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When My Chronic Illness Clouds Happy Memories

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Two years ago, I married my college sweetheart.

I’ve been with him since spring of my freshman year. I remember on the morning of our wedding I had to attend an online orientation for grad school as my hairdresser was frantically calling me. The wedding was lovely and the reception was fun. Our honeymoon was the first time we took a trip together — just the two of us. The first day of our honeymoon was a wild adventure, but it’s one of my husband’s favorite memories.

Two weeks later, I started grad school online. I didn’t have a job, so I was in charge of the domestic duties. I started to notice that doing dishes would leave me feeling dizzy, but I ignored it for the most part. School work was harder than I remembered (I had just graduated college that May, so it wasn’t like I was out of practice.)

When I couldn’t exercise for more than 10 minutes without feeling dizzy, I decided to get help and was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) /dysautonomia. And the rest is history.

I dropped out of grad school to deal with doctor visits, specialists, tests and different treatments. Now, here I am two years later dealing with chronic illness and weight gain caused by said illness.

Looking back at the wedding photos, it hit me that those were the last times I was truly “healthy.” I was about 50 pounds lighter, and I didn’t have to worry about pain or where the closest chair was or calculate how long I think I could manage walking/socializing. It’s hard on my self esteem and my sense of worth in society.

I tried on some clothes this afternoon to find a nice outfit to wear to dinner and realized none of them fit properly anymore. Overall, it’s frustrating and upsetting to have the memory of such a big milestone tainted by the events that followed shortly after.

That’s when I have to catch myself and remember all the good that has come from the past two years. I’m better able to cope with my illnesses and take on new ones with more grace. I’ve met a wonderful group of friends online who share the same struggles. Best of all, I realized my husband meant it when he said “in sickness and in health.”

The past two years may have not gone the way I planned, but by finding the good in life and surrounding myself with wonderful people, everything’s been just fine.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: August 5, 2016
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