As we all post our flipagrams on Instagram of the year 2015 or marvel on facebook over how much we have accomplished, I can’t help but reflect upon my year in 2015. I should have known that 2015 would be something different when I rang in the New Year with walking pneumonia. I high fived my boyfriend at midnight, amidst hysterical coughing and lots of potato soup.
The year then continued on as any other. I put 2014 on all of my school assignments for the first month. I wrote my New Years Resolutions down: “Lose 10 pounds. Get straight A’s. Be perfect,” and dutifully forgot all of them as I continued my life the same way it was in 2014.
Normal. My life was normal.
In February, I went with a group to DisneyWorld–the HAPPIEST place on earth, where I met Mickey, Princess Tiana, and *cue the trumpet* Fifth Disease. I would not find out until this month that Fifth Disease was the horrible upper respiratory infection that made my Disney trip anything but happy.
Coming back from Disney with still what I thought was a wicked upper respiratory infection, my year 2015 turned to anything but normal. In fact if I made a flipagram of my year, it would most likely consist of IV therapy, doctors’ offices, or days spent in bed. Countless misdiagnoses, hundreds of different treatment options, Walgreens on speed dial–this slowly began to epitomize the year 2015.
If others were asked to define their role in the screenplay 2015 they would most likely say, “Mother, priest, student, friend, assistant, etc.” If you asked me, I would say, “Push pin, lab rat, guinea pig.”
April 15, 2015: that was the day that I met my greatest foe, the disease that singlehandedly monopolized 2015. Lupus, the name of the thief that robbed me of the second semester of school, great memories with friends, much of my blood, and thousands of dollars in co-pays.
Now with a name to the disease that had taken my time, my memories, but most importantly my health-I began to be treated for lupus. I spent the summer in bed for the most part and focusing all of my energy on preparing for my senior year of high school- a year I hoped would be rid of autoimmune flares.
I spent the first two weeks of senior year like every other girl–marveling over my senior ring, planning senior trips, and enjoying the first two weeks of what everyone promises to be “the best year of your life.”
2 weeks. 2 weeks of normal.
I started then to feel sick again. Repeat blood work proved that the robber who had taken so much of the year 2015 already was back for more.
He stole most of my first semester, though despite him–I managed to create some great memories that I will never forget.
I also met a new rheumatologist, one that was committed to getting me better and not just committed to upping prednisone. Diagnosing me with systemic Sjogren’s, I had two thieves to thank for taking my senior year from me.
But with new medicine and another diagnosis under my belt, I slowly began to get better. I began to make more memories. Things were looking up.
November 28, 2015. Anyone who suffers from a chronic illness can attest to the lonely feeling that greets you as you lay in your bed lifeless and scroll through Instagram, seeing all of your friends together having fun… being normal. I told my mom that the hardest part of being sick is that people stop inviting you to things. They think you’re too sick to come. They forget. But on November 28, a friend asked me to come to a surprise party and I was thrilled.
I was a three-year old going to a bouncy house party–I simply could not wait. I started doing my makeup and getting ready two hours before the party started. I must have changed my outfit three times. My mom and I knew that this wasn’t just prepping for a party. This was a miracle. I actually felt good enough to go somewhere that I wanted to go.
I left my house thirty minutes early to get somewhere that only takes ten because I just couldn’t wait.
Going through an intersection thinking that it was a miracle and thanking God for allowing me to make memories, I started to see headlights approaching my car. I swerved and tried to speed up to miss it. This can’t happen to me. C’mon. I’m actually getting to do something that seniors do. Boom. The glass shattered as my car flipped three times. 2015 strikes again.
I went to a rheumatologist on December 29 and told her of my accident. She said something that so many had said to me: “As if you didn’t need another thing.”
Going over my blood work however, things were starting to go back to normal. My sed rate was lower for the first time. Things were looking up. As my rheumatologist hugged me on the way out, she said to me: “2016 will be a better year.”
And that’s it. That was my year in 2015. If I had to describe 2015 to someone, I’d say it was a year that could be described as the whac a mole year. You know the arcade game? The mole sticks his head up, and just as he sees an out–the player whacs him back down. I was the mole, and 2015 the player, always ready to knock me down when I started to get back up on my two feet.
But as I look now on the horizon of a new year with new memories that could be made, I cannot help but think that it’s really just a year. As we enter 2016, none of these memories will go away. I will still have an autoimmune disease. I will still have the repercussions of flipping in a car and enduring a traumatic accident. But all of the memories will be put in a little brown box and shelved on the case of years gone by. Because no matter how crappy it was, it’s just a year. It’s not a lifetime. It’s a little brown box that encompasses a lot of learning lessons, a lot of bad memories, but also a lot of great memories: memories of hope, compassion, and enduring love even in the darkest of times. So 2015-this is it. I am tying you up, wrapping the brown paper around you, and placing you on the shelf of auld lang syne. You can’t whac me in 2016.
It’s just a year. It’s not a lifetime.