I never would have believed that my favorite place in the whole entire world would cause me the most discomfort and pain. The place I felt most alive and free. The place I would go to when I was having a bad day to escape the worries and stress of school and friends or whatever else I was dealing with. It was the place I felt I fit in the most. The place where I could express myself freely, and all of the sudden, without realization, it had turned into my worst nightmare.
I had always suffered from motion sickness growing up. I could go on boats, long car rides, roller coasters and all of the things that make me feel uneasy because I thought that the instant thrill was worth a couple hours of having my stomach turn inside-out. I knew the consequences of my actions but continued to live my young dare- devil life. I was my father’s daughter. Constantly awaiting a new adventure and always up for a challenge. Every year my family and I would go to the Walworth County Fair in Wisconsin and enjoy eating all the fried food while riding all the coasters and playing carnival games. It was my favorite weekend of the summer and all too soon it had turned into my least.
September 1, 2014.
After the spin master, giant drop, zero gravity mixed with all the deep fried oreos, fried cheese on a stick and corn on the cob, anyone would feel sick to their stomach, but this feeling was unlike any other. At first I thought I just had my usual motion sickness, head spinning, unable to move my knees from my chest, sprawled out across the entire back seat of the car for 2 hours, until I woke up the next morning. I couldn’t move. My head was nailed to the pillow, too heavy to lift. The room started spinning uncontrollably and without closing my eyes, the room went black. I couldn’t see, and with the little breath I had left in me I screamed as loud as I could. My mom came running. I was so nauseous from the twister in my head, she helped drag my limbless body to the bathroom to throw up. Lying on my bathroom floor, wondering whether or not this is what dying felt like, I cried. Little did I know this would be my body’s first of many lifeless experiences.
Doctor after doctor, they all said the same thing. There wasn’t much I could do besides endure the horrible, never-ending pain. I felt as though someone was constantly stabbing me in the head with needles and ever so often, a hammer. Although the stabbing sensation was the worst, the dizziness came in a close second. I would be lying in bed and suddenly the room would start spinning. Not just a slight dizziness but it felt as if I was being swept up in a tornado and my feet couldn’t find the ground. I couldn’t eat or sleep and sometimes I couldn’t even walk. I couldn’t stand up straight without having to sit down in the next five seconds or else I would fall to the ground, which wasn’t unusual. I couldn’t go to school. As a freshman I wanted my four years at the greatest school in America to be the greatest four years of my life, but unfortunately it was not off to a good start. I couldn’t go out with my friends because when I did I wouldn’t enjoy myself. Before my migraines, I was the happiest, most lively 14 year old girl and always had a good time. But when I started to sense the discomfort, I had felt as though I was a constant burden for not being my happy self. Not only did my moods start to change but my personality and whole self began to dull. I was now harsh over things that wouldn’t have phased my former self. I fought with my parents constantly and knew I was to blame for all the arguments. My constant pain was taken out on everyone around me, especially those I cared for most. Wherever I would go the constant ache and pain in my head would spread to rest of my body. I would sit on my bed, day and night wondering “What is wrong with me?”. When the smartest people in the room or in the city or even in the state can’t figure out what is wrong with you, you start to give up on yourself. The only medicines that could possibly ease the pain had the side effects of making you hallucinate, cause depression or go psychotic, but I felt as though I already was. I didn’t want to leave my bed. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone because I knew no encounter I had with anyone would be pleasant. I could lay on my bedroom floor for hours trying to recall what I did or didn’t do. After visiting a sixth doctor, this one from the fourth floor of Lutheran General Hospital in the Neurology department had suggested that all of my never ending pain could possibly be from untreated concussions I started to put the puzzle pieces together.
I had been playing soccer since I was five, competitively since eight. I had fallen in love with the sport instantly, maybe because I liked being good at it. I had put everything I had into every game I played. It was my competitive nature that drove me to be the best player on the field, and being a defender that meant no one could get past me. I gave my body to the game, using it anyway I could to make sure the other team didn’t score. Of course this involved bruises, blood, sweat and no fear. It wasn’t until after a tournament on a hot, July weekend full of all four categories of suffering, I realized that injuries could involve those you can’t see. Getting knocked down, banging your head on the uneven patches of dirt you consider a field, going up for headers with an opponent who’s bicep is as big as your head are all key components of my first love. As all first loves do, it broke my heart to learn that my favorite things about it slowly but surely drove me to my misery.
This full year of constant pain had been the worst year of life. Although I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, I’m glad I went through it. As the migraines started to fade little by little, I began to repair the relationships I had damage. This year had fully shaped me into the person I am today. I am stronger because of the struggles I experienced and soon realized that you have to take advantage of every opportunity you are given. No matter the circumstance, live life to the fullest.