The moment when I was liberated from something that attempted to control several aspects of my life including my education, social life, and my family life was the most memorable moment of my life. I was born with cystic fibrosis (CF), an inherited chronic lung condition which causes frequent cough as well as lung infections. Beginning in first grade until high school, when I began doing the treatments at home, I had spent at least two or three weeks a year in the hospital for lung infections and exacerbations. During these hospitalizations, I missed school, holidays, birthdays, and everything in between. The final breaking point was when a hospitalization would mean I would miss my first formal dance in seventh grade, something every pre-teen anxiously awaited.
I cried when I realized my two week hospitalization also overlapped the dance. The hospital had just eliminated a policy which allowed patients a “pass” to go outside the hospital because the policy had been abused. Therefore, I knew there would be no way I could go. Once in the hospital, however, I told my doctor about the dance and they agreed that they would give me a pass for the night of the dance only if I had improved by then. My mom even brought in my beautiful red dress and hung it on the door as I anxiously awaited the big night.
However, I had severe complications after a minor surgery and spent the week before the dance with blood aspirated into my lung, laying in a hospital bed, my head clouded by morphine and I knew the dance was becoming less and less likely. I managed to muster up the strength to clear the blood which I was literally drowning in only to encounter another complication which brought me back into the operating room the day of the dance. After the surgery I looked at the dress with scorn and cried when the doctor said there was no way I was going to the dance. I told my mom to throw the dress in the trash as I lividly cursed cystic fibrosis.
But my mom wouldn’t let it get in the way this time. She talked to the doctor and pleaded her case that since she is a nurse she would stay at the dance to make sure I was okay. After much debate, he finally gave in and I was able to go to the dance. My nurse and my mother helped me with my hair and make-up and I went from Boston to my school in East Bridgewater in my golden chariot, the family’s green mini-van.
This moment wasn’t only liberating for that one night. Though escaping the confines of the hospital room was something that made me feel incredibly free after two weeks, it was so much more than that. It represented a new attitude that meant CF wasn’t going to get in the way of my life. For years CF stressed out my family, confused my friends, and attempted to diminish certain opportunities. But for that one night CF wasn’t going to do that.
After that night, I was liberated from cystic fibrosis’s grasp on my life. I found ways around its road-blocks whether it meant having a tutor when I was missing school work or maintaining a smile when I was sick. Cystic fibrosis no longer depressed me. From that moment on I was in control of my life, and my disease was not. This liberation has given me a whole new outlook on life and has allowed me to live it more fully without anything standing in the way.