My Story (part 1)

I didn’t start out this way.

I wasn’t always a 2-nap-a-day, habitually plan-canceling, chronically ill person.

Once upon a time I was a high school freshman with a promising future in Volleyball. I made the B-squad (sophomore team) as a freshman at the local high school even as a homeschooler and was hooked. I loved everything about the sport and the challenge of pushing my body harder and harder every time I stepped into the gym.

I'm up at the net about to hit the ball

I got shin splints. Shocking? No, so did everyone else. We were doing 2-a-days at the beginning of the season and what kid fresh out of 8th grade spends the summer thinking about conditioning for conditioning? (not this kid that’s for sure)

Everyone else’s shin splints went away after a few weeks. Mine are still here. Every single day they ache as if I were a somnambulist marathoner. Even though it has been a solid year since I have taken a meaningful number of consecutive running steps, my shins do not seem to notice or care.

I didn’t think anything of it for about a year. Everybody has aches and pains in sports right? I pushed through and in the winter/spring of 2006/2007 I managed to play Junior Olympic Club Volleyball and Varsity Basketball with the homeschool team at the same time. I was practicing up to 5 hours a day and loving every second! Crazy? Probably. But still, probably some of the best times I have ever had.

September of 2007 I knew something was really wrong. No matter what I did, the pain in my legs got worse and worse. I was in the best physical shape of my life. I ran 1-2 miles most days during the summer and increased my vertical by at least 2 inches. But my legs hurt so bad that I couldn’t walk at all after a workout and pressing on my shins was excruciating! Finally I went to the doctor.

And so it began.

Was it a stress fracture? Not according to x-rays, but 10 weeks of crutches were still a good idea apparently. Lower leg MRI showed nothing unusual and the doctors started getting less sympathetic and helpful.

By Christmas my lower back ached and throbbed. Another round of x-rays and another normal MRI and the doctors really started getting crabby. I just wanted to get better and they just wanted me to go away because my symptoms never matched anything they could fix.

Off to Physical Therapy! I got a 6-pack but no pain relief.

I had counted I think 17 different doctors, specialists and therapists at the Mayo Clinic at this point, and none of them could do anything to help. I refused painkillers because they never really helped and somehow I knew that mental clarity was something I wasn’t willing to compromise. Some of the doctors were sad they could not help. Some instead were nasty and told me things that made me, usually stoic and paranoid of showing weakness, sob openly in front of them.

I made it through my Sophomore season, and I got my Varsity letter. I will admit that I am more proud of that letter than of any award I have ever received prior or since.

This is where I leave off my story for today and return to the present. I have an exam tonight in my Sign Language class and need to nap before that!



About Rachael Ann

I am a still a teenager but have the body of an elderly person. I have been battling chronic health problems for almost 4 years straight now. I kept saying I wasn't insane and making things up. I was right and it turns out that I have Lyme Disease! This is my way of keeping focused on the positives when the days are long and hard. I don't have all the answers but I keep hope.
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