Tuesday, May 17, 2016


One of the things that happens with the onset of a chronic illness as a teenager or young adult is that life changes. Our ability to function normally is gone, and we have to learn to adjust to our "new normal." For some people it might not be a huge transition, for others, the change could be much more drastic. In my case, I went from being a college athlete to being almost unable to walk and went from eating normally to being primarily tube fed for over a year...both were pretty major changes.

Sometimes is can be hard to look past everything we feel we have lost to remember who we are. We all identify to some extent with the things we do. I am a PhD student, I am an athlete, etc. When those things disappear, it can be hard to remember that we're still the same person, just with some different circumstances. We spend so much time at doctors appointments and keeping up with treatments and doing our best to keep our head above water that we get lost in our diagnosis. Our conversations with friends and family are often reduced to how we are feeling and what the latest news is from the doctors. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I so appreciate all the prayers and support, and I have no problem keeping people updated and sharing our struggles and triumphs. That's one of the main reasons I've been keeping this blog.

But sometimes, it can still be hard to remember who I am apart from having mast cell disease. That diagnosis didn't change who I am, who God created me to be, it just changed HOW I might have to do things. It is a PART of who I am, not who I am. Yes, it has changed my life. No, it has not changed me.

Another blogger started the hashtag #besidesmydiagnosis for all the chronic illness patients to be reminded that we are not our diagnoses. We are so much more than the acronyms and labels the medical community has tacked onto our charts. We are more than the long list of medications and conditions that we recite weekly at appointments to new nurses or doctors. There is so much more to us besides our diagnoses.

1.  #besidesmydiagnosis the three things about my appearance that I love in the mirror?

I like my green eyes, my hair (despite how long it takes me to make the decision to cut it or keep growing it out), and the fact that most of the time I'm in sweats and don't care much about clothes =)

2. #besidesmydiagnosis the things I have read most are?

I used to LOVE reading fictional horse series, Saddle Club, Thoroughbred, High Hurdles, etc. Every now and again I'll go back and read some of them again as a great throw back.

3. #besidesmydiagnosis my favorite comfort foods are?

apples, PB2, pretty much all fruit, hopefully one day popcorn again

4. #besidesmydiagnosis my favorite past times are?

Sports! Running, kayaking, biking, swimming, hiking, etc. Watercolor painting, adult coloring books, training my dogs, reading (although I don't read as much these days...have to get back to that!)

5. #besidesmydiagnosis my biggest accomplishment since illness is?

Finishing my Master's, hands down. I hated every moment of the program, worked harder than I had ever worked for classes I didn't understand at the beginning of the semester and still didn't understand at the end, and almost quit multiple times. But I didn't, and when I received my diploma, I was so glad I hadn't. 

6. #besidesmydiagnosis I feel my best quality is?

If stubbornness can be positive (maybe perseverance/determination), probably that. Otherwise my ability to make Nick smile just by looking at him =)

7. #besidesmydiagnosis my motto/mantra to live by?

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. He will raise them on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

8. #besidesmydiagnosis I would love to travel to?

Alaska (again), Belize, Costa Rica (again), Machu Picchu in Peru, Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Iceland

9. #besidesmydiagnosis my guilty pleasure?

Rereading books and rewatching movies! It drives Nick nuts, but I love to read or see something and know what is going to happen.

10. #besidesmydiagnosis I have many dreams and ambitions such as?

Finishing my PhD and running my first 10k are at the top of my list right now!

If you're another blogger (or vlogger) with a chronic illness, it's your turn! Check out the original #besidesmydiagnosis post here, and post yours!

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