A Manageable Change
By Alyssa Johnson
This is a short personal story about my journey navigating a major change that happened to me recently. It is a great description of the ups and downs of adjusting to a permanent, everlasting change.
In the beginning of August, the pain started to get so intense that I was only comfortable crouched on my stomach with my legs tucked under me. I was frustrated with the discomfort every night and not knowing the reason for it. I told my mom, thinking that something would happen right away. But since she seemed relaxed I decided to calm down and pray that the pain would go away. Every time I prayed, though, things just got worse.
The first day of in-person high school was two weeks away and I was nowhere near ready. I wasn’t nervous about meeting new people or getting lost, I was scared that I was going to be too sick for school. One day I was coughing so much that I had to go to the hospital. Another day I woke up with a mysterious pink eye which sent me to the hospital again. Every time I went to the hospital I felt deep down something bigger was wrong. That was the first time I felt somewhat depressed. I wasn’t motivated to do anything and I looked and felt horrible.
The first week of school was rough. I tried to hold in every cough because I didn’t want to seem like I had Covid-19 (many tests proved that I didn’t). During the end of the school week I went to my school clinic and told the doctor about my coughing attacks, which she thought could’ve been Covid. She was correct in some ways, but it was annoying that she didn’t hear me. “What about the other symptoms I’ve told you, doctor? Did you listen to those?” I thought.
I ended the first week of school in the emergency room. I was pale, shivering, and cold to the touch. I had to be wrapped up in hospital blankets like a burrito. That weekend turned into a week. Every day blood was taken from me multiple times for testing, which made me feel abnormal. I had bruises on both my forearms from having so many needles poked into me for bloodwork. I never really got great sleep because nurses would come in the middle of the night to check my blood pressure and vitals. The whole time I was stuck in a miserable hospital room laying in a bed that wasn’t mine. I didn’t even feel sad or happy. All I could think was, “When am I getting out of here?” After being in the hospital for a week I was able to leave and, surprisingly, it didn’t take long to get right back in the game. I caught up with work and I was able to make friends quickly. Going back to school made me feel normal again. But then I got diagnosed: “Crohn’s disease,” my doctor said.
I found it very weird that right when I found out my actual diagnosis, I started to feel new symptoms that weren’t there before. When I danced, my legs shook since I’d lost muscle. I felt dizzy in the gym and could barely stand up straight. It was annoying having to wake up at the crack of dawn to take one of my three pills of the day. I would even forget sometimes, which angered my mom. I would say sorry to her face but then tear up when going to bed because it was so stressful to deal with. I felt useless and weak. I didn’t feel like my normal self. Things got even worse when I started to shed a lot of hair. Before my hair was beautiful and thick, but in a few weeks it had become thin and flat, which made me feel insecure.
Taking Root: The Girls Write Now 2022 Anthology
For more than two years, our young writers have weathered an adolescence shaped by an ongoing global pandemic. But a harsh climate can also produce work of rare depth, complexity, nuance and humor. The Girls Write Now mentees in this collection have found new ways to build community and take root. This anthology is a catalog of seeds—each young writer cultivating a shimmering, emergent voice. In short stories, personal essays, poetry, and more, they reflect on life-altering topics like heartbreak, self-care and friendship. The result is a stunning book with global relevance of all this generation has endured and transformed.
It’s been a few months since my diagnosis and I’ve started to adjust to my new habits and the differences in my body. I’ve realized that I can still be myself, I just have to find new ways to live a normal, happy life. Things like my appetite and my weight have improved, and I have the energy and strength to dance like I did before my diagnosis. I started taking a multivitamin that’s helping me get the fullness of my hair back. I’m starting to feel pretty and confident again.
Being hospitalized and going through a slow recovery reminded me how strong I am, and that I am capable of overcoming obstacles that come my way. In fact, I’ve learned that some obstacles can even be a path to growth. When I was first hospitalized I thought Crohn’s was a curse, but now I’m starting to think of it almost as a blessing: I can now live a healthier and happier life knowing the truth about my body.
One of my goals when coming out of this program was to be able to write through my feelings and my personal experiences to help express my emotions and to release whatever energy is inside of me, negative or positive. Ever since this surprising event happened, I’ve always felt the need to talk about it. It affected me mentally and physically. If I could share a short story about my journey and the hiccups along with it, it might help me cope and feel better about myself. This was a very therapeutic experience for me and I’m extremely happy with the outcome of it.
Alyssa Johnson is a teenage dancer and an ambitious, aspiring writer who is willing to grow as a person as the days go by. She wants to excel at school, even through the tough times and be an honor student all four years; she aims to be inducted into the National Honor Society. She is always there to help out others and doesn’t tolerate bullying; she says "you don’t have to degrade others to satisfy yourself." She isn’t afraid to make mistakes and is able to keep a positive attitude.