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Today I Realized I Am Mighty

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I haven’t been able to stabilize my health symptoms in the eight months since my flair began. I’ve been cautious with how much I share because I don’t want to seem dramatic or alarm anyone. In truth, I legitimately haven’t known how to categorize myself lately. All signs have pointed to one word— and if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… it’s probably a duck. This week I received my accessible parking placard, and I realized I am disabled, meaning I’m unable to complete “normal” tasks without modifications or assistance.

It began over a month ago when I realized I couldn’t complete a trip to the grocery store without using my inhaler. I stopped bringing my children with me, kept the inhaler handy and just saved grocery shopping for weekends when I could crash when I got home. Realizing this wasn’t OK, I brought it to my PCP’s attention. We looked over my current conditions (I have POTS, mitral valve prolapse, arrhythmias, activity induced asthma and easily subluxating hips). We agreed I should get a placard and choose a modification for shopping. The goal was a safe shopping trip, whatever works. He strongly suggested I use the provided electric carts, but since not all places have this option, I am experimenting with a hip brace and cane combination. Before I found these aids, I tried grinning and bearing it through outings, just to load my belongings and sit in the parking lot for 15 minutes while I caught my breath.

I thought this was normal.

Like the sketch I’m sharing today (below) I feel as though I’m held together with stitches — but stronger than ever. I feel blue because of how my blood pools in my feet and I lose my breath while walking. My eyes are covered, symbolizing the black outs, blurry vision and foggy mind I deal with daily. I’m wearing house slippers and sweats because these are the clothes I spend most of my days in… but I am Super Woman, nevertheless. I am mighty because I choose to use my situation to connect with others and practice gentle resilience.

woman with superhero suit on

Disabled doesn’t feel the way I thought disabled would feel. Why? Because I had this picture in my head of my whole life coming to a halt — that, to me, was disabled. But instead, I have resources. Modifying my lifestyle, while it’s still unknown territory, has opened many doors to opportunities I was missing out on.

So what if I’m 28 with a cane? So what if I get weird looks parking in an accessible spot? So what if I’m still seeing specialists and still receiving diagnoses? It’s a journey; I’m tired of waiting for the end of the story before I share the truth. Today I am disabled, but I won’t let that stop me from living and pursuing solutions… and I figure that’s pretty mighty.

Originally published: April 20, 2018
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