I’ve had a motto since day one of my illness, and it became a motto only because I found myself saying it so often. Sometimes I would say it to remind myself of it’s meaning, other times I’d say it to friends who asked about my health.
“I’m still me.”
My world got turned upside down in 2011 when I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Although at the time I had been sick and searching for answers for 5 years, something really stung about hearing “Lyme Disease”. I had to face the fact that what was ailing me wasn’t a quick fix and didn’t come with an overnight cure. My particular type of diagnosis is called Neuroborreliosis. It’s a mouthful, but what it means is that the Lyme Disease has settled in my brain, creating neurological damage and causing body wide symptoms and pain. Lyme Disease is spread by ticks and is completely preventable with proper protection and tick checks. It’s also easy to treat when diagnosed early. In my case the infection was missed, so it silently spread and wreaked havoc on every single part of my body.
So I continued to reiterate, “I’m still me.”
I knew that treatment would be a fight, and I was more than ready for it. However, I was so afraid that the people around me might view me differently now that I had a diagnosis attached to me. I was afraid that they may no longer see ‘me,’ and only see my pain. So I continued to reiterate, “I’m still me.”
A chronic illness will inevitably change your world to a degree, because suddenly your life shifts from being carefree to focusing on your health 24/7. It’s a very strange shift to make as a 20-something adult, but I always took special care to make sure I didn’t lose myself in the process.
Where my life was once full of Sunday brunches and mani/pedi’s with my girlfriends, it suddenly became intensive treatments that left me hidden in a dark room day after day. Where I used to worry about what outfit I’d wear to dinner on Saturday night, I suddenly had to worry about things like food allergies, life threatening reactions to medications, blood sugar drops, fainting spells, and more.
To say that things got turned upside down would be an understatement, but I refused to lose myself amongst it all. I’m still me, so I began to alter the things in my life which I had control over in order to remind myself of the things I love. I was in school for Fashion before I had to quit due to my health. One big thing I missed was getting creative with my outfits dressing up each day. Since I spent 99% of my days in pajamas I decided to re-do my entire “pajama closet”. This way I could still be cute and fashionable. Now nothing is a bigger compliment than hearing “I love your pajamas!” These are the little things that make me, ‘me.’
I am still a girl who wants to rescue every dog, a girl who loves board games and a good brownie.
Through all the treatments and the ups and downs throughout the years, I am still me. I am still a girl who wants to rescue every dog, a girl who loves board games and a good brownie. I’m still a girl who always has her nails painted regardless of if I leave the house, and a girl who loves fashion and design.
The freedom to let go and blend into every day life is something I value deeply.
I want people to see me for me, and I simply want my illness to be an after thought. Although it’s a large part of my daily life, it doesn’t even begin to define me as who I am. Lauren’s Hope Medical IDs help me accomplish that by keeping me safe, but not making it so obvious that I have a medical condition.
When I was first introduced to Lauren’s Hope I couldn’t get over how gorgeous their bracelets were. I love how their primary focus is to be a stunning piece of jewelry, but yet it’s discreetly a Medical ID. I can express myself, channel my inner love of fashion and not have so much of the focus placed onto my illness. The freedom to let go and blend into every day life is something I value deeply.
When people meet me it is my greatest hope that they sense my passion for advocacy, my humor and my grit, but that through it all they can still see all the little things which make me uniquely ‘me.’