Quarantine Life Before Corona

It’s weird seeing some of the parallels from my life when I suddenly got sick with a chronic, debilitating illness and the pandemic. People are describing emotions that the COVID-19 quarantine is bringing out that I felt when I suddenly got sick six years ago. I’ve been handling each step of the way a little better than you would expect from someone who does deal with anxiety, but after thinking about it a little, I attribute a lot of that to having experienced something that was, emotionally, kind of similar. Chronically ill people were prepared for this in a way that the regular population maybe wasn’t as much. Here are some thoughts I’ve had, both in isolating at home now, and back when I first got sick.


What would my life look like if it wasn’t for health concerns?

Back in the day I thought about this a lot because I was forced to give up my dream of continuing to work at my dream job. I had just completed the greatest internship of all time at Seventeen magazine in New York City, and was so excited to find a cozy (some might call it cramped) apartment to move to permanently. Instead of continuing on a normal path, though, I began fighting to have any taste of normalcy I could get. I got incredibly sick overnight and suddenly went from being a healthy 22-year-old to not being able to sit or stand without feeling dizzy or passing out. I was couch bound with the exception of going to the cardiologist or physical therapy to figure out how to begin my road to recovery.

Now I sometimes think about what the world would be like without all the corona craziness that’s going on. I would be able to see all of my friends and family, I would be able to go on normal date nights, and I would be able to continue to explore the world. I try to feel content being at home and remind myself how blessed I am to have my health and a few loved ones here with me. This time around, I’m just home bound — not tethered to the couch because of a lack of health. I’m trying to appreciate the fact that I am healthy during the pandemic, push myself to do yoga in the basement, and realize that things could be a whole lot worse. Not having a working body makes you feel so much more trapped than a comfortable home filled with food and an Internet connection.

This isn’t fair. 

No, it’s not. I’ve learned a lot of things in life aren’t fair. It wasn’t fair that I had secured my dream job, only to be hit over the head with an illness that knocked me on my butt. I was angry because I had always taken good care of myself. I ran several days a week, played intramural sports throughout college, and ate well despite having a good enough metabolism not to. I never drank excessively and wasn’t really risky with anything that had to do with my health. I didn’t pay a crazy amount of attention to it because I didn’t have to, but I actually did a good job maintaining a very healthy lifestyle. I felt so frustrated that I had done everything right and ended up being the one person I knew who had a crazy, weird health problem happen to them. It didn’t feel real, but being sick was my new reality.

We need to have a new normal with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic. It sucks not being able to do our favorite activities or see friends and family, but taking up new hobbies and finding the bright side of things is so important for our mental health.

Having a chronic illness made me realize that even though there may be unfair things that happen to you that suck, there is always something to be joyful for. Back then I got to spend quality time with friends and family. I learned that I am a lot tougher than I ever thought, and I learned that I need to be thankful for every single thing I am able to do, because some people aren’t as lucky as me. I am also convinced that I would have never met my husband, had I not gotten sick with POTS. The only reason I wasn’t in New York was because I had to stay in the area, and who knows what my life would look like now if I had been there instead. These are all blessings that came from the hardest thing that ever happened to me.

When will this end?

When I got sick with POTS I was told so many different things. “This is your life now, you’re not getting better” was the first thing a nurse told me. Later I was reassured that a majority of people who get POTS when they are young get a whole lot better in time. Since POTS hasn’t been studied as long as other illnesses, there weren’t always answers to my questions, but luckily through lots of physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and time, I’ve made leaps and bounds and know how to manage my health. I have far, far less bad days than good ones now.

It’s absolutely devastating having your life turn upside down and your routine completely trashed. Anyone with a chronic illness will tell you this. We’ll also be there to reassure you, though, that just because things change drastically doesn’t mean they’re forever — but perhaps more important, it doesn’t mean you won’t have joy in your life or that you’re doomed to feeling the way you do today. People are adaptable and learn to adjust to their circumstances. If you had told me everything I was about to go through right before I got sick, I would have had an absolute meltdown. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with knowing I wouldn’t be able to merely stand up without passing out, but you know what? I got through it. I somehow managed being genuinely happy the years I couldn’t even stand up or have a single normal day. Did I mention during this time I couldn’t go to restaurants, I couldn’t shop for my own groceries, and I even had to be taken home from the movie theater because the room was violently spinning around me, just from sitting upright? Do you see a few parallels between being chronically ill and being stuck at home because of COVID-19? The biggest difference for me is the fact that this time around I can actually move around and be more active, and don’t feel sick all the freaking time.

Take it one day at a time.

The easiest way to do anything difficult is take it one day at a time. When I got sick, I didn’t let myself think about what it would be like in one, five, or ten years if I still couldn’t get out of the house and do anything. Instead, I found things to look forward to every day, even if it was just a little TV show or eating one of my favorite foods. Now, under the stay-at-home order, I don’t think about how long it will be until I can see family and friends or go out to a restaurant again. I look for other things to occupy my mind, rather than spiraling about things I have no control over. This is so much easier said than done and if you slip up you need to be gentle with yourself, but there’s no shame in asking for help if you need it. Therapy can be an amazing way to help control anxiety, and even in these strange times people are doing sessions online or over the phone. Learning to be present and appreciate what you do have can be really hard in the face of adversity, but it’s the most rewarding thing you can learn how to do.

It’s okay to miss your old life.

Just don’t make it out to be something it wasn’t. I had to remind myself that even though I lost a working body, life hadn’t been all sunshine and rainbows before I got sick. I loved to run, but going for ten miles at a time was not a walk in the park. My lungs hurt, my legs burned, and I have always gotten bad shin splints from running. Now that I can’t, I often think about how much I loved it, but running isn’t always easy. Our lives in this weird little quarantine bubble have some bright spots we’ll miss. Whether it’s having your family at home with you, being able to binge on all the reality TV you didn’t have time to watch before, or being able to work in your pajamas, there are things that are good about the present time. We miss so much that we used to do on a regular basis or took for granted, but one day we’ll be back to our normal lives and look back at this as a little blip in our lives.

It’s also okay to be scared.

Losing every sense of normalcy is freaking hard. Find things to look forward to in your new life, and remember that so much of this is temporary. The pandemic isn’t going to last forever, and one day we will be out doing our own grocery shopping and going into work again. It’s so weird that we are all facing this uncertainty at once, but none of us are truly alone, and I think just about everyone has had a pit in their stomach at one point or another about how this is affecting each and every one of us. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable about something as big as this, but doing your best to focus on what you can control — and letting go of the things you can’t — does make the weight feel a little less of a burden.

And finally, circumstances change.

I am so thankful to have the health I do today. I get frustrated and angry when I try to go for a run and my heart can’t handle it, but I am so lucky to be able to go for walks without feeling dizzy, type on my computer without having terrible muscle pain, and I can cook now without worrying about my elbows or arms hurting — even if there is a lot of stirring involved. Things are constantly changing, and it is no different for the pandemic. Incredible minds are working to find solutions to this every single day, and I am confident that people are going to find ways for our lives to slowly gain a sense of normalcy.

I honestly don’t remember a lot of what life before chronic illness was like, in the sense that it’s difficult for me to feel like POTS was ever not here. I have to do a lot to manage my symptoms now, but everything has become such habit at this point that it doesn’t feel weird putting little electrolyte and sodium tablets in my water every time I go out to eat and I’m used to doing nerve glides and mobility work at the first sign of stiffness. This all feels so normal to me, so even if we do have some things that become a new normal, we’ll adjust. People are much more resilient and adaptable than we give ourselves credit for. I am not particularly strong or tough, and I really don’t like change. If I can go through years of being sick and dealing with a million changes, absolutely anyone can. We may not all be in the same boat, but we are all in this together, and don’t ever hesitate to reach out to others if you need help. Many people are looking for ways to help others, but just don’t know how.

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I stumbled upon the Bible verse Isaiah 41:13 at the beginning of the pandemic, and keep it in the back of my mind when I have my moments of panic. I also think about how beautiful the world is, and how perfectly everything was made. Peaks and valleys in nature remind me of what life can be like, and we just happen to all be in a valley right now. I know one day we’ll turn a corner, though, and things will be much brighter than they seem right now.

Am I Worth Less?

One of the hardest parts about having a chronic illness is feeling like I have less value because I am not contributing as much to the community as my peers. Before I got sick I was working toward pursuing a career in journalism. I took internships, worked part time at a newspaper, and was excited to continue my journey working at Seventeen magazine to hopefully impact young women in a positive way. I have always felt that words are one of the most powerful tools we have, and all of us have a wonderful opportunity to lift others up and make them feel less alone in this big world.

I always dread the question, “So, what do you do?” when I meet someone new. I hate explaining right off the bat, “Well, I got sick when I graduated from college, so I’m trying to get back on my feet and am working on getting my health in line.” Over five years later now I have made leaps and bounds in progress, but I still am figuring out how to manage what I’ve begun to accept as my new normal. Not only is my answer incredibly awkward, but I also just feel so lame not having a cool job or anything to show for my life. I worked so freaking hard before I got sick and have absolutely nothing to show for it anymore. The internship I had at a national news company isn’t relevant anymore, and my job at Seventeen wasn’t able to materialize into what it could have because I couldn’t even walk down the driveway to the mailbox when I first got sick. My illness didn’t just take my body away from me; it took away every sense of normalcy I had ever worked to create. I have nothing to be proud of, and feels like I can’t make an adequate contribution to society anymore. I have relied on others to take care of me, when all I have ever wanted to do was be able to take care of others.

If anyone who had a chronic illness told me they felt worthless, my heart would feel completely broken and I would try as hard as I possibly could to show them what an enormous, ugly lie that was. People shouldn’t feel like they don’t have worth in this world just because their body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Our value does not reside in what we do — or don’t do — for a living, and people can still change lives when their bodies don’t work properly.

Whether or not you are a Christian, I think the Bible has a really beautiful sentiment about our worth as human beings. Psalm 139: 13-14 says, “For You [God] formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” This doesn’t say that we have value because of our job or what we do; it says we were born having value. We are made in God’s image, and He only creates beauty for the world. I think it’s very powerful knowing that even before ever doing anything in the world we have irreplaceable value. Just ask a mother of a newborn baby; she will say that her child means absolutely everything to her, and that is merely for existing, it isn’t anything he has done to make her feel this way.

I am a firm believer that everyone has a purpose in the world and can make a difference in a way that no one else could. Just because you are bedridden or need to be taken care of absolutely does not mean you don’t have value in the world. You have qualities to offer people that make you absolutely irreplaceable in their lives, so we need to stop telling ourselves the lie that we aren’t as valuable because we are different.

On the other hand, I understand the ache that is in your heart for the opportunities you have missed and feeling like some of life has passed you by. I don’t have the resume I would have had if I hadn’t gotten sick, and there are a lot of experiences I missed out on. It’s weird listening to my friends all talk about what they’re doing at work and how comfortable they are there. I still remember working at the magazine’s office like it was yesterday, but I also think that experience was so different because you’re the lowest on the totem pole. Dealing with an illness does teach you what is important in the world, though, and gives amazing perspective people often don’t have until much later on in life. It teaches you to hold on to all the amazing blessings you are given, because sometimes they can be fleeting, and to be thankful for the people closest to you. It teaches lessons of patience, hard work, and resilience. You learn what it’s like to be empathetic with people, rather than just offering sympathy, and you are given an opportunity to be a light for others who go through the exact same things you deal with on an every day basis. Chronic illness builds beautiful warriors who have such important lessons they need to share with the world.

I understand questioning your worth as much as anyone else with a chronic illness, and I am right there with you trying to find my own purpose. The words I wrote on this page make sense to my brain and I know that my life has incredible value, but my heart sometimes has a hard time making the connection. I feel lost in a big world that doesn’t understand me, and I am getting swallowed up in the lies I tell myself at night. Being sick has taught me I’m a fighter, though, and I’m not going to stop searching until I figure out what I’m here for. Deep down I know I have an important role in the world. I just might take a little longer to figure out what it is and that’s okay.

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Delicate

To say I’m not self-conscious about my chronic illness would be like saying I didn’t care what other people thought of me when I was in high school. Neither is true, but high school was a lot easier because at least everyone else felt the exact same way — and I knew it. Despite feeling self-conscious about the shape of my body or being worried about my future, I knew all of my classmates felt the same way I did. That brought a little glimmer of comfort even in all the confusion.

What’s frustrating about POTS now is that I feel so alone in it. I don’t have a close knit group of friends who are chronically ill, and frankly, that sounds exhausting. We would never be able to make plans with each other because one of us would always be feeling sick, and it would be a whole lot more difficult getting from point “A” to point “B” without having someone who could carry two water bottles or still think clearly even if it gets really hot outside. If I had known in college that one day I wouldn’t be able to carry a Smart Water bottle around for myself I would have been terrified for what my life was going to become.

I freaking hate having a chronic illness. I hate how it makes me feel, I hate that it’s so unpredictable, and perhaps most of all, I hate that I ever have to rely on other people to take care of me. I have always been super-independent, and despite being sick for almost five years now I am nowhere close to being used to all of this. Let that sink in. I have been sick for almost 1/5 of my life now, and I am still not even close to being used to it.

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Every morning I wake up and want to be able to do everything for myself. I want to cook, then clean up the mess in one sitting. I want to be able to drive to meet my friends for lunch without worrying about where they want to go geographically because my arms might hurt terribly from driving too far. I want to have enough energy and strength to go to work, think straight with no interruptions from dizziness or brain fog, and get through an entire day without hurting and becoming stiff — then do it all over again five days in a row. I don’t understand why all of these things that feel like very basic human rights have been taken away from me.

I miss my independence so much I want to scream. I push myself to limits that I know are going to hurt me because I don’t feel like asking for help with little tasks. In my mind, people are going to get annoyed if I keep asking for help with so many seemingly easy things, and it’s not worth losing all of my relationships to feel decent. My brain understands that the people who love me are happy to take care of me, but my heart feels heavy and tight with frustration. I often feel like a burden — not because anyone has told me that I’m one, but because I can’t take care of myself the way I used to. I want to be the one to take care of my parents and repay them for taking care of me for more than just the 18 years they expected to. I want to be able to support myself financially, and I want to feel like I can give acts of service to my loved ones more than I am able to. I want my friends to understand the way that I feel and to know what it’s like to lose every sense of normalcy your body has grown accustomed to — but only for a day so that they can know what my every day is like and why I’m often so tired. I want people be able to feel my frustration so they can really understand how much small things impact me in my day-to-day.

I could write a book on all the things I miss that are really normal. I miss being able to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch all by myself, and I miss doing my own laundry (Seriously!). I miss going shopping without eventually feeling nauseous and dizzy. I think what I miss most is going places by myself. Whether it’s being able to drive into the city to walk around and explore by myself, or taking a mini road trip to see a friend, I wish I could drive myself around without having to rely on loved ones to chauffeur me around. I am 27 years old and want nothing more than to be able to sit in traffic by myself to see my best friend just one a state away whenever I want. I either have to wait until someone can drive me, or have her make the hour-and-a-half trip by herself to come and see me. Both the little and big things about being sick bother me, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever fully be used to being different this way. I hate asking people for help, and haven’t gotten a lot better at it over the years. POTS has made me realize that it isn’t always a person who can break your heart. There are other things in life that can take a little piece of it away, too.

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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.

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!

To The Creatives Of The World

Your work matters too.

Having a chronic illness makes me so, so thankful for people who are different than I am. I appreciate the people who can handle blood and unhinged joints, and those who have brains that work for chemistry and biology. I’m not wired like that; I enjoy using my hands to write and create stories. I like painting metaphorical pictures for people, and I love resurfacing feelings from my heart and putting them on paper for others to read and relate to.

Something that really kept my spirits up when I first got sick with POTS was watching The Food Network and reruns of The Office. Laughter is often some of the best medicine, and despite not being able to do very much physically, I was able to laugh and dream. I learned as much as I could about food and health, and I lived each moment in the present as the room spun in circles around me.

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Every chapter of my life has included a soundtrack. I hear an old favorite song and it takes me back to a memory. I often do my best writing while I am listening to music, and will play a song on repeat until I have spilled old feelings on the pages in front of me. Despite not having the same ones anymore, I have a perfect memory for feelings. I know them all so well and even though I can’t remember dates, numbers, or physical details, I always remember how my heart felt about something. The best part about my writing is that it strikes a chord with people. With each blog post I get messages about how someone could relate to my own thoughts and feelings, and I take a lot of joy in knowing I can make others feel less alone by sharing my life with them.

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There are a lot of people in the world who get credit for their practical work, but I think creative people sometimes get left out of the thankfulness. I’ve written posts about how great I think people like doctors, physical therapists, nurses, and researchers are — without them I would be a complete wreck — but I’ve conveniently left out the people I understand most. The artists, the writers, the actors, and the comedians who all make life just that much brighter and more beautiful. The world is a really cool place because we have such a vast mix of humans who care about all of the other kinds of people. Without the left brains we wouldn’t be able to fix painful everyday problems, and without the right brains we wouldn’t have all the entertainment options we do. Both types of people bring more joy to the world, and we are all are a piece of the puzzle that makes for a happier society as a whole. No matter what your talent is, use it to make the world a better place.

Today’s lesson: Just because you can’t cure sicknesses or fix things doesn’t mean you aren’t important to the world. Laughter and bringing joy through the form of creativity and entertainment is a very important job. Keep practicing what you do best and giving back to the world with your own unique talents.

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. 

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.

My Story Part 2

The next morning I woke and went to grab breakfast with my mom. I had been excited the night before, as we were scheduled to go paddleboarding. I felt slightly nauseous, but dismissed it as nerves for the anticipation of learning something new.

I gnawed on a donut with one hand as I slipped on my swimsuit with the other.

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By the time we got to the paddleboarding hut I was feeling pretty ill (And regretted giving in to the temptation of Duck Donuts). I wondered why I was so nervous about something that was on still water. I am a good swimmer and wasn’t afraid of falling in; it made no sense. I sat outside and tried to focus on how good the sun warming my newly freckled skin felt until we were called to go to the dock.

We all took turns hopping onto our boards in the calm bay and pushed off the dock.

Thirty seconds in I felt the seasickness setting in. How is this happening so quickly? I wondered to myself. I always get nauseous on boats, but it usually takes a little bit of time for everything to set in.

“Am I supposed to feel dizzy?” I asked the instructor as my vision blurred slightly.

“Uh, I don’t think anyone’s ever mentioned that before,” he casually replied with a minor look of concern splashed across his face. “Keep me posted on how you’re doing.”

I nodded. I hated more than anything being high maintenance so I wasn’t about to make everyone turn around for me, but I didn’t remember feeling that sick in a very long time. I tried to make the most of things as I paddled close behind the instructor. My brother and I giggled about the showoff who had left the group and gotten stuck in the marsh, but I felt like I couldn’t focus on anything. The fogginess in my head made this almost feel like a dream.

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Realizing I was close to actually getting sick, I told the group I was going to turn around and went to sit on the dock. My head spun, but I figured I would acquire my land legs again soon enough.


Later that night I felt a little better, so we went out for dinner to a local homestyle BBQ joint. I was excited; I love ribs and couldn’t wait for our meal. Once we got our meal nausea set in — hard.

“I think I’m sick,” I announced to my family. My head was spinning and I didn’t laugh at any of the jokes that everyone had been telling. I rested my head on the table as we waited for the check. Great, it’s just my luck that the one time I get the flu we are at the beach, I thought to myself. I had gotten sick a lot living in New York City the spring before, but other than that I was a pretty healthy person; I couldn’t remember the last time I had the flu.

We went home and I rested on the couch. I asked my brother to get a 32 ounce Gatorade from the fridge and sipped on it as I gazed past the television while The Office played in the background.

I reached for my drink and was startled to find that it was empty. My mouth felt dry and I couldn’t swallow. Why wasn’t there any spit?

I chose another Gatorade from the fridge and drank it reluctantly. I didn’t want to puke yellow Gatorade all over the couch, but I also felt like I needed more to drink. Two Gatorades down, still no spit. My body began to panic as I realized I was disturbingly dehydrated. I took a deep breath and drank a solo cup filled with water. Then another, and another. In total I had 14 different drinks and noticed absolutely no change in my hydration. Tears welled up in my eyes and I wondered why my body was letting me to expel water from my eyes, but keeping it from my mouth. Something wasn’t right. In fact, something was very, very wrong.

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A few hours later I lay in bed and still felt my heart racing. It was getting worse. I had noticed a rapid heart beat a few weeks ago, but pinned it on feeling restless about the problems my boyfriend and I were having. This time was different, though. It wasn’t just a short spurt; my heart was racing and wouldn’t stop. I was nauseous. The room was spinning around me. My limbs felt heavy and numb.

This is the end, I thought. It may seem hilariously dramatic to everyone reading this, but before I knew what was wrong with me — a very sudden onset of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome — it really felt like my body was quickly shutting down on me.

My life flashed before my eyes, but it wasn’t the way it does in the movies.

Instead I just felt a sense of regret. God, if I live through tonight I promise I’ll make something of myself and try to honor You, I bartered. I’ll get to know You better. Please don’t let me die. I don’t want to find out what happens when I die yet.

I hadn’t taken enough time to focus on my faith and prepare for what would happen when it was my time to leave the earth. I wanted to feel more comfortable with my ending; I hated how unsettled I felt with the fact that this might be my last night here.

I wasn’t sure about much, but I was certain that something was very wrong with my heart. A 22-year-old shouldn’t be having a heart attack, but that was the only explanation I had for the sensation I was feeling. I called for my mom. She rushed downstairs and came into my room. I told her how I was feeling and she crawled into bed next to me. I didn’t know why, but I didn’t want to go to the emergency room so far away from home. I felt like I was on my death bed, but I also didn’t feel like anything was adding up. I was healthy. I took care of myself. Logic told me it couldn’t be anything serious, but I felt otherwise.

That was the longest night of my life. I turned on the television in an attempt to drown out the sound of my heart racing against the pillow. I tried to ignore everything that felt wrong; I didn’t want to rush around a foreign town to find a doctor at 2 in the morning. If I lost consciousness surely my mom would notice and take care of getting me the help I needed. I just wanted to make it through the night to go home the next day to my familiar doctor.

The room shook. I looked around, startled, and noticed it was just me. I was suddenly freezing. I wrapped the fleece blanket and fluffy white comforter around myself and began to cry. There were so many new sensations I had never felt in my life and something was definitely wrong. I thought of my family, and I thought of the little girls I babysat. I hoped people would miss me if I wasn’t around anymore, but I also wanted them to be okay. I began thinking more about my own mortality and shook harder. My relationship with God wasn’t near where I wanted it to be. Now that I felt so delicate I wanted to be certain of what was going to happen to my soul. I prayed to God, asking for another chance at life. I was scared and I certainly didn’t feel ready.

The nightmare continued until the next morning.

I drifted off a few times until my heart beat or the uncontrollable shaking would wake me. I focused on my breathing, expecting it to stop at any second, but prayed it wouldn’t.

The next day we piled into the car and I tiredly leaned against the front window. My body was weak, but had made it through the night. Despite being exhausted and sick, I was very thankful that it was finally morning.

I noticed the rapid thudding in my chest and wondered whether I had some sort of new superpower in which I could recognize every single thing that was working in my body. Is it weird I’ve never noticed my heart beat before? I wondered to myself. I knew it shouldn’t constantly feel like I was running a marathon as I was sitting in the passenger seat, but I also knew I wasn’t dreaming and that terrible life-changing things just did not happen to me. My life was good. My life was normal. The biggest struggle I had going into college was actually coming up with a hardship to share in one of my school applications.


I didn’t know it then, but I wasn’t just sick with the flu or something that would go away after a week or two of bed rest. My life is forever changed, and I will share my experiences running from doctor to doctor and how I learned to cope with this new lifechanging news on Tuesday.