Life Is A Journey
By Sarah Freeman • April 15, 2012
Resting in the cold, stark, waiting room with a Band-Aid covering the vein on my arm, I watched the doctor mumbling words I could not hear to my mom. I assumed the results were in from my latest round of blood tests. It was the third time that week I had been in that waiting room, and I was getting both nervous and scared. No one likes to watch twenty-three vials of blood flowing from their veins. It gives one the feeling that if they are taking that much, there must be something seriously wrong. That is what I thought, and as it turned out, I was right.
Many people say it gets worse before it gets better. In my case that statement held true.
As a young girl, I was always very active. Playing outside in the yard was a favorite of mine, and I always found time to walk with my golf clubs to the driving range. I can remember chasing the ducks that sat by the lake with my brother, not having a care in the world. Virginia is where we lived, and we loved every minute of the hot summer sun, green grass, and fireflies.
As the doctor spoke to my mom, I had so many questions I wanted answered, but was I ready to hear them? What was wrong with me? I should not be going through this at twelve. My thoughts were soon cut short by Dr. Chou’s soft, quiet voice. “You really are in pain aren’t you?” I did not know whether to stay quiet or answer in a way that would seem sarcastic. I can’t even walk up stairs! Of course I’m in pain! “What did the blood tests show?” It was all I could think to say. “Your EPR level, which measures the inflammation in your muscles, is off the charts!” He went on the explain that in a normal person their EPR level is 1 to 20, but when something is wrong, it is much higher. In my case, my level was at a whooping 100! Dr. Chou could not believe it.
When I turned 9, my family decided to take a move out west, and revisit their old community of Silver Lakes in Southern California. It was love at first sight. Two weeks later, we moved into a two-story home right on the golf course. Heaven for my brother and I. We use to hop the fence every chance we got to play as much golf as we could before the ranger spotted us. I think the neighbors called us in every time. My mom became a substitute teacher which quickly led to her homeschooling my brother and I. Apparently she wasn’t fond of the California public school system; however, even as a homeschooled student, you still had to receive a few immunizations for kids my age.
At last, finally someone actually believed I was in pain. Up to that point, my mom just kept thinking my legs hurt so badly because I was experiencing growing pains. My family does not get sick, and if we do there is an unspoken rule to buckle up and tough it out. I learned a long time ago that sympathy in my house is not an option. So for a long time I suffered in silence. To actually have Dr. Chou standing before my mom and I acknowledging I was sick seemed like a dream.
The daydreams started while I listened to him speak words too big for a twelve-year-old to understand. I started wondering if I would be going home that day or if I would become one of the patients I saw passing me on gurneys. I wondered if this is what a hospital feels like when you are one of the patients. At that moment, I did not recognize it as a place for saving a life or giving one, but rather a place to question life. Was I going to sit there and die or fight to stay alive? Obviously, since I am able to write this, you realize I chose to fight. I wanted to figure out what was going wrong with me and fix it. I just did not know how hard it was actually going to be. I did not know then, that things would get worse before they would get better.
At age 12, I had a severe allergic reaction to the Hepatitis B vaccine all students are required to have before they enter the 7th grade. It was the most life-changing moment I have (to this day) ever experienced. I would visit Dr. Chou every week with another strange problem, but even the best doctor in Southern Cali had no idea what was wrong with me. How would you like to feel that?
It was two weeks after my last visit with Dr. Chou when I noticed the bumps. They were hard like rocks, and seemed to be growing on the inside of both wrists. I cannot forget about the constant pain in not one, not two, but all of my joints. And, to top it off, I had this ugly white mark forming on my face and neck. Here we go again; another trip to the doctor and another 10 vials of blood. It was bad enough I had to quit golf. It was bad enough that fellow students called me names like granny hands, and duck because I waddled in pain from class to class.
My doctor diagnosed me first with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and then changed it to Lupus. Now the strange thing is that lupus is hereditary, and absolutely no one in our family had ever had it. My mother and I went from doctor to doctor trying to see if anyone had answers but we always came up short. Eventually, it was my mom that started putting everything together. All of my problems started happening after my hepatitis b shots. Every child had to receive them to enter the seventh grade. After the first set of shots I got hives, which is a huge reaction. Why didn’t the doctors tell us? I got hives twice and shingles after the third shots. Everything matches up with my conditions and the shots. Yeast is a huge part of the vaccine and I soon became allergic to it. Mercury is also a huge part of the vaccine and if you have an allergic reaction to that you can have extreme muscle inflammation. It all started making sense.
To this day, my body is in pain, but my spirit is higher than it has ever been.
I don’t want to bore you with any more negative stories so here is the point to my crazy journey of life. Who am I? I’m not sure. Who could I have been without those shots? I don’t know. But when I think about what I have been through, and what I have overcome, I know I was meant to be here. I know I was meant to share my story, and speak to those who have the same questions. Life is a journey. One that God set for you before you were even born. Live that journey to the best of your ability, keep your head held high, and share the love God instilled with everyone that crosses your path.
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