Column: Coming to terms with a cruel reality

‘I would scratch my skin until it was raw, I took breathing treatments every couple hours, I could count the foods I wasn’t allergic to on one hand, and, worst of all, I hated myself.’

%22My+insecurities+get+the+best+of+me+sometimes%2C+but+my+illnesses+have+taught+me+to+love+myself+for+who+I+am.%22
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Column: Coming to terms with a cruel reality

"My insecurities get the best of me sometimes, but my illnesses have taught me to love myself for who I am."

Mario Velazquez

"My insecurities get the best of me sometimes, but my illnesses have taught me to love myself for who I am."

Mario Velazquez

Mario Velazquez

"My insecurities get the best of me sometimes, but my illnesses have taught me to love myself for who I am."

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Another doctor’s visit. I sit on the bed, hearing the paper crinkle under me as I try to get comfortable. The unpleasant sterile smell infiltrates my nose as my eyes wander to the outer space-themed ceiling, but the iridescent lights make me look away quickly. My mom attempts to distract me with my coloring book but that doesn’t take away from the nerves that overcome me. 

You would think I would be used to it by now.

At the age of 7, I had already gone to five different specialists and none of them knew how to treat me. I was prescribed more medication than my body could take. Every doctor I visited gave me a new or different diagnosis.

Severe atopic dermatitis.

High levels of Eosinophils.

IgE mediated hypersensitivity.

Chronic migraines.

After being treated by a doctor who injected me with cortisone multiple times a week for over a year, I added Osteopenia to my diagnosis list. Cortisone took a heavy toll on my bones because it should not be taken more than once every four months and after that, even the slightest bump could cause my brittle bones to break.


 

The lowest point in my life came when I was 8. I would scratch my skin until it was raw, I took breathing treatments every couple hours, I could count the foods I wasn’t allergic to on one hand, and, worst of all, I hated myself.

I didn’t feel like a typical kid. I wasn’t allowed to go to recess. I couldn’t have candy like all of the other kids. 

My only wish was to be normal.

After what seemed like an eternity, I was sent to a research hospital as an emergency case, my diagnosis considered one in a million. The only thing my young mind could focus on was that I would spend my birthday and Christmas away from my family and home.

Now that I think about it, spending a week going through intense, grueling treatments at National Jewish Health hospital in Colorado was the answer to my prayers. I can’t deny that it was the most painful experience of my life, but my mental and physical health only improved from there.


 

The ups and downs are unavoidable. Common colds, viruses and flare-ups are still a regular occurrence for me, but it’s easier to deal with.

Purchasing my medication continues to be a struggle because the medicine I take is only available in Mexico. Traveling out of the country to buy my medication isn’t the most exciting event in the world, as there’s an abundance of paperwork and doctor’s notes involved.

Injecting myself every other day isn’t my idea of a perfect life, but it’s my reality and nothing can change that.

Regardless of the negative events which have impacted my life, I’ve learned to use what I’m passionate about to help me cope. Most importantly, the strongest people I know have befriended me and helped immensely to maintain my happiness and push me through the rough times. To my three best friends, I cannot thank you enough for becoming my biggest support system.

The sterile smell of the doctor’s office still makes me nauseous. I continue to have flare ups every now and then. My insecurities get the best of me sometimes, but my illnesses have taught me to love myself for who I am. I learned about self-care on a completely different level, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.