Learning to Love My Life with Disabilities

At age 22 my life is not at all what I thought it would be. I now own a seemingly excessive amount of medical equipment: 2 canes (folding and traditional), a simple walker, a rollator walker, shower chair, blood pressure cuff, 6 different types of braces (most of them in pairs for bilateral support – so more like 12 braces), wedge pillow (so the blood doesn’t pool in my heart when I’m sleeping), a disability parking permit, medical ID bracelet, etc. I also have 13 daily medications and 7 as needed medications (not including over the counter medicines and vitamins). I have 13 physical conditions, none of which have a cure, one of which can be fatal if not managed correctly. I’m always in pain, and I have been since middle school. I’m on a mostly liquid + limited types of solid food diet and will be for the rest of my life. I also struggle with 8 mental health conditions. Despite it all, I manage to take care of my pets, work at Build-A-Bear a few days a week, attend an average of 3-4 doctors appointments every week, and go to the rehab clinic on my own time to work on my physical therapy, warm water pool therapy, and occupational therapy for upwards of 4-5 hours a week. I have friends that I hang out with on a weekly basis. I have a gaming group I’m a part of that meets weekly. I volunteer at Crisis Text Line and write my own blog. I’m also attempting to publish a book. 99% of the time I run my own errands. My life isn’t what I could have ever imagined it being. I couldn’t go to college because of my health, I lived in a mental hospital, and I’ll never be able to work a full-time job. It’s days like today: when I can’t keep any food down, my throat is burned from the stomach acid, I can’t walk in a straight line, I can’t make it to the bathroom without passing out, I have a migraine so I lay in bed in darkness all day, and the pain throughout my body is overwhelming… these are the days I feel so worthless and helpless. These are the days I wonder what the point is to continue living. But it’s because of days like that I feel incredibly blessed. It’s because of days like today that I’m thankful for what I have. I have some truly incredible people in my life who stuck by me and didn’t leave because I’m sick. I have a job that I absolutely love with coworkers who support me and are happy to accommodate me and make me feel accepted. I have some of the most amazing pets who look at me and don’t see my disabilities, they just look at me with love. I have a blog that people actually read and that has actually made a difference in the stigma of mental health. I’m on disability from the government, something that many disabled people are still struggling to get. I have support groups online that understand what I’m going through, so I know I’m not fighting this alone. After almost 5 years of fighting, I have a team of doctors that believe me and work to help me. I live in one of the most beautiful cities, right on the lake, with a view of downtown. There’s so much adventure to be had right in my own backyard. There are people who would look at my life and feel bad for me because of my health. Sometimes even I look at me and feel bad for myself. But I’m doing my best to be the best version of me that I can be, and I’m learning to love my life, even on the days like today… it’s a process, but I’m getting there.

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