One of the things that I’ve had to realize, accept, and come to terms with is that I can’t do things like everyone else. I have some uphill battles to face every single day, and there’s a lot of compromise that has to take place. I can’t just go down to my studio and put in a regular work day.

When my seizures started during my deployment to Iraq, I had no idea that it would lead to where I am today. It turned out to just be the beginning. The beginning of this crazy journey I’ve been on since May 2010.

As a result of my seizures, I was medically retired in July 2011.

I’m thinking as a result of one of the drop seizures while in Iraq, I hurt my back. I have had chronic lumbar pain ever since. Shortly after the seizures started I realized I was having some serious issues with concentration and retaining new information. Then the tremors started. That was about all that was on my plate at the time of retirement. And then shit just went downhill starting in April 2012. Leg weakness and neuropathy developed. Hand weakness in my left hand.  OAB (overactive bladder). Neuropathy in my feet. Intense fatigue. Heat intolerance. Chronic pain. And finally… a drooping eyelid that sometimes causes double vision.

Leg weakness to the point that I have to use a cane or forearm crutches for day-to-day mobility. On my bad days, I’m in my wheelchair. Anything warmer than 74-76 degrees and all my symptoms are exacerbated. I will have fatigue and pain to the point where there have been weeks where I couldn’t get out of bed.

It’s taken a lot of trial and error. But I’m finally at a point in life where I’m having more good days than bad.

I am more in tune with my body and actually listen when it’s telling me I need to slow down because I’m on the verge of overdoing it. As a result, I’m finding ways of being more productive in my studio practice. As an example, I have to take regular breaks from my clay work. Normally, during these breaks, I end up playing games, surfing FB or IG, etc. NOW, I’m using those breaks to create content. Like writing this article or scheduling future FB posts on my sculpting page. I might plan tasks that I’d like to get done. I’m being more intentional with my time.

 Knowing the monsters inside my body that I’m fighting has made a huge difference as well.  I know how to treat it now rather than guessing at what MIGHT work to help me feel better.  I’m chasing my dream of an art career despite having: a seizure disorder, cervical dystonia, OAB, peripheral neuropathy, degenerative disc disease in my lumbar (lower back), chronic hypotension that leads to vertigo (really LOW blood pressure), short-term memory problems (marked cognitive decline), and my newest diagnosis: myasthenia gravis (a neuromuscular autoimmune disease).
You can chase your dream, too.
Original article appeared at Reprinted with permission.