When I was twenty, I came down with a mild viral infection that passed in two or three weeks on its own. It left me, however, a deeply changed person.
Starting with crippling fatigue, I quickly found myself in chronic pain and weak to the point of being unable to get out of bed on some days.
I underwent countless tests for everything under the sun, and my arms were blue from the blood draws that were scheduled nearly twice a week. I had plenty of possible diagnoses thrown at me, but each of them was a condition that was “little understood, with no real treatment,” making it a useless label that wouldn’t even stick.
Every specialist thought he or she knew what it could be, but no one was sure enough to do anything about it.
It took some time until I stopped craving a diagnosis. At first, all I wanted was for someone to know what was happening with me and know how to fix it.
As time passed, I realized this not only wasn’t going to happen, but that the search was seriously cutting into my “life” time. There are only 24 hours in a day, and if I now need 12 to sleep, that leaves 12 for me to live my life.
Spending 6 of those, twice a week, in a hospital was not my idea of a life.
I went from walking short distances to using a cane to needing a wheelchair. I was taking 6 pills a day, from antidepressants to painkillers to drugs that no one was sure what exactly they would do but thought I’d make a good lab rat.
One day, in the throes of a particularly bad side effect, I quit them. All of them. And while I would never recommend anyone to do such a rash and possibly dangerous thing, I have never once regretted it.
Several years later, I still find myself without a solid diagnosis. And in all honesty, I have completely stopped caring. I have grown to accept and love myself for who I am, even if everyone around me believes there is something wrong with me.
It’s amazing how my first response to anyone asking about wheelchair is an honest “this is just me, that’s all.” I think I’ve finally come to learn a valuable lesson that perhaps those who have endured stares their entire lives learned long ago.
There is nothing wrong with me, this is who I am. And if you ask me what my condition is, I’ll tell you honestly: “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”