These past couple of months have been ten times better than anything has been for my sister for the past two years. She has been stronger, gotten healthier, and has even been able to work out regularly. She’s been getting more involved in school and actually has a social life, which has been a huge relief to our family. She’s a senior now, and part of us were worried that her whole teen life was going to be completely plagued and controlled by this disease. But lately, she’s been better; she’s almost been normal.
A few weeks ago, she noticed a sharp pain in her side. Then it moved to her stomach, and became so strong and so prolonged, she ended up in the emergency room. After multiple tests, switched medications, and long phone calls with her doctors, her symptoms seemed to be back under control after a few days. The pain subsided somewhat, and she was able to get back to school, her work and her friends. But before she reached that point, she was in a deep, dark, devastating hole. She felt like she had totally reverted back to the beginning of her nightmare; the pain was so intolerable, the symptoms were so relentless, that she couldn’t even remember the past six months that her health had been improving.
That’s where we stepped in.
As we watched her basically throw a tantrum, so upset over the pain she was in, and the progress she felt like had been destroyed, we began to remind her of the strength she had gained. We reminded her of this time last year, when she was missing 2-3 days of school every week. We reminded her of this time last year, when she was unable to exercise, due to her pain and swelling. We reminded her of this time last year, when she couldn’t spend time with her friends. Any extra time she had was spent in bed, recovering for the next day.
For a little bit, it was hard for her to grasp. She hadn’t felt that miserable in months; she hadn’t had such a strong reminder of the ugly disease that is living inside of her in a long time. She was convinced, for a short time, that she had never made any progress. That’s when we jumped in to remind her of everything she had already overcome. When she finally felt a little better, her memory became more clear. She knew the truth: she really has come a long way since the beginning of her ordeal, and now that she’s back on track, there’s no slowing her down.
She’s thinking ahead again; talking about homecoming, the holidays, and college. The disease she has forces her to be so much stronger than the average human on a daily basis. Her brain has to force her body to cope with its every day responsibilities, even though most of the time, her body just wants to collapse on her bed. As her family, it’s our duty to be there, especially for the moments where her body has almost won the battle. It’s our duty to remind her how strong she is, how much she is capable of doing. It’s up to us to drown out the disease; to be louder than the voice that tells her to quit every single day.