A Different Kind Of Normal
The name Victoria Arlen may sound familiar- she is an ESPN anchor, a semi-finalist on Dancing With The Stars and a well-decorated swimmer. But, this incredibly successful woman never knew she would end up where she is today nor how she would get here. Arlen’s history is enough to bring you to tears…She is a living miracle.
As a child Victoria was extremely athletic, she loved to swim, dance, and was a bubbly and friendly child. For the first 11-years of her childhood, she lived happily, normally and just as any child would. Little did she know her life was about to take a drastic turn, Victoria and her family never saw it coming…
At the young age of 11-years-old Victoria began to get sick. She got the flu, a sniffle, and a sore throat was certainly no biggie. But, she then got it again and again and again. Each time worse than the next. A healthy, athletic 11-year old should not be getting sick so often. However, her flu progressed…
This flu then suddenly progressed into Pneumonia, her parents were becoming evidently worried. Their daughter simply was getting sicker and sicker each time she caught something. They had to help her! Pneumonia for an 11-year-old was not as dangerous but as her immune system kept depleting her family was shaken.
One Thing After Another
If it wasn’t the flu or pneumonia, Victoria suffered from asthma too. Her body was slowly starting to shut down, their bubbly baby girl was somewhat losing her nature along with all these illnesses. Doctors performed test after test, they were searching for any kind of answer. Her mother said, “It was like a circuit board. Slowly things were getting switched off. First her legs started dragging, her legs went and then her swallowing started to go and then I noticed she was becoming less and less engaged.”
Their friendly, bubbly and full of life daughter was deteriorating, and she was just 11-years old. “I don’t think there is anything worse in the world than watching a child deteriorate in front of your eyes,” her mother explained. Her parents thought they were going to lose her. Victoria was pale, weak and gravely ill. When would the doctors figure out what was wrong with her? Would it be too late?
The doctors finally made a diagnosis. Victoria had not one but two autoimmune disorders. They were causing inflammation on her brain and spinal cord. To the outside world, Victoria was gone, she could not move, respond nor was she able to indicate she was still there. Her parents and doctors thought they had lost her forever. She was unable to communicate let alone move. Their young Victoria seemed as though she had become a vegetable.
However, Victoria was trapped. She began having seizures daily and this continued to regress for years to come. She was still there, inside her body. Victoria felt as though she was locked in her very own body. She was well-aware of everything that was happening but unable to let anyone know that she was trapped. Victoria had to get out. She started to panic, her eyes would not move. She could hear but all she could do was think…
It was as if she was living her worst nightmare. Victoria was stuck with her own thoughts and her worrisome family by her side. The doctors told her parents that she was not going to survive. Victoria was there, she heard what they had said and as much as she wanted to shout to her mom and let her know she would make it she couldn’t…Victoria remained trapped in her thoughts, hearing her family wail.
This was not the case. Finally, when she was 15 it all changed and Victoria regained control of her eyes, this was the start of a new life. She had to let her mom know, and she did. As her mom came in the room she locked eyes with her and let them follow her movements. Thankfully, her mom caught on she realized her baby girl was in there.