The Day My Life Began
The day my life began was an ordinary day. A typical Sunday afternoon in Connecticut in the middle of July, 2012. My church youth group had just arrived home from our week long mission trip in West Virginia, and it was my first time seeing my family for a week. I was overjoyed because it was my first mission trip and I had a plethora of exciting stories of newfound friendships and accomplishments from the week. While I was ecstatic for my arrival home, and my family was thrilled to see me, there was something they knew that I didn’t yet. A piece of information, a single word, that would change my life forever.
We arrived home and everything seemed to be settling down. After lugging my suitcase up the stairs to my room, I took a hot shower. It felt like an eternity since I had felt the comfort of my own home. Nothing had changed and everything was back to normal. I got out, dried myself off, and threw on some clothes from my drawer. I began to unpack my clothes and as I tossed them into my drawers, I tried to make sure that I at least appeared organized. After I started to unpack my shorts from my bag, both my parents walked into my room. Though slightly odd, I didn’t pay much attention to it and kept on pulling various articles of clothing out of my bag and returning them to their respective drawers as I said, “What’s up?” I glanced up from my bag to see both of them standing there, with an emotion resembling a mixture of despair, regret, and apprehension. “Hey bud, can you take a seat on your bed for a second? We need to have a talk.”
Bronchiectasis: a condition where damage to the airways carrying oxygen into and out of the body’s lungs become scarred. With bronchiectasis, the airways can no longer clear out mucus, which is used by the body to clear out dust and other particles from the airways. The mucus now blocks the airways which leads to repeated lung infections. These infections can become progressively worse and can block off other airways. The damage caused by bronchiectasis is permanent, and other vital organs may not receive the oxygen they need. Bronchiectasis has no cure. Bronchiectasis is the word that changed everything.
For approximately a year and a half before that ordinary Sunday, my family and I had known something was wrong with me after I had my first asthma attack which put me in the hospital for three days. I had become acquainted with various doctors, each telling me something new, something different. Eventually we were told that they didn’t know what I had, they couldn’t figure it out. Test after test, each bringing a new “we think it may be” or “it looks like” or “if you take this it will get better.” But it didn’t, it never got better. Five pills in the morning and three at night turned into six pills in the morning with this inhaler and four pills at night, which led to more tests, more talks, and more nothing. The medicines changed, the doctors changed, but the results never changed. July of 2012 they finally figured it out, but I was not there to hear it.
“They finally figured out what’s wrong with your lungs. It’s a disease called Bronchiectasis.” Oh it’s a disease, that means that they can cure it. I can get better. Things will finally go back to normal. “We are going to have to go get some new medication” New medicine, that’s okay. The ones I’m on now are terrible anyways. One more adjustment won’t be too bad, and it won’t be too long anyways. “You’re going to have to take them for a long time.” Well that’s okay, it will get better over time. Everything can still almost go back to how it used to be before this happened to me. I can still be normal. “You’ll probably be taking these for the rest of your life.” Wow, well, wow. I guess I will get used to them, as long as I can be back to normal. “The damage that has been done to you can’t be undone, what has happened so far cannot heal.” I can survive this. I can still be normal, I will get through this my life is not over nothing has to change. “Also, what you have, Bronchiectasis, it can’t be healed. What is happening in your lungs cannot be removed, only controlled to an extent. We can only stop it from spreading when everything is okay and if you take all your medication. But it can get worse. If you don’t take your medicine it can keep spreading. Though this won’t be going away, we will always be here to help you. Nothing has to change.”
Things changed, so many little aspects of life which I had taken for granted became laboring tasks. Daily life has changed, as I still have to take all my medication and ensure that I do not do anything to set off an asthma attack. I have broken down multiple times, either with my family or someone close to me, but most of the time I find myself alone when I do. Accepting this disease as a part of me has been one of the hardest things I have had to do. But now, almost two years later, I’m okay. The experience has changed my outlook on life, to a point where I doubt I would have had this not happened to me. I can’t do anything to change my situation other than listen to my doctors and parents, and take good care of myself. I do not want to spend my life sulking about what happened to me. I can only live my life to the fullest extent even with these new restrictions, and be thankful because it could be worse. I want to spend the rest of my life being as happy as I can be, doing what I love. Sure there are days where I think about it and I get a bit depressed, but I have the support of my friends and family to help me through every day.
“Okay,” I said. Sitting there with my parents listening to the words that would change the rest of my life, I wasn’t sure how to feel yet. I didn’t know about all the tests yet to come, about the attacks, or any struggle. But that warm Sunday in July of 2012 was only the first day of my new life.