No one can escape pain in life, but some people are plagued with it more than others. This is especially true for people battling chronic illnesses. Though no one wants to be a part of this club, more people than you realize are.
People with chronic illnesses and chronic pain have to learn to tap into their deepest strength in order to function through the pain they experience all day, every day. These conditions can be life changing and brutal. They can bring you to your knees, and show you just how strong you are, at the same time.
Meet Lyme Disease and Ehlers Danlos (EDS) warrior Lindsey Darnell. Lindsey has been fighting multiple chronic illnesses for about two and a half years now. “I’ve had to adapt to giving myself time to rest. I’ve had to adapt to being in pain all the time and sometimes saying no to hanging out with people because the pain is so great,” said Lindsey. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder that shows up in dozens of different ways but in Lindsey’s case, it means dislocations. On a regular basis, she dislocates her shoulder blades, ankles, jaw, and hips, but her biggest issue is her ribs.
She was diagnosed with Slipping Rib Syndrome in 2020. This syndrome is directly related to the effects that EDS has had on her body over the years. A highly specialized thoracic surgeon performed two rib suturing surgeries that put her ribs back together. His suturing technique surgery has improved the quality of life for hundreds of people, including Lindsey.
Lyme Disease is a tick borne illness. Like EDS, it can also show up in different ways, depending on the person. Lindsey has over 15 co-infections around her body due to the spread of Lyme disease. These infections are attacking her blood, spleen, liver, lungs, brain, and spine. To fight off this disease, she went to a clinic that specializes in Lyme Disease and underwent magnetic therapy and is now continuing a detox treatment on her own at home. When asked how she copes with all of these issues, she said, “I write poetry and do nature photography.”.
Another chronic illness warrior, Laura Allen, battles Chronic Migraines. Laura started having migraines in 1993, and since then she has tried many oral medications, botox treatments, she’s had MRIs, and given herself monthly shots. Some of these treatment methods have helped the day to day pain be more manageable, but she has yet to find a cure.
“I’ve learned to be strong and realize that today might be very hard, and I might have tp do things that I don’t feel well enough to do, but I can push through and I know that I will have other, better days,” said Laura.
Over the past few years, GCHS 11th grade student Karys Durham has shown incredible courage in the face of Chronic Pancreatitis. She has been hospitalized countless times, been to numerous doctors who were clueless about how to treat her, and eventually traveled to Minnisota where she underwent a total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation (TPIAT) surgery. “Being sick takes up so much time that I could be spending with my friends and family,” said Karys. After this surgery, she fought her way through the Intensive Care Unit until she made it to a regular surgical recovery unit. Though she still has a long road ahead of her, she has come incredibly far and fought harder than anyone can imagine. She is the definition of a warrior.
Despite the pain, Lindsey goes to school all day Monday through Friday, spends time with her friends and family, and never fails to be super friendly, joyful, and compassionate. Laura works Monday through Friday as a Dietitian at UK hospital, she’s an incredible, loving mother, and the best friend a person could ask for. Karys fights through the pain hard enough to make it through school every day and then goes straight to her fast-paced customer service job. She stays strong by “looking back on how far I’ve come and remembering all the amazing people I have in my corner”. Even through the pain, she is a supportive friend with the most contagious laugh. These women have learned to be brave in the face of extreme pain and that is something that we should all look up to them for. They are WARRIORS!