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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