Pictured above: Nurse Suzie, her mother (Margaret), her sister (Lizzie), and her niece (Virginia).
Growing up, I looked to my grandmother as the picture of "health." I often say she invented "farm-to-table." She did grow up on a homestead in Nebraska after all! However, I find my view on health shifts with each year I grow older. Today, health is more than diet. It encompasses our spirit and mental and physical wellbeing. Health gives us the opportunity to live life to our fullest potential, to embrace each day feeling “good,” and it creates the foundation on which we need to survive and thrive.
Over the past few months, I find myself reflecting on my past experiences with health - my journey to how I define health today, how I hope to empower others with a strong sense of health and wellness, and how I grew up talking about health with my own family.
My first real experience with the world of health came in the summer of 1998 when my older sister, Lizzie, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. I remember going to doctor visits, seeing her in the hospital, and going to appointments with her diabetes educator. Outside of this life-altering experience for my sister, health and wellness wasn’t really something we talked about as a family. We certainly discussed diet and exercise, but we didn’t always touch on sexual health, period health and everything else women’s health-related. It’s funny to think about this now. We talk so openly today (likely due to the fact that Lizzie and I both ended up as nurses), and I always felt I could tell my parents anything. But, during my years growing up, women’s health still felt “taboo.”
When my mom reflects back on her experience with her mother, health was even more “taboo” and off-limits. My grandmother had two children, born five years apart. As my mom mentioned the other day, “I’m sure it was not intentional, and not for lack of trying, but Mema would never talk about such things growing up. Maybe only later in her life.” Fertility is often viewed as off-limits for older generations. But if we continue to sweep hard conversations under the rug, women (and men) will continue to suffer in silence.
I hope that, as we teach and raise this next generation, we communicate on topics previously seen as "taboo," and that no other generations continue to say, "no one ever told me." Part of my mission with Binto is to empower you through education on all things women’s health. In our next installment of this blog series, my mom, sister and I talk together about how our conversations around women’s health have shifted from growing up to today.