“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.”
Continue reading “The Criminal No One Can Stop: When Illness Is a Crime Scene”
After eight years of a mysterious illness no one could figure out, one July morning in 2014, a neurologist finally cracked the code: I had PANS. My body was attacking part of my brain, leading to all sorts of bizarre symptoms.
But at the same time that she shed a light onto my case, the new diagnosis plunged my whole family into a darkness we couldn’t have imagined.
Yes, we had an answer, but we’d also just opened a pandora’s box of questions without knowing it.
Continue reading “5 Things I Would’ve Told Myself When Diagnosed with PANS”
Five years ago today, I made a decision that would change my life: I published my first post on this blog.
I didn’t tell anyone—not even my best friend or my family. It was my little secret project that I never intended to keep up for more than a few months—and yet, here we are in 2019.
Back then, I was a castaway on a desert island of illness, tossing out that first post like a message in a bottle—I didn’t know if anyone would ever see it, but nonetheless I felt compelled to write. After all, it was one of the few things that brought me peace from the depression that was engulfing me.
Continue reading “My 5-Year Blogversary… And What Might Be Next”
“There’s no cure. No one knows if you’ll ever get better.”
The realities of my situation swirled in my mind as I tried to make sense out of what was happening. None of it was news, but somehow the word hit me harder than ever before:
“With the encephalomyelitis…” my doctor began at a recent check-up, but I have no idea what came after, because that word was all I could hear.
Continue reading “What It’s Like to Get an Incurable Diagnosis at 24: How I’m Coping with ME/CFS”
After just one stride, I knew something wasn’t right. I’d always run through anything—be it sickness, rain, or depression—but today was different. Today, in the midst of training for my second half-marathon, my whole body felt like it was made of lead, and no matter how hard I tried I could barely pick up my legs.
I shuffled down the road for two miles before the frustration of a terrible performance got the best of me, and I dragged myself home, now dizzy from exhaustion. I went to bed in the hopes that I could sleep it off… Continue reading “The Plot Twist I Never Expected… And How I’ve Learned to Accept It”
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”
Last month, after finishing my first semester of grad school, the dread of having to come back in January to do it all over again drowned out any sense of accomplishment. Although I liked my colleagues, the truth is that I was miserable so much of that fall. And until now, I didn’t know why.
Continue reading “Facing The What-If’s of Chronic Illness: Why Do Grad School While Sick?”
For the last twelve years of being sick, I’ve been embarrassed by all of the ways my disease makes me “different” from everyone else. I may try to fit in, but I’m always waiting for the moment when people discover the truth about me.
From not being able to attend public high school, to going to therapy and appointments instead of hanging out with friends, to living with OCD and chronic pain, my experiences as a person with PANS and Lyme have isolated me from my peers when all I wanted was to be “normal” and feel accepted. Continue reading “My Illness Made Me Feel Like a Freak: Why I’m Done Trying to Be “Normal””