Yellow balloons littered the office and mini cupcakes sporting tiny flags could be seen in the fridge – thanks Hajra! It was R U Ok Day, the concept of which, to care and support resonates with the core values of HOP. It was an important day for us, it was also an excellent reason to get the team together, take our minds off work and discuss the most important things in life – health, wellbeing, and community. At 10:30 am we were asked to meet in the conference room for a special presentation.
Naomi Ruth Gronow our Allied Health Manager is a qualified Occupational Therapist with over 20 years of experience in health, paediatrics, remote community engagement – and more. It was revealed that Naomi was more excited than anyone for R U Ok Day and was asked to share tips on how to manage stress. This simple request morphed into a compelling personal story.
Naomi pointed out that the acronym of her name aptly described herself N R G (spell it out). She often competed in marathons and triathlons, was out the door on a 5km run within 5 minutes of her alarm going off, had an accomplish professional career and ran a bustling family household. Movement was the crux of her life, and she was rarely ill. However, in 2012 she was stricken with a mystery fever. The intensity of the illness left her feeling fatigued, breathless and with chest pains for some time. Nonetheless, Naomi persevered hoping the symptoms will subside as she continued to run, work, and live her full life. The illness did not leave and after some research Naomi decided to confront these feelings, she booked an appointment with a specialist which she named “my appointment with reality”. Her reality shock proved poignant as results showed notable cardiac strain from a little-understood process called viral myocarditis. Later that year Naomi had two more fevers with the second being the most debilitating. This began a long process of healing, listening, and understanding.
For the next 18 months, Naomi battled extreme fatigue, pain, and immobility. She explained how the discomfort was so immense that she could sit up for barely 30 minutes before needing to rest. This may have been the most difficult challenge she had faced, but it was perhaps the move insightful. Best described as ‘It will allow you to see yourself, that you are one little part of something that’s big’.
Natural high is the title of the presentation highlighting that when we find balance our body rewards us via optimal output. Naomi previously lived in East Arnhem Land and has strong ties to community. She speaks Djambarrpuyngu language and shared a powerful statement learned from a Yolngu leader which translated to ‘Know how you are made and what you are made for, receive these gifts with understanding…’. Understanding the body and the self through Hormonal harmony was the framework. Balance around us, within us and comprehending the impact of 5 key hormones:
– Insulin – Controls sugar level (energy)
– Cortisol – Back-up when adrenalin empties
– Serotonin – Comfort, relaxation & happiness
– Melatonin – Sleepiness
– Adrenalin – Speed & Confidence
Through dedicated work, Naomi began to know her illness and ultimately grasp that she was compelled to work with her condition. She listened to her body and began to assemble the correct building blocks toward recovery. It was 9 years to the day since illness onset to the presentation. Naomi has implemented hormone balance and now leads a life full of activity and movement, completing more triathlons and having more ‘NRG’ than before. She still carries the virus, but better understands how her body functions and the harmony it requires.
This serves as a reminder that you don’t need to wait for R U Ok day to adopt a healthier relationship with yourself. If you are struggling, listen to your body and attempt to find that internal balance and hormone harmony. Naomi Gronow is our Allied Health Manager. She has found that this illness has given her a greater sense of empathy and seeks to interweave this into her work.