A Letter To All The People Who Say That I’m Strong
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A Letter To All The People Who Say That I’m Strong

When people hear what I've been through, they always say, “You're so strong" but what they don't realize is that I'm not strong — I am only surviving.

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A Letter To All The People Who Say That I’m Strong

To all the people who say that I'm strong:

The truth is that I'm not.

You ask me: "How have you been through all of that and still get up everyday and have joy and hope and happiness?"

The truth is that I don't have a choice.

My whole life has been a series of battles that have taken that choice away.

When I was born my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, and I was blue from underdeveloped lungs. That was my first battle for my life.

When I was two I swallowed a quarter. Unlike normal kids, whose quarters go straight to their stomachs, mine went the other way, to my lungs. When they finally found it, I was rushed to emergency surgery to have it removed. Battle number two.

When I was four I was in an accident. I fell out of a window, 33 feet from the ground, landed on my butt in the parking lot. I broke almost everything: ribs, femur, fractured pelvis, collapsed lung. The doctors gave me a 50/50 chance of waking up, and then a 20% chance of walking again. I woke up wanting pancakes. Battle number three.

That same year I found out I have a kidney condition. They don't function 100% and are very sensitive to calcium and sodium. I had three surgeries to get them working again, and now I manage it with my diet. Battle number four.

When I was six I had my first asthma attack that put me in the hospital for two days. Battle number five.

When I was ten I fell off my bicycle and broke my arm. No one believed me because I didn't show the normal signs of bruising and swelling. Little did I know that this wasn't just childhood clumsiness, but the beginning of the lifelong battle number six.

From the ages of 10-15 I was in and out of the ER with a variety of broken bones. My wrist three times, my arm, my ankle, my collarbone, several fingers and toes.

When I was 15 my kidneys began acting up again. I was overweight, pre-diabetic, and in the beginning stages of kidney failure. Once my kidneys were once again on the right path, my doctor gave me a diagnosis that forever changed the course of my life.

"I've been putting together the pieces of your medical history, and I think you have a genetic condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. You have irregular collagen, which makes your bones weaker than usual, and it can also affect your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.It's rare.It's genetic — from what I gather you got it from your father. You can pass it on to your children."

"Will it kill me?"

"It's hard to say. Most kids don't make it past puberty. It's incredibly rare to find anyone as an adult with this condition. But you have a very mild case."

Battle number six.

When I was 18 I fractured my spine playing softball. It wasn't a traumatic event, just a stress fractured caused from the physical demands of practices. I was in a back brace for six months, and was able to take it off in time for Prom.

I am in the beginning stages of arthritis, from the sheer amount of damage by body has been through. I have a standing bet with my orthopedic about when I'll need knee replacements: He's betting 35, but I'm holding out for 40.

When I was 23 I was diagnosed with PCOS. You can read about my experiences with this in my previous article. Battle number seven.

So you ask me how I do it, and say that I'm so strong. But my reality is that this is my life. If I want it to have any kind of quality, or any kind of experience, I have to accept it. I have to be strong. But strong is not something that I am. It's the way that I live my life.

When you have the challenges that I do, when your very biology fights against you everyday, you don't have an option to not be strong.

I do what I have to everyday so that I can live and appreciate the life that I do have. Being alive is such a wonderful gift, and it's not something that I ever take for granted. I don't have that luxury. I live each moment to the best of my ability.

I have a tattoo across my collarbone; it's an arrow that has the words "warrior" inscribed in it. I purposely chose a spot that is in plain sight everyday, so that I remember that I have to get up everyday and fight.

Giving up is not an option. Wallowing in self-pity is not an option. Giving up means that I let my disease win, I let it control my life.

But my life is mine.

I am not strong.

I am a survivor.

I am a warrior.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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