable, I had to adapt my professional life to accommodate this part of my healing regimen. My friends at Heartworks, an acts-of-kindness non-profit established following the 9/11 tragedy, helped by getting me a desk I could use from bed to do my web and print design work. Client meetings took place at my home and via phone and videoconferencing.

As for my inspirational speaking, I focused on venues I could Skype into until I could be there in person, which I was able to do in February 2019, when I returned to one of my favorite speaking gigs in my hometown at Bernardsville Public Library.

Valuing Time

Now that I’m able to sit up a few hours a day, time has become more valuable to me and I’m careful with how I spend it. Thinking about how much time I wasted prior to my diagnosis depressed me. So, since dwelling on my past mistakes is also a waste of time, I got over it and moved forward.

My doctors have advised me that I should only sit for eight to ten hours a day for the rest of my life. That was the worst news of all. So, while I wait for medical advances that will allow me to bust out of that time constraint, I am working on maximizing my sitting time. It’s turning out to be one of the most important healing lessons because it has gotten me to focus on the activities that get me closer to achieving my goals in my inspirational speaking career, which is my true calling.

While I wouldn’t wish a pressure ulcer diagnosis on anybody, I am grateful for the blessings it has brought into my life and for the healing lessons I’m learning.

Andrea Mastrobattista is a professional speaker and owner of Operation INSPIRATION. She facilitates interactive workshops predicated on her core belief that no matter what challenges we face, we each have the ability to create and live our most fulfilling and inspiring lives.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.