The three piece Puzzle, and the often misunderstood piece…

I like to think of First Responders as a 3 piece puzzle. It’s comprised of 3 individual pieces, each piece representing a vital department, that when working together create a truly incredible team: Police, Fire, and EMS. It’s a puzzle that seems unstoppable, that when put together is capable of tackling anything. I think about this puzzle often, how when the pieces are all placed together it’s amazing, but how when separated and individual they are all still equally amazing. It’s like this superpower on its own, but when put together it manages to level up and becomes 3x the strength it was when it was on its own.

And then I can’t help but think about the individual pieces, and the perception society has of each of them. When one thinks of Police they often create an image in their head of the brave men and women that protect our communities and work to keep “bad guys” off the street. They’re the ones we trust to keep us safe, and that’s something that makes most of us sleep a little easier when we lay our heads onto our pillows at night. When one thinks of Firefighters they often create an image of the courageous men and women that run into burning buildings, rescuing our kittens from trees (sorry friends, I just couldn’t help myself) they go against the body’s natural instinct to run away; they run in. Which leaves EMS as the final piece of the puzzle. A piece that feels misunderstood by most. A piece that unless you’ve experience it personally, is no more than a couple “ambulance drivers” that speed by you in flashing lights and loud sirens and confuse you on where they want you to move your vehicle. Maybe you’ll see a story on the news of them occasionally, it will be one of a happy ending, it will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, it might even make you feel moved to thank them for what they do, even though you are mostly unaware of what that actually is.

I must admit that I too was once mostly unaware. I had a clear image of the other two pieces of the puzzle, what they did made sense, it was something that was easy for me to picture and understand. While the actual job is difficult, creating an image of it wasn’t, formulating and understanding the basics of the responsibilities included seemed simple. Capture the Bad Guy! Fight the Fire! Save the Human? Aside from knowing that when one called 911, EMS would soon arrive to the location, I was unsure of what else it entailed. The extensive variety of situations of this piece of the puzzle was one that was hard to comprehend. I was naive, but not because I chose to be, but because I had never been exposed to the reality. Much like the rest of society I formulated my understanding based off of what I saw in the media wether it be the feel good stories, or the dramatic television shows that attempted to re-create the reality of those in the profession.

I sit here now and am among those that are acutely aware of the reality of the third piece of the puzzle. I understand that my former naive self was not naive out of choosing, but rather due to the fact that the third puzzle piece is often hidden. It answers the call and then leaves, it isn’t a burning building for hours that is viewed by many with multiple crews and giant trucks, or a car that is seen on a regular basis patrolling the streets. It’s a bit of a hidden mystery. It’s a mystery that one lives their lives hoping to never have to experience. Society isn’t naive to this piece of the puzzle because they choose to be, society is naive because they are rarely exposed to it enough to truly form an understanding.

I used to wish for a world in which this particular puzzle piece was more understood and recognized. Not in the sense that it was more appreciated and thanked, as this specific gesture is often one that leaves me speechless, it is a job that one shows up and does, and that hardly feels worthy to me of reason for gratitude. I used to wish that others were also as acutely aware as I have become, that those that didn’t work in the puzzle would understand this particular piece much like they did the other two.

I’ve come to realize though that it’s probably for the best that this particular piece stays hidden and mostly a mystery. I fear a world in which an entire society is so acutely aware of this piece. The human body can only experience so much trauma before it eventually reaches a breaking point. This is evident in the significant and shocking rates of PTSD and Suicide among First Responders. To imagine a world in which we all understood the daily occurrences of this piece of the puzzle is a thought that terrifies me.

As I sit here and type this I find myself reflecting on the 12 hours today that I spent in the uniform of this hidden puzzle piece and I find peace in the fact that it will remain hidden to most of the world. I think about the variety of situations I found myself in: looking down at my watch before stating “Time of Death ____” realizing that in this situation there was nothing I nor anyone else could do to bring back life to the body in front of me. My partner and I grabbed our bags and headed back to our truck only to find ourselves five minutes later in an entirely different situation doing everything we could to bring back a life. I didn’t wake up this morning and put on the uniform anticipating I would find myself laying in mud as I placed a tube down a strangers throat, accompanied by an entire puzzle giving everything we had hoping for a return of life. I also didn’t imagine a situation in which I would put a mask on a stuffed dinosaur to ease the fear of a tiny patient wearing one themselves. I didn’t expect to watch a building burn as a fellow puzzle piece worked tirelessly to put it out. It sounds dramatic I’m sure, as if its stuff you only see on TV. That’s probably because it is dramatic, and it is stuff that one doesn’t dream of or anticipate happening. It’s a puzzle piece that even to those who make up the piece remains a mystery up until the exact moment. So while I might occasionally wish over a dinner that the person I was talking to just understood, I mostly remain grateful that they will live the rest of their life and stay naive.

This puzzle is comprised of pieces that rely on the other to function. Without the other two pieces I would often be left unable to complete the job of my piece. It is a unique combination often reliant on the pieces outside of its own. They are amazing independently, but also incredible when pieced together. Each of the pieces serves a vital purpose. Contrary to what some may believe they are all equally as important. It is a small puzzle that understands a particular piece of life that to the rest of the world remains mostly a mystery.

Cheers to Change, and Rach the Roomie.

I’m a really big people person. I love humans. Maybe not all humans, okay definitely not ALL humans. I guess I’m actually not so much a people person as I am a life person. I really love life. I love the idea of humans but well, they’re kind of scary. Let me elaborate on that.

I am enamored with the human existence. I love that life exists, and I do love humans, but not in the “I want to hug all of you” type of way because goodness I am not a “hugger” (that is just way too much closeness in my closeness and if I don’t know what size shoe you are then chances are I don’t want to hug you). So I’m not a people person in the let me hug you type, but more so the please tell me your entire life story, but while you’re doing so I’m going to need to interrupt you every five minutes and ask questions because thats how my mind works. And after I know your story I’m going to need continuous updates on how it’s going, I can’t help it, I need to know that the people I know are alive and thriving. So yeah, I’m a half people person I guess, but only half because here’s the other part…come on now this blog has existed for years and years, you knew the shoe had to drop.

……I don’t have that many people in my little bubble. Shocker I know right, but Merideth I thought you were a people person. I AM, but I HATE change. I DESPISE change. You see I “find” people and I discover how incredible they are, and I “rope” them into my bubble. I become inspired by them, and enamored with their will at life, and all of these things, they become MY people. So when big life things happen (as they naturally do), things change, and my people change, and grow. Don’t get me wrong these are all AMAZING things, but these things make me uncomfortable, because they force me to readjust, to take a step back and to appreciate what has been, but also nudge me into what will be. And that shit is scary y’all. Are you picking up what I’m putting down yet? I love people, but they scare me; because life happens, and I prefer to live in a bubble in which I know all of my people will be safe, and healthy, and feel loved, and be truly happy.

So my roommate Rachel. She moves to Texas in a month. To put it simply; I couldn’t be more proud of her. I envy her adventurous spirit and her exploring heart as she packs up everything and moves away from her home, and onto a new journey. I truly couldn’t be more proud of her no matter how many times I say it. But if I said I haven’t been a puddle on the floor lately I’d be lying. I totally didn’t cry about it an hour ago, who am I kidding yes I did. I haven’t been avoiding emotions lately because they will remind me of the upcoming events, yep I’ve been doing that too. I am coping REALLY WELL OKAY.

While my pride beams every time I tell people about my brave and bold roomie, and her upcoming move, I also swallow the lump in my throat and smile as I explain her plans. Not because I am mad or sad or whatever emotion might seem fit at her for leaving, because that isn’t it. If for whatever reason she decided to stay, yes I would chug a Margarita in excitement, but then I would tell her she was an idiot and repack her car and lock her out of the house, because I know that this is the next big step in her life, I am confident that she was made for this, and that she will thrive. The point is I’m not sad because Rachel is moving away, I’m sad because until I met Rachel I didn’t understand that a friendship like ours could exist. I didn’t know I was lucky enough to experience what I have the last 12 months. (In all honesty I’m pretty certain someone threw us in a time machine because looking back I’m not sure how its already been a year. However if you asked our shower drain it would definitely confirm two curly haired girls have been living together for a year- sorry Mr. Quick.) I didn’t realize how incredible it could be to have a friend like Rachel, and to get to live with that friend. When I look back on this last year tears fill my eyes, out of happiness, because of how amazing this experience has been. We’ve both gone through the craziest year but somehow it all seemed manageable having a kick-a$$ roomie to battle through it with.

At this point I am rambling like I always do, but the point I’m trying to get at is how incredibly lucky/blessed/honored/thankful whatever you want to call it, or maybe all of those things, to be able to experience and treasure a friendship like ours. I could put the sappy parts in here, but come on I really don’t need to cry anymore. At the end of the day I am thankful for Rachel in so many ways, her kind personality, her calm presence, her reassuring attitude, her driven mindset, her unwavering confidence, and so many more things. To know Rachel is to be so very lucky, but to call Rachel a roomie is a gift.

So my dear Rach, as you pack your last boxes over the next few weeks, and say goodbye to this old little home we’ve shared, may you always remember that I hold my people close in my bubble. Even though your bedroom will no longer be two footsteps away, I will always be around. I know that throughout all of this I will be the one that needs checked up on, not you, because let’s be honest you’ll be exploring in Texas, and well I’ve always been the one that needs pep talks. But do remember, Google is not a doctor, and I won’t be there to dose you with cold medicine and rehydrate you, so make sure you stock up on your pharmaceuticals. And please buy a real alarm clock because you’re a big girl now and will have a big girl job and you can’t oversleep your alarm for that like you can a college class. Oh and don’t forget, you shouldn’t eat leftovers from the fridge after about a week, food poisoning is real!

And to those of you change-haters like me, may we learn to find the good in the change, as scary as it is, may we use it as a reminder that it means we are moving forward, and that is a sign of living. May we embrace instead of fear it, and welcome instead of run from. Cheers to change, but most importantly for the living that makes change possible.

Go to Paramedic School they said!

Go to Paramedic School they said…it will be fun they said…

Just kidding, nobody says that.

My cap and gown came in the mail this week. It’s kind of funny if you think about it: you spend a year learning how to do everything you can to save someone’s life and then bang: insert your card number here and pay $75 so you can look like part of a cult and you can walk across a stage and get a diploma to certify you can save lives, but just kidding it’s actually blank because you’re extra and won’t be finished with school for another three months. Come back then if you’ve passed and we will give you the fancy paper to go inside the fancy paper holder, and if you don’t pass well at least you got to wear a cap and a gown, better luck next time!

But ah go to Paramedic School they said!

College is weird. You see I did the whole campus thing for two years, (minus living in a dorm and I know I know that’s the real college experience but I’m sorry I just can’t live in closed corners for a year with someone like that, heck they could give me measles or mumps now a days). But none the less I did the rest of it. The waking up early, or sometimes forgetting to wake up, walking the mile to class and showing up looking like someone plucked you off the corner only to realize class was cancelled, go back home and take a nap, and then try to make it to that next class on time. The big giant classrooms so distracting that sometimes you questioned wether you were even in the right lecture. And the ramen noodles, oh the ramen noodles. And while it was all lovely, truly just so sodium filled and sleep deprived and lovely, two years of it was enough. To think I had originally signed myself up for six years of that- what was I thinking.

But go to Paramedic School they said!

So I did, and being the smart person I was, or at least thought I was at the time, I cut the six years in half and made it three. I know I’m always one for the shortcut! Well three years has almost come to a close, and while I’ve realized I could have made it even shorter and done it in two years, I just really wanted to squeeze in an extra year of seeing how high my sodium levels could get while living on Ramen ya know? (Hopefully you don’t.)

I think at the end of ones college experience they usually say things along the lines of “I’ve grown so much as a person. I’ve made so many incredible memories. I met all my bridesmaids there! It was such a wonderful time! And oh the parties were so great!”

But go to Paramedic School they said!

If I’ve grown as a person at all it is not in the sense that I discovered some divine internal virtue and had an eye opening moment in my math textbook that made me realize how much I appreciated calculus and all it taught me. No. I’ve grown as a person in the sense that I now constantly speak at a 11/10 volume, because apparently my 10/10 volume required others to need hearing aids to understand me. “DOES THIS HURT?” 11/10 isn’t a big step but we’re getting there. I’ve also grown in the hospitality department, I’m really good at asking people to put their seatbelts on, and to “be careful on your step out of the ambulance”, I’m still working on the courage to remind my passengers to keep all body parts inside the aircraft while it’s moving, maybe someday, baby steps. Another big area of growth for me has been beating my previous records of how long I could hold my urine inside of me, and how long I could eat my insides before I required actual food because I had no insides left. I’m particularly proud of those last two. I suppose I have grown a little more in some far less exciting ways, I should probably include those too so that I make my mom proud. Mom, I’ve learned how to be semi-confident and to always remember to drink coffee before I open my mouth at 7am.

The incredible memories I’ve made haven’t been studying abroad and drinking Guinness in Ireland (did I get that right?). They weren’t made on spring break in Panama City. Kudos to you if those were yours, all the power to you bro-ski. For me though the incredible memories were my first field intubation, getting ROSC on a patient, a “good job kid” from my preceptor I look up to. Also on the list would be the first time I was called something repulsive by a patient that was quickly followed with “you’re a pretty white girl”, because well welcome to Indianapolis, it’s pretty incredible, and pretty memorable.

I can assure you I haven’t met my bridesmaids because well most of the people I’ve met average about 20 years on me. (And thank goodness for that because someone around here needs to be mature and make the big decisions- surely that won’t be my job in four months will it?) No offense Glenda, but I’m concerned that by the time I find a compatible human match (hopefully it’s a human) it might be time to attend your funeral, I’d really hate to get your hopes up. However, I have met some truly incredible people that have taught me more than I could begin to type. They’re just really good kinfolk if you know what I mean. I’ll take some good kinfolk over potential bridesmaids any day, sorry Glenda. Plus your bridesmaids won’t tell you the dresses you pick are ugly, they’ll just wear them, but the kinfolk- they’ll tell you they’re ugly, and that’s what I need in my life.

And as far as the wonderful time I’ve had, well…once I got peed on. So maybe that sums that part up for you.

OH! And I almost forgot the parties! Probably for a reason considering I can count all the college parties I attended on one hand. I could never enjoy the parties because I was too busy counting Jimmy’s respiration’s while he was passed out in the corner, someone had to be responsible there right? Me? Responsible? One breath…two breath…maybe 7 total? I don’t recall learning that was a good number…wake up jimmy!

But go to Paramedic School they said!

In all seriousness the last three years truly have been an incredible experience, particularly this last one, which has tested me in more ways than I ever thought possible. I definitely don’t always come out on the other end in one piece but I sure do try. And for all the random pieces that have been chipped away and put back together over the last year I guess you could say I kind of came out on the other end okay, or at least it appears that way. Image is all that matters anyways right? Who cares about sanity these days!

Cheers to college…and hoping I don’t trip over my gown, or sneeze off my hat, but most importantly that in three months I hopefully get the actual fancy paper to put inside my fancy paper holder.

And to all those that have given me the pep talks along the way, you are the true heroes in my story. This girl requires at least one pep talk a day.

Bodily Fluids and Big Dreams.

Plot Twist.

I toured Columbia and Loyola, I dreamed of a future walking around a campus with a portfolio larger than my life itself. I created dreams of a future in which I explored the city of Chicago in my Metallic Bronze Doc Martins along side my fellow sculpture friends. In my free time I melted Macaroni and Burnt Sienna crayons onto Canvas to make wall art. I bragged to my peers about skipping intro sculpture classes because I had passed high school with AP Sculpture Credits from a unique Liberal Arts High School. I made myself big and colorful, what I thought was something that would make me happy.

It seemed like the perfect plan. I would forget about my accident, I would start over, create myself into something new. Nobody would ask questions because nobody would know. I would make that part of my life small, and tuck it away. Maybe I would even magically become healed if I ignored it enough.

And then one day I found myself sculpting a wheelchair out of wire. Next were deconstructed flowers showing the transformation and concept of healing. And before I knew it my entire college portfolio was centered around how my life had changed since my accident and what I had come to understand.

I thought about the people that had cared for me over the years and would occasionally find myself dreaming about a life like theirs. How cool it would be to be one of them. And then I would remind myself that a future like that was unobtainable. I remembered being told so often “that it was all in my head” and feared the judgement that I knew would occur should I even attempt to become one of the people I had learned to look up to and admire so strongly.

I’m not sure what ultimately convinced me that a life of Burnt Sienna and Macaroni crayons wasn’t the future that I wanted but whatever it was I suppose I should be grateful for, but then again there are days in which I still wonder if the crayons had been the better option, usually those are the days I come home covered in bodily fluids that don’t belong to me, but I guess that’s besides the point. Bleach is a good thing and Vicks Vapor Rub does a lot more than just clear the sinuses.


Anywhom for whatever reason that I decided that the potential criticism was worth the overall satisfaction? giving back? healing? that I was certain I had to give the “dream” a chance, and I’m thankful I did. Typing this makes me feel like a little kid, or one of those happy fantasy stories you see in commercials “Gertrude has always wanted to give back and return the favor she received ever since she was dumped on her head…look at her now achieving her dreams, is it time for you to be like Gertrude, maybe it is because there is a nationwide shortage of Paramedics” HA but I guess it is true, it was just a dream once, one that somehow beyond my wildest understanding has turned into an almost reality.

And that’s the thing, I never thought I would get the true honor of asking you about the color of your bodily fluids, did they remind you of Coffee Grounds? I’m sorry I went there, no actually I am not, not at all. I never thought such a life would be my reality because I was so convinced that others would be so bothered by my desire to become the provider instead of the patient. And it’s true, there are people that don’t understand. I used to try so hard to explain to them and gain their acceptance, to be seen as equal by them. But I know that isn’t always going to be the case.

I’ve come to realize and hopefully soon truly accept and believe: Not everyone will understand, not everyone will be okay with, and not everyone will support me. I’ll have to work a little harder probably, maybe fight for the inclusion occasionally, and definitely explain more times than I ever thought possible. But I guess that’s all just a part of going after ones dream, and if thats the price, I’m okay with that.

Can’t we all hope and wish that the person whose worst day we showed up on was able to turn it around into something positive? Isn’t that what we should strive for? To attempt to leave an impact that might make them be like Gertrude with a sappy yet grateful outlook on life that someday ends with her on a commercial attempting to push you to follow your dreams?

If there’s anything I’ve learned its that not everyone is going to understand or support you but thats okay, there will however be people out there that are far greater and so much more patient and inclusive than you could have ever hoped for. There will be setbacks and times that make it seem easier to just leave the dream behind, but that is when your people will show up and remind you why you even went after the dream in the first place. I’ve found so many of those people and I don’t think I would have, had I decided to stick with the Burnt Sienna and Macaroni crayons. Chances are if you took the time to read this you’re probably one of them and for that I’m endlessly thankful. It is because of you and the support you give me that my dreams seem obtainable and my past doesn’t make me any less. Here’s to embracing the struggle, even when it gets tough, really tough. And here’s to showing up anyways. And also to recognizing the special people, and giving them the thanks they so greatly deserve even though chances are they won’t accept it anyways. And now I am doing that thing where I ramble and I will stop. Cheers to dreaming, and chasing them.

I am now booking motivational speeches on how to discuss bodily fluids as part of your everyday life. For inquiries and fees please contact my manager. 😉


Gertrude, your hair looks beautiful, but maybe you want to wear my hat? BTW, I have a ‘broken brain’.

“Your Heart Rate is a little high, you’re probably just nervous about the appointment” -The RN at my ENT appointment

I laughed and then announced “Oh no, that’s normal for me, I have a brain injury.”

My moms face turned upside down.

“You should have told her you have an Autonomic Disorder.”

Oops, you’re right, maybe that would have been a little more subtle. I mean after all my usual response to such things is “I have a broken brain”. I guess you could say I struggle with making subtle announcements.

I mean if it were up to me I’d get a name tag that stated “Hi my name is Merideth, I have a broken brain, please excuse me if I forget what I’m saying half way through a conversation, pronounce a word backwards, mix up the 10 digit number you just gave me, or just completely fall over onto the floor.” I’m all about those subtle gestures. I suppose it is up to me, and I could most definitely seek out the largest name tag known to man, but it’s far more interesting watching facial expressions when you rattle off some backwards word concoction and suddenly appear as if you’ve had a stroke. I don’t at all find pleasure in my twisted verbiage, and awkward temporary brain malfunctions, nope not at all. Don’t worry Alice, I don’t need your essential oils, and facebook thoughts and prayers, my brain will still be broken!

So yes mom I suppose I could have much more subtly announced I have an Autonomic Disorder as a result of a Brain Injury (; (see what I did there, we both won). But I lost all that was once subtle about me 6 years ago when I made the ever dramatic, absolutely far from elegant, up close and personal greeting with the basketball gym floor. My subtle days are long gone, they hit the floor running, well maybe not running, but they definitely hit the floor.

I traded the subtle days for the blunt days, the VERY blunt days. So yes Patricia, the Imaging Technician, I have had a CT scan before, in fact I’ve had many, bet you can’t guess why? That’s right, I fell straight on my head, and no Patricia I wasn’t dropped as a baby, no Patricia I didn’t fall off the monkey bars, no Patricia I wasn’t skydiving when my parachute didn’t open. Yes Patricia you heard that right, I willingly stood in peoples hands in attempt to cheer on the crowd when I did the exact opposite and scared them all shitless. Yes Patricia, I too hope my brain is still in there on that CT image.

Now I’ve had many lessons life has so graciously gifted, more like thrown at me, after I was thrown out of the air. Oh you fell on your head? Here let’s hit you in the face with big life questions because that initial hit wasn’t enough. Have I made it obvious enough yet in this post that I fell on my head?

Anyways the point I’m attempting to get at here is this: why do humans waste so much time attempting to leave subtle hints at their feelings and emotions when they could be straight forward and blunt instead?

Yes I could have told the kind nurse from Mississippi that I had an Autonomic Disorder, but you and I both know I would have done a disservice to her potentially questioning brain for the rest of her shift. Instead I killed two birds with one stone or whatever that saying is (take that PETA). Not only did I give the nurse her answer as to why I wasn’t nervous (do people actually get nervous for ENT appointments? Okay I can’t lie I suppose I once was one of them but can you blame me? Who willingly is prepared for a snake like camera to be not so kindly shoved down their nose?) Anywho I’m off topic again. I wasn’t subtle today, I was blunt. Yes I have an Autonomic Disorder but I got it from a Brain Injury. The sweet nurse now no longer has to agonize over what condition could possibly leave a sitting 20 year old with vital signs that indicated she was running a marathon. We both know homegirl don’t run no marathons. You’re welcome Martha.

Maybe you haven’t fallen (figuratively and literally-lol) into the same situation I’ve managed to land in (lol again). But I can guarantee there are at least a handful of things you are being subtle about, instead of being blunt and truly expressing how and why you feel such ways.

I’ve learned that by being straightforward about things, it has most often resulted in conversations that likely wouldn’t have occurred had I chosen to make my thoughts small, or tuck them away, merely hinting at the reason.

Now I’m not saying you need to climb into someones hands ten feet in the air to announce what you have to say, baby steps y’all, we can’t all be cool like me. But maybe pushing yourself more than you normally would to speak up wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

I’m certain had I not scared the at least 10,000 people by announcing I have a “broken brain” when I find myself in situations where it’s clearly obvious I’m different, then none of the opportunities I’ve had to educate others and create awareness about POTS would have occurred. Sometimes stepping out of our comfort zone to express something we would normally keep to ourselves, can result in a beautiful kind of magic. A valued conversation that results in all parties feeling explained and understood.

I feel like this blog post should also come with a disclaimer however; maybe take this with a grain of salt, trial in small amounts. I highly advise against putting on your blunt ego and suddenly telling Gertrude her haircut looks like ramen noodles, that might be taking the blunt thing a little far. However speaking your truth, and your feelings, (that aren’t about Gertrude’s hair) can often lead you to some of the greatest conversations you never once knew were possible, because you were comfortable with subtle and didn’t dare to be blunt, even though you longed for the conversation that would have occurred had you been blunt and provided the listener with an opportunity to question you on such feelings, but you were scared or nervous, so you made yourself small and subtle. Stop doing that! You are worth being heard, even your blunt exclamations, whatever they may be. Just leave Gertrude’s hair alone when you do decide to give yourself the voice.


It might Sting, but YOU can turn it into a Good Thing.

I recently read a new Abstract published in the “Journal of Internal Medicine” on POTS. It was written by a wonderful POTS Specialist, Dr. Arthur Federowski, all the way from Sweden. The Abstract is full of incredible and well detailed information and research, I might go as far to say that it’s the best document I’ve ever read on a detailed exploration of POTS.

In it Dr. Federowski writes: “The long-term prognosis of POTS is not well explored. It is estimated that around 50% of all POTS patients spontaneously recover within 1-3 years of diagnosis.”

…ouch that stings.

Next month marks the six year anniversary of my accident, the literal downfall of my health, and the ultimate reason I even find myself here typing this blog still today. So I guess in short I clearly am not part of that “around 50%” category.

…ouch that stings.

I’ve never allowed myself to be oblivious to the fact that my diagnosis is rather complex, and different than most POTS patients. I mean come on not everyone diagnosed with POTS fell 10 ft headfirst onto a basketball gym floor, and thank goodness for that! Therefore I obviously don’t fit all of the usual statistics and research, however after reading what felt like an exact autobiography of the last six years of my life, its still a bit difficult to read that part of information. Of course there are plenty of other POTS patients that “fall “(whether literally or figuratively – lol) into the other 50% category with me. I don’t wake up everyday hoping it might be the magical day that I am miraculously cured and join that category, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about the possibility of someday living without POTS.

With that being said I am incredibly thankful and tremendously lucky that in the six years since my accident I have recovered and healed as much as I have. I very strongly remember the days sitting on my moms office floor home schooling myself, wondering if there would ever be a day in which I actually returned to real school, let alone graduated high school. In my last year of schooling now for my career those days seem so distant and long ago, almost a foreign memory, yet they were all very real and possible outcomes to think about at that time. What would I do if I was not able to return to school? What would my life look like if I was stuck in my wheelchair for the rest of my time on earth? What would my quality of life be?

In my current days my diagnosis of POTS only occasionally makes an appearance in my everyday thoughts, it no longer consumes my every minute, and no longer seems to drown out all other thoughts. While this in itself is comforting to realize, I do still occasionally ponder the thought of a day occurring when it no longer enters my mind and how it has made certain situations different, but is rather just a distant memory of my past.

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about learning how to readjust to life after being diagnosed with a Chronic Illness that controlled most aspects of my daily life, and then learning to readjust again as my health improved and I gained a new sense of freedom I had forgotten I once had. While the physical aspects of a POTS diagnosis are incredibly difficult, painful, heartbreaking, and overall life changing, I think the emotional impact it leaves a person with are far more altering than anything else.

When I could no longer walk independently I found a way to fix the problem- I learned to adapt to using a wheelchair (shoutout to Bernard the Blue Chair that allowed me a years worth of participating, I might not have had without him). When the suggested lifestyle changes and dietary supplements didn’t work I found an alternative treatment- I accepted relying off of medications daily to function. When I was too weak to physically attend school I sought out a different option- I adjusted to learning from home. All of the physical problems had answers, and when there weren’t answers, there were other solutions available to manage the physical impairment. The physical disability aspect of the diagnosis never truly disabled me physically, it just provided road blocks along the way that I had to learn to navigate and adapt to.

that stung at first, but then it healed…

However, when I realized that a significant portion of the initial two years after my diagnosis was a time that I was unable to remember, and recall, there was no way to fix that and bring those memories back. To this day I still have only a handful of recollections from that time. When I sat in numerous doctors offices and listened to them explain to my mom and I that what I was experiencing was no more than a psychological problem, I believed them. There was no way to undo what had already started to be engraved into my mind. Yes I now know otherwise, and that they were incorrect, but I was told for so long that I was wrong, that I began to consistently question if others knew my body better than I did myself. This in turn produced a constant feeling of needing to second guess my everyday feelings and thoughts, and a desperate need for someone else to validate the thoughts so that I could be confident I was right all along. Something that still to this day I struggle with the most. When I thought the only alternative to suffering with POTS was to end my overall existence, I truly considered it. There’s no going back in my life now and undoing what I lead myself to believe then. When I explained for four years, and still do to this day that POTS is not an imaginary made up condition, I question whether people believe me. None of these things had alternative options. There isn’t any way to undo the memory loss, I can’t take back the doctors words and reverse the impact they have, there is no going back in time and assuring myself that someday I would find an answer, truly knowing people believe me and understand isn’t a thing. These things still stay. These things always will stay.

that still stings, it won’t ever fully heal…

Do you ever truly spontaneously recover, no matter how many years it takes?

Do you ever truly regain the entire Quality of Life you once had before?

Does it all truly just reverse itself, all of it; physically, emotionally, and mentally?

I might not be the 50% that got to wake up within 1-3 years after their diagnosis and gain their physical quality of life back they once had. I might not ever regain this. And yes it stings, it stings deeper than any swarm of bees, jellyfish tentacles, and all the other things that sting. It probably stings worse than Godzilla would if he could sting (Is “he” even a “he”?).

But I believe that in the end regardless of ones physical recovery, they will always struggle with the emotional recovery, in whatever way it presents itself, for the rest of their life. Because I don’t believe there is a wheelchair, a magic pill, or an alternative path to take in recovering from that.

But I also believe that Quality of Life is entirely what you make of it. Maybe had I believed the first ten doctors I would have made the choice to no longer exist anymore, or maybe I would have learned to find ways to continue to seek out the joy in life, even if it was all just “in my head”.

It’s almost been six years and I haven’t spontaneously recovered, but I’ve learned to deal, and most importantly I’ve learned to live with it. POTS may always physically be a part of me, I may never join the other 50% and that is okay, because as long as I continue to seek the joy, no matter how hard that may be sometimes, I am still living, even thriving. And no amount of physical limitations can take that away from me.

While I will forever be incredibly grateful for all the hard work and dedication that goes into continued research for such a desperately needed and uncharted diagnosis, I will always remember that statistics and percentages are just that. They are not Quality of Life determinants. They are not emotional prognosis’. Those are things that can only be made by the diagnosed individual, and how they decide those things is entirely up to them.

While this month stings a little extra than others, it is also an incredible reminder of how lucky we each are to undergo trials, and hardships, and to ultimately dig deep and find our will to not only live, but to thrive.

So amidst all the emotional hurdles life has created for you, whatever they may be, don’t define yourself by the numbers, dig deep, and create your own.

Do the Things.

“That has always been my biggest fear in life, that I would spend everything I had “fighting” my illness and have nothing to offer- and for me, living without being able to give something of yourself to the world, living without adding value to the world, is not a life I want. I do not want to fight for a life that consists of only self-care, I would rather die than live just for the sake of living. I can sense how fragile this life is, how fragile our futures are. How easy it is to let yourself be swept into a version of your life that you despise. It’s far too easy to let your life become something you resent.

You can’t put your life on hold until your “better” life begins. You have to fight like hell to make sure the life reflected back at you right now is one you want to be living.”

Claire Wineland(a bad ass role model for those living with Chronic Illness’ that left this earth far too soon.)

And so, you wake up and you do the things. You go to work, and you go to school, and then you go to your other work, and you go to clinicals, and you come home, and you try to keep a clean house, and to study, and to eat healthy, and if you’re lucky you get some sleep. You do all of the things to distract yourself from the part of life that involves fighting your illness. Because maybe if you keep yourself so busy you will be distracted, and you won’t have time to remember to be sick.

And when you’re at work you do what someone calls being “too attached” because it distracts you from your own reality. And you see the reflection of your former self looking back at you, so you do your best, and sometimes more than your best, so that when the reflection looks back at you, you feel peace. And it’s not every time you see your reflection but when you do you get “too attached” because you need to know that those that come after you don’t have to feel what you did, you try to change it for the better. You try to make it so that the reflection you see staring back at you doesn’t have the nightmares of the days you still remember but try so desperately to forget. So, you do more than your best, and in the moment, you let yourself get “too attached”.

And when you’re at school you sit in the back, because the possibility of being noticed when you struggle harder with something than others is too high, and you don’t want it to be obvious that you’re different. And when you don’t get the point for something that everyone else does you beat yourself up a little bit harder, and question whether you were really cut out for this. You know you were but the voice in your head from years back reminds you of your differences, and you make yourself small and sit in the back so that you won’t be noticed. But you get through the day, and you remind yourself that even if you have to sit in the back and sometimes make yourself small, you still showed up, and that is something to be proud of.

And when you go home, you most likely won’t clean or make healthy food. You probably won’t wash your hair, and maybe if you’re having a good day you’ll actually get your uniform ready for tomorrow. You’ll remember to feed the cat but that’s about it, and then you’ll fall asleep, and you’ll probably leave your lights on, but you’ve been blessed with a gracious roommate that will shut them off for you. You won’t remember to take care of everything at home, but that’s okay, because you have a sidekick of a roomie who is there to pick up the things that you fall short of doing, and she does it with love, not resentment. You are lucky to have a person like that in your life, and you feel thankful.

And then tomorrow you will do it all over again. And you will be exhausted, but you won’t have time to think about fighting the illness, and well isn’t that what it’s all about?

You do the things that bring you joy, and even though you do them differently than others because of your past, and even though you might do them more slowly or unlike most, you still wake up and do them.

And that, that is everything. Because you get the chance to do the things, you have the opportunity to do the things. For once in years you can keep up with others, and even though it feels at times that you’re slightly drowning, you’re still keeping up. You’re no longer just fighting the illness. You’re making a life for yourself, and its one you’re damn proud of.

So wake up, and do the things.

And when the things get hard, and overwhelming, you don’t quit, you keep going. You push through so that when you come out on the other end you can look back in the mirror, and you can be proud of the girl you see. Don’t make up excuses or reasons why you can’t do the things, because then you will find yourself back in bed fighting the illness, and that’s all you will become good at. And that is not what you were meant to do, you were meant to do more than just fight the illness, you were meant to succeed, not just at fighting the illness but at doing life.

You wake up, and you do the things. And you don’t for one second take for granted the chance you’ve been given to do them.

Because this life is precious, this life is your only opportunity, your only chance to make the impact you want, and to leave behind a memory of yourself you’re proud of. You don’t for once give the illness the opportunity to define you, because that is not what you were meant to be, you were made for more. So be more, be so much more that you leave others in awe at the fact that despite your illness, you still made your life something to be proud of.

“but God needed him more”…

WARNING: this blog post contains content that may be hard for some to read regarding the topic of child loss. I encourage you to be cautious before reading this if this is a topic that triggers certain intense emotions for you. with that being said I understand that this post isn’t easy for anyone to read regardless of their life experiences, but I am hopeful you are able to find the beauty in it that I was, and are able to take something away from it.

“but God needed him more”…..I continued to tell myself as I drove to what I knew was going to be an experience so far beyond what words could ever explain, far beyond what my emotions have ever felt before….”but God needed him more”……and I hoped it was true, and I had to believe it was true, because that was the only way I could ever begin to make sense of what I was about to experience.

I walked the halls feeling lost, I wasn’t physically lost, but rather emotionally. I didn’t understand how this could happen to anyone, yet alone someone I loved and called a friend. I mean I knew, I know that this happens, but I suppose it’s one of those things that I, and that we as a society, tend to tuck away, to turn our heads from, not because we don’t know that it happens because we do, but to think about the possibility and the reality of it happening is just well, painful. And so I walked the halls, and I felt lost…..

As I approached the door I took a deep breath, I muttered those words again “but God needed him more”…. I felt a sense of peace and calming wash over me, and I stepped foot into the room. The scene I had prepared myself for was anything but that. I was immediately greeted with an overwhelming sense of love, I knew I was in the right room but my heart did a double take, how could this be the right place, how did these people have so much strength, a kind of strength I was blind to. The room was full, in fact I had never seen a hospital room so full until then. I was hugged and greeted in a way I had yet to ever experience. Strangers that were family to my dear friend embraced me in the way they did their own. And then my eyes found my beautiful friend, and she was radiating beauty in a way I can’t begin to describe to you. The hurt I could only begin to know she was going through, and the pain I could only begin to know she was going through, but yet she radiated beauty.

And then my eyes found baby Drew, I couldn’t see his face but I could see his little body swaddled up in a blanket, with his little blue hat as his auntie cuddled him. “Would you like to hold him?” she asked. Of course I did, how could I not. After all, my sweet friend had given me the title of Auntie Mer so many months ago to this little bundle of joy, how could I pass up an opportunity, my only opportunity ever, to hold him. She placed his tiny self into my arms and my heart melted. Goosebumps covered every inch of my skin, and I felt the hair stand up on my arms. He was beautiful, no he was more than beautiful, he was perfect. “but God needed him more”…I whispered in my head. I rubbed each of his little fingers and toes, my hands gliding over his soft cheeks, his perfect little nose, and those sweet lips. I didn’t want to let go, and I didn’t want to think about the reality that stood behind this moment, the reason that put me in this place after all. I wasn’t supposed to be there that day, my friend wasn’t even supposed to be there that day, it wasn’t time, and yet here we were. And letting go of his sweet fingers and toes, that made it real, and maybe I was being selfish and wanting to feel his sweet skin just a little longer, or maybe I was just in awe that I had even been given the chance to get to love on him.

After I was certain I had loved every inch of little Drew there was to love, I knew it was time to begin what I had been brought there for. I handed baby Drew over to his momma, and I took out my camera, and I got to work. Capturing every image I possibly could. Creating as many memories as I possibly could, so that when it was time for my friend to say goodbye, she would have something to hold on to, something to remember. I took pictures as aunties and uncles, cousins, and friends, near and dear, loved on this sweet boy that was brought into the world that morning. They kissed his little nose, and they held his tiny hands, and it was beautiful. And then it was time for me to meet Dream, his twin sister. We walked down the hall to the NICU, and tucked away in a tiny crib, all bundled up, and sleeping soundly was baby Dream. And she was beautiful, she was sheer joy and perfection, a true miracle right in front of my eyes.

And then probably the most beautiful moment of that evening occurred. Baby dream was unwrapped from her cocoon, unhooked from her tubes and cords, and her sweet twin brother Drew was placed beside her. I held back tears as I watched her reach out to hold his skin, I could feel the peace I knew she felt being reunited with the person she had spent the last seven months with in her mommas belly. But as the peace washed over me, so did the pain, knowing that this moment I had been so lucky to be a part of was likely Dreams last of its kind. I took as many pictures as I possibly could. It was only fifteen minutes of time but it felt like an hour. The nurses helped me position and reposition the babies so that I could get the perfect shots, ones that I could leave with this momma to remember forever. I listened as their sweet grandma sang to them, and I watched as Dream wrapped her fingers around her brothers hand. I hoped that this moment would fill her with enough love to carry her through the rest of her life, that maybe somehow she would be able to remember the peace and comfort of her brothers presence. It was beautiful, and just when I thought it couldn’t get anymore beautiful it did.

We walked the babies down the hall and back to the room where their momma was recovering from all the hard work she had gone through that morning, and we placed her two sweet babies on her chest, and away I went with the camera. Making sure I didn’t miss a single moment, because this moment right here, this moment was the last moment she would have with both of her babies on her chest, and oh my goodness was it the most beautiful moment I have ever been blessed to be a part of.

When it was all said and done and the babies were loved on, and the pictures had been taken, it was time for me to pack my things and head home. After having spent two of the most beautiful hours of my life I gave my hugs and walked back down the hospital halls. My mind full of so many thoughts, but mostly it was just full of peace. A kind of peace my words will never begin to explain to you, and no matter how hard I try, they just won’t happen, because it isn’t possible to string together the right ones.

But I will leave you with this instead:

Somewhere tucked away in some hospital room, there is a mother. Maybe a new mother, or a mother who has been a mother before, but none the less a mother. And after waiting months and months, carrying and learning to love this child she will bring into the world, her heart will be shattered. Her expectations and her realities will not align and match. And she will do the one thing a mother never hopes to do, to outlive her child. And she will grieve, and amidst her grief she will try to remain strong and positive. And she will remind herself of every quote in the world, and she will plead to god, but none of that will help, because she has lost her child. Somewhere there is a mother that will have to pack her hospital room up, and head home without the one thing she came to the hospital for; her baby. Somewhere there is a mother, who may not physically have her child with her today, but she will always be a mother. And how she chooses to wear that honor is entirely up to her. And how she chooses to grieve is entirely up to her. Her title of mother will never go away, even though her baby may have. Her love for her child will never go away, even though her child has.Somewhere on this earth, there is a mother who has lost a child, and she is strong, and beautiful, but tired, and broken, but amazing nonetheless. Today that mother happens to be my friend.

To my friend, and all the other mothers grieving the loss of a child; we see you, we hear your cries, and we are here for you…..

In loving memory of baby Drew, may his short presence and love be strong enough to feel even on the darkest days.

***I am happy to share baby Dream is growing stronger everyday and will hopefully be home soon and reunited with her mommy. I thank my sweet friend for allowing me to be a part of her story, and allowing me to help share it.

Say it Louder, for the People in the Back.

Tonight I watched the Netflix movie “Brain on Fire”, based off the book I read so many years ago as I sat sick in bed.

My eyes don’t cry, but in my head I was on my knees, tears streaming down my face, yelling at the universe.

I watched what felt like a mirror image of a girl I knew way too well, that girl was me five years ago.

The girl was my fifteen year old self in the cardiologist after having spent a month hooked up to a cardiac monitor, and no pattern appearing.

That girl was me sitting in the allergists office, as he told my mother I should seek psychiatric care.

That girl was me after picking glue off my head from countless clean EEG’s, but still seizing on the floor.

That girl was me as a nurse picked me off of the bathroom floor, looked me in the eyes and told me to stop faking it.


That girl was me on the bathroom floor praying to God, and screaming to my family to help me.

That girl was me hoping and wishing that somehow maybe I would just die, so I didn’t have to go through it anymore.

That girl was me telling my mother to check me into the hospital because I didn’t want to live anymore.


There is only one combination of five words put together in a sentence that bring me to my knees, that hyperventilate me, that cause the sheer flashbacks, and anxiety attacks.

“It’s all in your head.”

Say it louder for the people in the back. Say it louder and make them feel the pain, and heartache, and utter nightmarish hell those five words bring.

Put a face to the story, a name to the people.

I cannot make you feel the nights I spent completely drained from crying, from being so defeated by my own body, and doctors. Simply living in a body fighting against you is draining. Simply trying to survive feels impossible.

To watch something that hits so close to home is so bittersweet. Sweet because it provides the comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only one left behind. Bitter because someone else knows the pain.

I have immense joy in the nurse that pulled my mom aside that night and whispered in her ear, “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but you need to go home and do all the research you can about POTS, I swear that’s what your daughter has.” Because maybe if it wasn’t for that woman I would still be stuck in my bed, and drowning on my bathroom floor.

I have tremendous gratitude for my team of doctors and nurses, that took me in, and ‘found me’ amongst all the broken that was inside of me, that pieced me back together again.

I have the utmost never ending love for my family that went through four years that I am certain were so many times worse than the nightmare I went through. It keeps me up at night, and I know if it does me, then it has to them too.

If you don’t read the book, then I urge you to spend the 90 minutes watching the movie, because as I sit here and type this, the tears I spoke about not having, are finally flowing.

My cheeks are left with tear drops because I don’t have the real words to explain to you how much of this story rings true to not only myself, but SO MANY others.

Say it louder for the people in the back. Make them listen. Make them hear.

If I say anything it is this: I believe in medicine far more strongly than I believe in just about anything. But I have been forced to hear the nightmares, and I know they exist. This is not a wrong doing by medical professionals. This is not a failure on someone’s behalf. This is a doing of the universe, a life that slips through the unfortunate cracks. Medicine does not have all the answers, and it never will. We will never know everything, but we can listen. We can learn the stories of those that have slipped through the cracks, and we can listen, in hopes that someday we might catch someone’s life before it slips.

So say it louder for the people in the back. Scream the stories until they’re heard, and if they don’t listen, scream them louder.

Nobody knows your body better than you.

Let’s be listeners, and let’s be keepers of the knowledge of others stories.

Let’s try our damndest before we ever utter the five worded sentence, that brings me to my knees.

Let’s listen.

Love the Roommate, and the Cats, and the Shower Drains…and Love them Hard.

I turned 20 yesterday, which I think means I’m supposed to put my big girl pants on now.

It’s time for me to adult now, and while I have officially finished living my second day on earth as a twenty year old I think this makes me qualified now to speak on the subject, because you know I’m wiser now of course.

So here’s what I’ve got for you…..

Tonight I spent the night cleaning out a shower drain with my roommate.

but today,

Today for 12 hours throughout my shift at my fire station I wondered about my fellow bothers and sisters that responded to the most recent school shooting, I wondered how they were doing. I thought about how they were coping after having cleaned up the horrific tragedy and selfishness of a cruel act. I wondered if they were okay, if they were going to be okay, even though I knew they weren’t okay, and they weren’t going to be okay.

and then,

Then I got to come home, to my roommate, and we cleaned out a shower drain together, and we played with our cats.

I turned 20 yesterday, and I shouldn’t be thinking about when I’ll have to show up to my nightmare, because it isn’t an “if” at this point anymore, its a when.

2 years ago I sat in a classroom as an eager baby ready to become the lifesaving hero, to live the life I saw on the screens.

Today I sit in the classroom knowing that I’m lucky if I get a couple saves in my entire career. It isn’t like the movies.

My sister asked me on the way home from work today, “do you ever wonder what happens to your patients, how they end up”. I told her of course, there are calls that I won’t forget, that will stay with me forever, but for the most part, no.

No I don’t wonder because then I won’t have time to clean shower drains, and play with my cat.

No I don’t wonder, because then I won’t be able to remember Raegan’s birthday, or her important plans.

And I need to have time to clean shower drains, and play with cats.

And I need to remember Raegan’s birthday, and her important plans.

I went into this 2 years ago not knowing what to expect entirely, but knowing that I was hoping to get something far more important than what I could ever give. I went in looking for healing.

While part of me has healed in a way that I can never truly explain, another part of me has broken, a part that was once whole.

Part of me has broken because I’ve realized that the “breaking news” on the TV every week is more than just something flashing on the screen. That even though it might not have happened in my town, or my city, my people are hurting. People, REAL people are hurting. I turned my head from this two years ago, and maybe some days I still do, days like today. Days when I need to clean shower drains and play with cats, because doing anything else is too much.

This last year has been the best year of my entire life. I might have broken in new ways, but I have healed, and loved in so many more.

The love I have for the existence of life, is one that will continue to endlessly leave me in awe. The sheer concept of life in itself brings enough joy to my soul to keep me content for the rest of my time on earth.

All of that hurt, the anticipation of the when, the broken, it is nothing in comparison to the chance at life.

If I had to break a thousand more times to get to the good, the very very good, I would. I would break over and over if it meant I got to know sheer joy.

And so maybe that’s why my life isn’t just cleaning shower drains, and playing with cats anymore.

Maybe it’s because I’ve found the comfort in not knowing what happens to my patients after I leave them, because I know that someday, eventually I’m going to get the joy, even after all of the broken.

and Maybe I’m able to get up every morning and know that the broken might come today, but that things will go on, because at the end of the day, the shower drains, and my cats, and my roommate will be there, because I get a chance at life.

I’m not sure that 19 taught me anything I din’t already know on the inside, but maybe it just made it a little more obvious.

And for that, for that, I am grateful.

Hold your loved ones close, really close, shout their worth, and don’t ever stop shouting it, even when your voice is gone.

Make sure those in your life, the real ones in your life, know their place in your life, and continue to make it known, even when they don’t doubt it.

Love hard, and love deep, because there aren’t any more chances to love after what we are given, so make them worth it.

But most importantly, don’t give up. Don’t let the broken overshadow the shower drains, and the roommates, and the cats, because they are your sun. The broken might be healing you, but the roommates, and the cats, and the shower drains, they are making it possible for you to heal.

And above all else, love yourself, because you are a rare gem, a special creation, one of a kind, and nobody else will ever get to share what is on your inside.

Cheers to 20……