The bad football tackle that set everything into motion

Posted May 22, 2020

sarah's story

TW: contains mention of suicide.

The Tale of the Terrible Tendons

I grew up in many different parts of the world but spent most of my childhood years in Sweden. That is where my story begins!

I was an avid athlete and loved football. I loved being active, and I was darn good at it too. I even had a nickname for the special dribbling technique I had, translated from Swedish it was “the English specialty”. Around the age of 8-9, my knees started to hurt, and being as active as I was, we all assumed it that my knees were just taking a beating out on the football field. So I had knee support on both my knees.

The years went by, and I never stopped. As a teenager, at 13 years old, we moved from Sweden to England. There I joined a football team instantly and started school with high hopes. It is at this point in my tale that the story starts to get a little sad, but bear with me…it ends well. 

At my new school, I got bullied by everyone. I was bullied for everything, like having blue eyes and blonde hair! Crazy! At first, I didn’t let it bother me: I was a confident, athletic girl, they couldn’t keep me down.

One weekend, I was playing a football match. During the match, a girl on the opposing team tackled me to the ground. I fell hard, and something happened to my back or my pelvis. I couldn’t breathe properly, I just lay there. She smirked. The pain was a shooting electric current that buzzed around my lower back and down my legs. I was at some point carried and laid flat in the back of a car.

After that, I stopped being active and never went back to football. I lost the most significant part of my identity. The part of me that I was incredibly proud of and that made all the bullying tolerable. I now couldn’t move properly, and no one would tell me why. I would have dizzy spells and random aches. And I was putting on weight. Now 15 years old, with no friends, no hobbies, and pain everywhere life was feeling pretty hopeless.

Yet another doctor’s appointment and I was diagnosed for the umteenth time: this time I had Osgood Schlatter’s disease. Now that’s a mouth full! So, he bundled my knees together with large amounts of bandages and gave me crutches.

This went down a treat at school. I was no longer able to go to any of my classes upstairs, so I did work alone in the nurse’s office. The bullying played a huge part in the depression, but the random pain that kept coming at me was becoming unbearable. My parents moved me out of that school. For the rest of my teenage years, my knees and body were an annoyance.

At the age of 18, I planned my suicide. But, it so happened that that night my flatmates dragged me out to the union bar. That was the night I met my husband.

Not only did he take me to a psychologist and help me get through my depression, but he also helped me get through University. My Norwegian Viking also gave me four beautiful children.

I had each of my four children in four separate countries—the first two pregnancies where a doddle and without pain relief during labor. After my emergency c-section with my third child, my body started to flare up in odd places, and I developed a limp. I was so incredibly tired, but I thought It was just parenthood. I ended up in the hospital with a dizzy spell, where they diagnosed me with vertigo, (I am now being evaluated for PoTs). During labor with my fourth child, something in my pelvis felt like it dislodged or subluxated. The midwives said, “it’s normal labor pain” (doubtful!)

I ended up back at the doctor’s when my baby was a few months old because the pain I’d felt during labor, flared up again in my lower back. The first doctor I got took ten months to diagnose me…with depression. (I knew it wasn’t that!) I was distraught. Dead end again. Then my fantastic physiotherapist went behind my doctor’s back; she knew it wasn’t depression.

Two days later, I got a call from a new doctor who asked me to come in for a fresh consultation.

Nervous as can be I turned up at his office. He asked me questions (and Google was not on his screen!), then he did the Beighton test. He said I scored 10/10. “Is that a good thing?” I asked.

“Well, it means I know what’s wrong with you,” he said. Then he said, what I thought was IBS at first, later clarified as hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS).

I was 32 when I finally got my diagnosis. I had to change my career due to my illness. So, I am now writing my dissertation on chronic illness for my Master’s degree in Psychology.

Stay strong and never give up.

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