DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

We Can Do Hard Things: How I Live with an Invisible Illness

Rare Disease & Syndrome

Kat Harrison

My Story: life with an Invisible Illness

When I was 15, I got a bacterial infection in my ear and skull. After eight weeks of IV antibiotics, my medical team discovered that I had suffered ototoxicity -- a fancy word for poison -- and was left without a vestibular (balance) system with no hope for a cure, I had to relearn how to walk, track when I read and write in a straight line. My vision now bounces constantly -- kind of like an amusement park ride. This invisible disability is known as oscillopsia. What a tongue-twister, right? Since then, I've been diagnosed with chronic, daily migraine and recovered from 14 surgeries. In a plot twist, I was also recently diagnosed with SUNCT Syndrome -- a rare neurological condition which causes me to have up to 200 mini, electrical-like headaches each day. It's about as fun as it sounds.

We Are Worthy

Living with an invisible disability and two chronic pain syndromes has completely restructured my life. I've learned how to prioritize rest and be nimble with my time. I don't think anyone is ever prepared for a chronically ill life -- we don't choose it, it chooses us. But a constant roulette wheel of illness has shown me the depths of living with intent. Life is messy and hard and insurmountably tough sometimes. But we only get one shot at it, and being sick doesn't disqualify me (or you!) from the game. We're worthy of joy and goodness and brightness.

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