When you casually drifted into my life ten years ago, I thought you were a jerk.
Steven Johnson Syndrome (SJS) isn’t exactly known as a welcome visitor. You’re a thief of wellness. But, I won’t share my energy or precious time dwelling on the gory details of our encounter in 2008. I’m too good for that.
Instead, I’m writing you a thank you note. I want you to know what joy and insight you’ve brought to my life.
Steve, you’ve opened my eyes to the fragility of health.
You’ve pushed me out of my comfort zone and to try a growing list of activities including water aerobics, circuit training, weight lifting, yoga, walking, painting, meditation and volunteering. I now eat kale and drink fermented beet juice.
You’ve inspired me to learn.
You’ve inspired me to nurture.
You’ve inspired me to make moments count.
You’ve inspired me to love deeply.
You’ve given me strength.
You might have thought by ravaging my body with your illness and inviting your autoimmune friends to show up afterward that you won. But, I’m the one shrouded in more love and care for myself than ever before, an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a thriving career built in part on my dedication to improving myself.
In case you were wondering, Steve, I’ve also been using your little visit to empower my voice. For the past eight years, I’ve written publicly about my health journey with SJS, autoimmunity, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, atopic dermatitis and more. It started with documenting better food choices, then naturally led to accounts and advice related to taking care of my mind and body as a whole. Sure, there have been ups and downs. That’s life. But your little glimpse at how quickly you could have ended my one beautiful moment here on Earth was not taken lightly.
During our 36-day rendezvous, I remember being in so much pain that I eventually felt nothing. It was euphoric. Sure, some of that was the cocktail of painkillers I swallowed every four hours, but it was also my resilience bubbling up.
So, Steve, thank you for making me critically ill. Thank you for causing the damage in my body that pulled the trigger causing my immune system to dysfunction. Thank you for ushering in a new way of life that has pushed me to be my best self ever.
The cool thing here is that I’m not alone.
There are many, many others out there who have been touched by your cold hand too. And, your autoimmune friends. But, we’re a tough bunch with open minds. We know the challenges you present are temporary, while the lessons last forever. We stick together.
My purpose here is to share hope, inspiration and education. And, I’m doing just that. Thanks for the visit, Steve. Without you, I wouldn’t be the same woman I am today.
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