However I have come to the realization that my illness does define me, and that's okay.
Now, my illness is not the only thing I am. But it does help define who I am. Everything that I am today, is a result of my illnesses just as much as it is a result of all my victories and struggles.
My graduation from high school was, hands down, one of my greatest accomplishments in my life, for many reasons. The one thing that made my graduation more meaningful and more special, was the fact that I struggled through 1,460 days of pain and sickness to get there. From the start of my freshman year, I battled through 60+ hospitalizations, countless ER visits, numerous ICU & Critical Care stays, surgeries, etc... I was told over and over that I wouldn't be able to keep up with my class or I wouldn't be able to graduate on time. On June 1st 2014, I walked across stage and received my diploma, despite having just being discharged the day before, after another 3 week hospitalization.
I consider my graduation day to be one of my biggest accomplishments because of my illnesses. My illnesses do define me, they define my successes and they define my trials. My struggles are what they are as a result of my illnesses.
When I'm catching up with an old friend or if I meet someone for the first time, I have no hesitation to tell them a little bit about me and my illnesses. Granted, the first thing I say isn't "Hi, my name is Kaitlyn and I have multiple chronic and rare diseases." But eventually, I will explain that I have medical conditions that make me a little different than the average.
Yes, I have an extensive list of illnesses and yes, it does define me. It has shaped me into the person I am today and it will continue shaping me into who I am meant to be. I am not only my illnesses, but they are a part of me, and I'm okay with that.