Two

Two years ago, yesterday, marked the first time I had ever felt the kind of pain that I know face on a sometimes daily basis. Today marks the anniversary of my first admission and the first time a medical professional would tell me that the pain I was experiencing could not be real because the basic workup they had completed showed nothing. Long story short, that doctor was wrong and I have been in a state of declining health ever since.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about these days. September 13th and 14th are a vivid reminder of how, in the blink of an eye, my entire life changed. It’s easy to look back on life lost and dreams abandoned. I could have graduated with my class. I could have had my dream job. Could have, could have, could have. But I don’t. Those wild aspirations no longer hold a place in the forefront of my mind and have, instead, been replaced with a determination that only comes with one’s fight to survive.

Over the past two years, I have exhausted every treatment idea and every doctor in the State of Washington. I’ve traveled across the country to see some of the most renowned doctors the United States has to offer only to be turned away after their ideas also come up short. I have become an expert at advocating for myself, at fighting tooth and nail for whatever I need. For any of you who didn’t know me pre-life-altering medical disaster, I was immensely shy and incredibly docile. Now, I’m a little more explosive. Full of passion and fueled by the rage and frustration created by our backwards healthcare system. I’ve turned my horrendous new life into a platform for me to raise awareness and connect with others navigating through the same kinds of struggles.

Two years ago may have been the end of the life I had built for myself. Two years ago may have been the end of the Aleigha my friends and family had come to love. Two years ago may have been the most horrible few days of my life, but through the despair and the pain and the loss I have grown into an even better, stronger and more empathetic human being. Despite everything that is going wrong I have taught myself to find hope where there is doubt, light where there is dark, and to keep laughing through life even when it seems impossible.

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Self Love

I haven’t written a post in a while now, so I thought I’d try to explain my absence from the internet world and real world alike. As many of you may know I have been struggling with motility issues that have caused the worst six month bout of nausea and vomiting I’ve ever experienced. I have gone from my healthy weight of 115 to sitting in the mid 90’s. The worst thing about this is that I don’t look all that unhealthy when you see me on my rare venture out of the house. Unless you pull out a photo of what I looked like this time last year or, even, this time six months ago. I’ve lost around twenty pounds and with it my capacity to think properly, be present, drive, or do just about anything that requires me to physically or mentally exert myself in any way.

Now, I have always been a very tiny human, but I also strive to be a healthy one. Standing an inch over five feet, my once muscular gymnast body got comfortable weighing a very healthy and happy 115 pounds. Needless to say, rapidly dropping down to 95 in six short months (that’s 20 pounds people) is not okay with me or my body. I am unable to keep down food on most days simply due to the debilitating nausea I have come to live with. Zofran of the highest doses can’t keep this stomach in check and medical marijuana has become my new best friend. Try to think back to the last time you had the stomach flu. Horrible right? This “stomach bug” never went away. On the days when I do eat, I spend my nights with an angry and often times abusive stomach, reinforcing to my sensory overloaded brain that maybe not eating is the solution. Cue the lack of appetite now. But anyone who knows me understands my love affair with food and that I once worked my ass off to not only gain weight, but gain muscle. And I apologize to the doctor who said, “Are you sure you just don’t want to gain weight?,” but you simply are wrong about me.

So, you can understand my frustration when I finally have to give up on trying to wear my favorite pair of jeans because they won’t stop falling down or when the woman working the fitting room at that store took one glance at me before blurting out, “I wish I were that skinny.” No. No, you don’t. I wouldn’t wish what this “skinny” is on my worst enemy. Remember that weight issues exist across the board and that no matter how much you are wishing for something or how hard you are working for something, you just do not need to comment on anyone else’s weight, or appearance for that matter, unless you are the doctor and they are your patient. Remember that you cannot make yourself feel better by cutting down others and that you, in turn, cannot make others feel better by cutting down yourself. Remember that self-love and body positivity are some of the most valuable kinds of love we have to offer. Remember that we can never truly know what another person is struggling with and for this reason maybe it would be better if that woman had simply said, “Hey, those pants look great on you.”