What's in a Name?

by Ashley Cataquet 2 years ago in health

A Lot, but Also a Little

What's in a Name?

From the moment I was born, I had a condition. There are various physical symptoms that accompany it, but no matter how many are added to my personal collection, I don’t have an actual name for the overall package. A label. A diagnosis. I’ve never been able to catch that elusive answer to what it is I have. Chances are I never will. As a toddler, one of my numerous doctors compared me to a puzzle box missing its cover. That necessary cover that shows the finished image on it, which you use to guide your steps along the way. As odd as it might seem, it’s an accurate comparison, so props to him. I’m essentially a riddle the medical community won’t solve. Like, ever. And back then, I didn’t care that I’d never have a name to put to whatever I had.

As the years passed, I found myself wishing, here and there, I did. Sometimes I’d even get a bit envious of others with different conditions, for them at least having a definite diagnosis doctors were able to say and write down onto charts. Having that can add a sense of safety and comfort, I suppose, instead of stressing with constant wondering. It would signify being able to point and say, "this is what it is."

Having a name to put on it would make me feel more secure. To have an explanation for everything that’s been wrong, is wrong, could be wrong in the future. It would make life much simpler when I’m at a new doctor reviewing my lengthy medical history; when I’m at a new job or school and trying to describe what this is to others; before or during meeting someone for a date, reassuring them it’s not nearly as bad as it looks. It doesn’t involve mental challenges at all or interfere with my psychological faculties, but I find myself pondering at times maybe it would even make me appear more credible and intelligent to have a concrete title on hand instead of saying I don’t know with a brief shrug, light smile, and rambling catalog of everything that’s wrong to follow.

At this point of my life, I’m back to not caring as much about being a proverbial puzzle box without a cover picture. Because no matter what, it’s unchangeable. Even if I did have a proper diagnosis, my symptoms would still be here forever. There are antidotes and tools to alleviate them and making it easier to cope with, but they’ll never disappear for good. I’d still receive stares from people, either from confusion or curiosity; I’d continue to draw unwanted pity. And while there are some activities I really have no choice but to avoid, there’s a list even longer of things I don’t, which is just as, if not more, worthy.

Even if there are a few roadblocks that sometimes get in the way, I can live my life as anyone else. I can travel and drive and keep my independence intact. I still have family and friends to live my life with. Friends (especially) that I know are genuine. Friends I know won’t give up and walk away because of the sole fact of who I am. And if they do decide to at any given time, I’ve learned to let go. Why would I desire someone like that around me anyway? Authentic relationships are what I’d take over fake ones any day.

So yes, having a name, label, whatever, would make my life different. But in the majority of ways, it would stay exactly the same.

And when all is said and done, what’s in a name anyway?

Read next: Best Running Shoes for Women
Ashley Cataquet

An aspiring writer with a fondness for lattes and Larry David

See all posts by Ashley Cataquet