How A Scary Illness Made Me Realize I needed To Start Getting Focused on Things I Loved

Hey yall!!! I have been putting off today's blog till the last possible minute.

I wasn't totally sure on what to write today. I was contemplating on writing about two different things but realized that they both involved me coming to the same point at the end.

Unfortunately we had to go to a funeral today, it was sad, and made me feel all kinds of ways. So I wanted to share with yall a little bit of my story that happened 5 or 6 years ago.

So about 6 years ago I decided to move in with my boyfriend, (Matt) and I was done with college. So I went job searching found two places that both accepted me and I chose the Post Office. It was great pay, amazing benefits, and I felt like it was a grown up job compared to any job I had previously had. About one month into working I started to feel a little sick. I thought it was a cold or the flu coming on so I asked off one day. I was starting to feel a lot of stiffness in my neck and it was so painful to move my head from side to side. I thought I had just slept wrong and went to work the next day. That day was completely and utterly dreadful. I felt like I had just been beat up or something, my body ached and my neck was so painful I couldn't move it at all by the end of the day.

So I called in again, and I am not one to call in unless I feel like complete crap! So a couple of days go by and I just seem to be getting worse. Mind you, the post office benefits don't kick in until the 90 day probation and I was a little over 30 days or so. I end up having to go to the doctor where he sends me to go get blood tested. My symptoms were weird and I had no idea what was going on with me. I had lost weight from working at the Post office, because I would walk 13 miles a day, but all of a sudden I drastically lost even more and went from 110lbs to 97lbs in less than a week. I would sleep all day long, I could not lift my own head up if I was laying down, and the whole left side of my body I had hardly any motor skills in. So after the blood tests came back negative for everything they tested me for and $600+ later I still had no idea what was wrong. I was getting worse and worse everyday. Matt literally had to start bathing me because I couldn't walk right or wash my hair right with one arm.

I felt so helpless and embarrassed at that time and I thought it would never end. I started to get very "confused" about simple things. My weight was not coming back on no matter how much I tried to eat. My left arm was getting worse by the day, I couldn't even hold a pencil. Once I found that out my whole world came crashing down, the first thing wasn't that I was partially paralyzed in my left arm but it was that I wouldn't be able to create art. I knew I could train my right arm, but the realization that my arm I had used my whole life was just not working hit like a bag of bricks.

Matts mom came over and I started to tell her about all the symptoms I had and she immediately knew what I was talking about. "West Nile, I think you have west nile!" I was like, "No?! How could I have gotten that, things like that don't happen to me?" She had told me about a horse they had and what I was explaining sounded a lot like what the horse had. So about 3 weeks of not knowing and I finally found out what was wrong with me. I was so lucky that the Post office was gracious enough to not fire me for not being into work for that long. Once I had an official diagnosis their minds changed and they said they understood everything. I kind of think they were worried I would blame the post office for catching a mosquito bite since I was outside for 6 hours a day, but I slowly started to get better. It took a little over a year to get mobility back into my left arm. Thanks to weight lifting and the chiropractor! My neck and left arm are very prone to cramps but I can move them now! My arm isn't as strong as it once was, and I don't know if it will ever be but I am so happy that it did not end badly for me. The nerves in my arm twitch very often on their own till this day and there are some days where I have to take a break from certain things but all in all I am happy for how far I have come.

I just wanted to let yall know that me getting sick really opened my eyes to focus on things I am passionate about. I dreadfully worked there 4 more years, telling myself that the money was worth the hatred of such a repetative job, but that is when I started coming home and practicing my artwork more and more. It was a great job, just wasn't for me, and it made me realize that life is so short. It is so precious, don't let a scary illness that is life threatening change your view of the world. Start living it to the fullest now! I was lucky to get over west nile, and a lot of people were not so lucky. If you are passionate about finishing something or reaching goals, start today!!!!

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-AnaMaria!

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