The pain you feel today, is the strength you feel tomorrow.Anonymous
I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I was a competitive gymnast for 8 years, and a competitive diver for 5 years. A back injury ended both of my careers way too soon. It’s taken me a long time to heal mentally and emotionally from my early retirements, which happened before I was ready. Gymnastics is a sport that you can never really go back to, so I chose to coach, and now I’m back in the gym. I have always wanted to go back to diving. I dove for 5 years, I was the high school Rookie of the Year, a Town of Hempstead champion, I had an undefeated season, and I was All-Conference. I had to stop right before my junior year of high school, because I fractured my back. I was upset, but I always had the thought of eventually going back in my head. When I was finally ready to start diving again, my crazy medical journey started. Everything was pushed aside, and it wasn’t thought about again for a long time. I went through a grieving process in the months after my diagnosis, I grieved the person that I was before all of this, and I grieved the thought of the person that I was supposed to become, the person that I was supposed to be in a life where I was healthy. I was so angry, so frustrated, so sad. I thought that I would never be myself again, and I felt that way for a really long time, then everything changed. When I was put on Methotrexate in September, I never expected the way that it would make me feel, the way that it would change my life for the better. It’s the reason that my symptoms are under control right now, and for that I will be forever grateful. One week ago, I went back to diving. I became a diver again, and more than that I became myself again. I never thought I would step onto a board again, and it was surreal standing up there. My dives weren’t the prettiest, but they were perfect to me. I was diving with Lupus, CREST Syndrome, and MCTD. I was so proud of myself, and so thankful for the support of my family, friends, coach, and fellow divers. I’m going to dive once a week, and hopefully the dives will get better, and the bruises on my legs from getting out of the pool will grow lighter. I’m often asked if I knew what I know now about how my life would turn out, would I go back and change it. In the months following my initial diagnosis, I would have 100% said yes, but today, I say no. I wouldn’t go back and change it, because it’s made me the person that I am today, and in an odd way, I’m thankful for that. I don’t think that I would have gotten back up on that diving board, if it wasn’t for the Lupus, CREST, and MCTD that made me strong, that made me want to prove to myself that I could do it. I don’t want to be the person that I thought I was supposed to be, because it wouldn’t be me. I’m strong because of the pain, sadness, and heartbreak I’ve felt over the last 2 years. And I will be an athlete forever, no matter what.