Health issues aren’t expected; they occur and disrupt people’s lives. Bill is just one American facing the hardships of surviving a life-threatening disease. Before the horrific start of events, Bill lived a ‘normal’ life. He left at six o’clock and arrived at eight o’clock to meet his two kids, Sarah and Zeek, both of whom were too young to be grateful for their ‘normal’ and ‘boring’ life. The routine for daily life was standard and set in stone. The most unusual events that occurred in this family were: surprise visits from relatives and the sudden plans to go eat at the nearest street shop that masked with the smell of ‘hotdogs’. Along with his ‘set in stone’ daily life, Bill was an intensive planner. Both these components together consisted of a risk-free and scheduled life. All this changed on September 13, 2014.
Slipping out of his chair, Bill unglued his eyes from his computer and felt pins in his feet. Striding from his cubicle, he waved to colleagues, hiding his sweaty face. He had a burning sensation beneath this coat on the left side of his chest, however, he didn’t act upon it. Before Bill knew it, his body collapsed to the floor, the cold marble caressing his body.
Twenty hours later, lying in the hospital bed, Bill felt horrified by the colossal needle flowing nutrients under his skin. He glanced at his family and retraced this event. He recalled: Fainting in office and a flash of an ambulance enters his mind, panicked faces and red sirens emerge and finally he glances at the hospital bed, bringing himself to reality with the doctors approaching him. As the doctors explained Bill’s situation to him, he found himself remarkably distracted. He managed to grasp a couple words- words that only 15% of Americans hear: Autoimmune disease.
Although this is a very rare disease, its implications are numerous. Autoimmune diseases come under the category of self-destruction. Diseases where the bodies cell attack it’s own are named autoimmune. However, Bill’s case was a little rarer. A special case of Takayasu.. A disease where the bodies arteries get blocked and acts as a limitation for the heart to supply blood to the entire body. Not only do people suffer, the US government and the country are impacted by this disease. It costs the U.S more than a hundred billion dollars yearly, according to American Autoimmune Disease Association. Bill, like many other middle-class citizens, were not able to afford the extreme financial burdens that this disease carried.
Naming this as one of the biggest challenges he faced, Bill turned away while recalling the steps he took to ensure he had a shot at a future. He turned to friends, colleagues, and family. He was trying to console himself, repeating the word; favor in his mind. Bill along with his wife headed to the regular family dinner that consisted of his brothers and parents. Hands shaking, he explained what he was going through and posed the cry for help; ” I can’t afford this treatment, I need help”. His family glanced up and down with eyes full of anxiety. Together they all offered to do their bit. Bill, instead of feeling thankful and relieved, he felt a wave of anxiety wash over. In Bill’s mind, thousands of negative ideas were swarming, demanding attention. He felt scared and unable to plan the future. All of his savings were going to be used for this, not for his kids. After heading home, those nasty thoughts put him to sleep, under his pink blanket and next to his wife, whom he might have numbered days with. He could not anticipate that those days would be spent in resentment and vexation.
The autoimmune disease challenges a person left to right and back again. Bill faced multiple challenges. He was emotionally scarred after the incident. He, unlike many other patients, did not go through all seven stages of grief. He skipped denial and guilt and immediately moved to the anger and resentment. This was one of his biggest regrets. He suffered from clinical depression, a battle that 3.3 million Americans face. Approximately one-third of patients suffering from chronical diseases face symptoms of clinical depression. Succeeding the discovery of his disease, Bill’s days were spent in his room, away from his children. He often neglecting to participate in events and activities. Social events were out of the question, even small family activities like eating together were shirked by him. He spent his time in his bedroom, four white walls with a hint of lemon. An empty desk, with medical papers, that acted like a magnet to Bill’s eyes. Staring at the papers, his mind thought about financial burdens, fears about not knowing the next steps. Any time that he spent outside the walls of his bedroom, he was annoyed and perturbed. Bill recalls sitting in the living room eating salad when Sarah his daughter, stormed in furious at the fact that the Wifi wasn’t connecting. Bill found a window for expressing his anger and sadness and blew up. ” I don’t remember exactly what I said. It was something along the lines of Sarah you are being ungrateful for what you have, some people can’t even afford to live. I then went on to talk about behavior and respect towards me.” At that very moment, Bill identified his problem; depression.
Along with depression, Bill’s insecurities pitched in creating a vile environment for himself. Appointments, doctors, and hospitals: Three things that every patient faces. However, Bill faced much more. He had to juggle; all the above and additionally; family pressures, insecurities and coping with work from his office . His whole routine had perished. He could barely attend his workplace consecutively. He along with his family had to cancel many events last minute due to the sudden spasms that Bill used to experience. He felt overwhelmed, but he was not willing to let this disease take over his life. But it was.
Bill had a recollection of one particular moment when it was all too much. Waking up at six, Bill felt proud and excited to go back to work. He noted that his routine was back and running. Unfortunately, this feeling lasted less than an hour. He concluded his healthy breakfast that was composed of nothing but fruit and yogurt, not quite hitting the definition of tasteful Bill’s opinion and he told his family goodbye. A peck on the cheek for Zach, a hug for his wife Judith and a ‘high five’ and ‘fist bump’ for Sarah, a new effort to approach the cool dad theme. He Made his way down the stairs while he felt a nauseating and dizzy feeling. However, reluctant to take his painkiller, Bill brushed it off and made his way to the car. From opening the door to popping the key in, all his energy was consumed and he just fell into the seat. Not only tired but now weak and small. He knew he couldn’t go to the office today but instead of going upstairs, he set himself up in the car, embarrassed to go back home. Centering all those insecurities that he possessed. Self-conflicts embraced him. I can’t go home like this. I should be strong in front of my family, not weak. I need to be the strong railing to lean on. Looking around, he tried to distract himself from those thoughts. He found a green tree to focus on in the view of his white care. Eventually, he mounted the stairs leading to his apartment, knocking on the door. And there he was, back in the house. Why? Because of the autoimmune disease. It had taken over his life but also him.
The autoimmune disease had not only taken over his life, it took over Bill himself. Dating two months ago, Bill faced a surgery that was highly recommended by his doctors. Cutting into his skin, the surgeons placed a stent (a small support that is put inside a blood vessel (= tube) in the body, for example in order to stop something blocking it- Oxford dictionary) inside his arteries. The word itself acted as a trigger to Bill. He was absolutely terrified, but he proceeded through it. However, unlike medical complications, his emotional complications played out much longer.
A surgery is not an uncommon idea, many people go through it at one point of their life. According to Stanford health; 48 million surgical operations are taken place in the US(2008). However, it is the aftermath that determines the success of the surgery. For the time being Bill did not think it was worth it. He started feeling insecure and limiting himself while interacting with people outside his family. He regarded the stent as a sign of weakness and danger. Bill felt slightly ashamed because he was suffering from this disease. Whoever knew about this surgery was providing him special treatment, something he referred to as ‘an unneeded pity approach’. ” They treated me like I am the poorest thing on the planet, I wasn’t but towards the end, I started to feel that”.
In February, he and his family went to attend a party. It was taking place in a hotel hall with a bar and buffet dinner. In the dark room, the disco lights were radiating off everyone’s eyes. The Neon blue, pink and yellow lights were reflected the mini entrees striding from one to another. The DJ was in the room jamming to some songs-songs that were much too loud for Bill. He stood near the food and as far away from the drinks as possible, convincing himself to avoid poisoning his body any further. His colleagues strolled over to him in their fancy black suits and hit him with questions: “Why aren’t you coming to office? Are you okay?”. None of them were aware of the reason why Bill fainted on September 13, 2014. He had asked his boss to keep this strictly confidential. He tried to avoid the subject, the subject that would lead to the pity looks and pity voice. At last, he couldn’t. Slowly he explained the events that occurred and watched their mouths sling open and eyebrows mount. After what seemed like an eternity the party came to a halt at about twelve thirty. Bill left the party feeling like a foreigner to his office, with a feel of being the ‘different’ one. From that day Bill’s insecurities gained control of his mouth, not letting a word be uttered about the autoimmune disease. Additionally, deep inside he started believing that he was the ‘poorest thing on the planet’.
The stage of pity, distraught and insecurities didn’t stretch for a long time. Bill started to feel a tingle of excitement. Excitement towards change. He decided that he would no longer sit and be dependent on the medicines to work and amend his life, he was going to take charge and try for a better day. Initially, he was incorporated with a negative outlook on life and an insecure personality but became a more positive and ‘in the moment’ person. Using meditation Bill became more confident and grounded to the earth. He was constantly murmuring ” Nam myoho renge quo”- a Japanese chant- facing the white wall. Fifteen to twenty minutes were spent daily to repeating the words; I believe in myself. Using this, he overcame his emotional blockages. Along with meditation, a book called The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne helped him gain spirituality. ” Reading the book, I used to feel hope.” Sitting in his room, Bill used to read, often putting himself in the character’s shoes. The book used to be in the back of his head, just holding it gave him hope. Hope that he too can overcome challenges.
” My dad was my hero”
Despite going through the horrendous implication for this disease, Bill managed to push forward, keep moving and rise as a stronger person. He has experienced numerous things, many bumps in this short amount of time. The way he dealt with these issues inspired both his children; Sarah and Zeke. They claim to look at their father as an idol and role model.
Sarah is 14 years old and her clothes are almost as standard as her hairstyle. A high ponytail along with black jeans and a check t-shirt is Sarah’s mark. Something that her friends and family could rarely see her out of. Having entered high school, she was facing many bumps, not extreme as her dad’s but definitely not mild in her terms. Grades and friends were the two of the main things that revolved around her mind. She recalls that everything was wavering in high school, nothing being consistent. She could be sitting at the rectangular table at school with her friends and the very next day eating alone behind the bulletin board. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America(ADAA), Approximately 20% of teens are unhappy experiencing similar situations that Sarah was. However, her dad assisted her. Despite not being present in school and walking down the hallways with her, Sarah claims that Bill was always in her mind, his story impacted her every step of her way.
When Bill was competing against financial issues, he went out the way, outside his comfort zone to ask for money. He completed an action that made him uncomfortable but in the long run helped him assure a life with his kids and family. Sarah puts this into terms of her own; “Going outside of your comfort zone in order to do something beneficial will always end up being positive”.
Bill went through a great extent of insecurities, emotional problems and physical, however, he emerged a stronger and an improved person. ” My dad persevered through like all of it. I mean like, everything. He went through hell and came out a better person. Most kids looked at Superman but for me, my dad was my hero” – Sarah. She recalled her dad taking many steps to push through this disease. It made her think of no matter how hard the problem is, no matter how unsolvable it seems, there are always solutions. Her hope to not give up. To keep going on.
“Positivity, Confidence. Belief in yourself, Perseverance and hope.”
After going through the most difficult time in his life, Bill resurfaced as a stronger and a more constructive person. While learning multiple lessons, he classified positivity as the most important. ” Keep moving forward. You will face a thousand challenges but don’t dwell on it. Look at it positively and find a solution”. Despite facing enduring challenges, Bill shaped an impact on the world. Regardless of the size, he helped Sarah-a child- get through her own difficult time and hopefully had an impact on the readers of this article. With the last few seconds at hand, Bill adds words that he thought should swarm in everyone’s head each time they struggle, each time they think of his story; “Positivity, Confidence. Belief in yourself, Perseverance and hope.”