Whenever someone asks me about my chronic illnesses, they are often shocked, angry, and/or concerned. Despite being deaf since birth, I was never a sickly child. In fact, I went to the pediatrician the bare minimum number of times, mostly just for my childhood vaccinations. I never had a reason to be there otherwise.
In 2012, I started developing a variety of different pain syndromes, autoimmune diseases, and neurological conditions in the weeks and months following my very first dose of the Gardasil HPV vaccine. For many years, we just assumed that my body just spontaneously decided to develop all this issues and that there wasn't an underlying cause that should be investigated.
After a near-fatal fight with encephalopathy and dysautonomia in May 2016, my doctors and I were forced to find out the underlying cause, as my life depended on it. What we discovered next caught everyone off guard. My immune system was cranking out ridiculous levels of antibodies higher than many physicians had ever seen. However, this isn't about the illnesses specifically. It is about peoples' reactions.
After finding out that the HPV vaccine was the trigger for all of my conditions, so many people told me "It didn't happen to me, my daughter, my son, etc., so it can't happen at all." In my case, and I am only qualified to speak on my experience, it can happen and it did happen.
So many people have the "It can't happen to me or my family" or the "It didn't happen to me or my family, so it can't happen" attitude. This mentality doesn't just apply to medical conditions. It can apply to most life circumstances. If you ask me, this is the single most dangerous mindset that many people have. Just because I developed a condition, doesn't mean you can't develop the same condition or an even worse condition. Instead of denying and attacking others' personal experiences, please remember to keep an open mind. You may not me affected now, but you or a loved one could be affected in the future. Additionally, it is not always easy to share ones experiences when they know they could be judged.
So simply because something hasn't happened to you, your family, your friends, etc., doesn't mean it can't/hasn't happened to someone else. That "It can't happen to me" mentality is what often gets people in trouble and closes the door on the possibility to gain more knowledge and awareness. If you asked me where I would be in five years in 2011, before I got sick, I never would have guessed I'd by a full time wheelchair user. Actually, I probably would have scoffed, like "Yeah right!". We are all guilty of that mentality, but we can take steps to reduce it. It all starts with an open mind!
I am a 20 year old junior at the college of my dreams. I am studying Emergency Medicine and Communication Rhetoric and minoring in the Administration of Justice and National Preparedness and Emergency Management certificate. At some point, I want to go and get my paramedic certification when my health allows. I have several chronic illnesses and this blog and website serves as a place for me to share my journey fighting CRPS and my other conditions. I hope that this blog can also serve as an outlet for raising awareness for rare diseases. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment; I'd love to know what you think!