Sick of Being Sick This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

October 13, 2008
I woke up this morning like you, took a shower, and brushed my teeth while planning my homework. I got a phone call around noon and spent an hour of joy telling my girlfriend how much I love her. I ate a bowl of ramen, started my homework, and took my pills. Three, actually, to combat the side effects of the shot I injected myself with last night. Why, you ask, did I do that? Simple: I am a teenager living with multiple sclerosis, or MS, and I take my shots knowing that if I don’t, my body’s defenses will destroy me.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the nerves and restricts the signals from flowing in the brain, if it ­allows them to transmit at all. It attacks seemingly ­randomly, from one area to the next, anything from sensory perception to control over legs and arms. Though the disease took away control of half my face and reduced control over half my body, I consider ­myself lucky. It could have targeted my respiratory or ­circulatory systems.

Ironically, MS is most common in older people. Though rarely fatal, MS can steal your life away in a coma, or drag you into a vegetative state. Breathing through tubes, living only thanks to machines. Living, but not living. A fate worse than death. A fate only staved off by the injections I administer every week, which serve to slow the disease though not cure it. Did I mention I hate needles?

When I heard my diagnosis, to put it simply, I was crushed by my sickness. Crushed by the idea of such an uncontrollable disease looming over me, able to strike at any time without mercy or pity. Crushed by the thought of my bright future now dimmed prematurely. Crushed by the terror of my own body turning against me, and me not being able to do anything to stop it. I couldn’t help myself or stop this disease from taking over. I was paralyzed by my fate.

But people may pass me today and think nothing except Why is that guy wearing all black in the Texas summer? I don’t look sickly, and people balk when I tell them I have MS. The same disease is there, still incurable and malicious, but now I am a brighter, ­happier individual, boldly looking to the future and living the high life. What happened?

It’s simple. I was sick of being sick.

For years I knew I could not change my fate, yet I dwelt on it. I still do, sometimes. It’s human nature. But I realized there is more to life than fear. Worrying about things you can’t control only wastes time. What kind of life would you rather live? One fraught with worry about impending doom only to see your fears realized after an eternity of dying. Or a life lived in the moment, reveling in the here and now, with eyes full front, ­appreciating the past and accepting that there is an end to every party.

It’s quite simple, really. Live in the moment. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. My own life is full of imminent dangers, potential horrors, and fates even worse than death, as is yours. Yet some things will happen, regardless of how much thought we put into them. What’s the point of using life to fear death? Enjoy the life given to you, while you have it, and know that when you die you have lived a life worth living, using every breath to do, not just to think.

My happiness still prevails. I have loved and continue to love. I laugh. I smile. I walk with a spring in my step. I revel in my life, despite my affliction. I cherish the time given to me, knowing that it could be cut short at any moment. I live despite my disease; in fact, you could say I treasure my life all the more, knowing that time only comes once and is gone in a flash. I savor my life while I still can. To do any less, in my opinion, is to live by dying. Which sounds ­better to you?

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

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the January 2009 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.

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This article has 109 comments. Post your own now!

joyfuldancer said...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 7:23 am

This is beautiful!  It really helped me put things into perspective in my own life.  Thank you so much for writing this.  I'll pray 4 u.

God bless,


shadowrider said...
Jul. 12, 2011 at 11:48 pm
This is amazing and incredibly moving. You are a very talented, poignant, and strong writer. Keep living and enjoying your life. You are an amazing person, and a wonderful writer!
Dragonfly_Girl said...
Jul. 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm
Wonderful! I really relate to this! I have a teacher and friend who has MS and have watched her struggle with it. I know how devastating that disease can be, but am so inspired by your spirit and positive outlook. Stay strong! :)
Anerio_Deorma said...
Jul. 12, 2011 at 12:32 am
You remind me of the mortality that we all carry. You are a true hero. Someone who despite overwhelming odds continues to carry out whatever mission he was given. You are one of those people who deserve a medal
WinterFairy said...
Jun. 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Wow. I can honestly connect to this, but not as intense a level. Last May I was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome; my kidneys spill too much protein in my urine. At one point I was taking about six or more pills a day, and I still have to take meds to keep my numbers in check. Possibly for life. BUT INJECTIONS???? That takes some courage. And the way you live is so inspiring. If I would you, I would try to live like that, but I don't know if I could. Please stay... (more »)

midniteprowl said...
Jun. 20, 2011 at 9:31 pm

wow!!1 so sorry about your disorder. but im glad u have faith and that this trial is making you a better person.

..and please will you rate and/or comment on my pictures? thanks

merryMari said...
May 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm
You're stronger than I ever could be. 
Zavery_ replied...
Jun. 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm
I agree.   =)
squeakyshoes said...
May 7, 2011 at 8:46 am
This is a wonderful piece! Keep strong!
TheBlackRose said...
May 7, 2011 at 6:19 am
Your piece is great. Being so optimistic as you would be great for me and I´ll follow your advice and live life for the moment. Thanks!
skyblue95 said...
Apr. 15, 2011 at 7:12 am
Amazing work. Very beautifully written and put together. Keep writing! :)
smith said...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm
this was beautiful, i love it! an its nice to know that someone in this world have alot of confident in there life.
cascadeblanche said...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm
I loved this! I have an autoimmune disease too. Very nicely written.
to.hold.the.sun This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm
Inspiring and beautiful. 
AbigailElizabeth said...
Mar. 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm
good piece! it has really awesome descriptive words, although kind of repetitive. my grandma has MS and has been in a wheelchair since she was 40..she has lived 20 years past what the doctors thought: she's 75 years old! and it's all because of her zest for life and extreme want to keep living, much like you. way to capture this(:
yasmina.tabbal said...
Mar. 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm
WerewolfWriting said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm
Excellent Piece! :) <3
writingcheetah7 said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm
as other people have said, this is really inspirational, and a great piece overall. Nice job!!:)
RayofSunshine :) said...
Jan. 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm
Thank you. For helping me realize that I don't have to fear the inevitable. I hope that someday I can be like you and live more in the moment. You're writing really rocks! :) I'm glad you can be so optimistic and admire your courage! :)
MissFaber said...
Dec. 26, 2010 at 7:59 pm

This article is so very inspiring, and I can relate to it. I'm proud of you for writing this, for having the strength to overcome your sickness with a positive attitude.

keep it up :)

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