Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Chronic Badass

Welcome to our newest SpiroChick, Candice of Infectiously Optimistic:

Most 21 year olds roll out of bed in the morning, make a pot of coffee, and hurry off to their scheduled college course or newly obtained part-time job. They may go out to lunch with their best friend, stop at the mall on their way home, or head out in the evening for a night on the town with their typical "crew".

Me, well, my life looks a bit different. I'm a 21 year old Late Stage Lyme patient. I've spent the past two years homebound by the secondary conditions I've developed, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Dysautonomia (a condition that affects both the heart and blood pressure). This sounds rather terrible, but in my eyes, I'm still lucky.

In my 21 years of existence, I've learned more than most people learn in their entire lifetime. Instead of attending college as I planned to, and mapping out my own life, my life is being shaped in front of my very own eyes as my struggle for health guides me down a path that I would not have otherwise taken. I've had incredible opportunities to learn invaluable information, to meet some of the most extraordinary people, and to be a part of efforts of incredible impact put together by agencies that are dear to my heart. Through this battle, I'm becoming who I was always meant to be, and I'll end up exactly where I was supposed to go. And somewhere along the way, I became a Chronic Badass.

6 months ago, I wrote an article that went over well with those who are battling chronic illness. I wrote about how difficult life is when a chronic illness turns your familiar world upside down, and every day becomes a fight for life as you once knew it. I asserted that though your life may have become unrecognizable, and may look drastically different than the lives of those around you, you should still be proud of the life that you live. You're a survivor, and as you are being lead down the road that will ultimately lead you to where you are meant to be, you've become a Chronic Badass. 

In the article that I wrote, I listed 25 Reasons Why Being a Late Stage Lyme Patient Automatically Makes You a Badass. To my dismay, patients from around the country wrote in and joined the fun. Some reasons quickly became more popular than others, such as...

Reason #1: While some people have a comic book collection or collect rare stamps, you collect infections, and happen to have more than a loaded petri dish.

Reason #4. You've opted to have a portacatheter surgically placed in your chest...while you were awake.

Reason #6. A surgeon has said "Oops" while performing surgery on you...and you were awake to hear it.

Reason #10. You've peed just about every color of the rainbow, except blue.

Reason #11. You've juiced more than 7 vegetables at a time, and drank it. You have the tomato seeds on your ceiling to prove it.

Reason #15. You've had a head to toe rash which elicited a "whoa" from a doctor.

Reason #23. While watching Grey's Anatomy, you realize that you have the same blood pressure as the patient who's excessively bleeding on the screen.

Reason #25. You've been sick every day of your life for more than 4 years and still manage to be optimistic enough, and brave enough, to wake up every morning and do it all again.

I began receiving the most odd, fantastically entertaining emails from patients who had been motivated to look at their battles with lyme in a whole new light. I even had someone write to me reporting that she must be an ultra badass because she once peed blue. I also received a number of requests for "Chronic Badass" t-shirts. 

This week, I was given the opportunity to reflect on the 6 months that followed after writing my initial Chronic Badass article. In those 6 months, I faced so many obstacles, but was so imminently blessed, that I was able to lengthen the "badass list" by 5 reasons. An amazing friend also made it possible for me to print 20 chronic badass t-shirts. As this all elapsed in front of my very eyes, I realized that this was all happening for a reason. This is when the list's very last reason became clear to me: 

Reason #30: You find a way to pay for treatment with the amazing doctor whom is saving your life. Despite a loss in financial support, you find a way to carry on in your path to a bright, healthy future.

With help from some of the amazing human beings that I've been so fortunate to meet, I was able to set up a "Chronic Badass" t-shirt shop, and currently have a running Chronic Badass auction that was set up in hope to raise funds for my past due medical bills. It would mean the world to me if you could take a look at both the t-shirt shop and the auction. I know that most of the people that this will reach will be people suffering from chronic illness themselves, so if you are not able to contribute, please know that's okay. My ultimate intention of my original article was to let all of you know that I'm proud of you for enduring and surviving what you do each and every day. I hope that the article brought a smile to your face. Please don't ever forget that though your life might be out of the ordinary, it is still extraordinary, and you are irrevocably a Chronic Badass. 

Link to the Chronic Badass T-Shirt Shop:

Link to the Chronic Badass Auction:


Renee said...

Your attitude is so positive and your insights so helpful to others. Loved your list! Amazing how it has helped others on their journey.

Alix said...

Yes, Candice, you are a chronic uber badass. Welcome to SpiroChicks! We are so happy to have your optimism, your chutzpah, your drive, your writing, and YOU here to share with everyone. Love the badass list so much!!

Kim said...

Candice, thank you for the great post and smiles! Love your writing and optimism! Welcome to SpiroChicks!!!

Kim said...

My #6 happened after an angiogram. My room flooded with doctors and nurses and the most experienced nurse in the bunch said, "That's the largest hematoma I've ever seen!!"

Keith Smith (themadchemist) said...

Hello Candice

Sorry I have to say this, but....

My pile of pill bottles is bigger then yours! HA

isn't it sad that we save bottles, IV tubing, hospital braclets......

I personally was a Badass way before discovery that I had lyme. And I believe that Lyme is most of the cause (ie Lyme Rage).

At 4 (I'm 46 now) I contracted Lyme in Groton CT (10 miles from Lyme CT) I discovered the disease 4 years ago after a second bite transmitted Bartonella to me. I always wonder what was wrong. Always chronically ill, 11 hernias to date...

I have a LLMD (7 hours away)
My main problem is finding a local Dr who will consult with my LLMD (actually He's a DO) this last tuesday I was actully thrown out of a MD's office. He was #44.

The McDonalds drive-thru Doctors of America look out. I'm there worse nightmare. I trained to be a Pharmaceutical chemist specializing in molecular separations by electrophoretic method. What does that mean you say? I know more then 99.9% of Dr's. and believe me they hate being corrected.

themadchemist (Lyme Warrior)

keith smith (themadchemist) said...

Just a positive report

after being tossed from the MD's office on tuesday (MD #44)

the BA in me still packed up yesterday to see #45

WOW - Don't stop trying people.

She is a new MD in the area and she spent 1 and 1/2 hours talking with me. Although her Lyme philosophy is different then mine, she agree to open her mine to my 2.3 GB of journal articles I passed to her on a DVDrom. To look at the other side and work with my LLMD.

As I left I thank her for being a human first, then an MD.

there are general practitioners who care. Sadly I've found 2 in 45.

if anyone is interested in my 2.3GB collection of Lyme research, lectures, power points...... let me know. I've mailed dozens.