• Emily Cashel

STS Ambassador - Erica

Introduction blogs are always a favorite of mine. They are a chance for me to reflect on who I am and what is important for other people to know about me. Having a chronic illness, however, also makes these things a little sad. When you think about who you are, you can’t help but to think about who you use to be and who you want to be as well. What I have come to realize is that you need find a place where all three meet. Where “who you are” meets “who you were” and “who you want to be”. A place where these three people come together as one person who can thrive. It is not an easy place to get to but it is always worth trying.

With all that being said, hello, my name is Erica and I am on a constant journey to this place I just described. I am 26 years old and I have just a few health issues. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (a group of connective tissue disorders resulting in chronic dislocations and subluxations of all joints, which causes chronic pain), esophageal dysmotility (I have trouble swallowing food), gastroparesis (the food I do eat stays in my stomach to long, resulting in my need for a feeding tube), colonic dysmotility (the food that eventually moves out of my stomach stays in my intestines for way to long), Dysautonomia (my body has trouble regulating things like heart rate and blood pressure, so I get dizzy a lot and sometimes I pass out), Eustachian tube dysfunction( ear problem), hearing loss, just to name a few things. Phew now that we have all that out of the way on to the good stuff! I am a nurse and I love every minute of it! I have been lucky enough to be dating my best friend for the past 5 years, I have the greatest most supportive friends and family in the world, and I have 2 cats that I prefer over most people.​

Being a nurse and being sick are hard to pull off together, but I do the best I can. Helping others keeps things in perspective for me and it makes me happy to help others, that’s what has brought me to get involved with the invisible illness world. I never realized how therapeutic writing and storytelling could be until I was given the opportunity to become a resident blogger for a webpage featuring chronic illnesses. Now I am beyond thrilled to start my new adventure with Suffering the Silence! Before getting sick I loved playing sports or running and those things are no longer an option for my body. So now it is blogs, reading, music, crafts and more. While my hobbies have had to change, for me this is just one step closer to finding another piece of my new identity as this chronic illness warrior that I have become. This is not an easy journey for myself or anyone else on this path, but I am looking forward to sharing this adventure with you as I go.

I miss who I use to be, before the pain and the tubes, but I am growing fonder of my new self. I still have goals I want to achieve, just now the road is a little longer with a few more detours. The strength you gain from being sick like this, from having to push yourself every single day is a strength unlike any other. It is a strength I plan to utilize to the fullest to achieve every goal, a strength I hope to share with others going through similar struggles, a strength to use to get myself to the place where I can thrive.


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