Diagnosis: Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis
Texas, United States
My name is Hannah, I am 18, and this is my story with ADEM.
On the night of March 2nd, 2016, at about 10 pm, with nobody else getting home until 11 pm, I entered my shower and after two minutes I had a strange ringing in my ears and I suddenly felt dizzy, heavy headed, and was losing my balance. So I decided to sit down because that seemed like the best option, but all of a sudden, nausea hit me and I was vomiting on and off again for the next 30 minutes. After several attempts to reach my phone that was a couple of feet from my shower, I gave up because it was too challenging for me to do, consequently the only movement I could make was shifting my body into a more comfortable position on the ground. So there I lay for an hour, in my own vomit, cold and naked, terrified because I had no idea was happening, and unable to move. All I could do was pray in my head, sing hymns, and hope that any noise throughout the house was my family coming home. When my family arrived home I was taken to the emergency room where I was sent back to my house after a couple of hours because the doctors had tested me positive for flu.
I had lost the ability to write, feed myself, walk, talk normally, drink, you name it. After about a week and a half I was placed in a full time rehab center. The next two weeks were painful as I tried to remember just how to walk, use my right arm, and talk in full sentences. It was a difficult process and often I shed many tears as I watched the last few months of my senior year, my senior track season, my senior prom, my senior powder puff game, all go down the drain. It was a very tough pill to swallow. Although it seemed like an eternity, I was slowly walking without any help when I checked out of the rehab center two weeks later. From there, I did outpatient therapy twice a week for four more weeks, where I was able to progress to jumping, balancing on my right leg, and coloring with my hand. When I left there my walking still wasn’t great, and neither was my ability to write or speak, but they were improving.
This was and still is the hardest trial that I have had to endure in my life. There were many things that I was looking forward to at the end of my senior year, but what I was anticipating the most was track. I love to run and do hurdles, and after a season that ended badly last year, I was very determined to end things right. This meant training and weights all the time, but it was worth it to me. It was agonizing to watch my friends run their seasons, and then go on to win district, area, and regionals, and eventually advance to state. These were dreams that I wanted and worked so hard for, and I had to sit by and watch them happen. It was a painful time, but I’ve come to realize that there are much more important things in life than running on a track. Some of those things are my selfless parents and siblings, relatives and friends, therapists, doctors, and the power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. There are MANY more things, but I’m just choosing to list those. There are always trials that we have to deal with, whether they be big or small, and not one of them is ever easy. They can cause disappointment, fear, tears, anger, crushed spirits, bitterness, and just the question “why, why me?” I can attest to having those feelings frequently, but I’ve come to realize that it’s not the way to go. They will dig you into a hole that is so hard to get out of, and it’s a scary place to find yourself in. Even though this trial has been painful, I’m so grateful that it has brought me closer to my family and friends, and made me realize what really matters in life. One of the most important things is that I’ve grown closer to God, and I have never felt His love so much than I have now. I don’t think I can say that ADEM was “truly a blessing in disguise” yet, but there have been so many great things that have come from it that I am so grateful for. That doesn’t mean I still don’t struggle everyday with what happened in that awful month of March, but I also wouldn’t take the trial back. It has given me perspective, maturity, and compassion that I would not have gained any other way, and for that I am eternally grateful. I would love for my story to help others through their own trials, so if you feel the need to call, text, or write me an e-mail, I would love to hear from you. Remember this, “God gives us difficulties to bring out the best in us.” (Marvin J. Ashton)
MEET OUR OTHER HOPE AMBASSADORS