During most of my adolescence, my life was a living hell. I was born with a disease that effects my joints and sometimes makes it hard to do certain physical activities. Throughout childhood, I had to take very strong medication that had nasty side effects and I was tormented terribly at school, eventually went into total isolation and became severely lonely and depressed.
On top of what was going on at school, I had a load of personal problems to deal with. My parents were less than supportive. Sometimes, my joint problems even made it hard to walk. On these days, my mom would threaten me,
“You better learn to walk, or you are going to be in a wheelchair by Christmas!”
My mother had a very traumatic upbringing, so it’s understandable that she has trouble dealing with stress, but still, her cruelty caused me great depression and low self-esteem throughout my childhood.
My other major personal issue was something that will haunt me my entire life. When I was fourteen, just as my joint problems were starting to disappear, was when my life took a turn for the worst. I was violated by someone I trusted. I would rather not explain everything that happened; it is too painful. I was heartbroken. How could someone I had trusted for so long suddenly become the subject of my nightmares? I desperately wanted to tell someone, but I was afraid of starting trouble, or that no one would believe me.
So, I kept my mouth shut, even though I was screaming from the inside. I thought if I just forgot about, I could move on with my life, but that’s not what happened. I started having nightmares where someone was chasing me, and horrible panic attacks.
I also started to hate my body. I thought it was a useless object. I cut myself and eventually developed an eating disorder. My life was spiraling out of control. somehow, someway, I got out of that mess. I started going to private school. Finally, I had friends that I could trust. For about a year my life seemed to be pretty okay, then, just as I was about to start my junior year, the most traumatic events of my life started to unfold.
It started off with me not feeling so well. I was tired and nauseous most of the time. I thought I just had a virus, but the symptoms would not go away. My parents agreed to take me to the pediatrician, who chalked up my symptoms to a lack of sleep/seasonal allergies. My symptoms only got worse. I started feeling hot all over. Then came severe muscle weakness and shortness of breath. At one point I couldn’t even walk up the stairs. I begged my parents to take me back to the doctor. They finally agreed. This time they found some concerning signs.
I had a heart rate of 120 bpm and a 100-degree fever, but again the doctor told me I was just stressed and needed to take it easy. My symptoms only got worse from there. Over the next weeks, my shortness of breath became severe. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because when I would lie down it was hard to breathe. I was so weak I could barely get out of bed. Eventually I couldn’t eat. I kept telling my parents how ill I felt, but they forced me to go to school and do everything I normally do, saying “we’ve already been to doctors,” but I knew something wasn’t right.
Finally, my mom agreed to take me to a urologist since I have had kidney problems in the past. We learned some shocking news. My kidneys were failing. Next came multiple tests. I was bombarded with needles, tubes, electrodes, swabs and catheters.
From the tests, they concluded I was in shock, cardiogenic shock to be specific. For an unknown reason, my heart was failing terribly. It was only beating at 15%. Not only was my heart failing but because my heart was working so poorly my lungs, kidneys, liver, and digestive tract were also in early failure.
I was taken to the ICU, where I lapsed into a coma, with a small chance of survival. I was on so many devices that were keeping me alive during that period. During the coma, I had some very strange revelations. Of course, I couldn’t hear or see or feel anything going on around me, but my brain was doing strange and wonderful things.
I had been distant from God for some while, even doubting him in my times of struggle, but when I was unconscious, I could feel his presence, and it was beautiful. Eventually, I woke up. It was one of the best days of my life.