Insurance Is A Freaking Pain

My pain has been really bad lately. I can tell I’m really not feeling well when my nails look like crap — I love having painted fingers and toes, and always do them myself — and I begin forgetting things. Yesterday I had to turn around and drive home because I could’t remember if I shut the door — not locked it, but shut it — I fed Jax a second breakfast, and I can’t remember the third thing I forgot… It will come to me by the time I finish this.

I have decided that our next election I am going to really, really pay attention to healthcare and making it a top priority in how I vote. I’ve changed around insurance plans and being without physical therapy for the rest of the year sucks. The thing that frustrates the hell out of me is that I am in pain and trying to fix the problem by doing something that is good for me. I haven’t gone on medication to manage my POTS (Though I do think some people can absolutely not do without it and need to do anything that helps them have any semblance of a normal life), and I work hard to try to be as pain-free as possible. There are a few things that frustrate me. First, insurance doesn’t cover as much PT as I need in a year. I really have to figure it all out way in advance and go without it for periods of time to make ends meet. At some point my pain is going to go from a managed 3-5 with physical therapy to an 8-9 range without it*. Working out and getting hands-on work done is a key part of having me feel better than I do now. I never feel normal, but my pain is at least being managed. Second, PT is harder to get than medication and that makes absolutely no freaking sense to me. If there is a way to actually manage things without taking six different prescriptions I want to do it. Part of the complication of having a chronic illness is looking at your own symptoms versus what side effects medications will have on you, then picking the lesser of the two evils. You also have to weigh the pros and cons of being on something long-term. It makes absolutely no sense to me why doctors are able to prescribe something that I have to consume that will only temporarily put a bandaid over the problem, rather than trying to chip away at all the issues I have with the natural way of physical therapy. I am very dependent on going in for my visits, as I get terribly stiff and have a lot of pain when I miss more than a session, but I feel like I am making progress in a few small ways at a time. When I can’t go I start deteriorating and taking several steps backwards, even with the programs I do on my bedroom floor and at the gym down the street. I hate being dependent on anything, but having a chronic illness has really been humbling.

I feel like I have more freedom when I am feeling better because I do. I can do more when I feel better, and even at my very best I’m not at a normal 28-year-old level. When I talk to all of my grandparents on the phone, I feel like we relate more than friends my own age when it comes to how we feel. We are all in pain in one way or another, and can’t do as much as we used to be able to. I am scared of getting older and having the normal wear and tear of aging, but maybe they’ll have a cure for POTS by then. I don’t think about that often because it doesn’t do me any good to worry about the future, and I continue to focus on making myself get stronger and managing my symptoms on a day-to-day basis. I figure I’ll just worry about problems as they come to me and try my best to be healthy and prevent anything from deteriorating further.

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Finally, I am frustrated because by asking to go to physical therapy I am not asking to do something excitingly fun. Sure my PT’s are all so incredibly nice and fun people I would totally be friends with outside the clinic (Shoutout to, Melissa, Hilary, and Jackie for being the absolute best!), but it’s work and it often hurts a lot when I have to get poked at while I am in pain. The benefits are feeling astronomically better, though, while I am going on a regular basis. So, my third and final annoyance is the fact that I can’t go to get help to have a shot at having even remotely close to a normal life. My quality of life when I am in pain is not goodI constantly feel like I need to throw up from the pain, but don’t. My usual level with treatment is a consistent “I just went on a long run” kind of pain, with a few sharp and gnawing pains here and there, but what I’ve been having lately is several times worse than that and blaring a lot louder. I often find myself having a hard time focusing on what people say to me because I can’t seem to get past thinking about the coat hanger pain that consumes me. I can never drive for more than about fifteen minutes at a time without feeling some sort of pain, but now driving makes me want to cry because of how much it hurts to be behind the wheel. I’m back to having a hard time figuring out how to be productive and what I can do every day because everything hurts.

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I still don’t remember what I forgot before, but maybe once I can get taken care of my brain can start focusing on normal little tasks instead of honing in on how much it hurts to do anything. Speaking of which, I can’t sit at this computer any longer or my shoulders won’t feel okay in time for Christmas. I’m going to go spend some quality time with my foam roller and hopefully be able to get some sleep tonight!


*I think this was obvious, but for anyone who doesn’t know, pain is often measured in a scale from 1-10 in the medical world because it’s a little easier to articulate how you are feeling that way.

Love Never Fails

Today I am closing the chapter on our Corinthians Bible verse. Coincidentally enough, last night Robert remembered that he had gotten a gift for me while he was away at military training this month. While he was unpacking his cooler, I saw him put granola bars and M&Ms on the kitchen table, so when he smiled and put his hand behind his back and said, “I forgot I got you a present while I was gone,” I figured he was going to crack up and hand me a candy wrapper or something.

I walked over to him and giggled, anticipating the prank, but was really touched when he opened his hand and there was a silver heart-shaped necklace in it. It had a little cross where the chain held the heart, and I turned it over to find that there was a Bible verse on the other side. It simply said,

“Love Never Fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8.”

I was so surprised and felt my heart fill with warmth. Gift giving has always been a favorite love language of mine, and the fact that Robert thought about me enough to get me a gift while he was gone made me so happy, especially because it was something so perfect for me.

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I am going to finish dissecting this verse today, but I encourage everyone to memorize it and keep it at the forefront of your life. You can love every single person you come into contact with, even in the smallest of ways, by using this as your definition for love.


1 Corinthians 13:7 says,

“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.

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Love protects. There is a reason people in love often say they want to protect their partner’s heart. Humans don’t like seeing others in pain, especially when it’s someone they really care about. By committing to protect someone’s heart you are making a promise to them. You are promising to never intentionally hurt them, to stand up for them, and to ultimately be kind and gentle with their feelings.

Love trusts. Trust is the very most basic foundation of a relationship. Without trust you can’t build any other sturdy elements of a true love story. Trusting someone is knowing they will always keep you in mind when making decisions — big and small — and that they genuinely care about you to their core. Trust shouldn’t be given easily, but once it’s earned it is often kept unless something happens to break it.

Love perseveres. This is one of the most important but difficult things in a relationship. Every single person is going to have trials, sometimes with their partner, and other times alone. I have no experience being married, but I would speculate that the trials we face alone could often be even more difficult on a relationship than those we face together.

I am a fixer. I hate seeing people’s hearts feel broken, and I would rather take any sort of pain from a loved one and have it for myself. It’s difficult watching someone you care about suffer in any capacity, especially if you cannot relate or do anything to help. I often think about the way my loved ones have to deal with my illness, which is a big reason I try my best to keep complaints to a minimum. It is so frustrating when you can’t fix a problem, especially if it’s hurting someone. The most beautiful thing in the world, though, is loving someone throughout all the heartache and pain the world throws at both of you. Perseverance and endurance through hardship is possibly the greatest indicator of a lasting relationship. Realizing the world is a very imperfect place is the very beginning of preparing yourself for an incredible love story. Staying strong and pushing through the pain and difficulties that come up along the way is one of the most amazing ways to love someone, and the maker of an irreplaceably beautiful marriage.

The collection of verses is ended in these three powerful words,

“Love never fails.”

True selfless and strong love doesn’t get broken, and only grows through all the trials and tribulations life brings. Every relationship has its ups and downs, however I believe if you base your love on 1 Corinthians 13, you can make it to forever with your person. This is why I believe that although it is cliche, this is one of the most lovely Bible verses to be read at a wedding ceremony.

Slow To Anger

Back to Corinthians to begin wrapping up my favorite Bible verse. Here is where we left off,

“[Love] is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

Anger is an umbrella term for a bunch of other emotions we might not think about being in that category. Frustration, disappointment, and crankiness are a few feelings that can all be categorized under “anger.”

“Love is not easily angered” is a beautiful sentiment. I think as humans we feel things so deeply and often let our emotions control us, instead of the other way around. The easiest thing to do when we feel angry is to react. Anger is one of the most detectable feelings because it is often intense, and humans don’t always hold back when they are upset about something because it’s difficult to keep anger brewing inside until we can really evaluate the situation. Other feelings — such as love — has many different levels and outlets. Although people have different ways of expressing anger, it is often a feeling that is easily showcased and makes people around the angry person have strong reactions, too.

Anger is one of the most important emotions to learn to control. It is one of the few feelings that can lead to lasting damage if used incorrectly, and needs to be used in conjunction with wisdom and patience.

One of my favorite quotes is,

“Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.”

Google doesn’t seem to know who said this, but it’s so powerful. Sadly, people often say things they don’t mean — or intentionally try to hurt a loved one — when tensions are high and they are angry. The interesting thing about anger is that we often react because we want to see a specific outcome of a situation, however reacting before thinking about it doesn’t allow us the time to come up with the smartest plan of getting where we want to be.

Do you notice how the verse doesn’t say, “Love doesn’t anger,” rather it says, “Love is not easily angered.” I am no expert in semantics or theology, but I do think each word used in the Bible is crafted with a purpose. God knows that as humans we are going to get angry (heck, Jesus got angry when He was on earth, and things got crazy when he was mad), but He wants us to learn how to control our feelings and to remain calm and patient with others while we try to sort things out. Holding back anger for when it’s really necessary is wise because it shows an element of self-control, and it makes your anger actually mean something. Since Jesus was known as someone who was peaceful and kind, you knew He meant business when He turned the tables in the temple. If He was a hothead, He wouldn’t have been taken as seriously the few times He really showcased anger throughout the Bible. We should use our anger only when it’s really justified and when we really need to be heard, so that others can take us seriously when something does mean a lot to us.

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I’m not a huge Joel Olsteen fan, but he does have lots of nuggets of wisdom. When looking for a source of the quote above, I stumbled upon this, and had to add it to my post. Olsteen says,

“Be careful what you say. You can say something hurtful in ten seconds, but ten years later, the wounds are still there.”

This is so true. I don’t always remember every detail of my life, but something that seems to always stick is a hurtful word. Have you noticed that? This leads me to our next point. “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Forgiving is the easy part for me, forgetting is a whole new beast. I have gotten hundreds of kind and encouraging comments on my blog the past three years, however I remember the two negative ones the most clearly. Friends and family are typically the most uplifting people in life, but when they say something unkind out of anger, it often gets taken to heart — after all, if someone who loves you so much thinks something negative about you, it must be true, right?

Words are such an important thing to monitor. I have found that a harmful word can sometimes hurt even more than physical pain, and there’s a reason people use one of the most vital organs in the body to represent love and heartbreak. When your heart hurts, it can be so hard to fix it completely. For this exact reason, it is so important to take time to think before reacting to a situation. Something said in anger can never be taken back, even though it can be forgiven.

Today’s lesson: I never want to damage a relationship or a loved one over something said when emotions were running high. In the same way my mom always tells me I should not make a big decision when I am not feeling well, I don’t believe it’s wise to always speak with someone at the first sign of anger. It never hurts to take time to reflect, think about why you are really mad, and then have a gentle conversation about the reasons why you feel the way you do. Communication is one of the most important things in a relationship, and pure anger often does not bode well for either party. Being slow to anger and able to forgive ensures a happier life for everyone, and allows us to get our true feelings across to others, rather than spewing hurtful things that may or may not be true. In the same way we aspire to love like Jesus does, I think it’s important to try to be angry the way He is, too.

 

Love Is Kind

The next part of Corinthians that I want to dissect is still in the first sentence, “Love is kind.” Kindness is one of the most powerful actions in the world, and is a virtue that offers one of the greatest opportunities for us to make an enormous impact on the lives of others.

My blogger friend, Tony, wrote this comment on my last post,

“Love is a word with a lot of weight and responsibility. It is patient and kind and those two attributes can be very hard to practice in life.”

I agree with this wholeheartedly. When you tell someone you love them, you are making a promise that you will care for their heart and be the best version of yourself because you believe they deserve that. Loving someone is an action, and actions take work. As unromantic as it sounds, relationships take a lot of conscious effort, compromise, and choosing to prioritize someone else’s needs along with your own every single day. Love isn’t something humans are naturally good at because our instinct is to take care of our own needs and look out for ourselves before caring for someone else.

Kindness isn’t innate and something that we are preprogrammed to do. People can get to a point where it’s the first reaction they have to another person, but I believe you must master patience before getting to kindness. I don’t think that it is an accident that 1 Corinthians lists patience before kindness; it seems like it was actually very intentionally written that way. We are given a million circumstances each week to practice patience. Whether it’s to a stranger at a grocery store, or to a friend, small annoyances and frustrations pop up all the freaking time. By choosing to forgo our own desires to stand up and get angry with someone and deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt, we are choosing to be patient. Kindness is one step further. Choosing kindness means we aren’t just choosing to not act, but we are choosing to act in a way that is generous and giving towards someone else.

For example, if you are walking behind someone who is very slowly pushing a grocery cart to the checkout line you want to get to, being patient is slowly following behind, without huffing and puffing or silently rolling your eyes. Being kind might be making a conversation with the person and asking how they are doing while you are waiting in line, or offering to help push the cart to the front if they look like they are struggling with it. Patience is nice; kindness is beautiful. 

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Kindness isn’t always my go-to action. Sometimes I feel tired and am passive, and just tolerate people. Other times I’m too focused on myself to be kind. Whether I’m in pain or just having an off day, I don’t always take the time and effort to go the extra mile for others. The good thing, though, is that kindness has become a much more natural reaction just from years of practice. I haven’t always been patient, which is the foundation kindness is built upon. Making a conscious effort to care for others and see things from their point of view has made my heart infinitely more kind, and has given me the ability to feel empathy for others. I think if we all just made the time and effort to do the hard work it takes to be patient and kind, it will become more of a norm in our society and the world would be a much happier and healthier place to live in.


How are you kind to others? What advice would you give someone who wants to learn to react with kindness? I would love to hear your advice on this subject, too!

Timeless Life And Love Advice

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

There is a reason this Bible verse is read time and time again at wedding ceremonies. Not only is it incredibly romantic, but it is God’s advice to humans about how we are to love one another. If we could all learn how to love like these four small verses suggest, the world would be an incredibly different place to live in.

I want to dissect 13 Corinthians this week. I have always said this is one of my favorite Bible verses, and I would love to share with you why. Whether or not you are a Christian, these posts will give you a greater sense of who I am, and maybe offer a few tips on how to love those in your own life even harder than ever before.

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Love is patient.

Patience is a virtue.” This is a quote most of us have heard at one time or another, but have you ever worked on creating patience in your own heart? I would say patience is one of the most difficult things human beings can cultivate. Whether you get frustrated about little things like traffic or slow walkers, or are impatient to fill the big things in life like finding the right person to spend the rest of your life with after years of dating around, patience isn’t a value that is just handed to you — you really have to work for it.

I would say I am a super-patient person in many ways, but there are still some areas that could use great improvement. I don’t mind waiting around for a friend who is running late, although traffic annoys me, it doesn’t usually affect my mood, and I am a very good teacher to people who want to learn something new. I am a great listener and would never snap at a friend for telling me the same thing over and over again. A big reason I feel like I have become a lot more patient in the past few years is that I have become a lot more empathetic. Getting sick with POTS has forced me to choose whether I should be patient and gentle with myself while working to get better or be frustrated and angry at the things I cannot control. To me it’s been a lot easier choosing to enjoy the little blessings that come about every day, and learn to deal with the crummy things that come along with a chronic illness without being bitter about them. When people ask me how I’m doing I often find the answer is, “I’m very slowly getting better.” Like, very slowly. I do sometimes feel frustrated with how much work I put into my health and the sometimes microscopic results that come from it, but I also realize that any progress is still good. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Something I really struggle with is being patient with God’s plan for me and not understanding His timeline. I constantly question Him and whether or not He knows what’s best for me. I have so many desires that aren’t being filled, and I just want everything in my life to line up and be great now; I don’t want to have to wait for it. Impatience is definitely manifested differently in each individuals’ lives, but for me it’s just the desire to be a normal twenty-something. I want to be able to run, hike, play volleyball, drive thirty minutes to DC to visit friends, and write for hours on end without any pain. I want my freedom back so badly, and I want it now. I’ve grown so tired of the weekly doctor appointments, stretching and mobility exercises, and redundant work on the recumbent bike. I feel frustrated that despite working out, eating well, and taking care of myself better than most people my age do, I am physically not able to do as much as my peers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered why God doesn’t choose to just heal me — I know He can — and how often I do believe I know what’s best for myself. The only thing I can really gather from this is that God isn’t finished with me yet. He is still working on me and has a greater purpose for me than what I have planned for myself. This is where faith and patience become really important components of my life, and I am working to be better at both every day.

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Today’s lesson: Anger and frustration are two feelings, but that doesn’t mean they have to manifest into an action. I think the beginning stages of working on patience is going to include a lot of inner dialogue with yourself and learning how to think and rationalize before reacting. One of the coolest things about humans is that we do have the ability to think and then act, while most other creatures just follow their heart’s desire without weighing the consequences or repercussions of their actions. Patience isn’t easy, but it sure makes life a whole lot better when you do learn how to integrate it into everyday life.

Life As A Burden To All

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sometimes insecure about having a chronic illness.

I often try to hide my pain and symptoms, even from those I love most. First and foremost, because I want to try to ignore the fact that my life isn’t the way I wish it was. A part of me feels like if I try to shove all my frustrations with being sick deep down that some of them might disappear. Maybe if I close my eyes and pretend I’m not dizzy or hurting one day I’ll wake and that will be my reality.

Second, I hate sounding like a broken record. I’m in pain every day, so if I voice my discomfort people will get sick of being around me really, really fast. It’s kind of like when someone runs a race and keeps talking about how sore they are; it’s completely valid and understandable, but after being reminded for the fifth time that their legs hurt you wonder if they think you are hard of hearing. No one wants to hear about how I have sharp, painful triggerpoints in my shoulders or can’t load the dishwasher because it hurts my forearms to grip anything for more than a minute or two.

Third, I feel broken. I sometimes wonder why people still care about me since I can’t go out and have fun like a normal 26-year-old. I can’t give the acts of service to my friends and family that I’d like to, I don’t have a normal 9-5 job, and I need help with things that others do mindlessly on a daily basis. My parents have taken care of me since I got sick, and it’s been really hard to rely on others to do things that I want to be doing for myself. I’ve always been pretty independent, so giving up control in my life has been one of the toughest tasks.

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My heart hurts because my head isn’t affected by this illness. I want to be able to run, dance, and crank out dozens of pages of words at a time. I want to be pressured by the journalism deadlines that were once the bane of my existence, and I wonder why my body has betrayed me and doesn’t allow the vigorous work ethic I once prided myself on. It hurts feeling like this illness hasn’t just taken some of my hobbies, but it has also stripped me of having a purpose on this earth. 

That’s lie #1 I was fed when I first got sick. Deep down I know it isn’t true; I actually believe this is Satan’s disgustingly twisted game of trying to make a very complete and beautiful soul feel worthless. Worthlessness is a dangerous feeling because it’s based on a lie that only seems real to the person feeling it. I strongly believe every single person placed on this earth has a purpose they are here, including myself. I think each human being can add invaluable love, kindness, and strength to the world if they choose to give it. Each individual has some sort of special “X factor” that they can offer people in their life.


God wrote in Psalm 139:14 that each and every one of us was fearfully and wonderfully made. This means that we were made with His very own heart taking an interest in us, and that He made us different than anyone else. It means He cares about us more than we could ever understand.

That being said, I know so many others who are also different in one way or another and have had this feeling on some level. The next several weeks I am going to be completely smashing this fabrication and showing that the feelings of worthlessness are based on a complete lie. Whether or not you are a regular reader or you’re new here, I would love if you would be patient and stick around until I get to the main point of these posts. This message is so important, and I want to connect to your heart and help it listen to how I have begun to debunk the lies that the evil in the world wants us to believe.

In case you don’t come back, just know that you are a valuable part of society and you can make a much greater impact than you even realize. God gives incredible blessings to those who keep pushing forward and He can create a really beautiful masterpiece from brokenness. You just have to stick around to see what the beauty in your hardship is. Sometimes it won’t be as obvious as you might hope, but He sprinkles light into even the darkest of stories.

Trusting God’s Plan

One thing I really value in my life is security.

I think it’s because I haven’t always felt secure in my life or relationships. In the past I have been with people who make all the big life decisions without me, and I feel an overwhelming lack of control over my life with my illness. Helplessness is a familiar feeling, and it’s one that I despise more than anything else in this world.

Last night I prayed for the first time in awhile. I felt shaky and scared; there are so many different moving parts in my life, and I am a notorious worrier. Giving my concerns to God doesn’t give me as much peace as it should, and I think too much about the future and “what if” scenarios. I think this is something a lot of people from our generation struggle with. I’m not sure if it’s just because our twenties are so uncertain and there are a lot of big changes taking place or because it’s still the beginning of really being adults in the world, but either way I have so many friends who deal with the same exact concerns as me.

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Photo Credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries

I think God sometimes speaks to us in the smallest of ways. I believe in signs, so when I woke up and saw this photo on Proverbs 31 Ministries‘ Facebook page, my heart felt warm and full. I think this was God talking back to me to remind me to trust Him with every detail of my life.

After all, God hasn’t made any mistakes with my life yet. In fact, He has always known what is best for me, even when I think my life is going in one direction. My favorite examples to use are always ones from dating, so I’ll share the glimpse I got into God working in my life.

A few years back, I was worried about my first-ever relationship ending. It was scary because I had never gone through a breakup before, and I was paralyzed with fear of how it would affect me, how I would get through it, and whether or not I would ever find someone to love me again. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think most of us have a harder time with heartbreak the first time around.

As you all know, I made it through the breakup, and came out even stronger after the fact. I found plenty of guys who wanted to take me on a date, and I eventually fell in love again. This is where my “God moment” begins. The love I have found with Robert is incomparable to any other relationship I have had in my life. I am with someone who knows what compromise looks like, wants to know the desires of my heart, and makes me laugh on a regular basis. He cares about quality time the same way I do, and views relationships as the number one priority in life.

To this day I strongly believe the end of my old relationship is the biggest blessing I have ever received. I got to meet Robert — someone I now can’t imagine my life without. One of my biggest fears ended up materializing, but God knew so much better than I did that there was someone else out there who would be a much better fit for me. I think back to the day Robert and I first met in front of a little Italian restaurant and can’t believe how far we’ve come from that. I imagine it must have been fun for angels and God to gather to watch our love story unfold that day. To us, it was just another online date (Granted, it was the best first date I’ve ever had), but to the one Guy who knows everything, it was the beginning of a really beautiful love story. He knew what He was doing when He jumped through hoops to make us meet, and my heart should feel at ease that God will continue to work in my life and take care of me the way He always has before. I have absolutely no proof that God has ever left me behind or let me fall without Him, but I have such a special story of God taking care of my heart and knowing what was best for me before I even knew it myself.

I don’t have the right words to end my blog post today, so I’ll leave you with words that are much more beautiful than any I could come up with.

“Do not be anxious in anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

The Most Difficult Part About Forgiveness

One of the hardest things in the world is learning how to forgive yourself. At least for me it is.

You know when people proclaim, “I live with no regrets!” and you nod and are like, “Yeah, what this person is saying is so wise and great. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done either. Ever.”

When I sit back and really think about it, though, I do have regrets in life. I have regrets that make me sick to my stomach and keep me up at night. I can easily forgive myself for any kind of mistakes I’ve made that affect my own life but when it comes to bringing my loved ones into the picture I have a really hard time cutting myself any sort of slack. I want the very best for the people I love, and I would do anything to make them happy. I kick myself whenever I do anything that hurts them, and would take any and every sort of pain life has to offer away from those I care about in an instant. Whenever I see someone I love hurting I wish my superpower could be taking pain away from others and giving it to myself instead. Even after knowing Robert only for a short time I knew with all my heart that I was glad I was sick instead of him. I know illness isn’t a realistic “Either/or” scenario, but I think about sickness a lot and am always relieved that I am the one with health problems, rather than someone I care about. Even after we had only been dating a few months I remember feeling like I wanted to be the one to protect his heart, and that I would do anything for this new, special person in my life — the exact same way I feel about my closest friends and entire family.

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Something I used to think about a lot was how I got POTS. Doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause yet, as POTS has really only been studied since 1993 or so, and they need more information on it. One theory is that people can get sick with POTS after a traumatic event. My “event” happened to be a boy, and very constantly and consistently being stressed and weighed down in a relationship.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t regret worrying so much about someone who would later not even be a part of my life. In fact, I didn’t know it then, but I would later feel like I didn’t even know what real, deep, true love was until I found it for the first time in the passenger seat of a Ford pickup truck.

I have other regrets, though, that haunt me far more than my illness.

In the same relationship I didn’t stay true to myself — in a lot of ways. I gave up pieces of myself I held near and dear to my heart, all in hopes to avoid ever having to go through any sort of heartbreak. I didn’t think that I was strong enough to handle a breakup, and decided that all the pain my heart was feeling must just be “normal” in a relationship. I thought that love was supposed to hurt, and that men just didn’t care as much about having their partner be a part of their everyday life as women did. I thought that I must be crazy, clingy, and unreasonable for wanting a boyfriend who would be a significant part of my life. I thought the jitters I felt in my heart and stomach were butterflies, when they were really just anxiety. Little did I know way back then that I was already in the middle of a terrible heartbreak — one where I was losing myself completely.

There are things I changed in that relationship that I will never be able to get back. I wish with all my heart I could rewind time and do everything over again so I wouldn’t make the mistakes that I did, but clearly that’s impossible. My next-best tactic will have to be learning to forgive myself.

If I knew then what I do now, I would have ended things and stayed single for a few years until I met the person who would completely turn the way I felt about love upside down. I would have known that I wasn’t being treated right, that people should never pressure you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, and I would have known that there are men who care about my heart so much that they will be able to put aside some of their own dreams for mine too.

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My heart still hurts often because of mistakes I can’t take back and the way they affect those I love. Sometimes I worry that I won’t ever be able to be fully loved by someone for forever with the baggage from my past.



Love is patient, love is kind.

This verse often plays in my head when I hear the word “love,” but something told me to dig deeper today. I Google “1 Corinthians 13,” as I don’t know the Bible well enough to recite the entire verse to myself verbatim. I skim until a small collection of words hit me and my heart drops into my stomach.

“LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.”

I want to cry with relief.

God is speaking to me in a way I’ve never really felt before. I know Jesus came to this earth to die for my sins, and I know He forgives me, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can forgive myself. I realize a real, true love can caress me gently and understand that just because I am scarred and imperfect doesn’t mean I am not worthy. Just because I made mistakes that really hurt in my past doesn’t mean my future can’t still be bright, healthy, and filled with the authentic love I have always wanted. Even though I can’t make everything right with the mistakes I have made in my life, I can look forward to creating a beautiful life with someone really special. The best thing I can do now is move on with my life and continue to look towards the bright future I have with someone who will be my forever and always, rather than dwell on the things that used to hurt me and tear me down. After all, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who you have been with. All that matters is who you end up with.

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Dysautonomia International does not believe POTS is caused by stress or anxiety, so odds are it is not. Stress does very negatively affect the way I feel, though, which is why I now try to keep my life as stress-free as it can be.

Irreplaceable

One of the sadder parts of having a chronic illness is when you question your own self-worth. When you’re in your twenties and chronically ill it’s really hard seeing all of the people around you traveling the world, working towards their dream job, and having fun in whatever way they see fit — whether that is going out with friends late into the night, playing sports and working out, or taking a spontaneous road trip with a big group of friends.

Some days it’s hard for me to do anything other than rest, and sometimes I have to cancel plans at the last minute because my autonomic nervous system decides that I shouldn’t be comfortable enough to do an activity. This becomes especially heartbreaking when I feel like I’ve let my loved ones down by not being able to do something that they want to. It sometimes makes me wonder why they choose me to play the special role of “best friend” or “girlfriend,” instead of someone who can be carefree and fun all the time. My chronic illness is probably my biggest insecurity.

My cardiologist must literally be an angel, as he has been so kind and comforting since the beginning of my illness. Since we have gotten to know each other, anytime he looks at my heart on an echocardiogram he looks puzzled and then says, “Krista, your heart is too beautiful for this world” with the most genuine smile on his face. It makes me tear up because I know he’s talking about something different than my physical heart — as that often beats a little too fast for its own good. He is instead referring to the core of my being. This little comment serves as a reminder that just because I sometimes feel broken or like I don’t have an as important purpose in the world as others does not mean that it’s the truth. I know other people who are sick or have struggles that make them different, and they have become even more incredible because of what they’ve been through. During times of loss, we often gain a new sense of empathy, a new appreciation for life, and a great deal of strength we never knew we had. Hardship can make us bitter, or it can be something we use to connect with others and help make them feel less alone. This is the sole reason I write so openly about my own struggles.

God puts people on this earth and lets them have hardship sometimes, not because He doesn’t love us or has forgotten about us, but instead because He wants us to glorify Him in all we do — that includes using our own heartache to lift up others. Sometimes our purpose is greater than fulfilling our own dreams.

My heart was broken. Yes, now I have an awesome boyfriend, wonderful family, and friends I know care deeply about me, but at 22 years old I had to give up my dream to live in a big city and write for Seventeen magazine and begin the fight to get my life back. Since that day three-and-a-half years ago I have chosen to push forward, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it, and never give up hope. There are a lot of things I haven’t done that I would have loved to do. I wanted to live in New York City again and I wanted to have an incredibly fast-paced, spontaneous job because that’s what I have always enjoyed so much. I love interviewing people and learning more about their stories, I love keeping up with teen trends and offering my advice to young women, and I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the world starting with our youth.

But God has a different plan for me than the one I had for myself. I can’t handle the stress or physical pressure a job in journalism has, but I can handle being vulnerable and toss aside my pride to show people that they are absolutely not alone in the world. I can handle publishing my deepest thoughts on a platform like this, even though not everyone will understand everything that I write about. Perhaps most important, though, through my struggles I have learned to love others deeply — whether or not I am their cup of tea and whether or not we have similar beliefs or values.

I still have days where I feel insecure about the way my life is with POTS, and I wonder when it will be my turn to actually live like I’m in my twenties. When I start feeling like this, though, I try to take a look at the people around me and notice how many people choose to open up to me and choose to make me an important part of their life. It isn’t because we can go out and have a wild night together or because I am able to get them into exclusive VIP parties. The people I am important to love me because of the way I love, and because of who I am as a person. There are certain “Krista traits” that are unique and special to the world. My power is that I love in a way that is irreplaceable to those who receive it. I will do anything for the people who are closest to me, and I will never turn down an opportunity to show love to those who need it, even if it means sacrificing something on my end. I strongly believe each and every person on this earth has their own qualities that are absolutely irreplaceable too.

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My favorite way to show love is through writing.

Somehow I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this post. I think we all have our own insecurities, especially in a world where it’s so easy to compare. If I have learned one thing from having a chronic illness, it’s that people love those who are genuine and themselves. We are all so different from one another, but that’s what makes the world such an amazing place. People don’t have to have a chronic illness to be able to understand some of the things I have dealt with, such as insecurity and loss. There have been so many times where someone very different than myself has reached out to me and been able to relate to something I have written in their own very different life. We are all humans with the same basic feelings and a desire to love and be loved. Just because you feel broken sometimes doesn’t mean you are not valuable to this world and loved by so many people — some of which you haven’t even met yet. Never doubt your self-worth just because you are different. The best way to make a lasting impact on the world is often because of the differences that you have to offer.


Photo Credit: Audrey Denison

A Very Special Someone

I am going to end up with someone very special.

Do you want to know why I think this? Because I have a chronic illness, which makes dating me worlds more complicated than the average person.

I have been dumped because of things I can’t control — like my skewy autonomic nervous system, which often makes me feel sick or unable to do normal twentysomething activities. People don’t always sympathize with the struggles I go through every day, and I know it is incredibly difficult to see someone you love hurting.

My guy doesn’t just have to be a physical supporter for me, but he also has to serve as an emotional rock when I get frustrated with life. Some days are more painful and exhausting than others, and sometimes I just can’t think straight through the dizziness and brain fog. I need someone who will be patient with me and remember that I have a good heart.

Some days I will be cranky, but I don’t mean anything by it — I’m just not feeling well. So the last thing I need in a partner is someone who can remember how much I love him, even on the hard days. I need someone who will keep in mind that I’m still the same person, even when I’m incredibly sick and some of my best traits might be hidden behind pain. He will need to be able to remember that I still love him with all my heart, I’m just sometimes too darn tired to show it.

People like this aren’t a dime a dozen. Unconditional love is really difficult to find, and meeting someone who is willing to start a relationship with someone who already has complications isn’t always easy. The people I have met, though, who have been willing to go through the hard stuff in the beginning of our relationship are so incredibly special. These are the people who will be there for better and worse, and this is the kind of guy I eventually want to end up with. I guess in some ways I am lucky that I’m not always the easiest person to love since I have no choice but to weed out people who won’t stick around through tough times. I will end up with a 1 Corinthians 13 man.

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Today’s lesson: Take whatever it is that makes you feel different or unlovable, and realize that you are beautifully unique and you are stronger because of the struggles you have gone through. Realize that not everybody will love you with them, but the right person will absolutely love the entire package you have to offer. Just because you have a disability, baggage from your past, or struggle with something today does not mean you will never find love. It just means you need to wait for someone really, incredibly special to be a good fit for you. People like us kind of lucked out in that regard, I guess, because we can’t settle for an ordinary love. We have to be patient and wait on one that will hold the test of time and make it through the crazy curveballs life throws at us.