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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riley1516 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 11, 2010 at 9:04 pm
Great story.  I feel like I can relate. I have cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung disease and just knowing that I cant live past the age of forty even is awful.  And I too, am sick of being sick. My prayers are with you, stay strong and keep up the positive attitude!
still-a-novice said...
Jun. 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm
That was awesome. I can't believe you have that. I feel bad for you, but like you said, it's more important to go out and live your life. Don't spend it dwelling over anything. I hope you continue writing.
HomeGal said...
May 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm
Wow... Wow. I've known people who have MS and I know people who have died with MS. None of which had your courage and willingness to keep on living. Keep hope.
forgottenpenname This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm
That was amazing. My aunt has MS too, but I think she's more on the other side of the spectrum from you... I hope they find a cure, just for you. In the meantime, I'm praying for you. :)
Everhart said...
Apr. 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm
Wow. That's amazing. Keep fighting - I'm rooting for you!
Kkrazy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 28, 2010 at 8:45 pm
Wow. I think you are a hero! I really mean it. some people don't realize the fact that if what they want is to live a great life, they have to start by doing instead of just wanting and planning. You have really inspired me and i think that your writing is AMAZING. 
mikky said...
Apr. 28, 2010 at 7:57 am
wow this is very inspiring. i dont have a desease like urs but  i can relate to you because i too have a severe medical problems and it can be scary to have ur own body betray u. but ur rite u have to live and not worry about stuff u cant control and enjoy life while u still can...thanks for sharing ur brave story :)
starlight26:) said...
Apr. 6, 2010 at 5:13 pm
Inspiring and Beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!! I think you taught us all something great about life :)
little-miss-sunshine said...
Apr. 6, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Yes! This is something I realized too (though not in such a painful manner, I'm sorry you are going through this) and I've been trying to live like that. This article inspired me even more and I hope it inspired others. Thanks for sharing your story!


lekstarr said...
Apr. 6, 2010 at 10:46 am

The truth of everything you say in this piece is astounding. It's so easy to forget how little time we have, and it's so easy to dwell on the bad things.

I don't really know how to explain how powerful I found this article. It's great, keep on living this way.

Iamber said...
Mar. 15, 2010 at 9:46 pm
This was amazing. I know people who wish for death, and quite honsetly, I think they should read this because they have the grace of God to keep going, however they pull out the worse in there lives and dwell. I'm at shock with how great this story truly is. Great job.
TheMaisinator said...
Mar. 15, 2010 at 9:05 pm
You are such an inspiration. I want to comment but I'm at a loss for words. Congratulations. Keep up the good work. 'Nuff said.
mandygale77 said...
Mar. 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm
So inspirational! Great job! LOL, it makes me feel stupid because I was upset over having reactive arthritis. Really amazing!
krisssss This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 21, 2010 at 8:45 am
Your prespective on life is completly true and I hope alot of people, including myself, can follow in your perspective. I pray for you that you'll be okay living with MS. Keep writing; and live your life to the fullest each day. I hope this piece is read around the county, because every teen should her your story. Good luck!
EstherSora This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 9:19 pm
WOW that was really amazing. Thanks for sharing that great story of overcoming your sickness, what an inspiration!
Rayanne L. said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 9:15 pm
wow, that is a very, very good piece, it made me relize how important life is, and to accept what i have, and to wish luck to people like you, and to stop and think, why do people have to go thdrough this?
Rayanne L. replied...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 9:16 pm
sorry if i misspelt anything, spelling is not a very sterong subject with me.
BaiLiHua This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 8:44 pm
Oh yes. Go you. I know just how this feels and you are going to LIVE LIFE!
sillyaardvarkabc said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 5:48 pm
I admire your courage so much. I can barely cope with getting a flu shot. Thank you, for putting a new spin- a new perspective- on my life. I've now realised I take so much for granted, but no longer. Thanks again.
robrobrobin11 said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm
I love your message and amen to being sick of being sick. I have chronic neurological pain called RSD. I'm in pain everyday but hell , it isn't stopping me. Nice job, keep writing :)
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