Just a "zebra" trying my best to live life to the fullest with EDS and POTS...and loving the ride.

You Just Never Know…

Written by Katie. Posted in Favorites, Memorable Experiences

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You never know who you will meet on any given day.  Better yet, you never know who you will come across that will have an impact on your life. 

On the way to Philly my Mom and I sat together on the plane.  You’d think this would be a good thing, but it was not.  I freak her out with my “Oh God’s” “What’s that noise?” “Are we going down?” 

On the way home it just so happened that my Mom and I sat apart.  Although I hate to admit this, I usually do better sitting next to someone I do not know, because I feel like I have to hold it together.  I can’t be grabbing on to a stranger’s arm every 2 minutes.  That could get me into big trouble. 

I was sitting in my seat on our tiny Delta plane trying not to hyperventilate, when an older gentleman sat next to me.  He said “hello” and started reading his newspaper.  After a few minutes, he put the paper aside and started chatting with me.  We small talked for a bit.  He told me he and his family were coming home from a vacation in Miami Beach and asked where I was coming from.  I told him Philadelphia, and then I decided to warn him that I hate to fly.  He patted me on the shoulder and assured me that he flies all of the time, and that we will be just fine.

Since we were flying into Detroit, he asked me if I lived in the Detroit area.  I told him I lived in Lansing and he told me he lived in Troy.  He asked if I went to Michigan State and I said, “of course!” and he told me he was on the faculty there.  I said something like, “Wow, then you have quite a commute everyday!”  He proceeded to tell me that he doesn’t have to commute because he is a doctor in Troy, and the medical students come to him to learn and observe. 

(By this time we were in the air, but I was chatting so much, it wasn’t even phasing me)

With that, I asked what kind of doctor he was.  He told me a rheumatologist.  As I heard him say that, I excitedly said, “So you have heard of Ehlers Danlos!”  He said yes, and that he treats quite a few EDS patients.  He asked how I had heard of it, and I told him I had it.  People around us, probably thought we were nuts, but he started pulling on my skin, and bending my joints.  He looked at my scars and asked me about my symptoms.  He said, “Yup, I’d say you have it.”  

At this point, he said, “You can call me Sam,” while I also introduced myself.  From there, he wanted to know everything.  How I got my diagnosis, what I am doing to manage it, the meds I was taking, the compression of my stockings, more about POTS, and if I think I will take the risks of getting pregnant one day …”  I answered all of his questions, and realized that the tiny plane, was also getting the whole story.  Lucky them 😉

As I was telling him how doctors thought I had MS, and then Myasthenia Gravis at first, he told me that when he was twenty, he was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis.  To survive he has to take Mestinon 3-4 times a day, and at times huge amounts of Prednisone.   He went on to tell me that when chronic illnesses come into your life, you have choices.  You can give up or you can continue to find ways to live the life you want to live.  Dr. Sam told me, “Katie, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you love.  It just means you have to be creative and find other ways to get to do them.”  So true and just what I needed to hear.  I had tears in my eyes.

I made the comment that, “Isn’t it crazy, that I would have never known you had Myasthenia Gravis, and you would have never known I had EDS and POTS, if we hadn’t told each other?”  I said, we both look so healthy. 

I love what he said next. 

The wise Dr. Sam said, “But, really what is ‘healthy?’  There may be someone with no illnesses who is 100 pounds overweight, smokes, drinks, and just lives in an unhealthy way.  And then there may be people like you and me who have life-long illnesses, which have made us change our lives to live in a much healthier way.”  Hmmm, I never thought of it that way.  He was reinforcing what I always try to tell myself~that I still have my GOOD HEALTH. 

As we started to descend, we finished our conversation, talking about how important it is to find inspirational stories and people that help us continue to move forward.  I couldn’t have agreed more.  As Dr. Sam got off of the plane, he wished me a lot of luck, and thanked me for teaching him more about POTS.  I thanked him for being one of my inspirational people.

As I met my Mom outside, she said, “Wow, you really were talking that man’s ear off.”  I told her all about Dr. Sam and our conversations….She couldn’t believe it and said, “Ohhh, that makes a lot more sense.  I could only hear YOU, so I thought you were just telling that poor man everything about you and EDS and POTS.  Ha!  

I have been thinking a lot about that plane ride with Dr. Sam since I have been home.  It makes me think that Dr. Sam was brought into my life at that exact time and day for a reason.  I have heard Father Mark at mass talk about “Godincidences”, instead of coincidences, and this just may have been one of my “Godincidences.”

It really makes me believe in the truth of this quote I read a while back~

“Coincidences are God’s way of staying anonymous.” ~Unknown

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