Guest Blogger: Laurel King
It’s really not an everyday conversation starter. I can still even count the times it’s been mentioned and where. First, in a hallway at work. Next, at a summer pool party. Lastly, on the last day of Abnormal Psychology class. These three conversations wound up being about my Fanconi’s Anemia (F.A.).
I possess a genetic disease in which both parents need to have the recessive gene for in order for this disease to exist. Out of four siblings, I won the Punnett Square roulette when I was born. Since it affects everything in the bone marrow (white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, etc.), I had sleep marathons due to exhaustion, neighbors who were concerned with child abuse because of how I bruised easily and healed slowly, and I had chicken pox twice (which isn’t supposed to happen if you have a functioning immune system). I was not a normal, energetic, healthy kid in any sense.
I got lucky again, though. By ten years old, my parents and hometown raised enough money and found out that a man from Texas was a perfect match for me for a bone marrow transplant (that in and of itself is it’s own story). Having my own hospital room in Minneapolis, Minnesota made my childish world so isolated. I had no one to talk to about chemotherapy, radiation, the tube that led to the needle attached to an artery in my chest, the vomiting, the chronic nerve pain in my legs from being in bed for six months, the hair loss, and other “kid stuff.” Instead, I watched the sun rise every morning. I wanted to enjoy the moment, even if it stemmed from the development of insomnia. I may no longer wake up at dawn, but I still wake up, and that’s special.
There’s one symptom I never thought about with a life-threatening disease. One day, my younger sister decided to write a research paper on F.A. She wanted me to proofread it because her heart is big and her writing is atrocious. The first symptom she wrote was: failure to live. That brought me back to the mailing list my parents subscribed to, the one that listed the people who died from F.A. I knew the faces to some of those names (may they all always rest in peace).
I never thought of myself as a survivor until then. Just a small, feisty tomboy who is quiet, (sometimes) observant, dark-haired, dark-eyed, and was born close to the edge of something I cannot control. At the same time, I truly want to get over trauma, social and personal anxiety, and continue to live life.
Now, I am working harder to be a healthy, helpful, and hopeful person. I am still around, alive, and holding on to myself and others, regardless of any other “family dynamics.” For that, I want to be grateful.
About: Laurel King
Laurel King: Licensed massage therapist by day and professional humanities tutor by night, living in New Jersey’s Bergen County, and who is also planning on a bachelors in education and masters degree in occupational therapy.
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