I am me. I'm an eternal optimist. I find good in every situation and spread gratitude like it's glitter. I love people, figuring out what makes them tick and being there for them when they need me most. I'm the person who will surprise you with the little things in life that matter the most to you. I jump at the chance to partake in new experiences, including adventures that scare me just a little bit but end with a rush of excitement. I love the outdoors, hard-core workouts, being honest, and Netflix-binging. No matter what challenges come my way, I will rise up to them. In short, I love life and all the opportunities it brings.
Who's the second me, the "M.E.?" That's an abbreviation for myalgic encephalomyelitis, a severe, complex neurological disease that affects all body systems. More than 1 million people in the U.S. and 17 million worldwide have been taken over by this disease.
It leaves the far majority of people with it unable to work; at least 25 percent, or 250,000 in the U.S., are homebound. Despite its debilitating effects, it receives less research funding than other diseases like multiple sclerosis - even though M.S. affects many fewer individuals.
While I certainly don't advocate cutting funds for M.S. or other similarly funded conditions, my question is this: Why are the sizable funds we see for less-prevalent diseases not there for M.E.? If you watch the heartbreaking stories shared in the award-winning documentary film, "Unrest," you can't help but ask: What's going on here? As someone with M.E., I ask, Minnesota, why won't you help me?
I am exhausted of living with M.E. I want to be me again!
I am a lawyer, career coach, and myalgic encephalomyelitis warrior with a strong belief in the power of positivity, even in the face of chronic pain. I strive daily to increase public awareness and understanding of those with disabilities, in particular those with chronic and invisible illnesses.
Lisa M. Alioto of Roseville, Minn., attended Duluth East High School before attending the University of Wisconsin.