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When Illness Takes Away the Abilities You Thought You Could Count On

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I have EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) and POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).  My body has never been reliable which I’ve always struggled with, being a planning person and a perfectionist. But there had always been a few constants I could depend on.


In the past, when my body failed me, I could escape into my head or a book. I’ve always planned on going into a scientific field. I love science so much. And I knew that even if my body would eventually fail me completely, I’d always have my mind, so an intellectual profession would be perfect. I actually had a life plan amidst all the uncertainty.

Then brain fog hit me. It reared its ugly head and destroyed my only hope of a somewhat normal life. I suddenly would find myself unable to read or write even the simplest of words, and my once constantly whirring mind was nothing but static. I would stare at pages, crying uncontrollably because the pages may as well have been blank. I’ve slowly learned how to cope with the brain fog, but my safe haven is still gone. It’s as if my mind is covered in tar, and I’m still able to progress, but each step is a strain, every movement takes so much energy for so little progress. And my mind is covered in grime, nothing like how it was.

My body’s most recent betrayal is balance. I’m a dancer, I’ve been dancing for 10 years. I have very good balance. Or used to. I caught this terrible vertigo, nausea, vomiting, migraine bug that lasted weeks. Ever since, my equilibrium is all out of wack. I can’t even stand upright or walk across an empty room without falling over.

These are little things “normal” people may take for granted every day. But those of you with chronic illness know how precious the ability to stand, to read, to walk, to speak is. You know how much it can crush your soul every time another little ability slips through your fingers, as you’re helpless to stop it.

Thinkstock photo via artant.

Originally published: August 7, 2017
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