August 19, 2012…the day that changed my life forever. Overnight, I went from a seemingly healthy, normal functioning young woman to a person unable to care for myself. Such a drastic change in such a short period of time.
I wish I could express what it felt like to suddenly be unable to function. If you could feel what I felt, you would be forever changed. I’ve spent hours trying to write this blog post because it means so much to me yet I can’t get my message across using human language. I’m afraid there are no words that can paint a proper picture. It’s something that one has to experience. Imagine being so incredibly sleepy that speaking a sentence literally feels like it takes as much effort as running a mile. Imagine the act of standing on your feet giving you the feeling that you just ran 10 miles. Imagine taking long deep breaths and it doing nothing to affect your heart rate of 140 bpm. Thinking was hard. My thoughts didn’t want to connect. My brain was so foggy. My arms and legs would randomly go numb. It was as if any ounce of exerted energy sent me into a tailspin and left me feeling like I was on a high speed treadmill that I wouldn’t turn off.
Emotionally, my world was flipped upside down. I could scarcely care for myself. I couldn’t cook, clean, shower, do my hair, drive, or walk through my house. I was in a wheelchair everywhere we went and the grocery meant riding in a motorized cart alongside the old folks. The grocery also meant a long nap when I got home and exhaustion for the rest of the day. I used to watch people rushing through the store in a hurry, pushing their carts and their screaming babies and think, “Wow! That used to be me! What does that feel like? How did I ever do that?” It’s like trying to imagine summer while in the midst of winter.
The doctors didn’t know what was wrong and couldn’t promise me that I’d get better. They diagnosed me with POTS and sent me on my way with another appointment months away. Multiple specialists and no answers. If they couldn’t help me, who could?
I lost my sense of identity. Who am I? Usually I’m the girl who likes shopping, clothes, makeup, social events, helping others, eating out,… I couldn’t do any of those things anymore. I was the girl who loved to stay up late and have fun all night. I loved to get dressed up and go out on the town. Not anymore. I went many months without nice clothes, makeup, or jewelry. This isn’t me! I’m trapped in someone else’s life! I can’t eat out because I’m suddenly allergic to everything. I can’t stay up late because I have no energy. I can’t help others but instead everyone is helping me. I don’t mean to sound shallow. Of course, there were other parts of my identity…I was a Christian and a mother and a wife. But, those things weren’t the same either. I couldn’t make it through a church service. I couldn’t go on a walk with my husband in the evening. I couldn’t run around with my kids. It truly felt like all the things that made life worth living were gone.
I experienced depression for the first time in my life as I wondered if my life was essentially over. I was consumed with the idea of going back in time. I so badly wanted my life back. 32 years old and that’s it! Life over. Yes, even though I was alive and could see and hear, my life as I knew it and my life as I enjoyed it and my life as I dreamed about was over. If someone could have warned me. If only I had known that 32 years was all I got. I would’ve done so much more. I would have been more thankful and taken less for granted. It’s not fair! I want more life! I begged and pleaded with the Lord to give me more life.
I am not a risk taker. In fact, I hate roller coasters, highways, airplanes, bridges, storms, and basically anything that could potentially be dangerous. I always erred on the side of caution and was sure this would protect me from pain and suffering. Meanwhile, I ate whatever I wanted including tons of sugar and restaurant food daily. Completely oblivious to the fact that this was more dangerous than roller coasters, highways, airplanes, bridges, and storms put together. I also ran my body like it was invincible, putting untold stress upon it every day. Funny how we think we’re in control while blindly driving ourselves to our very fear.
Through lots of prayer, research, and hard work…I regained my life. Within six months I was functioning again. Six months…what a short period of time. But, it fundamentally changed who I am! I will never again go to bed without the realization that tomorrow could change everything. I am so thankful for the ability to stand up, to drive, to shower, to walk, and to sleep. It’s surreal to me that I am living normally again. My life was drastically changed in August of last year and now it’s drastically changed back. Did that really just happen? Was it all a nightmare?
I got a second chance. I can’t believe it. I got a second chance! Have you ever really, really, really wanted something that you didn’t think you would get? Maybe you wanted to get married but had long ago given up hope on it. Then, suddenly you meet the right person, a person beyond your wildest dreams, and you are in disbelief that it actually happened. Well, for me, I get to live normally. There was a time when I was scared out of my mind that it would never happen. But, here I am. The grace of God is beyond my comprehension. Life is short, fragile, and precious. Be thankful for every ability that God has blessed you with and go LIVE!