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Going Through High School With A Chronic Illness

As I sit here and think back on my four years of high school I am overwhelmed with memories, some good and some bad. My high school years were when I really began to become the person I currently am. During those four years I was faced with challenges but I refused to let them drag me down without a fight.

Freshman year of high school is filled with a lot of anxiety but is also filled with excitement due to your new found freedom. I remember my first day of high school and how panicked I felt when I could not find my first bell class. My first day of high school was a huge day for me (like every freshman) but it had a little extra meaning for me. I had missed the last two months of my eighth grade year due to my first surgery, so my first day as a freshman was my first day of school in a while. I had an IEP in high school which helped me get through all my hard times and gave me advantages to help succeed due to my disability.

My freshman year was fairly simple until February of 2015. I was beginning to get back to swimming for the first time in a while because of my surgery. I constantly play over in my head the night that changed my life forever. At practice one night I was in the middle of a lap and my shoulder dislocated and my heart dropped. Little did I know a dislocation would lead to me being bedridden for three months and unable to do much of anything for six months. I was out of school from February until the middle of June. I was so far behind in my school work. My teachers came to my house once a week to teach me what I was missing.

Somehow I managed to pass my freshman year. My grades were awful but all I was worried about was passing so I could begin my sophomore year on time. In September of 2015, after months of being in pain and being bedridden I was diagnosed with Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS). I started school a few weeks late because of my diagnosis and then in October I began a pain program at CHOP to help my AMPS. This required me to miss another month of school which put me even more behind. When I returned to school in the middle of November.

I had a completely new mindset and felt like a different person. Prior to this I took school for granted and never liked it but going through everything I did I told myself to NEVER take anything for granted. The rest of my sophomore year was pretty good. Sure I had to play a lot of catch up due to additional missed days but I was so proud of myself for getting the grades I did.

Ah Junior year… the year that everyone says is the most important. Colleges begin to approach you, you take your SATS and the year where your GPA matters the most. I loved my junior year up until February. I was enjoying the fact that I was able to actually go to school. February rolled around and I started having a bunch of subluxations of my shoulder. I ended up having another shoulder surgery but this one was way more intense than the first. The recovery was easier than the first and I was back at school within two weeks post surgery. The recovery involved me going to physical therapy three days a week (during school time) for a while. So even though I was in school I was still missing a lot. I ended my Junior year with some pretty good grades and most importantly a healed shoulder.

And then there was senior year. The year full of lasts. Senior year was definitely my best and my favorite year of high school. It blew my mind most of senior year that I had made it that far. I went from a little freshmen that barely passed freshman year to a senior who made superintendents list. But after all the senior year festivities were over of course came graduation. Graduation was something that felt so out of reach during high school and I couldn’t believe that I did it. It is a feeling like no other when you complete something you thought would never happen.

There were so many moments where I felt like I would never graduate. I thought of giving up so many times but now looking back I am so proud of myself for pushing through even on my days where I was really struggling. I now look back on those four years and it feels like a blur. The moment when I walked across that stage and shook my principal's hand and received my diploma is a moment I will never forget. It may sound cliche but you can overcome anything life throws at you with a little faith, lots of hard work and a smile on your face.

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