This I Believe

Stefania - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on November 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness

I believe in the power of family and life. Humans can endure pain to unspeakable measures and still fight with family alongside them. I was 9 years old, four days past my ninth birthday when I would embark on a journey that would open my eyes to human endurance forever. My injury wasn’t traumatic; I was hit by a ball in P.E. Later, I cried out when the doctor touched my skin before the x-ray. Scanning the blazing white of my bone from the x-ray my doctor said. “There’s no way that she could be faking. The break must be somewhere we can’t see.” I spent my 9th birthday party sitting beside the giant jumping castle in my backyard sporting a pink cast. Six weeks come and go and it’s time to get my cast taken off. I sat in the cold plastic chair and watched the boy next to me have his cast sawed off. He flexed his hand, my mom whispered in my ear, “That’s how it’s supposed to be. You shouldn’t still hurt.” I shut my eyes against another wave of pain. Thus began the longest recovery I have ever had to undergo.

It took almost 3 months to be diagnosed with R.S.D. It’s not a common disease. defines it as this; “Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is a chronic, painful, and progressive neurological condition that affects skin, muscles, joints, and bones. Many cases of RSD involve only a minor injury.” I went to school, becoming intimately acquainted with the school nurse, hours spent rocking back, and forth, not feeling the tears wet on my cheeks. I could go on forever describing the sharpness that burned through my arm and onto the pages of my life. I underwent multiple surgeries to numb the pain. Many doctors told me that my pain would never go away. I fought those words, violently denying it; gearing to up fight. Finally 3 years later, I could use my hand without pain. I met people and doctors in Children’s Hospital I will never forget. My hand was weak, soft from disuse. However, that pain I had lived with for so long was gone.

Many people told me I was strong for facing what I had. What else could I do, but live? There is a difference in fighting against the pull of the ocean, fighting to see coveted land and giving up to the strong current of life that threatens to pull you under. I never gave up fighting, I never let go of the life raft that was my family that held my head above water when my body was too tired to stay above the surface. God, I love my family. So much money spent, so many tears shed, and songs sang by my hospital bed, blinking tears away as needles slipped beneath my skin. With my family fighting my battle with me, I fought the disease said to be without cure. This is victory that changed my life.