• Emily Cashel

I like to say I’m somebody who pushes myself to the limits.

I can’t keep track anymore how many bones I’ve broken, how many times I’ve been to the hospital, or how many times I’ve been in a cast. My doctor showed me a list of how many Xray’s I’ve had, and it was over 200 times.

I was born with a rare disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. OI is a genetic disorder that causes my bones to break very easily. It’s also known as brittle bone disease. I get treatments for it every few months although OI is incurable. Every surgery I get always comes with the added fear that something could go wrong. I could break more bones.

Growing up with this disorder caused me to develop anxiety disorders including social anxiety. This past school year (tenth grade) it was bad. In the last month, I’ve done so much self/at home recovery that my 16 year old self is starting to venture out like a regular teenage girl should.

I’d like to say I’m somebody who pushes myself to the limits. I play every sport that a regular kid on the block does, and I even ride dirtbikes. Everything I do, I do with pride. I don’t limit myself to anything. I believe the only limitations that exist are the ones you put on yourself. Some call it stupid, I call it living.

On October 4th 2015 I was riding my dirtbike in an open field in 4th gear and I hit a pothole and flew over my handlebars to the other side of the field. All I remember is literally flying. I don’t know how I hit, but I must’ve hit hard. I smashed my helmet to pieces. I received my 6th concussion, a shattered and fractured elbow, a broken nose for the second time, I damaged all the nerves in my mouth, broke a tooth in half and a neck injury. I had a few bruises here and there, including on my hip. I was knocked unconscious, and remember waking up covered in blood. The next thing you know, I’m at my local hospital, and there’s nothing they could do for me as I live in a small town. That meant an ambulance ride for me to the big city.

I remember the doctor in the ambulance telling me to stay awake, and that was probably one of the hardest things I had to do. They started giving me morphine, but it made me sick. I felt even worse, unable to breath. Later on they realized that I’m allergic to morphine. It was a long night. They told me that they had to X-ray my neck because they figured I’d injured it to the point where I’d never walk again. At that point, I was thankful to be alive because due to the extent of my injuries it could’ve been much worse. They did various CT’s and Xray’s that night. When I hit the ground I don’t remember the pain I was in. Let me tell you when they started moving me around though to do all these tests I was in worst pain I had been in a while.

In the early morning, I was casted, neck collar was taken off, I was dizzy and puking, and sent home. (They sent us home at 2 am, I’m an hour and half drive away from my house and we had a bad experience at this hospital that night. I couldn’t walk and my grandma, who’s a nurse knew that I shouldn’t have been sent home in that condition.) Once I got home I could not sleep. My whole body was in pain and I had no medication for it. I felt like I was dying. I had no clue as to why I was sent home like this. I was puking so much due to the morphine they gave me that I’m allergic to that I couldn’t even eat. This was going to be a long recovery.

A few days later I came back for my check up. My pediatrician FREAKED out. He told me that he didn’t see how bad my elbow was on the X-ray, so when he sent me for a CT off of a gut feeling, he was blown away by the damage I’d done. I shattered my elbow completely. At the time of the accident they thought I just fractured it. When he looked at it this time, my elbow was split into four, a pieces of my elbow were up my arm. He told me I needed surgery. I had a panic attack in the hospital because I knew the complications it could’ve caused. The surgery was done by putting 2 screws in my elbow, and taking it out, shaving it down then putting it back in.

I endured months of casts, physiotherapy, and doctor’s appointments. I was told I wouldn’t get my motion fully back in my arm. But I knew that I get told a lot of things, and proving people wrong is my second nature. That’s exactly what I did. I was later on diagnosed with post concussion syndrome. Grade 10 was almost impossible to finish, my teachers didn’t believe me and refused to help me because I suffer from invisible illnesses.

I went from almost dying and needing 24 hour care to a girl who got 100% motion back in her elbow and didn’t give up. I was told I might’ve been unable to walk, but now I run every single day. I exercise and I’m back on my dirtbike. I’m regaining all the muscle I lost. I’m regaining EVERYTHING I lost. Physically, and mentally. The accident stripped my confidence from me. I still have my days when I feel like the world is crashing down on me, But I’m working so hard to reduce my anxiety, and hopefully get rid of my panic attacks. I have an upcoming surgery on my mouth to fix the damaged nerves from my accident. It’s been 9 months and I’m still dealing with the after math of that horrible day. I’m also getting 4 wisdom teeth taken out and a root canal during that surgery.

I’m scared because people with OI has a greater chance of getting their jaw broken during that surgery, which is exactly what happened to my cousin.

I live everyday to the fullest. Like I said I have my bad days, but I fight through them. I have a dream of becoming a cop when I’m older. The thought of helping people excites me. Nothing’s going to get in my way. I’m unstoppable now. I just need to beat the mental challenges in my head, because I already defeated the physically challenge that tried to defeat me first. Faith is all I had and continue to have throughout my journey.

I might have OI, but OI doesn’t have me. It messed with the wrong girl. For anybody fighting mental illness, keep fighting. Let nothing and nobody stop you. Faith is all we have, don’t lose it.


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