The ER And My Heroes

Hello, blog family, I’m finally back! I had a pretty rough week. I haven’t really gotten much of a cold/flu/virus sickness since getting POTS because I am so incredibly careful with taking care of myself and not hanging out with people if they’ve been sick recently. My cardiologist has always emphasized the importance of a flu shot and taking preventative measures with POTS because being sick makes my chronic illness a lot more difficult to manage. Now I see why.

My parents took me to the emergency room just over a week ago because I kept getting sick and passing out on my way to or from the bathroom (Or the bucket next to my bed). That night was weird because I had decided to sleep at 8:30 due to extreme nausea. I had been in the car for eight hours on our way home from Boston that day, and hadn’t felt well most of the trip home. I typically get a little nauseous on car rides — particularly long ones — so dismissed it as a POTS thing and ate a few ginger chews in hopes of feeling a little better. There weren’t any signs of having any sort of bug, except for the fact that I almost fell asleep while we were driving a few times, which is really not a typical Krista move.

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My Instagram story that night. Yikes!

Anyway, despite going to bed early, I woke up every hour with really bad abdominal pain and couldn’t fall back asleep for more than a few minutes at a time. Finally, around 10:30, I started getting sick. As most of you know I still live at home, so my poor mom had to come in and check on me a million times to make sure I wouldn’t faint and hit my head on the hard bathroom floor. Finally, she came in and told me to get dressed because we were going to take a trip to the emergency room.

Surprisingly I didn’t put up a fuss. I slowly walked back to my room and threw on my Nike sweatpants and “Army Girlfriend” sweatshirt. My mental state was in tact, as I debated putting on my engagement ring. I quickly decided against it, and grabbed Robert’s dog tags instead. I figured just on the off chance something was really wrong I wouldn’t want my ring to get lost during any hospital drama, and that the dog tags would be pretty easy to wear throughout any procedure.

My dad helped me to the car as I clutched a big, white plastic bucket in my lap. Luckily I didn’t need it, as I had cut myself off of food and water an hour prior. Not drinking made me feel sick, but it also left my stomach empty, which was just what I needed.

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Five long hours, two IVs of saline solution, and a couple of Zofrans later, I finally began to feel better. A few different things ran through my mind as I sat on my little white hospital bed. First, it’s crazy that nurses work all hours of the day. Like, we got to the hospital at 1-something, and didn’t leave until a little after 6 in the morning. There were people running around doing their job like it was a normal hour. Second, these people put their own health at risk by being around people who are sick with a lot scarier things than just the stomach bug that I had. Even towards the beginning of my visit I tried to stay far away from the people who were caring for me because I didn’t want to spread my germs. I quickly realized they weren’t afraid of getting my virus when they poked and prodded at the EKG  electrodes I am all too familiar with. It was hilariously comforting having some normal medical procedures done when I felt like hell. I knew they weren’t going to help me feel better, but it was nice having something that made it feel like a normal trip to the doctors. Lastly, all of my nurses were kind and made me feel comfortable — at least considering the circumstances. It makes a world of difference when someone takes care of your feelings along with your symptoms. I always think back to the nurse who told me I’d have to endure my awful POTS symptoms for the rest of my life and that it wouldn’t get better, and I am so grateful that she was wrong. Hope and comfort are both such healing things, and I’m thankful for each and every person who decides to be encouraging and kind to the people they come into contact with.

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Mom snapped an update for everyone when I was all taken care of and on my second IV.
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One hilarious thing I noticed was that I was in such a dazed state when we left the house that I put a sock on inside-out. Oops.

I am completely better now, and am looking forward to resuming my normal life, writing schedule, and wedding planning — which I will have a million updates on in my next few posts! I am also going to keep pushing forward in my journey get healthy again. I have a few exciting diet updates I’ll be writing about on here, and I will continue to work hard at PT and the gym to keep my symptoms at bay. Here’s to the beginning of a new week!

Marks In Time

A lot can change in a year.

Time is a funny thing because as intangible as it is, it sometimes feels very concrete. There are certain things that make time more significant. You know both college and high school are going to last 4 years, your birthday will be around again exactly 365 days from the last one, and the Christmas season is every 48 weeks or so. Having a chronic illness makes time a little fuzzy sometimes, though. I have had POTS since August of 2013 and can pinpoint different phases throughout my journey, but it feels weird that I’m coming up on five years now. I have been fighting for my health longer than the time I spent in college, which is super weird. When I think about going to Mason I have such different memories from each year I was there. When I was a freshman I was timid and shy. I didn’t feel like I had a place I belonged, and I left campus to stay with my family just about every other weekend. I liked my classes and had a couple of really close friends I would keep for the rest of my life, but I was still figuring everything out.

My sophomore year was a blast. I made so many new friends, and I had a group of people who felt like home. I made friends with the girls I would call my roommates the next year, and I was an editor for the school newspaper. I didn’t find as much confidence with writing until later in college, but I looked forward to every day I would spend in the Broadside office with all of the other aspiring writers. Sophomore year was spent finding myself, and learning what I wanted to do the rest of my time in college.

Junior year was probably my favorite. I loved feeling secure with some of the best friends I could ever dream of, and had a great balance of work and play. I turned 21 that year and will never forget that birthday. I waited to drink until I turned 21, so all of my friends crammed into our little apartment living room to celebrate with me. People brought six packs of different things to drink, but I stuck with a cherry Smirnoff Ice. I was surprised it didn’t taste very alcoholic, and took my time sipping on my new favorite drink. That year we spent long nights dancing at the bar down the street every Thursday, and still had the energy to go out and explore restaurants and museums on Friday and Saturday.

Senior year before moving to New York is a blur, but my last semester of college spent in the city was one of the best memories from those four years. I had my fair share of adventures, long hours working overtime in the office, and despite blocking it out most of the time, I had my share of lonely nights in that little shoebox apartment on the eighth floor. New York was definitely an enormous highlight of my college career, and I’m still so thankful for each and every memory I gathered from that time.

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My mom took this picture of me my first month being a New Yorker. I felt so at home rushing around the city in my little dresses and tights, and fit in with all the editors at Seventeen by living on coffee, books, and cupcakes.

Do you see how easy it was for me to create four years of my life?

It hasn’t really been like that again until recently. The first few years of getting sick really blur together. I have a little bit of a timeline I can create, but it isn’t the same concrete, certain one I have from every other year of my life.

I got sick and went to a million different doctors. I had my heart hooked up to echocardiograms, holter monitors, and got tested for diseases I had never heard of. I watched The Food Network, then I watched The Office, then even later I started a new series called Pretty Little Liars. I went to the local shopping center with friends and found myself lying on the lobby floor of the movie theater to keep from fainting. I went home and cried, and wondered why I was the person God allowed to get sick. I remember nights of lying on the couch and having conversations with friends about the outside world I no longer felt a part of, and wondering aloud if I would ever be able to have a normal twenty-something life again. I remember getting my first job while I was home sick, then having chronic, debilitating pain from using my arms too much. I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and had to stop doing the one thing that made me feel kind of normal and independent.

I remember moments, but I have no idea when they happened.

I also don’t know when I started getting better, as it’s been super-slow, but there are a few things that offer great markers of healing. One year ago my mom hosted a Bunco party at our home. She always takes the month of February, and I often get invited to come play with her group when it’s held at our house. Bunco is essentially a game of rolling dice and giving an opportunity to catch up with friends. Last year I remember finishing the game and going upstairs and feeling heartbroken at all the pain I was in — just from rolling dice for an hour. My pectoral muscles were sore and ropey, and my shoulders and arms burned with sharp, constant pain. I regretted taxing myself so much for a game, but I also wondered how something so simple could cause so much of an issue. It wasn’t normal, and I hated having to choose between living my life and feeling good. 

She hosted this same party again last night and I got to attend. I am sore and by the end of the night I was glad to be done with the rolling motions, but today isn’t an 8 or 9 on the pain scale like it was last year. My physical therapy sessions are so beneficial for my health, but I will be able to make it until my Friday appointment without trying to hold it together while I’m reeling in pain. I’m more sore than I am on an average day, but I don’t feel like I’m going to have a complete breakdown from being in pain. I can easily handle a little bit of soreness and as long as I take it a little easier today I will make up for everything with my stretching and workouts. This is proof that despite relying heavily on physical therapy and rest, I am making progress.

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Today’s lesson: Even if you feel frustrated because something isn’t changing, taking a look at the really big picture and having little mile markers is so helpful for keeping spirits high. I still may have a long way to go in being normal again (And maybe I’ll never quite get there), but any kind of baby steps I can take is still progress. I’ve already learned so much through my journey, and I trust God to be with me every step of the way. Staying positive and remembering blessings throughout every step helps me have a thankful heart. My path has helped me become more empathetic, kind, and understanding, and it has led me to my new forever family member, which is absolutely priceless.

More Than Just A Super Bowl Win

If you’ve been following along this blog for a little while now, you’ll know that I’ve become quite the Patriots fan since I met Robert. He did a great job converting me to root for all things Boston, and I think I have some good tips on how to bring a significant other to whatever your dark side is.

Despite being disappointed about not winning the Super Bowl this year, I was quickly intrigued by the Eagles’ quarterback, Nick Foles. I saw stories about his wife plastered all across my newsfeed, talking about how she was diagnosed with POTS in 2013 — the same year as me. Something I think is fascinating about POTS is that so many of us were athletes before we got sick — most of which were actually even more active than the typical person. I ran distances longer than the majority of the US population, ate really well, and jumped on any opportunity of athleticism that was offered. Along with running, I was almost always involved in some sort of club or intramural sport and had friends who would play pickup games with me. Tori Foles was a setter for the volleyball team at University of Arizona, shortly after graduating, she had to spend a month in the Mayo Clinic trying to figure out what made her suddenly get sick.

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My first year with POTS I had to go through the airport in a wheelchair.

It gives me chills how similar our stories are, and how many other young people have the exact same details in theirs. Athletic, young woman with career ambition gets sick right after graduating college — when she’s supposed to just be starting life. It also looks like we both reached for God in our time of hardship. God is still Someone I sometimes struggle with understanding, however having POTS has made me realize how much I need Him. There are things in life that we sometimes have no control over, and our only options are to face the obstacles alone or choose to lean on God for help. Although I sometimes complain about not having a normal life, I also realize what an amazing blessing it is to have healed as much as I have. Instead of fainting every time I stand, I just get dizzy or my vision blacks out for an instant. I don’t go through the entire week with a migraine anymore, and I am able to be in upright positions without having a million different symptoms to control. I still deal with the pain from my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but having a brain that actually gets enough blood to it is an enormous blessing.

Something that makes the Foles’ story so beautiful is the fact that Nick and Tori decided to get married just a month after she got diagnosed. This makes my heart so, so happy because POTS is such a life-changing and frightening illness, particularly in the beginning when you’re still learning about it and how to manage your symptoms. There is a reason wedding vows have the line, “In sickness and in health,” because falling ill is one of the most difficult things life can toss at you, and you want to be sure the person you commit to spending your life with will stick around even during hardships. Perfect weddings, fun vacations, and nice things are all fun, but what is really beautiful is seeing how two very imperfect people come together and choose to love each other every single day.

I am not an expert on marriage by any means, but I think when you decide to take someone to be your forever, you are committing to choosing them each and every time. You won’t always have a picture perfect life — you may fight, be annoyed at your forever roommate for making the kitchen a mess, or in my case, or just have a downright bad day — but you will absolutely always love each other. At the end of the day you’ll have someone next to you who has your back no matter what, and that is what I think is the most beautiful thing life has to offer. True selfless love. 

Love And Pain

Pain and sickness are really difficult things to write about. Trying to describe things you’re feeling but  many people have never dealt with before is essentially attempting to put pen to paper about the way butterflies feel in the beginning of a relationship to someone who still has yet to experience it. You can use the right words, but they won’t really connect until they have something to relate it to.

For example, think about the way some of your first crushes felt, versus how actually being in love feels. They both have the same warm and fuzzy feelings as a base, but feel drastically different. That’s how I would compare temporary short-term pain, such as an injury or a broken bone,  to chronic, long-lasting pain. I’ve experienced both, and before getting sick I wouldn’t have had anything to draw from to compare to the new exhaustion chronic pain brings. You don’t ever get a break from chronic pain. Even when you can kind of ignore some of your problems on your good days, the bad days are right around the corner. I do a great job of not thinking too much about that when I am well, and I’ve gotten really good at living in the present when I can. Then, the bright side is that on bad days I know a good one just has to be right around the corner. Chronic pain is a vicious cycle, though, and wears you out to your core. Not only does everything hurt, but you also are always so incredibly tired from not being able to sleep. Whether your body is annoyed from being tense and having your muscles screaming at you all day long or your brain keeps you up thinking about the pain you’re feeling, you don’t get good rest. I don’t remember the last time I got in bed and just fell right asleep. It’s been years.

I’m constantly sending articles and trying to pull up scientific findings about my conditions to people I love because I want them to understand how I feel. God, I want to be understood. I hate feeling cranky because of my pain or having days where I can’t stand it anymore and just break down and cry. Granted, the latter are few and far between, but sometimes my body just can’t take anything else and needs some sort of outlet. Talking isn’t my best one because I want to help other people feel happy and good, so I don’t like to complain — or maybe I don’t know how to complain properly; I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. I love to write, but I don’t always have the strength, and frankly I don’t want to leave behind troves of essays on how much my body hurts.

I just don’t feel like anyone I’m incredibly close to has been in a situation quite like mine, and it’s minorly heartbreaking knowing that yes, I always have a shoulder to cry on, but I don’t have anyone who really gets it and can tell me that they know how I feel. That’s why I am motivated to write about my struggles. 

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Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want anyone I love and care about to ever understand chronic pain or any other kind of difficulties in life. One thing I’ve always been thankful for is that I’m the one with this problem. I would gladly take every pain away from the people I care about if it meant they didn’t ever need to face it themselves. Not only do I feel like God gave me a strong heart and will to keep pushing forward, but I think He gave me a beautifully optimistic outlook on things, and I’m really grateful for that. I think I’m handling the hurdles I’ve been thrown the best I possibly can, and I actually think that despite being a painfully average twentysomething, I am exceptional in accepting the negative things in life as a reality and then figuring out how they can turn into a blessing — or at the very least, something that doesn’t consume me. I have always said that I may have POTS, but POTS doesn’t have me. The same goes for my chronic widespread pain; it’s a big part of my life, but there’s no way in hell that chronic pain is going to take my entire life from me. I will count my blessings until the day I die, and today those are my loved ones, dogs, chocolate, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, and each and every one of you. 

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.

Forever Is A Long Time

When I first got sick with POTS, I asked the nurse if this illness would last forever. She told me yes it would, and I felt sick to my stomach. Tears streamed down my cheeks like they never have before — I’m someone who tries to hold them in until they just spill out — and for the first time in my life the future looked like a deep, dark hole.

Forever is a heck of a long time to have something new and frightening. I couldn’t walk ten feet without feeling like someone was spinning me around on a desk chair, and I didn’t want to keep living a life like this. I felt so much regret for the moments I had a working body and didn’t appreciate them. I regretted the many mistakes I’ve made as a human being because I felt like my illness was punishment for being a sinner. Most of all, though, I felt scared.

The best advice I got when I was diagnosed with POTS was to take each day and every hour as it came to me. My mother wisely told me to be gentle with myself, take care of each need as it arose, and ask for help whenever I needed it. The first year I was sick I asked for help with everything. I couldn’t walk to the kitchen to fetch myself a snack sometimes because I would faint (due to insanely low blood pressure) from not having enough salt. All I could really do was watch television, talk to friends, and eat. Even sleeping was difficult, despite being exhausted every hour of every day. I was too afraid to pray until I was so worn down all I could do was sit on the bathroom floor and cry out to God. I didn’t know how to ask to be healed, and I was angry with Him for selecting me to be a victim in something I didn’t even know was possible to happen to a 22-year-old. At least not to me.

My relationship with God is slowly being repaired. As I’ve gotten older and looked back on my experiences, I’ve realized that God wasn’t punishing me for anything by letting me get sick. I still don’t understand how illness works — I don’t know why He doesn’t always heal us when I know He can. That’s something that still breaks my heart sometimes when I think about it, but I try to remember the good that has come from this. Every dark story has light in it, even if it just starts off as a tiny little shimmer. If I hadn’t gotten sick I wouldn’t have met Robert. That’s an amazing enough change in my life that I feel blessed by it and wouldn’t change anything for the world. I wish I could tell that story in a blog post, however it would take too many words to put down on a screen.

I wouldn’t have created this blog if I hadn’t gotten sick. I would be working for a magazine instead, and I wouldn’t be able to have a platform to speak about whatever I want on. I have deep convictions that are so close to my heart, and I want to help make this world a little easier for everyone to be in. I want my legacy to be making people’s hearts be warm and secure. I want people to feel less alone in this amazingly tiny world. So despite how it sometimes feels, God hasn’t left me alone; I think He is just trying to use me through my hands, my voice, and my keyboard by making my pain turn into a light for Him. I still don’t know God nearly as well as I’d like to, but I know He’s trying so hard to get through to my heart. I know He is fighting for me every day, and that He loves me even when I mess up. Please know that He loves you too. Please don’t ever feel like your mistakes have created the dark things you have in your life today. Know that there is a light at the end of your tunnel, and that a blessing will come, sometimes in disguise, when you least expect it.

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Today’s lesson: Whatever you slap the “forever” label on that seems scary and daunting, please take it off. Know that our souls are forever, and God is forever, but sickness and pain don’t have to last forever. There is beautiful grace that is ours for the taking. I’m trying to learn how to get it. I’m starting small, by trying to connect to God just a little bit more than I have before. I will keep you all posted on my journey, and I will use this as a way to stay held accountable for working toward something that seems scary, but will be the biggest blessing I could ever think of.

Handicapped? Really?

One thing every single young chronically ill person will tell you about is the incredibly frustrating battle that comes with having an invisible illness. We are constantly trying to regain normalcy in our lives, but also have to roll with the punches through the symptoms our illness brings along for the ride. For example, I can’t do many of my favorite activities anymore — let alone even just be outdoors in crazy heat — however, I don’t like being different and asking for help, even when I need it.

Today I went to my alma mater to run a quick errand. I wasn’t feeling particularly great, but I told myself that it would only take five minutes and to suck it up and get it over with. I mapped everything out in my head and went to my usual parking space. It’s one of two handicapped visitors spaces, both of which are always available. I sat for a minute to prepare for my walk up the hill and grumbled in my head about how I wasn’t up to my heart racing today so to just take it slow.

As I began my miniature hike, my heart began to thud swiftly and hard (for those of you who don’t know, when POTSies even just go from sitting to standing our heart literally beats as fast as someone running a marathon… No wonder I’m always so tired!). I walked slowly and carefully up the hill and focused on each step so I wouldn’t trip — that’s just because I’m Krista and a little bit clumsy — it has nothing to do with POTS.

I smiled at two young police officers when I looked up, and as I passed by them I heard one say to the other, “Handicapped? Really?” with a snicker.

My heart stopped — then went back to racing even faster than before. For a split second I was shocked, then brushed it off as my imagination. I always feel embarrassed when people can tell I’m different, and I hate having any sort of extra attention. This makes me feel like people are staring sometimes, even when they’re not really paying too much attention. I had a gut instinct, though, that I needed to turn around when I got to the top of the hill. I wanted to make sure my car was going to be OK in the visitor’s spot and that I didn’t need a university parking pass to be there. Despite having parked at that spot a hundred times, you can never be too careful at my alma mater.

Sure enough, they were smiling and looking at my bright blue sticker with a little black device.

Great, I thought to myself, now I have to trek back down the hill to see what’s going on. 

I wasn’t in the mood to deal with confrontation, but I know how crazy our school was about ticketing, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have any trouble when I came back from my meeting. Deep down I knew it was because of the way I looked, though, that the officers rushed down to check my credentials. I quickly realized that I hadn’t been imagining things with the officer’s remark, and that if he was gutsy enough to say that while I was right next to him, he might be confrontational when I chatted with him about my disability.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” I asked.

“We’re just making sure your pass matches up with your car,” one of the officers replied with a grin. “We know people often take advantage of these spots.”

“I have my DMV card, hang on,” I replied shortly. I wished I had called him out on making a snide remark earlier, but I honestly didn’t think a trained police officer would have been that loud and unprofessional about being so snarky. At least if you’re thinking that about me, keep it to yourself and your partner, don’t bring me into your little joke.

I didn’t smile as I showed my pass. Not smiling at someone when I’m interacting with them is actually one of the hardest things for me to do, but I felt frustrated that I was having to deal with this when I already wasn’t feeling great.

“Okay, good,” he replied. “Thanks. We just didn’t want you to be using grandma’s parking pass to get a better parking spot,” he said. “You know — so we can protect people like you who really need it,” he corrected himself.

Honestly, this part of the interaction bugged me a little, but I don’t fault people for saying goofy things like that anymore. I understand that it isn’t normal to see a 26-year-old who is disabled but looks healthy, and a lot of people haven’t even really had to interact with someone like me before.

The thing that bothers me about the whole ordeal was the way they went about everything. I completely agree that they should check to make sure I’m actually handicapped. People who use the stickers but don’t need them should absolutely get in trouble. The way they went about it was wrong, though. I shouldn’t feel like I am doing something bad by using a handicapped parking space when I need one, and I should feel comfortable using the resources that help make my life a little more normal. I already feel embarrassed enough when I have to park in one of those spots at Trader Joe’s and make three trips back and forth to carry $20 worth of groceries to my car without hurting myself. I hate that people stare at me to try and figure out why I am in that blue space, and I hate going grocery shopping with my mom and having people think I am a jerk for making her carry everything to the car by herself. I don’t want to feel like the people who are supposed to be protecting me are also going to give me grief about being a weak twentysomething.

I realize that the police officers were just trying to do their job, but I also know enough people in that field to know that there is a lot of sensitivity training so that they can be professional while they are on the job. I would have had absolutely no issues with them checking my pass — even right after I left my car — however, making me feel uncomfortable by being snarky loudly enough for me to hear was completely uncalled for. In hindsight after talking to a few people about it, the officer more than likely wanted me to hear his comment, as he waited until I was 200 feet from my car and right next to him, and thought he was catching me in the act of something I shouldn’t be doing.

I didn’t write about this to shame the police officer or have a pity party for myself. This is just such a perfect example that you never really know what someone is going through unless they tell you. I look fine, and if you stuck me next to a dozen other twentysomethings you would never guess that I was the sick one. I hope this story helps people be more gentle towards other human beings, as you never know what someone else is dealing with.

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Another reason I wanted to write about this to raise awareness about invisible illnesses is because not everyone with a chronic illness is as bold and open about their problems as I am. A few years ago when I first got POTS, my mom had to be my advocate because I couldn’t even stand without getting incredibly sick. People who are going through things like that should not have any extra obstacles that could easily be avoided, so I think it’s important for me to speak up about my experiences in hopes to better the lives of others who are chronically ill and don’t have someone to advocate for them. A good lesson from all of this is to be kind to everyone you meet, and never make assumptions based on the way someone looks. I am going to be writing a letter to the police department so that they can hopefully be better equipped to deal with others who are like me on campus.