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The Toll of a Chronic Illness


I am 20 years old, and I have been sick since eighth grade. I went to high school for one semester before I had to find an alternate route to finishing high school. I never got my teenage years to figure out who I was as a person. It was all taken from me before I even got the chance to explore who I was and who I could be.

I am sure I am not the only person who’s had their whole life turned upside down and had to quickly realize the person you were before will never be who you are again. Your life is forever changed by one or more medical conditions that make it so even though you look “healthy,” you are far from it. It takes awhile for it to really sink in that you now have to adapt to living a life you never imagined would be yours. You never thought the doctor’s office would become your most visited place all week. You never thought you would find yourself wondering if you have enough to energy to shower or to make sure you ate something.

It’s just like a bad dream you can’t wake up from. It never ends; just when you think you have a routine that works, another thing pops up and puts you back at square one. It’s a never-ending cycle that is unpredictable and vicious. One day you could be out at the movies and the next you could find yourself in the hospital barely able to move on your own.

Suddenly you find yourself isolated from your friends and family who try to understand but just can’t figure out how you can seem fine one day and be hospitalized the next day. Then you find yourself craving someone who understands. Someone who can relate and tell you that you can do it. That you are strong enough to keep fighting.

I saw this quote once that said, “You will have bad days you will have to fight to get though. But you must always remember that you made it through those days. You never gave up. You are strong and you can fight through things most people will never experience in their whole life.” That quote made me realize that even if other people don’t see the fight I go through every day just to survive, I am a survivor.

I may not be living the life I always dreamed of living. I have lost most of my family and friends. But the ones who have stuck by me mean the world to me. They help me keep going when all I want to do is quit. I have had to give up on my dreams of going to college when I wanted to. My conditions now predict what I can and can’t do, which is frustrating. But I have to accept that I am doing the best I can, even it means all I can do survive another day.

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Thinkstock photo by Surkov Dimitri