I have never been a super self-conscious individual. My whole life I have known that I was different. For the most part, I was okay with it. It was my "normal".
When I was diagnosed with CRPS in 2012, many things changed. I lost huge portions of my identity. Not longer was I Meghan the varsity basketball player, the student that never missed school and the most focused student, among things. Inside, the then 16 year old me absolutely struggled. I was forced to go to school late and leave class early when my body decided that it wasn't going to work. This is one of the biggest things that drew much unwanted attention. I was covered in compression garments, splints, and braces. Occasionally, I would need my crutches and my wheelchair. The worst part? One day I would need some of this stuff and the next day, I wouldn't. I struggled with this constant change that seemed to happen every day.
High school was rough from the chronic illness standpoint. When I started college, I was determined to be active, get good grades, get sleep, and have fun with friends. Doing all that is a big joke in for most college kids, but I do all of it and I maintain my full schedule of doctors appointments! College was a blessing in some ways. I have had the chance to find the friends that have stayed my side through thick and thin.
Since then, I've learned that I'm me and that's okay. As long as I'm okay with myself, most other people will be too. I still have to use a bunch of medical equipment to get through life, but it doesn't bother me anymore. All these braces, assistive devices, and machines are just like my cochlear implants. They are essential. A part of my reality. I am finally okay with it.