Today is World Encephalitis Day, and I want to take a moment to shed some light on a certain controversy within the PANS and encephalitis communities:
Is PANS a form of autoimmune encephalitis, or is it something else?
Back in 2014, in a matter of weeks, I went from being a typical college student earning straight-A’s to a psychiatric cripple who was afraid to eat and didn’t want to exist anymore. I also lost the ability to walk, was overcome with constant involuntary movements, and couldn’t stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time.
How could a person develop sudden-onset Tourette’s, narcolepsy, bipolar symptoms, and severe coordination problems simultaneously in isolation from each other?
Continue reading “Why Autoimmune Encephalitis Doctors Need to Stop Ignoring PANS”
As I opened my eyes to the morning sunlight peeking through my blinds, for a feel blissful seconds, I forgot the many reasons I shouldn’t feel as calm as I did in that moment. But not a minute later, it all came rushing back, and my stomach did a somersault.
I rolled over and saw a missed call from my infusion pharmacy, and all at once I remembered the horrible quandary I’m in. I remembered the unfortunate events that led to it. And worst of all, I remembered that losing access to monthly IVIG treatments could mean I was on the verge of a relapse that would make me lose my mind. Continue reading “The Questions No One Should Have to Ask: Life on the Verge of Relapse”
I have a disability.
I never thought those four words would describe me, especially at twenty-three, but in my first few days as a graduate student, they’ve become a heavy truth I have no choice but to accept—and at the same time, they’ve turned into a statement of empowerment.
Continue reading “8 Essentials for University Success with a Disability: How to Build a Bulletproof Support System”
In the last couple of months, I’ve had a breakthrough in my recovery. After being mostly couch-bound since January, I’m now able to run. And my cognitive abilities have improved so much that I just finished a small project. So many things I’ve hoped for have become reality!
I thought I’d feel nothing but elation if I ever got back to this point, but instead, now that I’m here…
I’ve found a dark side that no one wants to talk about.
Continue reading “When Getting Better Hurts More Than Staying Sick: The Paradox of Recovery”
For the last eleven years of being sick, time has been my enemy.
The first sign I was ill was that I started moving in slow-motion—I lost awareness of time passing. Doctors thought it was late-onset Attention-Deficit Disorder. Instead, as I’d find out eight years later, my immune system was attacking my brain.
Continue reading “The Part of PANS/Encephalitis Recovery We Don’t Talk About”
These days, when friends ask how I am, I tell them I’m fantastic—and for a moment, I almost believe it.
I tell them about my new projects. I tell them about grad school in the fall. I tell them about a professional development program this summer. When I talk about everything I’m doing, I fool everyone—even myself—into thinking I’m healthy. Continue reading “Why I’m Doing Better Than I Think”
Well, after dreading it and hoping and praying it wouldn’t happen again, I’ve just had another bad flare.
On my way to class last week, I overheard someone say she had Strep throat.
No. I can’t flare again, I thought to myself. It’s not going to happen. I’m still on antibiotics. I’ve had two IVIGs. I should have plenty of good antibodies if I’m exposed. I’ll be fine…
But then, when I got to class and saw one of my lab mates who hadn’t been around in a few days, I asked where he’d been—and immediately wished I hadn’t:
“Oh, I had strep throat. It was a really bad one!” Continue reading “I Don’t Know Anymore”
Last summer, over the course of a few hours, I suddenly became unable to walk due to an autoimmune attack in my brain. If I tried to go from my living room to the kitchen, I fell multiple times because my legs would suddenly give out.
In one moment of insight during that horrendous time when I had not only lost the ability to walk but had essentially lost my mind, I said to myself, I’m going to run a marathon someday and overcome this. And I’m going to beat my best 5k time from eight years ago within the next year.
It was truly a crazy idea. Maybe I still wasn’t in my right mind when I came up with that…
Continue reading “My Last Piece of Freedom”