Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Education Money Cannot Buy

Nearly all sick people can recall a specific date, time, or event where their health took a decline. I consider myself to have three of those days. The third is perhaps the most significant of the three. In five days it will be exactly a year since my life irrevocably changed forever.

June 06, 2015.

It began as a normal day of shopping in preparation to move into my college dorm. The stores were buzzing with excitement, as others my age were out doing the same. Pacing the aisles of Walmart, I noticed chicken (worst MCD food trigger) cooking near the location I was shopping in. I remember the throat constricting feeling. I recall the all too familiar internal burning sensation, which is often a precursor to huge mast cell attacks. It was as if fire had taken the place of my organs. I swore they were baking right along with that rotisserie chicken. I can also recollect the various other triggers that contributed to the cascade of symptoms leading to the full blown Mast Cell Disease reaction that took place that day. I was quite perplexed. I had been so stable. Why would something as menial as chicken provoke a "reaction cycle" large enough to leave me hospitalized, with no safe foods, and eventually having anaphylaxis to my oral medication regime (and practically everything else)?  Little did I know that day would foreshadow the year to come. 

A full year allows much time for disease progression.

A full year of scary symptoms: swells, cardiac events, stroke-like episodes, dangerously low electrolytes, starvation, etc. 

A full year of endless failed treatment trials.

A full year of severe illness has undoubtedly been filled with immense loss: the loss of my abilities like eating and even walking at times, the loss of my college plans, the loss of attending church, seeing some of my family, and my hobbies like working out and makeup.

A full year that is disheartening because my condition is worse on a daily basis currently than it was on the infamous date of June 06, 2015.

When looking at it from that perspective, life seems rather grim. And sometimes it is. This disease sucks, for lack of a better word. I am in no way attempting to glamorize the situation.

A full year allows time for life progression in other ways.

A full year of never taking a decent day for granted.

A full year of focusing on exploring myself as a person: picking up new hobbies and sharing my story.

A full year of relying more on God. Doctors are just people, after all. I cannot expect them to make me better. Only He can.

A full year of drawing closer to family and meeting friends going through similar experiences.

It has been a wild year filled learning. The learning curve of chronic illness is exhausting for my family and I. There are days where we would all like to scream that we have "learned" enough. 

However, a full year of living with severe illness has taught me more than the four year private college education sacrificed because of my health ever could have. But at what price?