“I can do this. I am strong.”
It might seem like a silly tagline, but it is easily the most commonly repeated phrase that I say. Often times it is squeaked out amongst sobs and hyperventilation. It is the phrase that has become the foundation for my continued forward progress in life.
Nearly every month, I am taken down like a wild animal. Shot with a tranquillizing dart that sends me careening into a downward spiral of infection, emergency room visits, jaunts to the doctor, and disagreements over whether or not Palliative Care was appropriate for me or not.
Being 28 on Palliative Care is an enlightening experience. I had not yet reached even a third of my expected lifespan, and I was already involved in a program that assisted seriously ill individuals in transitioning from life to compassionate care.
I am thirty years old, but I live my life as if I were 20, because I missed out on a lot of my early years due to the constant string of hospitalizations. In 2018, I spent roughly 300 or more days in various hospitals in Florida between 2018-2020 for complete gastric system failure, severe malnutrition, and malabsorption.
While I was in the Mayo Clinic, I received a feeding tube and a PICC line in an effort to be able to get nutrients into my body. For roughly two years, I was receiving what is known as Total Parenteral Nutrition, or TPN, which is nutrition that is delivered via the bloodstream rather than the digestive tract.
Today, I am still receiving IV therapy for infections and other issues that arise. I also have a feeding tube that I use daily. Even though I am an athlete, I still manage my nutrition just like everyone else. It is just a little different.
Throughout all of the years, I have learned: I am strong. I can do this. <3