(I’ve sat down to write this too many times to count. I’m not one for writer’s block, but here it is)
Today’s the day we celebrate my life. Every year my friends and I get a cookie cake and balloons and we eat all the food and and blow out all the candles.
It’s not my birthday
On January 24, 2011 I went home from the hospital after several weeks of the most intense treatments I have ever experienced. Going in, I couldn’t use my right leg or my left hand. I couldn’t sleep, eat, or go to school. I couldn’t live. Going home, I was finally free and fully functional.
I was in remission.
You’ve heard about my experience with CRPS for the last eight years. You’ve heard about the diagnosis, but what I rarely talk about is the remission – the brief “normal” patch stuck right in the middle of my journey.
January 24 is a day that I wasn’t promised. Most doctors know not to promise a patient anything, especially something as drastic as remission or a cure. I never expected my second chance. I thought that this illness was my forever fate. I thought I’d never walk again. I’d never go back to school. I’d never get the chance to do anything or be anyone. I never said it out loud, but I went into that hospital expecting nothing. I felt like I had nothing left in me, and definitely no hope to offer myself. I was done hoping, done dreaming, done praying. I was done with everything just short of breathing.
All I knew was pain. I didn’t remember the “before” CRPS Ally. I didn’t remember normalcy. I didn’t know what we were fighting for, so when we finally achieved remission I was shocked. Everyone involved will tell you that it was an absolute miracle.
I remember January 24th as the first day I got to experience life. I may not have known it at the time, but that was the day that I was no longer a victim, but a survivor. I left the hospital and learned what it meant to live. Every moment for the next several months was a new experience. From the big things like going back to dance, running and driving without pain, to the little things like wearing a shoe, opening and closing my hand, and sleeping unmedicated.
I relapsed three years later (let’s not talk about that today).
January 24th is my reminder that this is not forever. Hope is real, and so is remission. Pain in all forms is temporary, and I believe that someday we will all break free from it. We will all have a new life – a second (or third…) chance. I’m remembering that today and every day as I continue to fight for the life that I know exists.
Today we eat cookie cake and celebrate life in all its forms. Today we’re grateful for the miracle I was so graciously given 6 years ago. Today is not my birthday, but today my perspective on life turns 6 years old. That’s more than enough reason to celebrate.