I remember waking up as my iPhone hit the floor after sliding off the hotel nightstand. My phone was buzzing like never before due to hundreds of notifications via social media, text messages, and email. Nothing could have prepared me for what I discovered as I rolled out of bed. There were roughly 40-50 texts in my inbox just waiting to be read. “Brynn, you’re going viral!” CNN shared my story with the world. It changed my life in ways that I never could have imagined.
Immediately upon learning that my feature was up on CNN, I panicked. I knew that they story was in the works but had no idea that it would be going up as soon as it did! I was on a mini-vacation with my Mom in Orlando, Florida. We had planned on getting up early to hit the Disney parks, but the buzzing from my phone woke me before the alarm. I scrambled around in a desperate attempt to find a passcode to access the wifi at our hotel. I managed to pull up the story on CNN and ran into my Mom’s room to wake her. I was like a little kid on Christmas morning- running through the suite and bouncing around as I waited to hear my Mom’s thoughts and opinions on the video. We were in agreement that the feature was better than we ever could have hoped! I was introduced to the world as “Bubble Girl- Allergic to Life”.
As we made our way around Disney, I was shocked to be recognized by people who had seen my story on the news. I couldn’t manage to part with my phone despite the fact that I was in Disney World. I couldn’t get enough of the supportive emails and messages! We all know that in this day and age, if you put yourself out into the world, you’ll get criticized over thinks you’d never thing about otherwise. Society tries to rip people to shreds simply because they can- And they do it from the anonymity behind a computer screen. I was prepared for the negative comments and sick jokes at my expense. I expected to see remarks from people who claimed to know me personally and follow their claims with false accusations. I told myself that I was prepared. As I began reading the comments underneath the threads that shared my video, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Love. For every negative comment, there were ten positives. It was incredible to see people stick up for me by calling people out for judging. I saw comments from individuals whom I had not spoken with in years that supported me with the sweetest comments. I didn’t grasp how many people cared enough to stay updated until the CNN story went up. Old acquaintances were answering questions being asked by those who were just learning about me. Acquaintances that I didn’t even know cared anymore were able to correctly answer and acknowledge confused comments from others. People that I thought didn’t like me anymore were backing me up and then boosting me up after acknowledging something negative. I was blown away with the outpouring love!
As we were waiting in line for a ride at Disney World, I received an email that will forever stand out in my mind. The email that helped myself confirm that sharing my story was the right choice (for me). I’ll never forget the emotions that hit me as I read an email from a frazzled mother. For years, this woman’s daughter struggled with the same symptoms I’ve experienced. The mother confided that she believed her daughter had been making up the symptoms in a desperate attempt to get out of going to school and other responsibilities. Doctors couldn’t find any obvious problems in the varied tests, so they attributed her symptoms to anxiety. When this mother saw my story, her heart dropped. Her daughter was telling the truth. My story led a mother to believing her child and a fellow warrior was validated of her struggles. I’ll never forget reading that email as it was the first of hundreds that made me grasp that my voice was not only being heard, but being valued to others. It turns out that our voices can be as loud -or as quiet- as we desire. I’ve found the power of my voice and I plan on using it.
I look around and can’t believe where I am today. I never would have guessed that in less than a year, I’d reach millions of people. My story was viewed over 5 million times (on YouTube alone) in less than a year. Wow. I had only hoped that I would be able to help a handful of people who were silently suffering… I never would have guessed that I’d receive hundreds of emails thanking me for sharing my story. To know that I truly made a difference to fellow fighters means the world to me.
Whenever I am asked how I’m doing, it’s hard to say because things are always changing. One day I’m doing really well and able to safely eat foods that used to cause Anaphylaxis, another I’m in the hospital recovering from surgeries and serious infection. Sometimes I am physically able to walk a mile around the neighborhood with my dogs and other days I can’t even stand up by myself. Today I went to Costco with my Mom and ended up being pushed around in the shopping cart. I thought I’d be okay to go into the story without my wheelchair, and after we’d been in for a few minutes my Mom took one good look at me and asked if I would like to sit/ride in the shopping cart. As I’m sure you can imagine, I got lots of weird looks being a 22 year old being pushed around in a cart by Mommy. I’m used to people staring at me. I’m just different and that’s okay. I take it day by day and roll with the punches as they come.
Thank you for following me on this journey. Thank you for believing in me.