Chronicle XIV: Grieving My Old Self

No one could have ever prepared me for the journey of chronic illness. All of the countless doctor appointments just to find answers, all the times spent in the ER, the blood work, the scans, the countless tests…I am 29 years old and if there is one thing I can tell you, it’s this: I never imagined anything like this for my young life.

I didn’t choose chronic illness. It unfortunately chose me. With the many physical struggles it brings, it also brings various emotional struggles as well. There have been many times where I thought I was dying. I do not say this to add “dramatic effect” or to over-exaggerate. I truly felt in those moments that I would be taking some of my last breaths. I now struggle with PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder), because of everything that has happened in the last year and a half. Knowing that whatever is causing POTS is still so elusive, and knowing that new symptoms can pop up at any time, makes it all that much harder to gain control over my body and my mind.

I often find myself reminiscing about the times before I fell ill. Everyday Facebook reminds me of “memories” that I have. Though I know I don’t have to look at any of them, I occasionally review those moments frozen in time, some of them from not that long ago. As I scroll through the pictures, I feel like a ghost peeking in on a life that I once had. Now, I don’t want people to read this post and think that I am ungrateful, because the God’s honest truth is that I know my situation can be so much worse than it is. However, I mourn the “old” me and how I used to dress, how I used to have enough energy to put on makeup everyday and style my hair. I look at my vibrant complexion, how healthy my hair looked and just how simple life was then, even though at the time I used to worry about the silliest of things. I see a person who was pain-free, driven, motivated, energized, strong, fit and pretty. Now, when I look at my reflection in the mirror, I see a pale, dull and exhausted-looking individual. I often do a double-take and wonder if the “old” me is still inside somewhere, tied up and trapped without a key.

POTS has made me feel like a prisoner in my own my body. I know I am still the same person, but then again, I’m not at the same time. I’m different. I am still kind and understanding. I still give my all with whatever I do. I try to stay upbeat and as positive as I can, but truthfully, some days are just full of such defeat. Some days, I want to throw in the towel and give up. It becomes so exhausting trying to pretend that I am okay and fake being normal, when on the inside, I know I am not.

I didn’t plan to get sick. No one gave me a guide book of what to do when it happened. April 28, 2018 will forever be a date that is etched into my mind like a birthday or an anniversary. But instead of it representing another year older or another year spent with someone you love, it symbolizes my before and after self. I never knew that date would be so significant, but it will always stick with me for the rest of my life.

Though this journey has been full of many ups and downs so far, I am learning how to navigate. As each day goes by, I am figuring out what is best for my body. I am learning to appreciate the smaller things in life; things that I may have never noticed before. I am learning the importance of self-care and to know when I have to put myself first. Some may call this selfish and that’s totally fine. Some people won’t get it until they GET IT, which I hope for their sake, they never have to be faced with an illness in their lifetime.

After all is said and done and no matter how much POTS has taken from me, I thank God for every morning that I wake up. I am beyond grateful for my loving husband who is my rock who stays by my side no matter what. I am thankful for my family and my friends who have stuck with me. I am thankful for all of the prayers people have said for me. I am also very thankful to be able to share my story with those who are also struggling. Whether that be with a chronic illness(es) or just anything in life. We are strong, we are warriors and we won’t back down without a fight.

God Bless ❤

‘Cause I’m a warrior
I fight for my life like a soldier
All through the night
And I won’t give up, I will survive
I’m a warrior
And I’m stronger, that’s why I’m alive
I will conquer, time after time
I’ll never falter, I will survive
I’m a warrior

“Warrior” by Avril Lavigne

The left picture is from 2016. I was 26, newly married to the man of my dreams and looking forward to starting a family in the near future. The right picture is me now, at 29, during one of my worst POTS attacks in the ER waiting room.

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