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When most college students were studying, attending events or enjoying time with their friends, Misha Patel was at the doctor’s office. Her chronic disease journey began during her junior year at Rutgers University while interning with the athletic department. “I was attending my internship and I began to feel dizzy,” explained Patel. “The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital.” Patel left the hospital without answers, and a month later, she collapsed in pain while studying at the library. The pain in her stomach was severe and it led to a four-day hospital stay where she underwent two medical procedures to help identify the cause of her condition. Months later, the doctors thought she may have endometriosis, but another year of additional testing found that she suffers from myofascial pain syndrome. This diagnosis was difficult for Patel, who was suddenly forced to navigate a new world while trying to keep up with her studies and friends. “I really struggled mentally,” said Patel. “It was challenging to focus on my classes, and it was difficult to maintain my friendships, because most days I couldn’t get out of bed. I tried my best to call and text the people I cared about though.” Despite these challenges, Patel did all she could to have a “normal” college experience. She worked with her professors to find suitable accommodations that allowed her to complete her coursework, and she was even able to serve as the Public Relations Chair, videographer and Dance Marathon Liaison at the co-ed fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Patel’s resilient attitude followed her after graduating into her career. “I fight every day so that I can be at work, fulfill my responsibilities, and spend time with close friends and family. This condition has been the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with, but I keep moving forward,” said Patel. Several people in Patel’s life have stuck by her side through these difficult times. Last year, many of these friends threw a party to celebrate her “new normal” after experiencing some pain relief for a few months. Recently, she launched her advocacy account, A New Normal, on Instagram. Patel uses this platform to inspire others and build a supportive community. Do you have a story to tell? Join Patel and the thousands of others speaking out about chronic disease by clicking here.