Have a Little Faith: My Story

Angelica wearing glasses and a floral headband

Angelica Dempsey's Story

Ocala, FL

Age: 16-24

A little bit about my journey:

My Diagnosis

Central Pain Syndrome, Chiari Malformation (Type 1), Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (Type III), Migraines, Mild Hydrocephalus, Chronic Pain, TMJD, Seizure Disorder, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Asthma

Time to Get Diagnosed

10-11 years

Year I was Diagnosed


Sending Love to

Dr. Harry van Loveren at TGH in Tampa, FL + Dr. Jose Gaudier in Ocala, FL

Hospital I'd Recommend

Shands or AdventHealth/AH for Children

This is my story:

August 1996 was when my journey into this world began… I was born a twin. Our arrival was definitely unpredictable. We were born three months early on the day of my mom’s twenty-fifth week of pregnancy. My brother, Christian, was born first, and seventeen minutes later, I came via C-section. My brother weighed one pound, nine ounces, and I weighed one pound, thirteen ounces. Six weeks later on September 12th, 1996, my brother passed away. I can’t imagine what my parents were going through having lost a child and having one who was still fighting for her life. Three months after my birth, I had a Grade IV Intraventricular Hemorrhage or brain bleed. As I fought, I know my brother was there right along with me as my guardian angel. I stayed in the hospital until I was three months old, and once I was stable enough, I came to my new home weighing five pounds and on oxygen. Around the age of three or four, I developed asthma due to being born with underdeveloped lungs as a preemie. My world opened up to countless breathing treatments of either Flovent or Albuterol, humidifiers to open up my lungs, getting patted on the back to break up the cold in my lungs and of course the classic “blow out the candles” test to check my lung function – fun. At six years old, I had my first seizure – a grand mal. My mom was the one to witness me seizing in the bed and frantically took me to a nearby medical center where the ambulance was called, and I was taken to the hospital. A few months later to a year after that, I had a pedi mal seizure. I was referred to my favorite neurologist – Dr. Gaudier, and was diagnosed with a seizure disorder as well as migraines. I was prescribed Topamax. God & that is what kept the seizures under control. I have been seizure free for sixteen years! My next diagnosis of Chiari Malformation was noted here, but not officially diagnosed. At ten years old, I developed walking pneumonia. I started getting sicker and had to be withdrawn from public school in fifth grade. I started having multiple GI bleeds – which were later determined to be food sensitivities/allergies. I also started having multiple symptoms that are associated with Chiari Malformation called cerebellar fits. I went from walking to having to use a wheelchair. I was then diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, Migraines, Hydrocephalus, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (battled joint pain for years before diagnosis), Chronic Pain, TMJD, Hearing Loss, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Anemia. Now, at twenty-three, I am still battling and fighting all of my diagnoses on a daily basis. I have learned that stress does way more harm than good in any situation – especially with pain. Without God, faith, my family and friends, I would be nowhere. I have also learned that although I can’t change what I am fighting, I can use the conditions that I have been handed to encourage and help others like me. With faith, love + support, we are stronger together! xo, Angelica

Let’s play 20 questions:

The song that keeps me going is:
Fight Song by Rachel Platten + Overcomer by Mandisa
I never leave home without my:
My go-to feel better movie is: 
If I was in the hospital, the celebrity I would most love to visit me would be:
John Boyega
When I need to relax, I:
Get lost a good book!
My favorite food is:
Does cookie dough ice cream count?
The quote that keeps me going is:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13
When I need a laugh, I:
Watch funny videos on YouTube or watch I Love Lucy
Meet my pets (or favorite stuffed animal):
I have a furbaby named Colby! He is a 9 year old Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie). He is my bestie + my emotional support pet.
My hero is:
All kids fighting cancer and/or chronic illnesses
When I’m having a down day I binge watch:
Old episodes of Spongebob, Scooby Doo or The Lucy Show
My favorite book to get lost in is:
The Bible or any Harry Potter books!
I want to be best friends with:
YouTubers: LaurDIY, Allison Bickerstaff + Alex Aiono
The thing I’m most proud of:
Graduating College
The most wonderfully unexpected thing that has happened to me as a result of this journey is:
Making so many wonderful friends in the Chronic Warrior Collective + Society!
The most hilarious thing that has happened to me is:
Tripping and almost falling on literally nothing.
It really means a lot when someone does this:
Sends me a 'Thinking of You' card or letter
My favorite social media account to follow is:
@alexaiono on IG + Twitter
The advice I would give to myself back at the beginning of this journey would be:
Please don't lose your faith. You fought to stay alive when you were born and you can fight now.
Words of encouragement that I’d give to my fellow warriors are
To Never EVER Give Up!
Follow my journey: http://www.theinspiringangels.wordpress.com

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