“Christina was drowning in relentless waves of health obstacles”
On January 25, 2015, she texted Tava, “I feel like my body has finally given up on me.”
Fatigue overwhelmed her as she could barely walk 20 feet, often too dizzy to go to class, slept 16 hours a day, experienced numbness in her extremities, and despite her critical condition, had limited access to medical care due to the Boston weather.
Tava flew out, and Christina broke. She finally revealed to her mom the extent of her pain, and was forced to take a medical withdrawal from MIT with assurances that they would welcome her back in the Fall or whenever her health problems improved.
Upon going home to Tampa, she was put on an antidepressant which she may never have taken, and Tava and Christina’s father began researching POTS specialists around the country.
Her parent’s hope was restored as they planned to give Christina a few days to rest, and then share their findings about specialists with her on March 6.
On March 5, Christina jumped. The last person who anyone would’ve expected, ended her life by choice. Tava explains that Christina’s silence about her suffering was not the answer, nor was suicide.
Patient validation is essential in situations where a person may look fine, but feel terrible.
Christina’s loss of hope was largely due to the amount of dismissal she met from doctors.
Suicide awareness in the chronic illness community is not often talked about, but it is important to open the door to the conversation.
It is the #3 most common reason for suicide, following mental illness and addiction related reasons.
Christina’s story strikes a nerve deep within me. It runs a ghost like chill down my spine as I see so much of myself in her. I never knew her, but I constantly feel her presence with me.
I have to fight for her, and I feel she has chosen me to be a vehicle of change and to share all that she has left unsaid.
I feel no words could ever do her justice, but I want to at least try. She gives me strength. Not only is the blog essential for my own purposes, but it is important to give a voice to others who may not have the privilege or access to elite doctors and a platform to share.
I cannot stress the importance of patient validation and dysautonomia awareness enough.
There are countless unique, isolated, and rare cases. Although some of the types are also thought to be a fairly rare condition, over 70 million people worldwide have it. This is more than either MS or Parkinson’s, yet it is not taught in most medical school and nursing programs.
There are plenty of young people, especially women, just like Christina and myself suffering quietly, as we are constantly pathologized, misunderstood, and told we look fine and are probably “just stressed.”
I hope that by sharing Christina’s story, I can give just one person out there a little hope, or one doctor a little perspective, or one parent a little more direction. Change starts with you, and this is my mission.
I have this vision of Christina’s death. She backflips gracefully from that seven story parking garage and swan dives into freedom while the moon and the stars smile.
She finds peace from the torments of her body, and enters sweet rest. I hope you have found peace, Christina. I think of you often.
I felt it obligatory to share Christina’s story from the following blog 👇
Fighting for Christina — Sydney Kay
As many of us testify; it is easier to deal with an illness and all of the symptoms attached by itself. Rather than the psychological trauma that arises and compounds from continually being dismissed by the medical society as well as an uneducated society.
In my opinion and years of experience as you will come to see ان شاء الله, it is the foremost factor that pushes one to the verge of ending their life.
For this reason, The Dysautonomia Project team initiated a:
POTS PI DAY 5K 2020
Deep within, my heart knows that the waves have moved me from an easier passion of teaching because I was needed elsewhere.
I was deployed here to become 1 among 300 million in the rare world, so that perhaps other abilities could come to the fore and be utilized across a broader horizon..
𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐚 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐡𝐢𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐧
𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 in 𝐯𝐚𝐢𝐧
“𝐒𝐨 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮’𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐞𝐝
𝐂𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐥𝐲, 𝐛𝐞𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝”