Body Image from a Sick Kid

I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). A part of that for me is that I have trouble gaining weight and maintaining a healthy weight.

I have never hated my body for how it looks, even before I got sick. I grew up playing sports, and to me my body was just something that I used. It was a tool that I could use to accomplish a goal. Through being sick, my view on my body has changed. Now I see it as something that I have to put work into to see a reward.

I take my medication so that I can get out of bed and become a functional human. Without that added step, I would not be able to get out of bed.

I drink a lot of water to keep my blood pressure from dropping, and causing me to pass out.

I wear compression socks so that I can stand for longer than twenty minutes.

These are only some of the things that I do every day to take my body from what it is, to functional. The rough days are when I do everything that I am supposed to do, and I still can’t function. But that is a topic for another day.

When I look in the mirror now, I see someone who has fought through so much to be standing today. I see someone who is still fighting and trying to make the most out of every day. I see a body that is failing me, but is trying. I see a body that needs help, that needs work, that is unpredictable. But, no matter how I am feeling, I got up, I stood up and am able to stand in front of that mirror. For me, that is a big deal, and I thank my body for the good days. The days when I don’t have to think about my blood pressure, or heart rate. When I don’t have to focus on how much water I drank, or the last time I took my medication. The days when I feel normal.

I have always grown up with doctors telling me that I am too skinny. That I need to gain weight. Looking back on it, this could have been really destructive to a young girl, bring told by a professional that you are not right. I give credit to my parents, for always telling me that I am beautiful and backing me up when I say that I eat a lot, which I do.

Now, however, my weight is a larger concern, because if I get sick (on-top of the normal sick) my body needs the extra weight to be able to fight as best it can. So, not I do everything I can to gain weight. I do my best to give my body the resources it needs, knowing full well that the next time I am weighed by the doctors they are going to tell me that I am still too skinny.

Looking in the mirror I know that I am skinny. I can clearly see it, but that’s not what I focus on. I focus on the fact that I ate all I could today, that I didn’t pass out, that I took the nap I needed.

When I look in the mirror I see everything that I have gone through in order to be standing today. This is the body that I was given, and I am determined to make the most of it.

 

~Maddie

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The Start of a Headache

This morning I woke up with a headache. It was’t really that bad, maybe a four our of ten when I woke up, but then came the hard decision of whether to stay put and try and make it go away, or do what I need to get done today, and make it worse.

Unfortunately, it is nearing the end of the semester and there are a lot of things that I have to get done. So I put on comfy cloths, grabbed my water bottle, and prepared for a long headache day.

By the time my homework was done, around noon, my headache was up to about a seven out of ten. I took my blood pressure, got some food, and plopped myself down on the couch for a couple of hours.

Then my friends wanted to go to this weird grocery store that is in the small town our college is in. When asked if I wanted to go I hesitated and said yes, I really wanted some cool hot chocolate mix.

I know that going how is going to make my head worse, so I put on compression socks and mildly comfy cloths, chugged some water and set off. In the stores I felt really bad, and had to keep bending over to try and release the pain in my abdomen, but once we were back and everyone was cooking I was really glad I went.

After that, we all ate dinner together and then I played the game I got with one of my friends that has the same game. I just took it easy the rest of the day, and finally the pain in my head went away.

I have always tried to do as much as I can when I don’t feel well. I probably shouldn’t have gone shopping, but I wanted to and it was an experience. I was willing to pay the price of not feeling well later anyway.

Do everything you can to make your bad days a little more bearable.

 

~Maddie