Spoonie Party!

I had the BEST time with these lovely ladies today!  I cannot even begin to express how needed this get-together was…not just for me, but for all of us.  Spending time with people who truly get it– talking, laughing, commiserating, joking, and just BEING, no strings attached– is truly the best medicine.  No one flinched when someone whipped out a nebulizer or strapped on a neck brace or flushed their port or tripped over their tubing. Laughing, we raced up to help each other (usually just adding to the chaos…lol, but the thought was there).  It was the first time in a long time I felt genuinely happy.. ❤

The Reality of Chronic Illness: Prom Edition

Just realized I never shared this! Check out my amazing spoonie sister Em’s blog post about our experience attending Duke Children’s Hospital Prom…and all that went on ‘behind the scenes’ to prepare and recuperate… 🙂

Through the Peaks and Valleys

Last Saturday (April 22nd) Duke Children’s Hospital held their very first PROM! I had the amazing opportunity to not only attend but I got to attend with 3 fantastic ladies that I have gotten to know over the last year online! We share quite the list of medical diagnosis’ and life experiences.

Pre-Prom Prep!

Prom prep started about a week before the actual prom. Cancelling doctors appointments, scheduling doctors appointments, ER visits, lots of medicine, and rest rest rest!

Pre-prom prep (IV fluids, Nutrition, pain meds, steroids and prayer!)

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While we got ready for prom before getting our dresses on and doing our make-up we pre-medicated and talked about how much we get it. There was no need to explain anything or feel ashamed because they live it too! (Though I so wish none of us had to, it’s nice to not feel so alone).

We all meet online in…

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Lucie Is Officially A Graduate!

Today Lucie officially graduated from NC State’s Poole College Of Management with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance! Not only did she finish such a difficult degree (with English as her second language), but she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.6. So proud of her! Today was a very long day…Shannon and I did not sleep at all last night (or the night before, actually), and she, Hillary and I left for PNC Arena at 7:45am (and didn’t leave until after 4, ha ha). But it was beyond worth it as it was absolutely wonderful to watch our sweet roomie walk across that stage. I love our little graduate so much!

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Duke Prom Spoonie Shenanigans

 

Had an AMAZING night at Duke Children’s Prom with my incredible spoonie sisters, Nicole, Em, & Kayla!  We’ve been talking online via Instagram & FB support groups for over a year now, but this was the first time we all got to meet up together in person!! It was truly awesome. It was such a blessing to talk, laugh, dance, and just be weird together! Love these beautiful ladies so, so much.. ❤

It’s Not Their Journey To Make Sense Of

“Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.”

My life went to hell in August of 2012. It had been headed that way for years and years, but August 9th was the day that all was officially lost, with no hope of ever even returning to baseline…

And on that spiraling path to hell, I not only lost my family, my home, my belongings, many of my friends– I also lost my health. At a time in life where most were at prom, doing college tours, vacationing with family and friends, I became sicker and sicker with mysterious symptoms until I was completely disabled.

As time went on, I tried a multitude of medications, procedures, therapies and diets just to be met with more sickness, pain and fear.

I grieve who and what I once was. I used to be healthier and full of energy, able to eat whatever I wanted and do whatever I wanted. I was good in school. I volunteered. I dreamed big dreams and made strides toward making those dreams a reality. Despite a life of turmoil and inconsistency at home, I was able to push through and keep going. My friends remember me that way.

But now this body of mine is limited and thus my life is limited…

Every time life hands me a new limitation, I embark on the path of adapting to a new reality. Accepting new limitations throughout these years has been difficult for me and seems to be even more difficult for my parents.

I suppose I should not have been surprised that my peers and friends struggled with them too…

As I grew sicker, my friends became distant, one by one, until they eventually fell off the map altogether.

Their disappearance was due largely to my inability to keep up– physically, of course…but often mentally and emotionally, too, as life circumstances and the 24/7 nature of chronic illness wore me out so intensely…

I would often find myself feeling sad, guilty, even angry…and always very, very lonely.

Where were all those who I helped in their time of need? Those I had stayed up all night with, holding them as they cried? Those whose aid I rushed to at 3am, regardless of what was going on in my own life? Those who I defended, fought for, even lied for? Those whose children I cared for as my own while they tried to piece their own lives together?

It hurt for my friends to leave me and not support me through some of my darkest days, but I have slowly come to realize it’s really not about my limits but about their own.

We whose worlds are colored by chronic illness and disability are physically limited, but others are limited in their ability to understand and empathize.

At this point, the majority know I struggle with my health…my feeding tube and wheelchair use make it pretty obvious at times. However, when I am around others, I wear a mask I’ve perfected over the years: a smile, a laugh, a “pretty good, thanks, how are you?” I do my very best to hide the truth about the debilitating pain and discomfort I constantly endure. I do this for their sake, sure– but also because I have an EXTREMELY difficult time admitting things are not okay or that I need help (even to doctors and therapists). I am perpetually optimistic, at least outwardly. All of this to say, it is no surprise most have no idea the kind of impact chronic illness has on every part of my life and daily functioning.

Everyone has battles and struggles in this life, but for most, their difficulties do not reside in their bodies. They experience sickness and physical pain, sure– but not in the way we do. Pain is not their constant companion, always lurking in their shadow. They are unable to truly comprehend the realities of a life battling your own body, and therefore they easily dismiss it as an exaggeration, nuisance or simple idiosyncrasy.

I cannot help but feel annoyed, isolated or hurt by the gross lack of understanding at times…I am only human. But I have realized that it is not about me. It’s taken a long time to accept this, and many days I still struggle to…but I am finding strength in my fragility and lessons amidst my pain.

“Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.”

Keep fighting the good fight, guys.. ❤