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Identity through chronic illness

Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.


In different seasons of my life I have gone through several identities, Gymnast, sick, Chronic pain, daughter, student, Rock climber, Wife, divorce, Vascular compression warrior, Dog mom, Doctor.


When you deal with chronic conditions, it often can feel so overarching that the condition takes over your identity. When I was 19, I was in a car accident just weeks after my father died. Due to my biology of #hEDS and the extreme stress of family situations, I did not recover from the whiplash quickly like others would have. I lost my identity as a gymnast and coach and was left with pain, pills, and appointments. In 4 years I was given every medication the doctors could think of and had been poked and prodded with every painful test and procedure known to the medical community. It was scary, even scarier was that even if I got any better, who was I? I was not a gymnast anymore, I hadn’t started a career, my identity was this injured girl. At some point about 4 years after my accident, one of the best and worst interactions with a medical professional happened. I was told “ you are faking, and you will be disabled by pain the rest of your life”. HAHA, this didn’t even make sense! Me being stubborn took on a new sense of identity to never allow another person to be treated like this and decided to #choosePT and #painscience to keep my pain under control. This is how I decided to become a physical therapist. I know how hard it is to be treated like I’m crazy, but even more than that, I know how hard it is to find my identity and keep finding my identity through different twists and turns of my journey with #chronicpain, #dysautonomia, #nutcrackersyndrome, #thoracicoutletsyndrome, #whiplash, #cranialcervicalinstability


Today my identity is: Doctor Jen, Zebra unicorn warrior woman, dog mom, friend, partner, & chosen member of a family



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