The secret of learning to be sick is this: Illness doesn't make you less of what you were. You are still you.
Oh Tony, but what if you fell ill so young that you didn't really have a 'you' to begin with?
I always talk about how I'm lucky to have fallen ill at such a young age, how I wasn't like a high school track star who fell ill or a marathon runner or an archaeologist in the desert climbing up to perilous caves for excavating. I was a little girl in kindergarten. In fact, I fell ill on November 14th, 1993. In a fortnight, my illness will be 19.
It's hard to think about the kind of person I might have been without this. Surely I would not have been picked on every day in school for being heavier, because I would have been able to be more fit. I wouldn't have gotten weird looks for having an ace bandage on for one day. I would have been able to participate more in PE. I would have finished graduate school and probably have a better job than the one I have right now. I'd feel a hell of a lot more useful that's for sure.
But I am me, the little girl whose sexual abuse started not too long after the onset of this odd illness - the little girl who was homeschooled and finished 'normal' high school with honors, with an international baccalaureate degree, and as a valedictorian. I think that was all related to my illness though. What do you do when you can't play sports? You spend time with friends and, if they're brainy, you all end up as valedictorians together.
I like who I am and I know that the decisions I have made have led me to where I am right now. It is always hard to wonder what I would have been though without my illness.