About six months ago, I made the decision to “retire” from my career as a full time nanny at the ripe old age of 27. I didn’t make that decision because it was time to move on, or because I was just so over being a nanny - quite the opposite in fact. I retired because my body could no longer keep up with the kids I cared for. I retired because Marfan syndrome wasn’t going to let me do the work I loved any longer.
Blake and I met in high school. When I went to his high school graduation, I met his mom and dad. I made a comment about how tall he was while his parents were so short. That’s when I learned that his dad was there with his step-mom; Blake’s own mother died when he was eight years old from complications of Marfan syndrome.
Most people affected by Marfan syndrome experience a life-changing moment when they or a loved one is first diagnosed. My Marfan journey, however, has always seemed a part of my life with no clear beginning. My mother was the first person in our family to be diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. It had been my grandmother’s just-by-chance reading of a newspaper article about the disorder that led to my mother’s diagnosis at age 7. Fortunately, when I was a very young child, my doctors knew to look for the physical characteristics right away and, when I was about 3 years old, it was determined that I too had Marfan syndrome. When I started elementary school, of course there were little issues here and there, such as being taller and thinner than most kids, sitting out for certain activities during gym class, and taking annual trips to Johns Hopkins Hospital for checkups. For the most part, however, I thought of Marfan syndrome as no big deal. It was something I had, like hazel eyes and brown hair.
When you think about your life as an able-bodied person, what fulfills you? Does going to work and seeing your colleagues make you feel successful? Do you feel better about yourself when your boss offers you that promotion you’ve been striving for? You worked really hard for that promotion and you deserve it. How about when you see the balance of your bank account? Do you have a little bit leftover after your bills are paid? I’m sure it’s nice to go into work Monday morning with that new handbag or a pair of earrings you’ve been eyeing at Macy’s for a while. Those things, they fulfill you, make you feel like a person put on Earth for a reason. You went to college and earned a degree, and now you can do what you were taught how to do. It’s a very fulfilling way to live.