When Chronic Illness Changes Your Life in the Blink of an Eye

You never know just how quickly things can change until it happens to you. Going into my volunteer trip to India, I saw myself as a happy, healthy individual, but when I was taken to the ER on my last night there, not being able to move my swollen and extremely painful left leg I had no idea just how drastically my life was about to change.

Returning home and going to doctors’ appointments, it never crossed my mind that my life was about to change; just like everyone else I thought that it was just a small virus or something with a quick and easy fix. So when the pain and symptoms of a still undiagnosed disease continued to get worse after more than a month of being home I started to know, in the back of my mind, that what was happening was not going to go away as quickly as it came. Even still, nothing prepared me for the moment I found out that I have complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic pain disorder that is very tricky to treat and has no cure. There had been no predisposing injuries and not warning signs, yet in the blink of an eye I was left unable to walk, in constant pain and with a leg, ankle and foot that would randomly swell and turn blue.

There are still days when I wake up and think that everything that has happened over the past two months has just been a horrible dream but then I try to stand and am brought back to the reality that is my new life. Until now, as I am learning to accept things that I can no longer do, did I realize how much I took the small things for granted. I long to be able to go for a run or even just a hike but the long distances are agonizing even with my crutches, my new best friends, supporting me. So quickly I have had to adapt and learn how to do everyday tasks in a way that is less painful and I constantly find myself frustrated and exhausted from the pain and trying different types of treatment.

Although it is tough and at times I want to quit, I have decided to not let this stop me from living my life to the fullest. Sure, I have to make some adjustments now but I am going to continue to find ways to
keep doing the things I love as much as possible, as over the past two months I have learned that you never know when things may change.

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