New Year, New Voices

by Samantha Smith

Happy New Year from Cal-EZ!

The Cal-EZ team is pleased to announce that with the new year, we are starting a new blog series. For those of you who are continually battling diseases that require calcium, we have new voices for you to hear. To start this series is Sam.

Sam_jjsjreditHello world! I’m very excited to be a part of the Cal-EZ team and to talk about life with chronic illness, and life in general! I myself have three chronic illnesses, one of which brought me to Cal-EZ.

It started with Graves' disease in January 2013. It's an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. When the treatments weren’t working, I opted to have a total thyroidectomy. Because of that surgery, my parathyroids were damaged, causing chronic hypoparathyroidism. About five months after that surgery, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis. (Cal-EZ has some great information about both hypoparathyroidism and gastroparesis on their site!!).

When we're growing up, we’re told that we can be anything that we want, and can do anything we set our minds too. This is a great notion as it gives us, as kids, ideas and dreams that we want to achieve. Hopefully those dreams become even bigger and better because they give us purpose and reason as we grow.

It’s negative to say “what if that doesn’t work out?” We can be positive and say, “I have a plan B! No big deal.” Yet there’s no amount of preparation for that day when your path crumbles before your eyes. There is nothing you can do but take the pieces and move on. There are many reasons why our hopes and dreams don’t turn out the way we hoped for. Sometimes, the plan B works out and we can continue moving on with our lives. But there is one thing we never prepare ourselves for: illness.

I’m 24. I finished college with the world at my fingertips. I knew where I wanted my life to go. I had dreams that I’d be damned if I didn’t achieve! It’s been just about two years since my life changed and I’m still grieving the loss of those dreams. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have a good life. Well, I use the term “good” loosely. I have a lot to be thankful for and I tell myself that daily.

You can’t prepare for chronic illness. It’s different for everyone. What happened to one, may not happen for another. What works for one, may not work for another.

I’d like to be able to tell you I beat these diseases.

I’d like to tell you that I can live a normal life.

But I can't.

What I can tell you though, is that I learned how to fight this. I learned how to fight for my life in ways I never thought I would need to, and my life is worth fighting for.

It’s still hard for me to put into words how this affects my life. Within only a few days in the beginning of 2013, the life I had always known changed forever and there was nothing I could do. Doctors, medication, and unanswered questions became the norm. I became the patient that didn’t fit into any of the normal guidelines for the doctors to treat me. I’m still finding the right doctors, and the right medications/doses of medications. I’m still finding what I can and cannot do, and what works best for me. Symptoms can change day to day, and I have to be ready to take on whatever the day brings.

Some days are harder than others, but most days, I’m ready to take on whatever this life decides to throw at me.

As John F. Kennedy said, “the courage of life is a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must, in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles, dangers and pressure. And that is the basis of all morality.”

To read other voices struggling with chronic illness and calcium deficiency, please visit our new series, New Year, New Voices.

New Year, New Voices