I am so passionate about what I do but it was a long journey to arrive here. Originally, I was a typical Type A personality and an overachiever. I doubled majored in college, one of them being an individualized major that I self-designed and had to go before a committee to have approved. I volunteered and worked managing incoming classes of International Exchange Students. If there was room to overachieve, I always made sure to get it done. I studied abroad in Spain and fell in love with culture as well as the Spanish language (the second major I picked up). I had big plans to work jobs that would send me around the world, live abroad, work long hours, live in large cities and live the typical stressed American life. But life had other plans. At the age of 20, I was hit with mononucleosis/glandular fever and little did I know, my whole life was about to change. I thought I recovered after a few months but I wasn't quite the same. My health slowly slid downwards from there eventually forcing me to finish my last semester from home doing independent studies instead of interning in South America. I was terrified of what was happening to my body and my life. Any sense of "normalcy" was quickly disappearing. As time went on, I started to desperately try to control everything I could to try to heal: food, supplements, medications, my environment. It was soon out of control. In the mean time, I saw almost every medical specialty. I racked up numerous diagnoses, so often hearing, "what an interesting case," but received little relief or hope. While I always encourage to not get caught up in labels, I am often asked "did you have xyz symptom or illness?" By the time I was 24, I was completely bed bound in the dark and had 24 hour care. I was experiencing over 20 symptoms a day and had racked up too many diagnoses: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Interstitial Cystitis, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, Dysautonomia, POTS, Failure to Thrive, GERD, IBS (with every GI symptom under the sun and motility problems), Idiopathic Osteoporosis at the age of 20 (cause still unanswered today), Secondary Physiologic Amenorhea (chalked up to a genetic mutation found by Mass General), Foot Fractures, PTSD, Mixed Anxiety and Depression, "Unspecified Eating Disorder due to a medical condition" (basically Orthorexia in a desperate attempt to heal), Active EBV, consistent IGM labs that finally resulted in a label of a chronic Mycoplasma Pneumonia infection , IGG subclass deficiency and I am sure I am missing more. I was eventually hospitalized in the summer of 2014 in the start of organ failure and almost did not pull through. At this point, I could no longer see any future for myself and had lost hope in trying. It was the darkest moments of my life yet hitting rock bottom was the best gift that could have happened. From there, I began the true journey of healing even though that's what I thought I had been trying to do all along. I learned the importance of balance in everything: medicine, spirituality, nutrition, mind-body connection, exercise and wellness. I learned about the power of neuroplasticity. I also began to let go of parts of my old identity that were not helping me. I began the process of recovery from perfectionism, self criticism, people-pleasing and the overachiever personality. On that some note, I learned healing isn't about "all or nothing." I learned healing has many facets and are often not even directly related to health. Most importantly, I learned to find joy in the present moment. Today I no longer carry the majority of those diagnoses nor am I attached to labels. I still have some health challenges. My bones have to be closely monitored but they continue to get stronger. My immune system is delicate. I have to be aware of old patterns and stress. But I am out doing all the things I never thought would be possible again and then some. Most importantly, I feel more alive, purposeful, and happy than ever, and that is what healing is truly about. This form of healing exists for us all.
May 2014 at 90 lbs. Three months prior to when I would be admitted to the hospital for four months, at 79 lbs and in the start of organ failure.
This picture was taken because it was a "miracle" day when I was able to sit up long enough to be in the chair and to take a bath with assistance.
July 2018. Taken in Bogotá, Colombia where I traveled to by myself. It was my first time in South America. Even with a recovering foot fracture, I was doing what I love: travel& meeting people.I explored, learned and ate great food.