chronic illness

‘My mom noticed a hole above my tailbone she could fit her pinky into. The doctors told her, ‘As long as it’s covered with skin, it’s nothing to worry about.’: Woman with spina bifida and fibromyalgia suffers from ‘back attacks’ and ‘wild symptoms’

“During birth, the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck. In order to save my life, the doctor had to act fast. My mom’s tailbone was broken. Then like any other mom, she diligently looked over my body and immediately noticed a hole above my own tailbone. The doctors told her, ‘It’s nothing to worry about.’ But at 7 days old, I had a temperature of 104 degrees. As I grew, so did the tumor. It tightly wrapped around my bladder and kidneys, slowly killing me.”

‘What will you tell your kids? They look trashy.’ I’ll tell them what my tattoos mean to me.’: After lupus diagnosis, sexual assault survivor uses to tattoos to ‘help me reclaim myself’

“Unsolicited, I have been ‘advised’ on my body art. I’ve been asked, in horror, ‘What will you tell your kids?’ I’ll tell them what my tattoos mean to me, and when they’re older, they can get tattoos if they want them. ‘You’re inviting people to judge you.’ Actually no, I’m not. ‘Can you get a job with those?’ Firstly, none of your business. Secondly, yes. Then there are the people who find my tattoos TOO appealing. ‘Where ELSE are you inked?’ ‘So, you like pain, huh?’ ‘Wanna see MY tattoo?’ Seriously, be less sleazy.”

‘No cure? Like forever?’ I’ve been shot in a drive-by shooting, and I’d still take that pain over Crohn’s. I was so angry.’: Young woman learns to live with invisible illness, ‘It’s not the end of the world if you have to pull over, or ruin a pair of pants’

“Suddenly I could not keep any food inside of me, from either end. I was losing weight fast. The weather was nice so my boyfriend and I went to a restaurant on the waterfront for dinner. Afterwards, he took the long, scenic way home. I was in intense pain and needed to get to a bathroom. We finally arrive and he insisted on walking me to the door, not realizing I was ready to sprint. The minute I shut the door behind me, I projectile vomited all over the entryway. I became a homebody. I was accused of things like, ‘You just want pity. You’re lazy.’”

‘Look, she’s eating something!’ I hear the whisper. I feel the cold gnawing at the bottom of my stomach. I hate it and I love it.’: After 12 years battling anorexia, ED survivor learns to accept new plus-size body

“My brother makes me a sandwich when he sees I didn’t eat lunch. My bones poke up under my skin. ‘Please eat it,’ he begs. ‘You need to eat.’ It is so sweet of him, so I eat a few bites. But when he leaves, I give the rest to the dogs. They leave no evidence. Nothing in the trash for my dad to find when he empties it, nothing to clog the toilet. I have become clever in the ways of secret self-destruction.”

‘A 3-legged dog and a one-armed wife? We even each other out!’ Sandy was always meant to be mine.’: Woman with anxiety disorder, limb difference finds ‘angel’ therapy dog

“One day, Sandy sat by my bed. I hadn’t walked 50 steps in over a year. She was DONE. ‘What’s up, Sandy?’ She looked right at me and barked! ‘What is it?’ She barked again! I said, ‘Oh, please. What in the world are you doing?’ She was egging me to get up, to move. She wouldn’t quit until I walked. Once I took just a step, she stopped and laid down! Sandy started me on my journey back to life. She took away my fear and, in return, let me give her something I so desperately needed: unconditional love.”

‘If we waited 2 more weeks, you would’ve been paralyzed from the neck down.’ I was in and out of consciousness. Death wasn’t the only thing on my mind.’: 15-year-old undergoes brain surgery after feeling dizzy, discovers rare chronic brain condition, Type 1 Chiari Malformation

“I knew something was very wrong. I was barely able to hold myself up. ‘Really Jen? Pull it together.’ No one had answers. All I heard was, ‘I think you’re depressed.’ I felt like someone had filled my head with cement. At this point, I had given up. I convinced myself I was out of my mind. I laid in that MRI machine and lost track of time. I felt like my life was over at 15. The tech pulled up the images on the computer. ‘You’re going to need a neurosurgeon.’”

‘It’s time to consider a lung transplant.’ I was terrified of dying before I’d started living.’: Young woman with Cystic Fibrosis fights ‘to live the fullest life I can, in the time I am given to live it’

“My parents comfort me by saying, ‘We will get through this.’ I needed oxygen pumped into my nostrils at all times to breathe. I was afraid I was dying. I’ve seen videos where they interview elderly people on their deathbeds who are asked what they regret in life. Most people regret not having lived passionately, fulfilled and happy. I believed I would be one of them if I didn’t make a change.”

‘Did yoga do this to you?’ I woke up seeing double. Things took a turn. ‘I know it’s a lot to take in.’ I was shocked.’: Young woman comes to terms with multiple sclerosis diagnosis, ‘I won’t let this hold me back’

“I remember sitting in the waiting room. I lost all control of myself and burst into tears. What if the MS diagnosis was wrong? It felt wrong! I just wanted to opt-out of this, but there was no way. Still crying, I signed my name. All I felt was a little pinch before I went completely numb.”

‘Are you scared?’ she asked. Breathless, I whispered to my mom, ‘No. It’s time to rally.’ I was so close to death.’: Woman with cystic fibrosis ‘in awe’ after gifted new lungs on verge of death, ‘the kindness of a stranger saved my life!’

“The meds had stopped working – time was running out. The call came at just the right time. I remember doubling over, nauseous with the news I’d just received: ‘They have a match for lungs.’ I needed to be transported to Boston IMMEDIATELY. I crouched down by my hospital bed, struck with the magnitude of the situation. As prepared as I was, nothing could get me ready for this moment. I couldn’t catch my breath.”

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