A life worth living with chronic illness
I guess if I want to tell my story, I have to go all the way back to the day I was born. I was due in September but born in the end of June. I wasn't expected to survive, but I did. But my lungs were compromised. I had pneumonia twice before the age of one. At six, I was diagnosed with asthma, at twelve I had my first severe asthma attack. Still, I went through school a three season athlete and an elite vocalist. I wasn't about to let my lungs get the best if me. But when I got sick, which I did often, it was serious. It usually went to my lungs, and it usually kept me from doing the things I loved. My asthma only got worse through college, and I eventually stopped playing sports, though I kept singing. Over time, I began being hospitalized for my asthma, sometimes over a week at a time. Then the other diagnoses began to roll in. Bipolar I Disorder. Anxiety. Hypothyroidism. PTSD. Then the bigger ones. As if those mental health diagnoses aren't. It was Antiphospholipid Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes my blood to clot. Then Common Variable Immunodeficiency. My B cells don't make antibodies, so I have to plan around weekly infusions if human gamma globulin. And I'm staring down the barrel of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It's overwhelming.
After being declared disabled and receiving SSDI payments monthly, I got a job on a horse farm. We cater to differently abled individuals who wouldn't be able to ride elsewhere. It's amazing. And it reminds me that no matter how sick I am, how many doctor's appointments I have to go to in a week, there is a place I can go where I am lived, appreciated, and successful despite my chronic illnesses.
The takeaway? Life with chronic illness is tough. But find somewhere you belong, and life won't just be about being sick. It will be worth living.