I have A Chronic Illness, Here's What Life Is Like With It

I Have A Chronic Illness And Here's What Life Is Like With It

I started living my life day by day.

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Since I was born, I have had what is called Chronic Urticaria living in my body. Chronic Urticaria is a terrible version of hives that less than 1% of the population has. Around 20% of people get hives...you know, those itchy lumps on your skin that come up when you come into contact with allergens. Mine can be that way, itchy bumps that emerge when I come into contact with things I'm allergic to, but mine also can get into my joints and get into/under my skin. When y hives emerge, I am an essentially a vegetable. My fingers can't move and are red and irritated, my breathing slows to a near stop unless I get help, and sometimes it can lead to anaphylactic shock.

Web MD says, "About 20% of people get hives -- itchy red or skin-colored welts also known as urticaria. They're often caused by an allergic reaction to a food or drug. Usually, they go away quickly.

For a small number of people, though, hives come back again and again, with no known cause. When new outbreaks happen almost every day for 6 weeks or more, it's called chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU).

One percent or less of people have it. It's most common in people between the ages of 20 and 40. With CIU, a single outbreak usually lasts no more than 24 hours. After that, new hives form.

What Causes It?

Experts don't know. The immune system seems to play a role. Some people get chronic hives at the same time that they get other problems like thyroid disease, hormonal problems, or cancer.

What Are Some Common Triggers?

Even though doctors can't say for sure what causes CIU, they do know things that can lead to flare-ups. They include:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Tight clothing
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Exercise
  • Cold
  • Heat"

My illness is incredibly dangerous and effects my everyday life. I have to be careful whenever I go outside because one bug bite can send me into the emergency room. On vacations, I can't put any part of my body into the ocean without coming out of the water as a giant hive. I have lived with this illness my entire life and I have had many scares to the point where I inform every person I begin to date about how serious my illness is just in case they aren't ready for the responsibility.

I think most people look at me and see this happy, carefree girl, but they don't know that I live my life day by day anymore. I live y life to the fullest every single day because I can't promise that I'll be okay tomorrow. I try and love my life every day and make people realize their true potentials because sometimes I worry about my own. I have had to drop activities and people I care about because of my illness and it has made things incredibly difficult. I think what the world needs to learn from my story is that you never truly know what is happening in a person's life until you try and look for it. Love everyone while you can because who knows, they could be uncertain about tomorrow just like me.

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7 Reasons Not To Be An Organ Donor

Actually, there aren't any.
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Absolutely none.

Recently, I became an organ donor, and I was shocked at how easy it was. All I had to do was make a check mark on a form at the DMV. The simplicity of a decision that could potentially save the life of another human being is outstanding. Do you want to know what shocked me even more, though? The deficiency of organ donors. According to Donate Life America, 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, but only 30 percent have taken the steps to become one. I constantly see people sharing and praising stories of kids given a second chance at life due to organ donations.

If so many people share these articles and pride themselves on being empathetic and wanting to help others, why do we have such a shortage of organ donors?

Don't take my word for it, let's look at the stats.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human services, there are 121,347 people waiting for organs; 121,347 families that are counting the days. Standing by the phone in hopes of it ringing. Yet, in the past year, there were only 28,000 organ transplants and currently, there were only 15,000 new donors from the past.

If that's not enough to open up your eyes, just know that every 10 minutes, a name is added to that list. While an average of 79 people receive organ transplants a day, 22 people die waiting for an organ that never comes; 22 people don't get a second chance at life.

These statistics might only sound like a bunch of numbers I am spewing at you but let me put them into perspective. Every single one of those 22 people that die every day is a mom, a teacher, a doctor, a 3rd grader, a lover, a human. They are not just a number. Every single one of them has a family, has goals, has feelings and has lost a chance.

SEE ALSO: To The Organ Donor Who Will Save My Life

Why shouldn't you be an organ donor?

1. I want to have an open casket funeral, and I can't if organ donation mutilates my body.

Actually, organ donation doesn't impede you from having an open-casket funeral. Your organs/tissues are removed through a clean surgical procedure, and you are sewn back up. After your body is clothed for the ceremony, there are no signs of organ donation. Even if you decide to donate your bones, rods are inserted into their place.

2. If doctors know that I am an organ donor, they won't try to save my life as hard.

This is absolutely ridiculous. A doctor's top priority will always be the life of their patient. They will put in 110 percent their effort to keep you alive. The donor program isn't even notified until death is proven and declared.

3. Doctors might not be 100 percent sure that I am dead.

According to the Center for Organ Recovery and Education(CORE), brain death is pronounced when there is a lack of blood and oxygen flow to the brain. It is "the medical, legal and moral determination of death." There is no recovery from this. It is not the same as a coma. Furthermore, organ donors are actually given more tests after death over a period of time to verify death than a normal person.

4. I'm too sick for organ donation. My organs wouldn't be useful.

Don't pre-disqualify yourself. Doctors have tests they run to make sure the organs they utilize are safe and healthy. While some of your organs might not meet these standards, others could.

5. My family would be charged with the costs of the organ transplant.

Your family would only have to pay for the medical costs associated with any procedure done before your death. Organ donation costs are fully covered.

6. Organ donation is against my religion.

Actually, according to CORE, all major religions view organ donation as a final act of love through sacrifice.

7. I don't want my organs going to somebody that destroyed their own.

While organ donations do help people suffering from addiction by letting them correct their mistakes, "less than 5 percent of people awaiting transplant have destroyed their organ through substance abuse and they must achieve and sustain sobriety before they can be listed for transplant (Center for Organ Recovery and Education)."

If all these reasons are still not enough to convince you to make this decision, know this:

By becoming an organ donor, you could save the life of not just one person but of 50. You could be the reason a father is able to dance with his daughter at her wedding. You could be the reason a 7-year-old girl is able to see the colors of a sprouting bundle of flowers on a fresh spring day.

You could be the reason a mom is writing out invitations for her son's eighth birthday party instead of making funeral arrangements. You could be the reason that newly married couple ends up sitting around a fire on Christmas morning with their six grandchildren.

You could be the reason love strengthens, new life is born, accomplishments are made and society improves. If anything, you could be the hope restored in the broken hearts and minds of the family and person receiving that organ. You could be that second chance, that silver lining, that miracle.

We glorify the idea of a miracle but here we have the opportunity to make them actually happen. All this can be done by you simply taking an hour of your time to visit this website and take the steps necessary to register as a donor. If you live in New York State, you can register online right now, right here.

Save a life.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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The Lazy Girl's Guide To The Gym

Also, everything else you should know if you're a slightly out-of-shape girl (like me).

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With my freshman year coming to an end, I realized a lot of things. I made new friends, I found new hobbies, and I learned a lot of lessons. One of them being that the "Freshman 15" is very real and very scary.

While my friends and family have attempted multiple times to convince me that I'm just being dramatic (I am), I still want to make a change in my lifestyle or I will, in all seriousness, be on track to the "Sophomore 20".

Here is a list of my best gym and healthy lifestyle tips that I am slowly attempting to live by this summer in order to resurrect Emily's 18-year-old body and health.

1. Increase water intake.

2. Find a gym buddy.

3. Start off with cardio.

4. Don't stop on your cardio until you're dripping in sweat.

5. Chug a LOT of water an hour before the gym.

Do not do it right before, or you will be in pain.

6. Eat light beforehand but just enough to hold you over. 

7. Plan out what your routine will be BEFORE you get there.

My routine: Elliptical for a mile, Stairmaster for 10 minutes, ab HIIT workout for 10 minutes, 5 more minutes on Stairmaster.

8. Buy healthy foods while you're feeling motivated.

9. Find a gym that isn't too far from your house. 

10. Don't get mad at yourself if you don't see results in a day.

I know this is a hard one.

11. Try fitness classes. 

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