While I didn’t live my life before thinking that I was immortal, I think there was a part of me that didn’t think that anything like this could happen to me, at least not at this point in my life.
As I’ve thought back to the past few years, it almost seems like all of this was, to a certain extent, somewhat inevitable. The summers after my sophomore and junior years of college, I worked non-stop at an internship. No one other than myself caused me to do this. Then, in my senior year, I wrote an honors thesis, interviewing short women, which pretty much enveloped my life. I worked myself to the bone. I thought I was taking care of myself.
However, when I think back, there were signs that all was not right. Three years ago, I had a terrible spell of vertigo (the event that I believe triggered my immune system to go into “attack mode”). I woke up one morning and couldn’t make heads or tails of the floor or the ceiling. I thought that the episode would pass, but it didn’t. I almost drowned in the shower, because I kept slamming into the walls. I had no depth perception. I couldn’t eat. I could barely see straight. I ended up having to call an ambulance and was taken to the hospital. I had four or five more, less severe episodes of vertigo after that. I had repeated eye and strept throat infections, and random stomach bugs that put me in bed for a few days at a time. I attributed it all to being a stressed out college student. Apparently, I was wrong.
I’ve since come to learn that if you experience repeated acute episodes of illness more than a few times a year, this should be a note to self that something more might be going on.
And the stories of many others who have been diagnosed with autoimmune diseases follow a similar trajectory. We are all go, go, go people until our bodies make us stop and take note with a stunning blow.
I wish I could go back and reverse the toll that the past four or so years have taken, but I don’t have the power to do that. I do have the power, however, to make significant life changes that will ensure that I am able to fight this illness to the fullest extent possible.