I first met you when we shared a bunk bed at summer camp in 2008 and you’ve been in my life since. Back then, you were still the spunky, enthusiastic girl you are today, but a lot has changed.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen how much Chronic Lyme Disease has taken away from you.
Sometimes, you would wake up in excruciating pain, muscles sore and limbs numb. Sometimes, you would get sick in public and have to not only deal with your nausea, but the public scene that ensued. Sometimes, you couldn’t walk; your legs just wouldn’t carry you. Often, the plans you were so excited for got thrown out the window due to an unexpected emergency. Other nights you spent alone in the hospital, remembering what it was like to not have an illness be the governing factor in your life. Occasionally, you’d have to rely on the help of other people to do some mundane task, and I’d see in your eyes the pain of losing your self-sufficiency. I know during the worst times of your illness, you’ve felt weak, incapable, and overwhelmed by the daunting realization that Chronic Lyme may well be something you have to fight for the rest of your life.
I’ve heard it said that if you cannot change a situation, you are challenged to change yourself. I don’t see your Lyme Disease as a weakness, though when you are bound to bed with a body that won’t work for you, you may suggest otherwise. In fact, in those moments I’ve seen pure strength; the type of strength that inspires others to push through when all they want to do is curl up in bed and quit. It is the kind of strength that has carried humanity for thousands of years, the strength to keep going, to adapt, to power through challenges even when you feel you can’t or straight up don’t want to.
Starting Chronically Capable was another way you showed your strength.
You turned a barrier into stairs that have led to your success. I’ve seen it wasn’t easy for you, to chisel away at the challenges of a near constant medical battle, but on your way you’ve created a path that inspires others. It is one built by your strength, made of all you have fought through, and it is leading you to all that you will accomplish.
If I have learned anything in our years of friendship, it’s the value of perseverance and a belief in oneself.
I cannot wait to see all the incredible things you will do, the obstacles you conquer, and the strength you will show all the while.