Table of Contents
My freshman year of college, I was living in a new city, making friends, and having the time of my life.
But suddenly, my world came crashing down.
How it started
It all started with an ear infection while I was at home for Winter Break. I took the appropriate medicine and it cleared right up.
However, when I returned to school, I fell very ill. I had strep throat repeatedly, I was always congested, and some days, I couldn’t even leave my dorm room. When I laid down at night, I would immediately have to throw up.
I was racking my brain trying to figure out what happened. Before this, I was always so healthy. I barely missed school when I was younger. What could possibly be going on?
Finally, I decided to go see an allergist. I thought that I must be allergic to something. After being poked with various allergens, I found out that I was allergic to ~nothing~. They had my blood drawn and I was on my way.
Little did I know that I would soon receive a life-changing phone call.
That is when I was diagnosed with Common Variable Immunodeficiency. It is a type of Primary Immunodeficiency. CVID is characterized by low antibody levels, especially immunoglobulins. Long story short, my body is not able to fight off infections. I did not have a functioning immune system. I couldn’t fight anything that came my way.
The diagnosis felt like a life sentence.
While the disease is incurable, there is a treatment. To put it bluntly — I stab myself with needles and administer infusions of plasma.
I rely on plasma to live a “normal” life. However, the complications are endless. Extreme fatigue, lung issues, higher risk of cancer. Since my diagnosis, I have also been diagnosed with an interstitial lung disease.
Though this journey has been long, at 23 years old I can say I finally have a grip. It has been almost four years since I was diagnosed. And I’m going to do what I can to spread awareness and find ways for people to combat chronic illness. I’m excited to continue my journey towards living a long, happy, and (somewhat) healthy life.
The mystery illness was a scary thing that came into my life. But, I am so glad that I am able to share my story and bring awareness about CVID and primary immunodeficiency. At first, I was scared that my illness would make me too different. I felt like such a burden upon my friends and family.
After some time, I started to embrace my strength. I realized that I would have to work 10 times harder to succeed with my illness, and I learned to be okay with that. Some days I feel down, ill, or fatigued, and that’s okay. I want to take the bad days as they come and remember to celebrate the good days.
I am excited to continue connecting with other PI patients and hearing their stories. I’ve found that it is really helpful to connect and converse with others that are going through the same things I am.
This was an unexpected turn in my life, but that doesn’t mean the story is over. In fact, it is just beginning!