Author Archives: Brittany Foster

Learning to Live Fully Despite Recurring Trauma

Alex Karev, a fictional doctor on the TV series “Grey’s Anatomy,” once said, “Trauma always leaves a scar. … It changes our lives. Trauma messes everybody up, but maybe that’s the point. All the pain and the fear, … maybe going through all of that is what keeps us…

The Complexity of Numbers in Healthcare

“Numbers don’t lie.” Members of my medical team have used this phrase, and I have caught myself saying it lately, too. Doctors say “numbers don’t lie” when congratulating me on improving my pulmonary function test or when my six-minute walk score is better than my previous one. Unfortunately, this…

Chronic Illness Helped Me Justify Keeping Trauma a Secret

Trigger warning: This column discusses sexual assault and rape. If you need assistance, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. I left a procedure last week feeling shaky, unwell, anxious, and upset. The procedure, draining an ovarian cyst, unfortunately was unsuccessful. I found out shortly after waking…

Body Acceptance Looks Different for Me, and That’s OK

When looking through pictures on social media, I see so many body-positive influencers making powerful statements about the “ideal body.” I see women and men on Instagram trying to show others that beauty standards aren’t realistic. Skin folds, bends, and changes shape for countless reasons. The message is that society’s…

The Joy of Walking My Dog, Bernie

My dog, Bernie, turned 1 last week. In the nine months that I’ve had him, he has taught me more about unconditional love than I could ever teach myself. I wake up to puppy snuggles and feel his tiny paws resting somewhere on my…

Learning to Give Myself Permission to Feel Well

Living with congenital heart disease and pulmonary hypertension has taught me to let my physical health “be what it is.” This past year, giving myself permission to “be” helped me accept my bad days as they happened. I had to learn how to rest, listen to my body, pay…

Maintaining Mental Strength While Physically Weak

“How have you been feeling mentally? How are your anxiety and depression with all that is going on?” Every week when my therapist calls me for our appointments, I am asked how I am doing. Usually I respond sarcastically and say, “Oh, you know, just living the dream!”…

Giving Myself Permission to Feel the Hurt

Expressing vulnerability has always been difficult for me. I thought that “showing my brave face” would keep others from worrying. I have always been more concerned with how everyone around me was feeling, and never gave myself permission to show worry, sadness, or fear. I focused on the positive if…