The official student newspaper of GWUOHS

GW Chronicle of the Yawp

The official student newspaper of GWUOHS

GW Chronicle of the Yawp

The official student newspaper of GWUOHS

GW Chronicle of the Yawp

Living With Chronic Illness

Living+With+Chronic+Illness
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Editor’s Note: The following article is a work of fiction based on the imagination of the author and does not reflect the views of the newspaper.

“Violet, we’re here!” my mom called out. She parked in front of my school and helped me into my wheelchair.

“Have fun! Be careful!” she told me as I rolled towards the school entrance, looking a bit nervous.

“Don’t worry! I will!” I called back. My mother usually was pretty laid back about sending me to school, even though I had several autoimmune diseases, but I had been recently hospitalized with a flare of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. It was torture: steroids, blood draws, a surgery.  That day was my first day back. 

My best friends, Hilda and Artemis, met me in the school lobby.

“Are you feeling alright, Violet?” asked Hilda apprehensively.

“Yup!” I replied cheerfully.  

“Are you-” The warning bell cut Artemis off, and we headed inside.

As I rolled down the hall, I caught a few people staring at me. I didn’t pay much attention; that happened a lot. I wheeled myself to my locker. I tried to open the padlock, but as usual, it jammed.

“Stupid lock,” I muttered.

“Let me help you, Violet,” offered my classmate, Troy

“No, thanks,” I replied.  “I’ve got it.”

“Okay…”

I expected him to leave, but instead, he hovered there awkwardly until I was done, and walked me to English.

I wheeled my way to my desk in Ms. Jennie’s class.  As I waited for the teacher to start the lesson, I heard Gracelynn and Isabella talking behind me.

“She’s so thin!” whispered Gracie.

“I know!” answered Isa.  “She shouldn’t be in school.”

I stiffened. I turned around, ready to snap that I wasn’t made of glass when Ms. Jennie announced it was time for personal reading. I opened my history textbook, steaming a little. 

About an hour later, the bell rang, and I headed to my next class. I had trouble opening the large, wooden door; it seemed heavier than last time.

“Let me get that for you.” Vincent opened the door for me.

I wrinkled my forehead. “Thanks?”

“No problem.” 

I wheeled myself into the classroom, still frowning. I hadn’t really needed help, so why had he given it to me?

I was still wondering about this at the end of the day. Hilda, Artemis and I were at gym class.

“People have been acting weird all day,” I told my friends.  

“They’re just concerned about you,” replied Hilda. “After all, you just got back from the hospital.”

“I’ve been in the hospital before,” I reminded her.

“Yeah, but never that long.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but the sound of the gym door opening cut me off. Gracie and Isa entered the room. Gracie openly gasped at the sight of me. She pointed me out to her friend, and they began whispering.

I couldn’t help but glower at them. “See!” I complained to Arty and Hilda.

“They’re just…”

“Worried about me, I know,” I interrupted Artemis. “But I’m not exactly made of fine china, ya know.”

Coach Parker blew his whistle, breaking off our conversation.

“Okay, people!” he shouted. “Start your warm-ups!”

Everyone started stretching. I could only do so much, as I was in a wheelchair, but, hey, something is better than nothing.

Isa came up to me, looking concerned. “Are you sure you should be here?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I replied coldly.

“But… you were in the hospital!”

“So?”

“Shouldn’t you be, like, recovering?”

“I’m not made of glass, Isa!” I snapped.

“Okay, okay.”  Isabella backed away, looking hurt.

Hilda looked at me reproachfully. “You didn’t have to snap at her. She was just checking to see if you needed any help.”

“Well,” I replied through clenched teeth. “I don’t need any.”

I turned my back to her, trying to do my exercises without exploding in anger. At the end of class, I hurried to my locker, trying to avoid any more conversations with anybody. I grabbed my backpack and dashed towards the door when I dropped my backpack. All of my stuff spilled out. I groaned. I tried to get out of my wheelchair (I could, but with some difficulty), when Troy stopped me.

“Here, I’ll get it for you.”

“No, it’s alright.”

He stooped to pick up my notebooks, but I tried to stop him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Isabella pick up my history textbook.

I gritted my teeth. “I can do it myself.”

Isabella looked at me as if she were pitying me. I was getting angry. I tried to get out of my chair to pick up my stuff, but Gracie pushed me back into it.

“You need to rest,” she soothed.

My temper flared up. “I AM NOT AN INVALID!” I shrieked. Everyone looked at me. 

I continued to shout. “Just ‘cuz I’m in a wheelchair does not mean I need help. I was doing fine before this, and I AM DOING FINE RIGHT NOW!  I DO NOT NEED YOUR HELP!” I dashed out in tears.

The next day, I dreaded going back to school. My classmates would be boiling mad at me. I cautiously made my way into the school, trying to be as stealthy as possible. However, I found the path to my locker blocked by, well, everyone. I felt the knot in my stomach grow.

“Hey, Violet,” said Isa nervously.

“Hi,” I replied, equally afraid.

“I want to apologize,” said Isa. “We all do. We shouldn’t have treated you like that.”

I melted. “Aw, it’s alright. I shouldn’t have yelled.”

“We’ll try not to judge you anymore,” added Troy. “After all, you know what you can or can’t do best.”

I nodded. “And I’ll get better at not minding help. I do need help sometimes.”

The bell rang, and we made our way to English. Ms.  Jennie stood at the front of the classroom, smiling. 

“Today, class, we will be reading the short story ‘Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover’,” she announced.

How fitting, I thought. I settled back, ready for another day of learning.

Although this story is a work of fiction, it describes a reality that many people face each day. We, as a society, often talk about the effects of autoimmune diseases on people’s health, but it is less often that we discuss the effects of autoimmune diseases on daily life. People with autoimmune diseases are seen as less able or weaker than their healthy counterparts. This is a false narrative. While they may be unable to do certain things or need assistance to complete tasks, people with autoimmune diseases are strong and capable in their own way.

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About the Contributor
Lauren B
Lauren B, Journalist
Lauren lives in southeast Georgia.  She is a freshman and is particularly interested in science, specifically medicine.  She has won multiple awards for her writing, including a regional National History Day award and first place for her school in the Young Georgia Author competition.  This is Lauren’s second year in the Chronicle.  In addition to writing for the newspaper, Lauren sings in the local show choir and participates in Girl Scouts.  In her free time, Lauren enjoys any art-related activities and reading, especially fantasy books.
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