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Why I’m Willing to Do a Cartwheel Even Though It Could Mean Surgery

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Sometimes I need to feel normal.

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That’s the answer I tell people when they ask me why I do some of the things I do. Being a teenager with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and assorted other conditions makes the easy things in life difficult. I know when I put on those high heels I could blow out a knee, but sometimes I need to take that risk.

There are those of us with chronic illnesses who long to take that jump, do a twirl or dance the night away. While we can’t do this all the time, sometimes I do take this risk.

Last Saturday, I was sitting at cheer choreography for my third grade cheerleaders, and I decided to take a risk. While watching the girls dance, cheer, tumble and have fun, I couldn’t resist the urge to join them. When I joined in, I did a jump and a cartwheel, and it felt absolutely amazing. I know I can’t do a cartwheel every day, but sometimes I do need to feel normal.

Having a chronic illness is similar to choosing healthy food for dinner. On one hand, healthy food is good for your body and gives you strength. On the other hand, unhealthy foods give you some freedom and are OK in moderation.

When I take these risks, the people around me have to understand they’re calculated. Before I do anything, I run through all the possible scenarios in my head and weigh the pros and cons. I know that a cartwheel could mean shoulder surgery or a jump could land me in a wheelchair, but sometimes those of us with chronic illnesses need to take these risks to feel normal.

When we’re constantly confined to our physical limitations, it becomes boring and depressing, so living a little may be unsafe, but it makes me happy. While I know many of you aren’t willing to take that risk, this is for the people who are and the people who judge me for taking that risk. Sometimes I need to feel normal, so I will do things that risk my health, but I do know the risks.

Understanding the risks I take has helped me overcome my grief over physical limitations.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: August 12, 2016
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