I’ve rarely shown this photo. It’s by far the worst photo of me ever taken, when I was at my lowest moment in life. You see, if you notice below my yellow shirt- there’s a wheelchair.
I went to Texas for a family vacation where my lung function had gotten so low, that the ability to walk around 6 Flags with my family was inconceivable. My brother and his now-fiancé, ran around, going on every possible ride, then meeting back up with us to tell us about their adventures.
I didn’t want to hold them back from experiencing that day. I didn’t want to hold anyone back. I didn’t want to go because I felt like a burden. I lost the debate and the trip ensued, where my dad pushed me all over the theme park while mom light heartedly kept telling jokes to ease the tension.
When I laughed, I would start to cough and my mom would reach inside her purse, full of my medications, and hand me a package of tissues. I remembered waiting in the handicapped line to get on a ride and seeing a woman with her boyfriend, holding hands and smiling at each other.
A million questions went through my head. Would I ever experience true laughter again, without the fear of coughing? Would I ever be able to give back to my parents for everything I put them through? Would I be around to see my brother and his fiancé walk down the aisle? Would I ever meet a man who would take me to a theme park where we could look at each other with admiration?
My mom held me for hours that night, giving me comfort as I cried until I started coughing and then cried again. A sort of depression kicked in with the realization that my life was starting to close.
I cried and cried for days. I felt sorry for myself. I felt sorry for everyone who came into my life, because I knew I would hurt them.
I was wrapped up in the “why me” pity party and I grieved.
I’m not sure when my mind changed from internal anguish to a burning rage…but it did. I hated myself. I hated my body. I hated that I was 25 and figuring out ways to write my will. I hated everything, including this photo of me in that fucking chair.
All the desperation and feelings of self-pity seemingly vanished. I developed a “fuck you” attitude towards my own attitude. It was like there were two sides to my personality, conflicting in rage.
Mom and I started going for small walks. I forced myself to cough until I puked. We took the dog to the vet to get antibiotics, because that was my only hope without insurance in Texas. I was too sick to fly home to California. I stole my dog’s antibiotics.
Mom and I started going to the gym to lift weights. I coughed so hard that people on the machines next to me, one by one, stared and walked away in disgust. I had a friend in the CF community mail me a 10-day supply of Cipro, hoping I could get strong enough to take a flight home.
This post could be a book in itself, but I’m not going to let it. The same way I’m not going to let CF take everything from me. In the midst of the worst days of my life, where everything disappeared there was one gift I was given. LOVE. Unconditional, undying love.
I’ll be standing as a bridesmaid this year for my brother and his fiancé’s wedding. I’ll more than likely be carrying the tissues for my mom and dad, as they cry. I’ll be there dancing with Jeff Shelton , my boyfriend of two years, and we will be looking at each other the way couples do in Lifetime movies.
We all are dealt cards and sometimes those cards don’t have the happiest of endings. Sometimes, we don’t get a second chance and we have to say goodbye. To give and receive unconditional love saved my life, and will continue to do so. No matter how long it is.