Living with Becker Muscular Dystrophy is by no means an easy life. It is a disease in which the muscles slowly degenerate until one is left confined to a wheelchair. I remember when I could walk, and run, and play with friends. This was long ago, however, and I have had to adapt to being confined to a wheelchair. There are things that I cannot do, and places that I would like to go, but they seem off limits. Wheelchairs can't go everywhere. This experience is one that has many lessons, and the person affected has no choice but learn. I believe that this disease, this life experience, has helped to make me who I am. It has not taken everything from me, but conversely has added to me. It never will take everything from me, as long as I have the will power and the positive attitude that living with this predicament has taught me.
When I first found out I had muscular dystrophy, I could still walk. To me it was just a name for some problem I was having. But more and more, as I started needing things that others didn't, it became clear that I was different. I was afraid people wouldn't like me and not want to include me in their games. I was afraid I was asking too much when I needed a classmate to pick up a pencil or get me a book. "Why couldn't he do it himself?" is probably what they asked. It was painful when teachers had to explain what was going on. I was so embarrassed and when I look back, I guess I was ashamed. I had to learn to accept it, and that others could accept me as well. I went through a period of having few friends and being very shy. But slowly I accepted the way I was and decided others would have to, too. If they didn't, then they were not my friends.
I learned the power of my will. I have to get up every morning and go through more than my peers. Everything is harder and takes longer. Sometimes it is frustrating. I used to get very angry, but I discovered that I was resourceful. If I couldn't do something one way because it was too difficult, I would find another way, and was usually successful. This taught me that if I didn't give up, and kept trying other ways, I would succeed.
I have to go to the hospital a lot. Some of the tests are painful. I imagine being someone different, someone who doesn't have this disease or has to go to the hospital. I hated that I had to go through all these tests. But I held onto the good things, and said to myself, "These tests will only take a few minutes, and tomorrow will be a lot more fun." With this thought, I could get through any test.
Not only does this disease teach me that I can overcome anything if I try, but also to look for the silver lining. It isn't just a silver lining, it's a filling. If I pull away the darkness of any dark cloud, I will find it is filled with silver. Whenever faced with a problem, I always remember this quote: "Obstacles are challenges for winners and excuses for losers." If I view life as a challenge, I know I can win." tf
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.