Dear Dr. Lavallee,
I got your letter last week. I think I smiled and cried at the same time when I read you were leaving your practice in South Bend and moving to a different practice in York, PA. I immediately felt so happy for you but sad for us Michiana EDS’rs. You have been there from the beginning, ever since I discovered I belong in this special club we like to call “zebras.” The last few years, you have pushed me to discover what life is really about. Setting goals, accomplishing goals, loving, laughing, faith, and LIVING. You have pointed things out with your amazing expertise that no other doctor has picked up on, and Lord knows I’ve seen many. I think you get it more than anyone else I know…And by “it” you know what it means to push through everyday with EDS, all while striving to live a life full of purpose and joy. You are simply amazing and have become one of the most influential people in my life. I will always thank my lucky stars that I landed in your office on that one frigid afternoon in January. I remember feeling lost, scared, and hopeless. By the time I left, I felt like I could fly.
At all of my visits I have always felt like there is this unspoken understanding; one I have come to value and seek comfort in. When I haven’t thought I could do something, you have always been the first to ask me, “why not?” You taught me once an athlete, always an athlete. You taught me that EDS is my sport now. But instead of competing against girls in leotards and buns, I now compete on a stage set for myself. To strive and make myself a little better, and a little stronger each day. You taught me that even though I don’t have grip strength in my left hand, I can still grip a bar and crank out 25 pull ups with a little help from a rope tied around my arm. You have worked out with me, pushed me, spotted me, encouraged me, and kicked my butt, proving to me that I am still an athlete, and that I can even do crazy things like Olympic style weight lifting. In fact, you have encouraged me to seriously think about becoming a weight lifter. I’m still not sure about that one, Dr. Lavallee, but thanks to you, I do not rule out anything these days.
Most of all, Dr. Lavallee, I am thankful for your warmth, compassion, and love. Chronic illness isn’t easy, but with you as my doctor you often made it seem that way. I wish you all the best. Who knows, maybe I will show up in PA one day. It’s not THAT far.
Thank you for everything. You have changed my life for the better and for that, I am forever grateful.
With much love and admiration,
P.S. I will always remember what you like to remind me: “Your journey will be interesting and different, but it will be yours, and it will be how it is supposed to be.” Those new PA patients of yours are so lucky.
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