Flashbacks.

I woke up completely unclothed surrounded by a dozen doctors and nurses all peering over me and discussing things I had no idea what they meant. From what I could tell I was being sponged down by one person as another person tried multiple times to get IV access. It was  all a blur. I had just had one of the worst seizures I had ever had, and woke up in the ER at Methodist.

The nurse had just pushed potassium chloride, in an effort to bring my potassium levels back up. Over the past few weeks my body had been potassium dumping, an adverse effect of one of the few medications available to treat POTS. As she pushed the potassium I instantly felt it as it felt like fire running through my veins. It was late at night and I was all alone. My mom had to stay home with my sister because my dad was out of town and the flu ban was enacted at the hospital. I fell asleep that night in my hospital bed alone as potassium chloride filled my veins, unable to understand why any of this had to happen.

I don’t have a lot of memories of the past five years when it comes to my accident. Most of it just meshes together and it’s hard for me to pick out actual details and specific events. I have vague memories of bigger things but most of it is just small reminders. There are however a few significant things that stick with me, and no matter how hard I try to forget them they will always be there.

I usually avoid talking about things like this because they are unpleasant to hear. In my opinion why talk about the bad, when you could talk about the good instead.

I recently have found myself in a weird position. I’ve gotten used to being the caretaker lately, but have found myself back in the patient position recently. Two weeks ago I had my annual neurology appointment, and my annual labs done. To much shock they came back funky, and I am in the process of finding out if it was just a fluke draw, or if my crazy body has decided to throw a curveball at me. (Anyway enough of that back to the story.)

So as I was getting my blood drawn today I somehow got on the topic of my accident with the phlebotomist, as I explained that I fell ten feet head first I saw the hair on her arms stick up to which she shivered, and announced “Oh my god! That made the hair on my arms stick up, my daughter is a cheerleader!” I laughed, because while I am used to most people responding with the like, ouch or oh my! I have never seen someone cringe the way she did. I kind of giggled in my head as I thought to myself, “oh you think that was terrible, well how about the five years that followed it!” However instead I kindly smiled and responded with “yeah it was rough, oh and by the way could I please have coban instead of a band-aid I’m adhesive sensitive.” She slapped some coban on my arm, thanked me for sharing my story with her, and on my way I went.

As I drove home to visit my sister I thought about our interaction. I got frustrated because she saw me as this “heroic overcomer” as someone who experienced a tragedy and is now something admirable. And don’t get me wrong it’s not that that isn’t what I want to be viewed as, because I do. But part of me gets frustrated because outside of my family, very few people know what I actually had to go through to get where I am today.

But then, in the middle of my frustration I had to stop myself and remind myself that these people weren’t in my life five years ago. How could they have known I used to experience seizures, and everything else? They coldly have known because there is no sign across my head that explains the last five years. I can’t expect someone to automatically know what I went through, and that’s also pretty selfish of me, because how do I know that person also didn’t have something terrible happen to them. I mean come on Merideth, get it together you aren’t the only person on this earth with feelings.

I laugh often with my friends about explaining my accident to new  people I meet, and most people that know me well and are around me often know my famous phrase “my brain is broken” because sometimes I just don’t want to explain the last five years, or tell you about how as a teenager I unknowingly lost control of my bladder.

I guess the moral of this post is that it has been a long journey. A lot can change in five years. And with it comes new adventures. Every day as I heal a little more I find myself introducing myself more as just “Merideth” instead of “I’m Merideth, and I have a broken brain”.

While most of my days being the patient are that of the past, every now and then I am reminded of the past, and it does hurt. It hurts knowing that I had to miss out on things because of something out of my control. It hurts knowing that I am even aware of the feeling of sore muscles, not from the gym but from having a seizure.

I’m thankful that as I heal more I am able to talk more about the ugly. I take comfort in knowing that it is no longer my normal, and that instead of it being a what-if fear it is a flashback scare. I think that as I open up and talk more about the ugly times I am able to sort of feel relief from them.

I know that there is nothing that will take away these feelings, and I take comfort in knowing that when I feel like talking about them I have a space of my own to talk about them, where I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s feelings but my own. This little online corner of my life has provided more healing than I ever would have realized at the beginning of its creation. So I suppose with that being said the feelings of this late night post are:

 

Sometimes no matter how old we are, things are scary, and that’s okay.

and

Sometimes no matter how brave we are, things are scary, and that’s okay.

 

I’m thankful for all the medical professionals over the years that have provided the comfort I needed at the time to continue on and fight. And to all of those that comforted my family as well. These last five years haven’t been easy, and I still have my days, but I am so much stronger because of people like you, that were there, for people like me.

I’m also thankful for my friends that snap me back into reality when I try to convince them, along with myself that I have contracted some foreign parasite, or extremely rare virus. (flashback to my last post about me being a worrier, lol.)

The “Worrier” Inside Me, and You.

Hakuna Matata, it means no worries. When I come home to visit my family, as I walk into my bedroom I am greeted by the words “Hakuna Matata”, as they hang over my bed. To many the phrase “Hakuna Matata” is most recognized by the widely famous Disney movie, The Lion King. Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase, that when translated roughly means “no worries”. In The Lion King the phrase is turned into a song that teaches Simba, the young lion cub, that he should forget his past, and live in the moment.

I often forget that this phrase hangs above my bed at home, as it has been there for a while and I usually just glance past it. However, today as I came home to visit my family I was reminded of the precious phrase, it means no worries.

In general we as humans tend to worry a lot, some more than others. It can often be an innate thing to do when one is placed in situations where the outcome is unknown. I’ve blogged previously about embracing the unknown, and while that is a task in itself, learning to live with “no worries “can be an even greater one.

I have been a “worrier” all my life, as a child diagnosed with anxiety you can come to your own conclusions on how “worrying” should have been my middle name, I’m sure if you asked my mom she would probably agree. In fact, I am worrying right now about my Anatomy test tomorrow, that I have been dreading for a week. But, we’ll get back to that.

I noticed that after my accident, worrying became something I did a lot less of. I didn’t hesitate as much before I did things, I wasn’t overly cautious about every move I made, and I certainly didn’t think about every possible outcome for the action I was about to take. These can all be recognized as common actions for a “worrier”.

For many, the act of building oneself up to actually complete an action is far worse than the actual doing of the action, or the aftermath that follows it. Every action, has a reaction. Shout out Ms, Klinger, freshman year of H.S. physics teacher.  I am definitely one of those people that would spend nine years worrying about every possibility of crossing the sidewalk, which would only actually take three minutes to do. Would I trip while crossing the sidewalk and land on my head, and obtain a subdural hematoma? Would a car accidentally drive onto the sidewalk and hit me? Would  a flock of young children riding bicycles maul me over? Would a stray dog happen to run past me, and bite me, and infect me with rabies? Would the sky finally fall, as Chicken Little predicted so many years ago? )(I knew I should have listened to that animated chicken.)  I would never truly know if any of these ridiculous hypothesis were to come true unless I was to actually cross the sidewalk, but the nine hours before hand in which I calculated all my risks seemed necessary before I was to do so. I have yet to have the sky fall on me, nor has a stray dog attacked me on the many sidewalks I have crossed, so I believe it is safe to say that you can probably cross that sidewalk you were worrying about but I wouldn’t completely take my word for it, and I would also probably look both ways before doing so.

I realize that I am not a doctor, because trust me I know there’s nothing worse than thinking you’re a doctor when you’re actually not. I mean lets not let our imaginary MD’s get the best of us now. With my imaginary MD set aside, I do realize that anxiety disorders of all kind are well,  a real pain in the ass. The brain works in crazy ways, and the way that we perceive things sometimes, can be overwhelming. There are few things worse than wanting to accomplish something, but being unable to because your brain is telling you that you can’t.

Coming from a past emetophobiac, why yes that is someone who has a fear of vomit. I can understand what it’s like to not eat anything that isn’t home cooked because of the fear/worry that it might make you vomit. Growing up as a kid, flu season was always the worst, because that meant going to school with a higher than normal rate of germs going around, which meant possibly catching them, which meant possibly getting the flu, which meant possibly puking. You get my point, ya girl hated puke. And to be honest it still isn’t one of my favorite things. But instead of running and hiding at the good old sound of gagging, I can successfully stroll through the ER and laugh with a doctor at the glorious sound of the stomach flu, and I’ve even become a pro at holding the puke bag.

As you can see though the mind can easily fall into a rhythm of cyclical thoughts, that lead one to nowhere good, thus the term “worrying”. We have all been there one time or another, and wether the worry was valid, or a bit crazy like that of puking. You can’t deny you’ve never worried about something. Some maybe more than others, all eyes on me, shout out Polly the therapist.

As I realize how long this blawwgg post is getting I should probably get to the point. It is okay to worry, worrying is a normal thing. There is a lot in our world to worry about, like the cure for cancer ever being found, and wether Kanye West will run for presidency. It is when we find ourselves unable to live freely because of worry that we should step back, and reassess things. While living Hakuna Matata would be a dream, it is more of a mantra than anything. It would be worrisome if someone lived completely without a worry.

I said earlier that I believe I became a little more fearless after my accident, and I do believe that is true. However, I don’t condone, nor would I suggest falling 10 feet head first so that you can “live a little more”, there’s nothing wildly sensational about your head smacking a gym floor. 0/10 I would not recommend. But I would recommend reminding yourself of all of the amazing things this world has to offer. I would recommend setting your fears, and worries aside sometimes, so that you may pursue things you only dreamed of. I would recommend taking the first step in the direction of something scary, so that you can come out on the other side stronger. I think for me and my “near death/paralyzation” experience, I was able to see how quickly things could have changed, and how much I could have missed. I’ve spoken with a handful of other people who have been involved in fluke accidents, and a majority say the same thing, that their accident helped them to further realize the value in life.

However, I think we as humans should learn to appreciate the value of life, without having to be in a tragic accident. We should stop to appreciate the little things more often, and maybe not spend so much time worrying about the unknown things.

We only have one life, and a life full of worrying is not the way one should feel. You deserve to experience everything you’ve ever dreamed of, no matter how scared it has ever made you feel. The little worries, and the big big worries, I believe you can overcome them.  And that Anatomy test, yeah I will do the best I can and learn from my mistakes, A.K.A prepare further ahead of time, and make better study habits, says the college kid.

You are an overcomer.

P.S. – I’ll get on that rollercoaster someday.

P.P.S – This post was not made to offend anyone, I know first hand how terrifying anxiety can be, and I give all my love and support to anyone battling an anxiety disorder.

The dreaded 9 months later:

It’s been a few months since I’ve spilled my brain out onto these pages. I’ve tried so many times, but everything I’ve written just didn’t feel right. There’s an odd comfort here, I find relief on these pages, it’s a corner that is my own, and regardless of the rest of the world’s thoughts or opinions this little space, is mine.

Identity is something I’ve struggled with a lot over the past four years. Not like sexual identity, or religious identity, in fact I’m not really sure how you would even classify it. You see when I was diagnosed four and a half years ago I felt as if everything I had ever been, had worked to become, was taken away from me. I traded in my “old life” for a new one. I had to give up the things I loved, and it wasn’t because I didn’t love them anymore, it was because I physically couldn’t do them anymore.

It’s been four and a half years now and while some days I feel as if I’ve built a stronger, more confident self through all of this, I still find myself lost in the labels.

There is no solid, concrete evidence as to what someone’s life will look like with POTS 5, 10, even 15 years out after a diagnosis. There is no solid treatment plan that is followed with every patient that tests positive for POTS. There is no “normal baseline” of what one will experience with a diagnosis.

I think this is part of the reason that I struggled so much with identity, because I had no idea what was ahead. Unlike many other disorders, and disease’s where there is a “usual” path a disease may follow, POTS has none. It is so unique to each individual that it has no limits. When first diagnosed, I was told not to expect anything, because we had no idea how my body would react to treatments, wether medications would even work, and if they did how long they would take. I never fully accepted this but I understood that the outcome was “unknown” and it still is.

While today I am so much better, SO much better there is always the possibility that things could change. Because there is so little information and research about POTS, we don’t know what the possibility is for patients to relapse into flares, or if once their bodies return to what their normal once was, if they stay there.

Four and a half years later I find myself the night before my big doctors appointment laying in a hotel bed unable to sleep. This happens every time, and it is always to be expected. I find worry in the unknown. I usually am a person of the unknown, I enjoy unplanned things, I am a last minute kind of person. But these appointments, the unknown, it keeps me up at night. Particularly tonight.

The last time I found myself here I was told the next day to come back in nine months, and we would discuss what the future looked like. Wether it meant coming off of some of the medications I have become dependent on for four years, or if it meant I still needed time for my body to heal, and I would have to wait another nine months.

I’m at this weird stage of it all, I’ve moved past identifying myself as “sick”, in fact I prefer to avoid acknowledging it at all costs if I can. I am trying to figure out what it means to live beyond the diagnosis now. I used to take comfort in surrounding myself with others that were going through similar things, but now I am learning what it is like again to live as someone that isn’t solely defined as “sick”. I enjoy being able to do things I forgot I even had the capability of doing. I long to be rid of all of the things that attach me to my accident, and are a constant reminder of what changed things so drastically for me.

I take comfort in knowing that I have made it this far, through all of the “shit” that has come with it, but also all of the awesome it has brought. I realize that some people aren’t as lucky as I am. For some the pain is something they may never escape from, and their bodies may never get a break, I once thought this was myself but have come to learn that with patience anything is possible.

But I am also jealous, and still mad that I had things taken away from me. While I have been lucky to have things for the most part return to normal, I envy the times I had to give up because of what this disorder took from me. I hold on to the “what-if’s” and I probably always will.

However, I fall asleep eager tonight, for good news. While most nights that I have fallen asleep here, I have been weary of the bad news I knew was ahead of me, tonight I don’t feel that way. I am certain there is good news ahead, because as each day passes I can feel the healing just a little bit more. I have “high hopes”.

The Myth about Caring.

I’d like to think that I’ve always been very honest on here. I try not to sugar coat things, and at times I’m very blunt, sometimes more than what others like to hear, but that’s the thing about life and society today, we care so much about what others think that we often aren’t upfront and completely honest about our feelings, and while I am blunt, I do still worry what others will think about it.

I have sugar coated the last five years often when discussing what my journey has been like with others. Mainly because I didn’t want to be viewed as “weak” or “incapable” by others. When explaining what it was and is like living with POTS, to others I would leave out the feelings that came along with it. Instead of explaining that while the symptoms were hard to deal with, and the pain was at times so intense, I would leave out the one thing that was the hardest part about it: the feelings. Because I didn’t think people cared to hear about how I truly felt, but instead wanted to hear a story of hope, and how I got out of bed every morning and kept on going. But that isn’t how it worked, because in the beginning, most days I barely made it out of bed.

I have these memories of the beginning of my diagnosis that I never bothered to share with anyone. My family was there to experience it, but other than that nobody knew of what I went through, because I was so worried of how I was going to be viewed by others. I watched my sisters face as it all unfolded in front of her, and knew that I couldn’t share the experience with others, because I was scared of receiving the same look again by someone else, that wasn’t family, that wasn’t forced to love me unconditionally even through the ugly.

Only now, that I am able to do and accomplish goals I set for myself, am I able to look back on those days and realize how truly horrible they were. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will wake up one day and I’ll be unable to get out of my bed again. That I’ll succumb once again to the ugly side of this disorder.

When you work in EMS (Emergency Medical Services) you find yourself in the uncomfortable, in the ugly. But not your own uncomfortable, and your own ugly, but others, strangers. And in that moment, it is your job to put all of your own uncomfortable, and ugly aside, and to comfort theirs. When you strip away the medicine in EMS all you are left with is the “act of caring”. And that, is the most valuable aspect of it. No amount of medicine, regardless of the healing capability it holds, will ever provide the comfort that the simple act of caring can.

I get praised often for my ability to do the job I do, but the thing is the ability to care is something innate, it lies in all of us. Wether you allow yourself to care though is a personal choice. Understandably we aren’t all going to go into the field of medicine, and become first responders, but the potential for one to is there, if you allow yourself to care.

I watched both of my grandfathers fade away and die in front of me, at the time I had no medical knowledge. I didn’t understand that the cancer my grandfather had, that started out as simple skin cancer, and then turned into melanoma, that eventually spread to his brain was literally destroying all of the cells inside his body causing him to no longer be capable of everyday tasks. But I did know, and realize that he was losing the very things that made him, him. All I had then was the capability to care. I couldn’t provide him with oxygen so that he would at least be able to breathe easier while he died, I couldn’t check his vitals to know what state his heart was in. But I could help feed him the cinnamon jello that he loved dearly, and I could sit there and keep him company. I couldn’t provide medical care, but I could care.

The greatest thing we can provide to our patients, and humans in general, is not our medical care, but rather our genuine selfless care.

All of the times I spent in and out of doctors, I could care less about what medical terminology they rattled off. I was too young, and honestly too upset about what was happening that I didn’t care about what new drug we would try next to attempt to fix things. All I wanted to hear was that a doctor finally cared enough to not give up on me, I wanted to know that someone actually cared about me, and not just my case. We went through over a dozen doctors before we found the one, that was able to look us in the eyes, and assure us that he would not let us down, that I was more than just a file in his extensive list of cases, and that he would indeed make sure that someday, even if it took years, which he assured me it most likely would, but someday he would find the fix, and I  would be better.

Since his promise to care, I have gone on to obtain a role in which it is part of my job to assure my patients that I care. I carry his promise with me every day that I work, and remind myself before I ever meet my patient face to face, that it is my job, my responsibility to care.

It’s not always easy to care. There are some days when you are so drained, wether physically or emotionally that you simply just don’t think you have any care left inside of you, and while it is far easier to do the job without caring, that is not what we, what I exist for. I believe that people choose EMS because they understand it is their job to care, and while I know that unfortunately that isn’t the case for everyone, I would like to think it is for the majority.

There is a myth in our society that we as humans, don’t care to hear each other’s struggles, but that is a myth. The human being was designed to care, it is an innate response, and we need to acknowledge it, and allow it to happen more often.

The Great Unknown.

There’s this saying that says: “You are your own worst enemy”, and it’s true. At the end of the day the only person that is really truly holding you back is yourself. If there was a cover model for that saying it would probably be me. I am the queen of settling for less, underestimating my capabilities, and not giving myself the chances I deserve, just because I don’t think that I have the potential to do so. In the last five years I have become so comfortable in choosing the easy route, that when I am given no option other than the challenging path, all I can do is buckle at the knees and worry, only to somehow find a way out of it. It’s not because I don’t have the capability or potential to succeed on the challenging route, but rather because we have been raised in a society that tells us to choose that path that requires the least amount of work to succeed, and be successful, because then we can never fail. I have been raised to fear the unknown, and I am not the only one.

The fear of failure is so great that some of us will live our entire lives without ever stepping outside of our comfort zone, to take a leap of faith, and to explore the great unknown. I don’t know why we are so afraid of failure, and I probably never will, but I do know that without risks we never truly understand what some of our greatest capabilities are. You always hear stories of people dying, or watch in movies as they say their last words and it is always something along the lines of: “I wish I would have _____,” or “Tell so and so _____”. I will never forget the first time I watched someone die, as they took their last breath right in front of me. Their chest rose for the last time, and as they slowly exhaled I watched the monitors fall, and then I heard the flatline of the machines, and there right in front of me, in a matter of just a few minutes they were gone, forever. And I wondered, did they do everything they wanted to? Did they tell everyone they loved, that they loved them? Did they leave with regrets, or were they content with the life they lived.

I know I am not the only one that sets goals and ambitions for myself, only to push them aside and tell myself “I’ll get to it someday”, only to realize later that the someday I so often speak of may never come, and that I had in fact just let something slip through my fingers for some reason or another. The whole idea of life really is strange, and I think it’s really easy to take advantage of without ever realizing how quickly it can all be taken away.

I assume often that the people I love know I love them, that my ambitions are known, and that should for some reason I leave the earth today, that I would be content with the life I have lived. But I am not sure that is the case because I so often assume that those around me know that I love them, that I forget to even say it, and I assume that I will get around to my goals someday because I have a whole lifetime ahead of me, filled with so much time.

I don’t know everything, in fact I know very little, after all I can’t even explain to you how to efficiently cut a mango and everyone should know how to do that, but I do know that so often we settle for less, and forget to live effortlessly for fear of whatever is ahead.

I have this theory that if maybe we all started to live a little more confidently, to believe in ourselves a little more, and to not let our past determine our future, then maybe we would have the capability to create a society that encourages others to take a leap of faith, because they know that if we have no fear of failure, then we can’t fail, we can only learn, and maybe, just maybe actually succeed!

I have done this “thing” for the past five years where I have come up with a handful of reasons as to why I was not capable of achieving what I wanted to, the most common offender:” because I am sick”. Every now and then someone will call my bluff and say something along the lines of “bull shit Merideth, you are no different than anyone else”, and then in a matter of seconds my pity party for myself has come to an end and I am forced to grow up and attempt the challenging route, because someone else around me has noticed my potential and won’t stand around to watch me once again, settle for less. I am thankful for these people, because they remind me to live body, and to continue to challenge myself, but they are not always there, and they shouldn’t be. I need to learn, and to teach myself to be my own biggest supporter. I need to train the voice in my head to push myself to new heights, instead of tell myself to crawl back into my zone of comfort. We need to continuously and constantly support, and push each other so that someday we will be instilled with the confidence to overcome, and pursue, even our wildest of dreams.

The easy route is always easy, and the hard route is always hard, but the hard route comes with great feeling of accomplishment, and that is something we should always strive for, because you are never guaranteed another tomorrow, and you should never have to leave with regrets, and unsaid words. The great unknown will always be unknown, but it doesn’t have to be scary, and we don’t have to gip ourselves of someday making it there.

I Told a Story.

I got a standing ovation this week. But it wasn’t for the grade I got on my math test or the paper I wrote for english. I got a standing ovation this week and it was for telling a story.

I stood in front of a group of 50 people and words came out of my mouth. I wasn’t sure how, because I always write a script before I give a speech. But I wore tall shoes, and I dressed really fancy, and I stood at a podium and I spoke. And somehow by the time all of the words had left my mouth I found the room on their feet applauding me.

I told a story of a normal girl who was oblivious to the world, an innocent girl that believed she had it all, and not a single thing could change that for her. I told a story of a girl whose life came crashing down quite literally and figuratively. I told a story of a girl who worked piece by piece to put the puzzle back together, only to realize her puzzle pieces had been cut in half and thrown all over the place. I told the story of a girl that searched to rebuild the perfect puzzle only to realize that would never happen, and instead she would have to gather the broken pieces she could find and build new ones along the way, not to match the old puzzle but to build a new one.  I told a story of a girl who was just living life, and still is to the best she knows.

I didn’t get a standing ovation for my math grade because the only time I have ever been good at math was in Mrs. Hepp’s 6th grade math class, and that was years ago. I told a story.

I taught a group of 50 people this week about something I decided would become a thing: The Ripple Effect: The idea that you have the potential today to impact the rest of someones tomorrows.

I believe whole heartedly that the way we as humans act and view the world is entirely impacted and influenced by those around us. Those meaning the people we associate with but also those we don’t even take time to notice. The human presence has the possibility to impact in so many different ways, both negatively and positively. I believe you are impacting handfuls of stories everyday, and most of the time you do not even realize.

I have always been one that has been up for listening to a good story, I love reading memoirs, and find documentaries on human lives to be some of the most interesting films. But, what I didn’t realize was that this entire time I have been so busy indulging myself in others stories I was building and creating a story of my own. I didn’t realize that while others stories are important and necessary for us to surround ourselves with it is equally necessary for us to realize that our own story is of just as much importance.

I told a story this week and the audience didn’t care that I didn’t ace my math test or my english paper. I told a story and they were proud and pleased with the fact that in the midst of a tragedy I somehow found a few puzzle pieces along the way and put them back together and began to build something new.

The worst story I ever heard I watched unfold first hand, when someone believed their story wasn’t enough, and that nobody would listen, and so they cut it short. They ended it without realizing that it had only just begun.

Your story is all you have, and it is all yours, and you decide how it writes itself.

I told a story this week, and I will continue to write my story tomorrow, and the day after, and then I’ll probably tell a story again. Stories aren’t left to keep on shelves, they are meant to be shared so that we can learn, and grow, and find comfort, and reassurance in the fact that as lonely as our stories may feel sometimes they are not, they are just hidden.

A story can’t be heard unless it is shared.

So speak up, write your story, make it a good one, and when you find comfort in it, and when you feel lost in it, share it out loud for all to hear.

 

A Whole Lot of Everything.

It’s been a while. I’ve tried typing this before, but somewhere along the line I trashed it and decided it wasn’t the right time. I thinks now I’m ready though.

Four months ago I packed up my bags and moved from suburbiaville to the city. I live in a little apartment in the coziest nook. I fall asleep each night with a view out my window of the city as the moon looks over it, and I wake up each morning to the sunrise as it wakes the city. My days are hustle and bustle through a campus full of everyone and anyone. I’m living the dream.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into four months ago when I packed up my bags, to be honest my only concern was missing my mom. I had no worries about school or how I would make it, I was just worried about what it would be like without coming home to my mom every night. A lot has changed in the last four months, I think it’s fair to say that I have grown a tremendous amount. Not in height, because well homegirl is always gonna be short. I’ve grown in the kind of way that makes you realize that you are capable of making it in the world on your own, maybe not exactly right now, but someday. I can say though that I do still miss my momma a lot, but thankfully she’s missed me too and visits often.

I didn’t really think a whole lot about how I was going to survive here. I mean the last year has been really good, like really good. I graduated from high school, I got EMT certified, like your homegirl has been living the dream. I didn’t give two thoughts about the possibility of finding myself in old habits. I kind of assumed that here things could only get better, and that’s not to say that they haven’t but they sure have been different.

When I first said goodbye to suburbia and took up camp in my cozy nook, well lets be honest- shit hit the fan. Reality set in and I was made aware of the looming fear I’ve had for awhile, my POTS flared. I’ve been really lucky and for the past year or so after finding the right medication combination haven’t really had to worry about anything other than the rare bad day. But moving to college, being surrounded by college kid germs, well to put it simply, I’ve had a sinus infection since I got here in August, it’s November now.

I’ve missed more classes just this semester than I did all of my senior year of high school, my grades aren’t pretty, and my mind is a bit of a mess. But, I’m here, and I’ve learned a lot. This was a lot of talking leading up to the point that I’m about to get to but here it goes:

Things don’t go as you plan, and no matter how much you plan, or prepare they still sometimes, almost always don’t go perfectly. That’s the thing with life: it’s messy and confusing, and hard, and frustrating. In my four months of college I’ve seen more confused and frustrated people than I ever have in my entire life. College is hard. Figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life, and preparing for it is hard. Being sick is hard, and being a full time student while being sick is even harder.

I heard this quote somewhere though, or maybe I even made it up in my head to be honest I’m not totally sure but it’s something I’ve lived by for a few years now and it’s this: in order to find the good, the worth living, you have to make it through the dark, and the difficult. I’m holding on to the hope that this is true because your homegirl is WORN OUT!

In twelve days I am going under the knife for a septoplasty and adenoidectomy, with the hope of relieving my chronic sinusitis which will then in turn alleviate my flared POTS symptoms. I’m not much of a girl to reach out and ask for help but I’ve also never had anyone stick sharp objects up my nose either. So maybe some good luck thoughts would be helpful.

This was a bit of a word vomit but I’ve missed having a place to throw all my thoughts onto and well, a lot has changed and maybe it’s time to bring this comfort zone of mine back. Who knows where this will go, but in the meantime I’m just going to keep trucking on, because I am certain that “make you smile so hard your cheeks hurt” moment is coming back soon and I can’t wait.

A Farewell. 

I crossed my arms and looked up at the ceiling as they strapped me onto the backboard and then all at once they lifted me up. It was like one of those dreams where things happen again except it wasn’t a dream it was real, but this time I was a mock patient as all of us, students, learned how to transport patients so we would be comfortable doing this when we soon set out on our own as practicing EMT’s.

I’ve really never had flashbacks of that part of the accident, I assume it’s because I don’t remember most of it. The only really strong memory I have is trying to look around but all I could see was what was up above me because my head was strapped into a collar. 

I’ve come a long way. I’m not a little highschool freshman that’s overly excited about everything, I’m a soon to be college freshman with a whole lot of nervousness. Looking back on these last 4 years I wonder what they would have been like had my accident never happened. It would be naive of me to say that I would turn out to be the same person, my accident has shaped just about all of my characteristics. Maybe I would have ended up being that crazy art student I wanted to be. Maybe I would have been a little more adventurous and sneaky. Maybe I would have lived a little more. I know one thing though, I wouldn’t be who I am right now. 

These last four years have been crazy. Crazy is really the only way to explain it. So much has happened in such a short but long period of time and now suddenly it’s all over, it’s done and now, well here I am. 

I wonder if these next 4 years will be like the last 4, who knows what the earth will throw my way but I’m so ready for it. 

I hope I learn to live a little more, to not always steer away from the adventures but to chase after them sometimes. I hope I understand the definition of self discovery and truly figure out the idea of self love. 

I could pretend that just about everything I’ve learned and done these last four years hasn’t been influenced by my accident but I would be lying, like really humongously lying. I’ve grown though and now instead of it hanging over my head like a rain cloud it just sometimes appears. Instead of seeing myself as the girl in the cheerleading accident I see myself again as Merideth, only occasionally reminded of the accident when I’m faced with difficult tasks. I don’t not do things anymore because I’m afraid of the possible reprocusions on my body because I’m just too weak, instead I join in. I no longer sit on the sidewalks, I run on them. I still have POTS but POTS doesn’t have me anymore. 

I’m about to walk into the real world, and I’m not going to be the sick girl anymore, I am going to be the strong girl that knows the hardships of living in a sick body but has walked across the bridges and is on her way to the other side.

This blog has served me so well. I’ve connected with so many of you and you’ve all been so good to me in ways I’ll never be able to repay. I don’t think there are really words to explain the feeling but I am an EMT student now, the patient isn’t my only title, I will soon be the caregiver too and I can’t wait to share with you all the joy this brings me as I’m beginning to feel it already.

I said goodbye to my main Doctor here in my state last week. She released me from her care, I hugged my nurses, I said my goodbyes and I walked tall out of the office. I now have one main Doctor who I will see every nine months but other than that I am on my own.

As many of you know I was planning on writing a book and going to print with it early next fall, at the time writing was therapeutic, it helped me heal in so many ways but for now it’s something I’m going to put on the back burner. Instead of digging deeper into what these last 4 years have been, I am going to focus on all the potential these next four years have in store. Who knows maybe someday I’ll come back to share my story but I believe that my story really isn’t over yet, I’ve done the sick part but now is when it gets really exciting and my adventures begin.

I want to thank each and everyone of you that has ever taken the time to read this blog. It’s been almost 3 years since I started it! Like I said it’s helped me in ways I never imagined and I can only hope it’s done the same or provided some sense of hope for some of you. With that being said I think this chapter of my life is coming to a close and I’m so ready to take on this new journey. In the future if any of you wish to contact me you can always email me: mksbrooks@gmail.com or you can keep up with my crazy journey on social media @meridethkathryn again I owe all my thanks to all of you out there whoever you might be. It’s been a wild ride and it’s not over yet, but my time in this cozy little comforting corner is closing. (I’ll keep this page up should we all ever need a reminder.)

Not everything can be done in a day, some things take time, even years. I promise that if you stick it out  thougj the ending will be everything you wished for and more.
Farewell friends,

Merideth

I am not a superhero. 

We live in a society where it has become customary to applaud or praise someone for reaching out to do something for citizens that are “disabled.” 

My friend Mia invited me to her prom this past weekend. Mia was born with a brain tumor and has gone through surgery that has resulted in the removal of half of her brain, she underwent radiation and proton therapy. A few years ago Mia suffered a stroke due to the radiation that left her with weakness on one side of her body. I didn’t know Mia before her stroke, I’ve always known Mia with her hot pink wheelchair and her spunky drive and I love her just the way she is and wouldn’t change anything were i given the chance. 

Mia invited me to go to her prom this past weekend and I was absolutely honored that she chose ME to take with on her special night. I noticed little things throughout the night though, when I helped Mia to the bathroom and I went into the stall with her to help lift her from her chair others watched. When I helped Mia cut her food they watched. When I lifted her up out of her chair so that we could dance together they watched. All of these things, the “helping” for Mia I am used to, it is not a chore to me it is an honor. Helping Mia is a privilege, making it possible for us to do exciting things together is tremendously worth every second of it. I’m so thankful my sweet friend chose ME to enjoy the evening with her. 

The thing about all of this that really “shook me up” though was what followed. How I was praised for being such a “genuine soul” or such a “wonderful young lady” for assisting MY friend. I am not a superhero, I did not break walls and slash barriers, I didn’t eliminate the stigma this society has for people with “disabilities” I simply went to prom with my friend and we did what we would do anywhere else we go together we just simply did it looking like two BAD B!+€he$ (sorry mom, sorry momma Keri) because let’s be honest we slayed that dance floor. 

I hope that someday I will live in a society where it is customary and normal for everyone to make the extra effort to assist those with “disabilities” so that they too may enjoy everything everyone else gets to. Maybe someday it won’t even be an extra effort to hold a door so a wheelchair may fit through, maybe it will be customary to hold a door for everyone regardless of wether they are in a chair or not. 

I want to live in a world where we stop altering our approaches to people because of their abilities. 

I want to live in a world where my best friend can be different than me and it not be viewed as an act of charity or an attention seeking deed.

I want to live in a world where people compliment my friend and I and look beyond our differences to see our commonalities because we have far more of those than things that seperate us.

I hope you start to make the extra effort with me in an attempt to make it no longer “extra.” I hope you join me and welcome our friends with special abilities so that they can feel included and capable of doing anything they wish.

Limitations and Pre-Perceived judgements only exist because we as a society have created them.

I am not a superhero, I am just a girl with a best friend making it possible for us to do best friend things. 

Just. Hold. On. 

I don’t remember the sound of his voice anymore or the way he looked when he walked down the halls with his funny swagger. I don’t remember the butterflies I used to get when I saw his face across the room. I barely remember anything we shared other than a silly kiss at the homecoming dance. All that’s left is the notes we passed and the pictures.

I’m almost entirely sure I’ve never been the same since he’s been gone. I cringe every time I hear someone joke about death and the stories of others taking their lives makes my stomach so sick I want to fall to the floor. And during the month of March I will always overanalyze and reprocess it all and wonder if just maybe there was something I could have done to change it all. Maybe had we all paid a little closer attention we would have seen something. Or maybe had we not gotten so close then other things wouldn’t have happened. Or maybe had I listened a little more. They always tell you that there’s nothing you could have done, that when someone decides to take their own life there is no stopping them, they’ve already made up their mind.

I wonder what went through his head, if he was scared, if he was mad, sad, or alone. I wonder if he thought about us, or if he was so hurt he didn’t even remember. I wonder if he felt any pain, or if he had time to regret it. I wonder if he was still here, where we would be. There’s a lot of things I wonder but won’t ever know. 

I do know though that had I ever had the chance I would have said something like this:  You are enough, right now you feel at the bottom of the world, as if everything is falling down on you a thousand miles an hour and there’s no way to stop it but it will stop. I can’t tell you how and I don’t know when but if you just push a little harder I can promise you that it will stop and the rain clouds will stop pouring down and your raibow will appear and you will have your sunny days and oh my will they be so glorious. I know you want to make a very permanent decision but right now your pain is temporary it won’t last forever if you just hold on. Just hold on because somewhere in this great big world there is a place for you, just keep looking and when you think you’ve looked everywhere look just a little more. I know you don’t want to be here anymore but if you just close your eyes and imagine the day when you wake up happy to be alive I promise you will get your day too,  and you will be happy to wake up. I may not know what you’re feeling or what you’re going through but I do know that you are loved and if by nobody else then you are by me. Just hold on a little longer, just push through a little more, just smile a little harder, and just keep keeping on a little farther because somewhere eventually there is a happy ending for you too, and my goodness do you deserve it. 

None of us want to talk about suicide because it’s so horrible, the idea of someone taking their own life is awful. The questions and pain it leaves behind is unbearable. It’s much easier to turn our eye or back to the fact that it is happening. For every completed suicide there are 25 attempts. In order to significantly reduce this number we must speak up, we must realize that this life is not easy and we as humans aren’t expected to be perfect 100% of the time. In order to stop turning our back we must raise our hands in support of those around us that are dealing with such scary thoughts. 

The thought of this world being a better place without you in it is downright terrifying. 

So let’s talk, let’s end the stigma, let’s stop glorifying depression and suicide. Let’s realize the need of our generation to be welcoming and understanding and accepting of those around us that are suffering so that nobody else has to forget the laughter of a friend or the warmth of their embrace. 

Let’s surround each other with the encouragement because maybe if we all just hold on then we can be in this together. 

If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE reach out for help to this hotline: +18002738255 YOU. ARE. ENOUGH. 

In forever memory of Matthew.