When Good Memories Torment You

The other night, a horrifying realization jolted me awake: I haven’t rode my bike in over two years.

Suddenly, the memories came rushing back, and I imagined myself biking like I once did. I remembered how, in college, I would bike to errands and class. I remembered zipping around town with the wind in my hair. I remembered the long rides in the bike lanes and on the greenway, and my riding buddy’s incredulousness when I’d already run ten miles that morning and still was hard to catch.

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Dear Sick, Scared 2015 Me… A Letter to Someone Whose Illness Uprooted Their Life

Dear 2015 me,

I know you feel like a stranger in your own life right now while you’re the sickest you’ve ever been with PANS. I know you’re scared, lonely, and unsure if there will ever be anything more to your life than this illness that attacked your brain and kidnapped you from your own body. I know you feel invisible because of all the hours you’re trapped in your room and all the days when you’re trapped in a mind you no longer recognize. You feel unseen because no one knows how much it takes for you to accomplish what others take for granted.

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Home from Partial Hospitalization

Last I wrote, I had resolved to do whatever it took to stay in the Partial Hospitalization program. And guess what happened? I left the program. 😬

Part of it is that my insurance only approved a certain number of days. I could have fought for more. However, the more I thought about the whole program, the more I began to realize why it was time to go home.

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PHP Day 7: “It’s Rehab for Your GI System.”

After finishing an entire week in a Partial Hospitalization Program for eating disorders, I am both more optimistic and more pessimistic about moving forward. As expected, I had a big ME/CFS crash on Saturday, the day after the week of PHP finishes. It’s pushing my body past its limit. I’m willing to put up with the worsened symptoms as long as I’m not causing long-term harm, but it’s a fine line. Continue reading “PHP Day 7: “It’s Rehab for Your GI System.””

PHP Day 3: “You Didn’t Fail.”

Today makes my third day of Partial Hospitalization, and I already know I need to stay more than a week—and I’m mostly okay with that, but not sure whether my body will allow it.

Looking back at the last few months, I’m starting to see that, as usual, my psychiatrist has been right in saying I need to be here. As it turns out, it doesn’t much matter why I’ve lost this much weight below my healthy place because I’ve ended up with the same physiological consequences and even some of the distorted thinking of anyone with an eating disorder… My hair was starting to fall out. Continue reading “PHP Day 3: “You Didn’t Fail.””

The Problem with Having an Anxiety Disorder AND Another Chronic Illness

“Just go to the lab,” the doctor says, handing me a long list of tests.

“I have a port,” I remind her. “You’ll have to send this to the infusion center since my veins are too scarred.”

She paused, mulling it over for a second. “Well, the lab is where you get blood drawn, so I’m sure someone there will help you.”

“But phlebotomists can’t access a port.”

“They’ll find someone,” she ushers me out of the office, leaving me to hang out and dry and ignoring farther warnings about what will happen to me if I go to the outpatient lab…

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8 Ways to Help a Loved One with Chronic Illness During Holidays

This Thanksgiving week, at a time when almost everyone is stressing out over travel and preparations and relatives, for those of us with chronic illnesses, the season brings additional sets of challenges.

Chances are, if you don’t have a chronic illness yourself, then one of your family members that you’re about to see does. It can feel awkward wondering what you should and shouldn’t say to this person, but as someone with both physical and mental health challenges, I’ve assembled a few tips for loved ones.

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Why I Don’t Care What You Call Whatever’s Wrong with My Brain

It was a typical Sunday morning a few weeks ago when it happened. My mom was cooking me an omelet, and dad was reading the paper. I was rummaging through the cupboard to get some honey to drizzle on a banana when I heard it:

“CLAW.” And then there was whispering in a female voice I couldn’t make out, which I somehow knew was about me.

“What’d you say, mom?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

I paused for a moment. “Did you say something, dad?”

He shook his head.

“So neither of you heard it?”

“Heard what?”

A chill ran down my spine as I suddenly realized what just happened: Continue reading “Why I Don’t Care What You Call Whatever’s Wrong with My Brain”

Could This Antibody Be Stealing My Life?

Why would this happen? How could I get worse while getting treatment?

Years ago when I started this blog, every time I had a symptom flare-up, I’d ask myself these questions over and over again sure that if I thought about them hard enough it would all make sense.

Unfortunately, when you have an illness which science has only recently begun to understand, you rarely get the satisfaction of knowing why you’ve gotten sick and what exactly will work to get you better. Sure, well-established, proven guidelines for diagnosing and treating PANS exist (though they didn’t when I started), but all too often, I relapsed without knowing why and had no objective test to prove how sick I was; I’d lose my entire personality, but the autoimmune markers you might expect in someone suffering from brain inflammation never showed up.

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The Criminal No One Can Stop: When Illness Is a Crime Scene

“Choose one,” the masked man growled as I stood in the doorway, frozen in fear.  “It’s either the painting or the pearls.”

I tried to get the words out, but the mere sight of the crowbar in his hands and the open window had already stolen my voice.  I reached for my purse to find my phone, not daring to lose eye contact, but before I could call 911, he whisked out a lighter from his back pocket.

“You have five seconds to pick one or I’ll burn the whole place down instead.”

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