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Why Harry Potter Became More Important to Me as I Got Sicker

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Harry Potter. The boy wizard whose name is known all over the world. It’s a cult phenomenon that defied anyone’s expectations. It’s so much more than a cult phenomenon, or a way to pass the time for me.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

I’ve always loved to read. It’s a way to escape reality, and be transported to places that are magical, dangerous, thrilling, awe-inspiring, or wonderful.

As someone with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS), I spend the majority of my life in one degree of pain or another; either recovering from an injury, or on the ground, in the process of being injured. I am often frustrated with my body, my lack of coordination, the fact that my joints are failing me, and the knowledge that due to the degenerative nature of hEDS, I will eventually lose my independence.

What then makes Harry Potter have so much of an impact on my life?

I discovered Harry Potter a little bit late in life. When my husband worked out of town, he brought me “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to read. I was steadfastly anti-Potter. I mean, I was a grown woman. I didn’t read kids books. I read cerebral fantasy books, like Terry Goodkind’s “Sword Of Truth” series, which is very enthralling, with an undertone of political and sociological intrigue. Or R. A. Salvatore’s “Icewind Dale” saga, with its strong undertone of morality. After much badgering, I finally gave up and started reading “The Philosopher’s Stone.” To my surprise, later that day I was running out to purchase the rest of the books that were available at the time. Harry, Ron, and Hermione kept me company during those lonely weeks when my husband was away.

In the years to come, Harry Potter came to mean a great deal to me. The sicker I became, the more important the Wizarding World became to me. Why? The answer is simple.

When I open a Harry Potter book, my life gets better. 

When I drop Harry off at the Dursley’s with Professor Dumbledore, I’m thinking of the epic journey that is going to unfold — and not thinking about my joints subluxating or dislocating.

When I’m in the Chamber Of Secrets, I’m rooting for Ginny to overcome the effects of the diary — and not worrying about my body being at war with itself.

When I’m taking anti-dementor lessons with Harry and Lupin, I’m rooting for Harry to produce a patronus — and not thinking about my husband becoming my caretaker sooner than we had ever thought.

When at the Quidditch World Cup, I’m imagining being in the top box with Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys — and not thinking of the effect that my hEDS has on my teenage son.

When I am at the headquarters of The Order of The Phoenix, I’m wondering how Molly Weasley can try again and again to get rid of the Boggart that keeps appearing as dead loved ones, without going mad — and not thinking about losing my independence.

When I’m at the battle of the astronomy tower, I’m heartbroken at losing Professor Dumbledore — and not thinking about my inability to walk any kind of distance without forearm crutches.

When I’m flying along in the battle of the seven Potters, I’m thinking of a thrilling life and death chase — and not wondering what will happen to me financially when I’m no longer able to work.

When I open a Harry Potter book, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome doesn’t exist in my world. It’s the story, the characters, and I. You see, the real magic of Harry Potter for me, is not the wizarding world — it’s the fact that when I open one of those books, I’m not a patient, or fighting a war against my own body. I am simply a woman, reading a story that I love. Nothing more, nothing less.

Professor Dumbledore surely had it right when he said “Words are, in my notsohumble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” 

No matter how badly this disease ravages my body, and no matter what it takes from me, I know that I can simply open the pages of my favorite books, and for a little while, everything will be OK again. There will be comfort and love in between those pages. No matter what happens, Hogwarts will be waiting to welcome me home.


Image courtesy of the Harry Potter Facebook page

Originally published: October 11, 2018
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