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What Happened When My Condition Continue to Take Parts of Me

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Most of my life I have been active and hard-headed — the kind of person who jumps on a half-broken horse and “makes do.”

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But then, my ankles started giving me more and more trouble. “OK,” I thought, “I will stop running and have the surgery that’s been suggested.”

But it didn’t stop there. Next it was my SI joint. “OK, no more long walks,” I told myself. I can take buses instead.

Then I started fainting regularly. OK, I’ll stay out of the heat.

Then my shoulders. OK, I will stop lifting heavy things.

You see, bit by bit, my condition took parts of me. And bit by bit, I adapted. It’s human nature to adapt to things. I didn’t scream or become upset.

The problem is that up until recently, how I viewed myself hadn’t changed. Part of me saw the strong, “take no prisoners” equestrian as “me” still. And in some ways he’s still there. He just sometimes uses a support cane, walks with a limp on bad days, and has a galaxy cat bag full of medication.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and realize that the person I am now is stronger than who I once was. Yes, some days I may struggle to get out of bed. Some days I may vomit up my dinner in my puppy’s obedience class. (Fun times). But I also still want to go back to college after a medical withdrawal, and still have a plan to travel. I still want to ride horses, though no more “half- broken” horses anymore.

I think 19-year-old me might have looked down on 22-year-old me as weak, but I also think 22-year-old me could teach him quite a bit about kindness, level-headedness, being a good friend, and respecting that sometimes it’s OK to know your limits. And it’s OK to love the body you’re in, even if it is kind of broken.

the author standing on a stage

Originally published: August 11, 2018
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