How I Was Reborn This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Japanese legend tells of a tree covered in white petals. The tree graced the world as a gift of hope, youth, and purity. As a child, my life resembled this tree. I was the essence of health, life, and love. But no story is without some tragedy. My tragedy was internal; I was diagnosed with a rare disease called C1 Inhibitor Deficiency. All my petals came crashing down.

C1 Inhibitor Deficiency, also known as Hereditary Angioedema, is a genetic disorder that causes swelling throughout the body due to stress or trauma. Even though I emerged into the world with this disease in my veins, I was not diagnosed until my first attack in my early teens. My attacks, lasting about a week, soon became my biggest fear. I hid from the world in order to avoid trauma.

My plans backfired one morning as I awoke to discover my face was swollen. I was rushed to Children's Hospital in Boston where I had been diagnosed a year earlier. My fears became a reality as I was given the news that if I wasn't treated, my attack would be fatal. As my face swelled, my throat followed suit. I could feel my airway begin to close. My breathing was becoming more and more difficult with each second. I was terrified, taking spastic breaths to save my life.

Within minutes I was rolled into an operating room. Crying, I called out for my mother. I looked up at the bright operating room light, and my mind ran free. I closed my eyes. This can't be happening to me. I can't die. I won't. Slowly going in and out of consciousness, I lay motionless. My life was out of my control.

I awoke a week later with no memory of my days in intensive care. The room was dim. The only sound was the television. Then a nurse walked into the room and smiled at me. Not knowing what had happened, I asked her to tell me why I was there.

When I was rolled into the operating room, the doctors struggled to intubate me. My throat continued to swell and there was no known medication to stop it. Without intubation, my lungs would collapse. Determined to save me, the doctors refused to give up. Finally they succeeded.

Now I lay in my hospital bed. The room was quiet with the only sound the constant beating of my heart. The beat I had feared would never make a sound again played as if an orchestra. I was alive.

Just like my life, the myth of the tree contains tragedy. The tree stood tall with its white petals dancing in the wind. Yet in an instant, everything changed. A man took his last breath at the base of the tree.

Likewise, my life changed forever that day in April. After my near-death experience, I refused to fear life. I refused to hold myself back from happiness. I wanted to live every minute of the life I was given. I regretted the way I had been living. I threw away every thought of who I once was. I was determined not to live a life controlled by fear.

In the myth, when the young man died at the base of the tree, his blood slowly became a blanket covering the ground. The Japanese believe his blood became part of the tree, and so the once-white petals turned pink. As the world viewed the tree, they believed it was more beautiful than it had been.

I died, yet I came back stronger, prepared to take on the adventures in front of me. To this day, I live every moment as fully as possible. I take every opportunity given to me. After all I endured, I have promised never to stop living fully. Even though I still have my disease, I will not let it change me. A horrific past must not stop my future. A bad experience must not prevent a chance at joy.

A medical condition cannot take away who you are – unless you let it. I prepare for my future with hope and optimism. I keep my memories, but refuse to be pulled in. The heart inside me is still beating. That will always be my signal to live. I was once controlled by my thoughts, but now I let them run free. I am bright, loved, colorful, and ultimately happy. Like the tree, I am born again.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Bradson Triumph said...
Jun. 15, 2011 at 5:06 am
Are you aware there are several  excellent, FDA-approved treatmentoptions available to you for your condition? 
 
victoriaaleal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 19, 2011 at 10:06 pm
yeah i'm actually on one now. it's pretty effective.
 
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