Are you a warrior? No doubt, you are. We are all unique warriors, on this journey of journeys with a vasculitis diagnosis. The kind of warriors that despite pain, scars, and drudging, we keep going, keep fighting, keep living.
Yet, at times, on this mountainous journey we feel powerless, defeated and even very alone. On the other hand, moments of what seem like a small victory to most, wells up the feeling of an enormous victory for us!
My name is Desiree Kim and I’m a warrior diagnosed with Takayasu’s arteritis.
After 30+ years and a plethora of doctors (Western, Chinese, Ayurvedic) being dumbfounded by my Takayasu’s symptoms, the journey felt like it ended and began in May 2015. In the hospital room, after a second major surgery, I recall the initial feeling of disbelief when doctors shared my diagnosis.
There I was, confused and skeptical. Why now, after all this time? Were they for sure? What took so long?
Uncertainty, anger and a slew of racing emotions arose until I thought, “Wait, what if they are right?”
So, I began to search online and before long, I felt I was reading my life story written by others. I moved from disbelief into a victorious sense of relief, almost a celebration! But, soon after, the coming months of prednisone and other meds, would place me in a new kind of warrior mode for the ultimate fight of my life.
The side effects began to cause increasing disruption, which eventually led to suicidal thoughts.
With my best friend’s suicide behind me, I had a distant voice of wherewithal not to succumb to the screaming for escape. Being a warrior, I needed to find a way to win. My diet was clean, free of gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. I needed something more. Choosing life balance became a laser focus.
How the ancient art of Qigong helped me
I needed things I could do at home without much effort, and in some cases from a sitting position. Since I was a child, I have turned to creating art for release and balance of swirling emotions. More recently, I trained for certification in the ancient art of Qigong (chee-gong), a practice that balances and detoxifies the physical and emotional body using breath and gentle arm movements in meditative fashion.
Qigong began to take the lead along with my art. Doctors reported decreasing inflammation and I was tapering off medications. Fatigue, anger, anxiety and depression were slowly becoming more manageable. Over time, numbness in my hands and feet saw improved circulation. The science behind Qigong was so personally impactful that in January 2016 I received a deep sense of duty to share these gifts with others in need.
By August, I took this calling to the next level and departed from 20+ years in the corporate world to start RisingZen.com. Today, I teach at-risk kids and individuals with a variety of both virtual and in-person real-time Qigong, art and meditative programs. Next steps in expansion are to connect with doctors that treat within the vasculitis sphere, so together we can present patients with Qigong as a quality of life enhancement to their prescribed therapy. The first step was reaching out to the Vasculitis Foundation, which in turn honored my journey with this article.
So now, I invite you warriors, whether you are doctors treating or patients receiving treatment, to request a free “Joyful Heart” session for Qigong demo.
Thank you for taking the time to read part of my journey. Warriors, let’s fight the good fight together!
Your fellow warrior,
Owner/Operator at Rising Zen