Let's celebrate the Mama's - Meet Kylie Hohaia
Last week I announced our first winner of our new "Let's celebrate the Mama's" campaign. Our goal - to recognise how awesome we are. to lift each other up, and also ourselves. Our first week kicked off with a bang and I really struggled choosing between the nominees as each had a powerful story to tell. Truly strong and inspirational women. Which is amazing. At the same time, please don't feel that you need to have such a story to nominate yourself, or another Mama.
I shared a little of Kylies story last week, but she willingly took the time to open up and bare all, and it is one of such strength and inspiration that both Kylie and I really wanted to share the whole thing with you. Kylie nominated herself last week, which in itself shows the growth in mindset her journey has honoured her with. It has been a rough ride for this lady, but she kept on riding and has a very special message for all of us to share.
"I used to run the small swim school for about 8 years. Life threw me a lot of curve balls and I had to shut my business down due to health issues. I'm a young mum who loved to travel the world with my family. Everything went down hill for me when I did a 6 week road trip to Africa. (Toward the end of my trip) I started feeling symptoms like anxiety, vertigo, nausea, tinittus (thumping in my ear) just to name a few.
I went to the doc and they told me it was due to pregnancy (I just fallen pregnant with my second child when I got back). I put all my symptoms down to pregnancy. I had my beautiful baby boy 9 months later but I was still feeling so sick and not myself. Doctors told me it was depression from having a baby. I kept saying I don’t feel depressed, I feel sick. A few months later I was rushed into emergency as I lost all feeling in my legs and I couldn’t remember who my husband was (even though I've know him since he was 16). In the hospital they said it was a migraine and dismissed me that night. This went on for a whole year. I've done endless blood tests, MRI and CT scans but everything was coming out normal and no one could understand why I was feeling so sick.
In 2017 I hit rock bottom. I was basically dying and no one could help me. I got a severe migraine which lasted 13 days straight. It felt like someone was blowing a balloon in my head. My neck was so stiff I couldn’t move it at all. It felt like I had been in a car accident. Eventually after I kept being turned away at the emergency department I said to my mum “I don’t want to do this anymore. Please don’t be mad at me but I want to die now.” Can you believe at the age of 27 I was making funeral plans. Two days later I woke my mum up and said to her I’m dying now. I felt myself drifting in and out of consciousness. Basically I was dying in my mothers arms. After that everything was a blur. The pressure in my head was so severe it made me completely blind and deaf. In that moment I could just hear my mom crying and praying for me and I just lay there feeling so out of it but at the same time I remember it being very peaceful and calm (I think because I maybe mentally prepared myself for this moment) To this day I don’t know how I survived that night.
Finally the hospital took me seriously. I was admitted into hospital where they did a spinal tap and my opening pressure in my head was above 35 (a normal person is below 20) About 3 weeks later I was rushed in for my second spinal tap and put on medication which is supposed to help with lowering my pressure in my head, but it can also cause kidney failure in some people. So basically I’m still going to die either way. I went though a good 8 months on this medication and I was determined and so focused to get better. I had bad days and worse days and I struggled with depression and learning to live without my eye sight or my hearing. I went to Byron bay health lodge where you get doctors who work with naturopaths and they managed to get me into remission. In the mean time I started baking and listening to YouTube videos on how to bake. My health care worker at the hospital told me I needed to do something with fine motor skills to stop my eye from going lazy. I haven’t always been a baker, in fact it never really took my interest at all but I needed a distraction from the pain and that's what I did.
Last year I was diagnosed with a rare brain disease. (Idiopathic intracranial hypertension) Can you believe my body is actually mimicking a brain tumour and creating extra spinal fluid and crushing my brain . They told me I wouldn't gain any eye sight back...I actually managed to gain it back in the right eye only. I managed to turn my hobby into a part time business and I’m enjoying every moment of it. I think in life you are never given challenges which you cannot handle. I may not be living my life as how I used to or how I planned, but I’m now so much more appreciative of the smaller thing in life. I’m still living my best life and even though I live with chronic pain daily, I’m still travelling with my kids, I’ve gone back to work and I’m still being the best mother I can be. The biggest lesson I learnt was that life can change at anytime or any age so just enjoy each moment you have with the people around you."
It does not matter how many times I read her story. I am wowed. The fact that Kylie's illness coincided with her pregnancy and postpartum year, and and that as with many rare diseases it is so hard to pick up even with so much testing, her symptoms potentially mimicking that of postpartum depression made everything so much harder to pin down an answer.
There are so many lessons here, so much to learn. But in Kylies own words, "The biggest lesson is that life can change at anytime or any age so just enjoy each moment you have with the people around you."
Thank you Kylie for sharing your story. We would love to hear from more Mama's please. Nominated yourself or another. Please don't think you need to have a story like Kylie's. I certainly hope this is not the case, and I'm sure she does not wish her journey on another either. Just the lessons it has gifted her with.
We want to celebrate all shapes and sizes and stories, from the woman who calmly supported her raging toddler in the shopping mall or Dr's surgery as 'helpful' or not so helpful onlookers made her feel two inches tall, to the mum that solely raises her kids to the mum that advocated for hers or someone elses kids when they otherwise felt completely alone. The mum that raises her boys to be men of honour, equality and compassion and her girls understanding she does not need a prince to save her. She can save herself. The mum who just welcomed her baby into this world and has a birth story to honour. Especially if she did not feel honoured. Everyone of us deserves celebrating and I hope to see more of you raising your hands to nominate yourself with confidence, or another Mama who deserves to be lifted. Together lets raise the vibration in our community by celebrating each other and ourselves.