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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I don't remember ever being healthy. I've always had one ailment or another. When I was a baby I had terrible eczema, allergies and asthma. One of my earliest memories is being a toddler in an oxygen tent wanting apple juice. I had corrective shoes as a toddler and judging by my current walking abilities I'd say they didn't really do their job. As I grew older I found out that I have an anaphylactic allergy to all nuts so it's an Epi Pen life for me!

Growing even older, at the lovely age of 14 I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Two and a half years of chemotherapy (yes, I lost my hair, yes, it sucked) and I was officially cancer free! I thought things were going pretty well after that. I worked three jobs and graduated from university with three degrees to my name! I was unstoppable. Until I was stopped.

I got married right after graduating university and moved to London, Ontario (from Windsor, Ontario) and finally got checked out because I had been experiencing joint pain in my fingers and hands. My family doctor at the time had said that because I tested negative for the rheumatoid factor that it was likely osteoarthritis and to take Tylenol. Thanks, doc. I was obviously dissatisfied with that answer and pursued a rheumatologist. I was quickly diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis and after a battery of tests and medication trials I finally found a regimen that worked. Until it didn't.

Still in horrible pain, I was then tested for and diagnosed with fibromyalgia alongside the RA. I had answers, even if there was no effective treatment. I continued with my life until I was again halted by severe back pain and sciatica. I could write a whole other story about my back and how long it took to properly diagnose and treat what's wrong with it. After MRIs and many trips to the emergency room, I was informed that I have two bulging discs, one herniated disc, and one herniated and ruptured disc. Holy crap.

I had one microdiscectomy decompression surgery and felt so much better! Until I got in a car accident and my disc reherniated. On to surgery number two... which did not help. I now have degenerative disc disease in three lumbar levels.

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband has been amazing. He has stood by me and supported me every step of the way.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I had to leave my job as I was unable to continue working in the condition I am in now. I am entered in a pain management program and am an advocate for others with chronic pain.

Courtney's Pets

I am very proud of who I am and where I am now!

What accomplishment are you proud of?

Creating my own website and letting my voice be heard as an advocate. I was at my lowest point after two failed spine decompressions and feeling like I could not go on, but I have picked myself back up. I am very proud of who I am and where I am now!

What accomplishment are you proud of?

Creating my own website and letting my voice be heard as an advocate. I was at my lowest point after two failed spine decompressions and feeling like I could not go on, but I have picked myself back up. I am very proud of who I am and where I am now!

I was unstoppable. Until I was stopped.

I was unstoppable. Until I was stopped.

What's your advice to someone else living with Chronic Pain?

Your life is not over after receiving these diagnoses. Your life may not be the perfect picture you had envisioned. It will be different and challenging, but you're a warrior. Sometimes this absolutely sucks, there is no way around that, but you can work through this.

I have started about seven different hobbies since my last spine surgery and I am still finding new things to spark an interest and give me a sense of joy or accomplishment. The chronic pain community is amazing and strong and I have learned so much from everyone I have come into contact with. I would suggest getting involved with whatever support group is closest to you in person or online.

It will be different and challenging, but you're a warrior.

About Courtney

My Story: Courtney Pest
I am a 28-year-old Canadian woman who loves her husband and pets — Lola, a 5-year-old yorki/shihtzu and Lemon, a 1-year-old Tabby cat. I love to laugh, binge watch Netflix, swim, read and write. And I am a Warrior. I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 14 and underwent 2.5 years of chemotherapy treatment. I've been in remission ever since. About a year ago I started a blog on Tumblr and recently I purchased my own domain and am incredibly excited about and proud of my new venture! I went to university for five years studying psychology and education. I have received a degree in psychology, a Bachelor of Education degree, and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education. After graduation I followed my passion and enhanced my resume with a post graduate certificate in Autism and Behavioural Sciences. I've since had to put my career on hold while I take care of my illnesses.

Chronically Courtney

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