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Valley Fever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   A year ago, my life was altered beyond comprehension. I was forced to watch theworld go by when I was diagnosed with Valley Fever.

I had spent the twomonths prior to the diagnosis working nine hours a day, Monday through Friday,and attending play rehearsals from 6 p.m. until midnight almost every night. Asyou can imagine, I was exhausted. I quit my job when school started and noticed Iwas constantly tired. I assumed it was because I was concentrating on my schoolwork, but began to worry when the fatigue grew worse.

One weekend, Ididn't sleep more than three hours a night and fought desperately for everybreath, willing the pain in my chest to recede. Every eight hours, I took a largedose of pain medication. My breathing became incredibly shallow and I could notspeak more than five words before taking a breath. I had hoped to endure the painuntil Monday so I could visit my family doctor, but I finally made my mother takeme to Urgent Care.

I spent three hours in the waiting room before thedoctor called me. He spent several minutes asking questions and checking mybreathing, pulse and blood pressure. He ordered x-rays, and after examining them,told me I had pneumonia. He prescribed an antibiotic and pain medication as wellas an over-the-counter expectorant to loosen my lungs.

I went home Sundaynight thankful that the doctor allowed me to be treated at home. My joy did notlast, though. I awoke Monday evening to find a horrible rash covering my body. Ibegan vomiting and went to my family doctor Tuesday morning. She took one look atmy rash and told me she was sure I had Valley Fever.

For the month ofOctober and most of November, I was in bed or on the couch. I could do nothingproductive except homework. I read so many books I lost count. The Valley Feverspread slowly through my body during the first several weeks. When it reached myjoints, I thought I would never be able to write or type again. There were days Icould not get out of bed because of the exhaustion.

Valley Fever is afungus that is inhaled and exists in parts of Texas, Arizona and other dryclimates. The majority of cases are minor, with few side effects except forfatigue. However, there is a small chance that it can reach a stage known asdissemination where the fever spreads to the bones, organs, and, in worst-casescenarios, the central nervous system, at which point there is a 99% chance itwill be fatal.

My case did reach the dissemination stage, and I narrowlyescaped falling into the one percent of patients whose case progresses to thenervous system. It took me a long time to realize I could have died; the oddswere against me.

Today, I realize the Valley Fever forced me tore-evaluate my priorities. I am not perfect, and never will be, but now I findmyself spending more time with my family and friends.

It is hard to letgo of our fears and insecurities, but over the last year I have been given afreedom beyond explanation. Having Valley Fever changed my perception of life andmy relationship with God. I have to live with the effects of Valley Fever, wakingup some mornings to feel like I cannot get out of bed. I will never be able towrite for long periods of time because of my joints. Nevertheless, the lessons Ilearned are irreplaceable. I fell in love with God all over again and see myfamily through different eyes. I have been blessed beyond measure because God hastaken something meant for evil and made it great.

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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RLNELSON said...
Dec. 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm
I am a 36 YEAR old Phoenix native with a disseminated type I got meningitis and my life has been devastated as I have a chronic relentless form of this disease (disseminated coccidiodimycosis) I cannot be a mother a wife or even a friend anymore my quality of life is garbage. God is good though and I will fight this state until they begin to demonstrate responsibility in the form of finance towards a cure. Sorry you experienced this HORRIFIC illness thanks for speaking out.
 
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