For most people who are, or have at some point, become sick with a serious illness (whether chronic or acute), there was a time when they were "healthy." They existed pre-illness, pre-symptoms, pre-diagnosis, with no idea what lay ahead.
I want to make it clear here that there is a difference between "pre-illness" and "pre-diagnosis". Before you are diagnosed with any affliction, you become ill. There is some symptom, some pain, some reason that took you to a physician's office in the first place ("pre-diagnosis"). That first visit that sets you down the path of trying to find the answers you seek about what is happening...to find out what has suddenly gone so wrong.
But before all of that, you are healthy ("pre-illness"). When you're healthy, being sick means getting the flu, or a cold, or strep throat; something that can be cleared up with time or a course of antibiotics. I consider this phase the beginning of my diagnosis story.
Once upon a time, I was a healthy newlywed. My new husband and I had purchased a home, hosted our wedding, and adopted a puppy. We had met in college three years prior, and each took jobs in the same city following graduation.
Life was not perfect - we had some private family issues to work through - but it was very good. We spent significant amounts of time (and money) on home improvement projects in our first home. We hosted parties and took vacations. We spent time with friends, golfed, partied, enjoyed happy hours. I had plans to start graduate school a year after getting married. We wanted to start a family after I had completed my master's degree.
We loved to cook together. On nights where we decided to stay in, just the two of us, we sometimes wouldn't sit down to dinner until late into the evening, we involved ourselves in cooking so much. We loved to try new beers, wines, and foods.
Before I was a newlywed, I was an independent young woman. I had procured my first job and apartment. I played basketball on a city league with friends and coworkers, and worked out regularly. I didn't smoke; I loved my coffee.
I loved to have fun. I still do.
That's an interesting thing, I notice. To sometimes speak of myself, or think of myself, in the past tense (I loved to...). On one hand, I AM the same person! At the root of it all - I am ME. I want to be who I was, be treated like the person I always have been. Yet on the other hand, things are different. I have been scarred - literally and figuratively. I have had to change my lifestyle and my mindset, and as such, I have changed. And so, part of me mourns the loss of the more lighthearted me. The one who didn't have to worry as much. The more spontaneous me.
This story isn't really about who I was. It's the beginnings of the story about how I have evolved into who I am. And becoming a wife, becoming sick, and becoming a mother all helped shape me.
Next: My Diagnosis Story, Part II: Wading Through the Symptoms
Modified on 5/7/13 to link to the second part of my diagnosis story.