Your Story: Meet Danielle
The second installment of Your Story is from Danielle Logan of Spoonie Strength, who found a way to overcome her battle with Lupus with powerlifting. I remember being tested for Lupus at the height of my health issues. At the time, I had no idea how all-encompassing and devastating this chronic disease could be. The term “spoonie” refers to the Spoon Theory, outlining the challenges of what should be simple daily tasks when one suffers from chronic illness. Danielle’s story captures that struggle and shows that she is truly strong in body, strong in mind.
The Early Days
21 years old. Fresh, young graduate from University living her dreams in Los Angeles. I was going to be a star. I was going to sing, dance, and act my way into every household in America. I trained my entire life for this, and now it’s my moment. Dance audition – Band audition – Play Audition – Commercial Audition – Eat – Sleep – Dance. This was my life, and I was loving every second of it. Until it wasn’t my life anymore.
I got sick. I thought I had a cold (I should have known better as it was July in sunny California). The cold just wouldn’t go away. I started getting tired. Not tired like I’d ever been either. A tired that sleeping all day just couldn’t shake. Everything hurt.
Then one morning I woke up, and I couldn’t move. Actually couldn’t move. I had to have my boyfriend at the time physically lift me up and carry me to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have an accident on the bed. I screamed. His touch felt like a million razor blades stabbing into my skin. He helped me use the toilet – not one of my fondest memories – got me to the car and took me to the hospital. And there I stayed for what felt like an eternity.
Lupus. A life sentence. This was not a cold – not something I could just “shake off” or take a pill and be all better. A lot of people get told they have Lupus and have absolutely no idea what that means. Unfortunately, I knew too much. My dad lost his mother when he was only seven years old to complications stemming from the disease and I have had a pretty good understanding of the illness my entire life because of that.
I had IV after IV full of steroids and chemotherapy in an attempt to stop my immune system from killing my organs, because it suddenly didn’t know how to do its job anymore. The very thing that keeps most people alive was trying to kill me. In three months’ time, I went from a strong, lean, confident entertainer to a depressed, 80 pounds heavier shut-in who was learning how to walk again. Life changed. And it changed in the blink of an eye.
Dance audition – Band audition – Play Audition – Commercial Audition – Eat – Sleep – Dance. This was no longer my life. It was replaced with Doctor visit – Infusion – Pharmacy – Bed – Doctor visit – Physical Therapy – Bed – Meds – Bed. I had no idea what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to dress, how to make a living, how to do anything that made me happy anymore. For years, I was consumed, and every time I felt like progress was made, I’d get another diagnosis added – because as all “spoonies” know, you don’t usually get ONE autoimmune disease – they tend to be a package deal.
Six years without a single step forward, I decided to completely start my life over. I moved to a random city in the middle of the US – no job, no insurance, no home – nada. I got an admin assistant position at a nice facility that had amazing local food options in the cafeteria and a gym we could use. By then, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, so I thought if I got on one of those treadmills a few times a week and a salad from downstairs I’d start to feel better. It was the best thing I ever did.
I started looking forward to using that little gym to break up my day, and suddenly, I knew how to use every machine in there! Building on this, I stepped out of my comfort zone, hired a personal trainer and got a real gym membership. Then I was then introduced to weights that weren’t attached to a machine – I had to lift them and pull them and push them myself! I COULD DO IT! And it didn’t hurt! And the rush – Oh the adrenaline rush – when you put those big heavy plates on a barbell and can pull them off the ground – life changes. I started getting up hours before work – and I am NOT a morning person (three years later and I’m still not!), but the anticipation of my next powerlifting workout gets me out of bed each morning.
I look in the mirror and smile. I take selfies. I take GYM selfies. I can walk into a room and feel confident. I’ve lost a lot of the weight too, but that’s become the least important part of this journey for me. I respect my body, and although it may never respect me back, I’ve learned exactly where my limits are, and I’m mastering how best to push them.
Powerlifting has changed my mind, my body, and my outlook, and I’m never looking back.
Would you like to contribute to Your Story? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org