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!

SummerDawn said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 9:46 am
Thank you so much for this article. It is a struggle trying to live your life like that especially when there are constant reminders telling you it's never going to be the same. This just re-enforces my hope and determination. I am so very greatfull to you. Maybe I'll write about my own experiance someday.
Kitten111 said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 1:14 am
I too am sick of being sick .... though dont let it get to me i could have been a lot worse and because of that im trying the best i can to become a childrens doctor so i can help kids with what i have ... thanks so much for your article it really gave me some much needed encouragement :)
shywriter said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 11:30 pm
thank you so much for posting this article. Now i know how people who din't have illnesses are. Your optimism while suffering from this disease is especially humbling because I am close to becoming a diabetic which shattered me. Now i know that it's not so bad. Though I have the same problem as you do...I dont like needles!!
firefly25 said...
Aug. 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm
Thanks for this article. I had an easy time relating to your thoughts, as I am also a teen with a chronic illness.
penguin35 said...
Feb. 11, 2009 at 9:14 pm
Wow. Nice story. I like your outlook on life. I'm kind of like that because I have an illness, too.
LogicProbe said...
Jan. 16, 2009 at 10:40 am
Hi Michael. Love your SICK OF BEING SICK article! I live in Flower Mound, too. At 50 something I'm not a teen anymore, but I battle a similar health problem. Attitude may not be everything, but it's VERY important. Thank you.
CABhahahaHPhahaTL said...
Jan. 3, 2009 at 6:55 am
You have a beautiful out look of life, I think I managed to gain it too until it was taken away, don't forget your own advise no matter what happens, none of us make it out alive so even if your world comes crashing down dont give up like I did. It is a gift to learn that lesson so young, and its what most people look for with out an answer, be happy, be brave, and dont lose faith, because thats what keeps us living.
dmplaura said...
Jan. 1, 2009 at 12:21 am
Your story is inspiring, and you've learned the key to 'beating' MS, positivity. As you say, live life. Laura 31 years old, diagnosed with RRMS March, 08.
Kumo said...
Nov. 7, 2008 at 1:31 am
Simply amazing. Almost brought tears to my eyes, and would have if I had not read it prior to this. It's just so eloquent, so beautiful, so well written. It applies to you perfectly, I am always amazed at your writing skills. They just make me want to read more of your works, seriously, you're going to be a famous author one day - it's inevitable. I will always be your #1 fan no matter what. :)
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