My name is Lauren Lehman and I was, and always will be, a soccer player. My college soccer career ended far too soon after it began when I was diagnosed with what they thought was bilateral exertional compartment syndrome. After each surgery I had for compartment syndrome (and there were 3), the pain did not improve, and actually worsened, but each time, the doctors recommended more invasive surgery to try to relieve the pain. Unfortunately, after the 3rd surgery, doctors realized this was much more than just compartment syndrome as my symptoms spread throughout my whole body, and I needed to go see different kinds of specialists who could address the much more complicated symptoms I began to experience. With these new appointments came many more surgeries, 4 muscle biopsies, sympathetic nerve blocks, Botox treatments and stem cell infusions which all left their own scars on my body. It took time, but I now see my scars as strength. They are visible signs of my courage, bravery and determination to continue moving forward even if I had to give up my soccer dreams and adjust to a whole new life of illness...for now.
In spite of all this, I have managed to find a new career as a special education teacher and I help others, who like me, had something happen to them that they didn’t ask for, but still together, we can find a way to have a life worth living. I wish I could say I was healthy again, but even though that isn’t the case yet, if you take one thing from my story, know that you can still find a life worth living and can excel in spite of obstacles and adversity. I first learned these lessons on a soccer field and these qualities have carried me and helped sustain me during the most intense and difficult times of my life through illness. Invest in yourself- get the help you need, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and of course physically. Through hard work, these efforts will help you begin to see all that you still can do rather than what you can’t. My story isn’t over yet and neither is yours.