17 thoughts on “Illness

  1. Kaitlynn Xavier

    Throughout life, mental illness has been the taboo that none will concede to accept. Media, advertisements, etc. all fail to capture the true world of living with mental illness yourself or dealing with it when present in others causing us, society, to leave individuals alone in their confusion and prod along in our daily lives. At a very young age I knew my father was different. The blank stares, the outbursts, numerous arguments between him and my mother that eventually led to taking a week long “field trip” to the hospital for him to feel better. And he was back before I knew it but, he was different. At age 10 I discovered my uncle was different too. One minute he’d be holding a conversation and the next he’d forget what he was doing and who he was speaking to. We were replaced though, with new identities and new purposes, in his mind- what everyone called him being imaginative. He wasn’t- he was just schizophrenic. At fourteen someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life and my answer was simple- I want to help people. I want to spread what I’ve learned living with individuals with mental illness and I want to alter the stigma society has created, ending their categorization as unstable individuals- as “crazies”. All of which are my inspiration for pursuing a career in nursing where I can help anyone suffering mental and/or physical illnesses. To spread awareness that might reach other little girls.

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  2. Taylor Keating

    Illness in today society is often looked down upon exspecially when it comes to Mental illnesses. In my life I have encountered my share of mental illnesses from my own anxiety and depression to myself working at a daycare and working with children that have mental illnesses. Having these personal experiences I have learned to believe that just as a physical disability or illness is important mental illnesses are because of the fact sometimes we can hide them inside to hide from our problems. In personal experiences if someone has depression or anxiety or any other personality disorder they shouldn’t be ashamed of it and hide it because they are afraid of being hurt or getting help. For people have anxiety for example if you feel your all alone you are not talk to someone, go to a psychologist or go on online talk to children or people of your age that are going through the same feelings and situations. Do I believe that there always someone that you can turn to no matter what the situation is. Honestly never be ashamed of mental illness because you will never be alone in the big world. A personal experiences of mine that have taught me to never judge someone because they are different than you because they have a mental illness, my anxiety is taught me a lot of different things such as ways to cope and relax and it also has brought me new friends because I worked with children that had similar anxiety issues as I also talked to teenagers my own age and it really taught me that I’m truly never alone. It shows There is another person going through excatally the same thing you are so just reach out and find someone to talk about your mental illness and who knows you might find a friendship through these conversations through these topics.

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  3. Michael Curtin

    In my opinion Illness is a very hard thing to go through and it releases many emotions. I can relate to this topic. When I got out of middle school over the summer in 2013, I had found out that I had a brain tumor and had to recieve immediate medical attention. It all started in middle school, my grades were all good, I payed attention in class, I was always organized, and always had alot of energy. Then during August of 2013, it all started going downhill. My grades were spontaneously decending. I could not focus in class, and I could not sit still. I then started seeing a psychologist then a psychiatrist who have both diagnosed me with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Distorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and a Movement diatorder. I was then Being put on many types of Perscrive Medication Trying to digure out what was going in with me. I then started to developt Massive Migrains that felt like someone litterally was taking my brain and squishing it into a pulp. We kept on seeing The psychiatrist and psycologist who kept on diagnosing me with differnt thibgs and trying ro persceive different medications until my parents put their foot down and baisically said “No” and that there is something else going on here. I was then driven to the doctors whon my parents then spoke to and told them what was going on and they reccommended me to take an MRI of my head to see what was going on and then that was when they had discovered that I had in my brain a tumor. I was kept there that night to have an immediate emergency surgery on my brain. I was put asleep and had dont remember much of that day heading into the ER but I still cannot even immagin how scared my family must have felt for me. When the surgery was done they had informed us that my Tumor was a Pilocystic Astrocytoma and was ths size of a tennisball and it was infact benign, but some of the tumor was coiled around my optical nerves that the doctors could not remove because they did not want to risk it, having me go blind. So I have 15% of the tumor inside of my brain that has to be monitored every few months with a trip to boston for a 30 minute MRI. But this was not the end of the tramatic experiance for me yet. In November of 2014 I had gone to childrens hosptal for another checkup because all of my symtomns had been comming back. I had another MRI of my brain and they had then discovered that I had a fluid in my head called a Subdural Hematoma that was causing pressure on my brain that had to be removed. I was back in the Emergency Room and had the bloody fluid drained out of my head. Most recently I had to recieve another surgery because my tumor was resting on my third ventrical on my spine blocking the flow of fluid causing a buildup in my head and I then recieved a third surgery to have a device implanted in my head called a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt installed to constently drain the Fluid that builds up in my head. There is valve now under my skin on the back of my head that goes into my head and channels a tube that runs down under my skin, down my neck, over my shoulder, down my chest, and into my body. When I this story to people they usually ask me what it feels like and the answer is I don’t really even notice it there its similar to a bulging vein beneath my skin and the only time I can feel it is when I get tired usually at the end of the day, it starts to make my neck feel sore, uncomfortable and stiff.

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    1. acox1umassd

      Hi Michael, so, do you want to submit this one to the essay contest? The blog posting one is the one we’re hoping you’ll submit as a condensed version of the longer piece. Thanks!

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    2. Michael Curtin

      In my opinion Illness is a very hard thing to go through and it releases many emotions. I can relate to this topic. The summer of 2012 after I had just finished middle school, I found out that I had a brain tumor and needed emergency surgery. It all started in middle school, I was always a good student, got good grades, and had alot of energy. Then in August of 2012, it all started going downhill. My grades were decending, I could not focus in class, and I could not sit still. I started seeing a psychologist then a psychiatrist who have both diagnosed me with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Distorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and a Movement disorder. I was put on many types of prescription medication to try to control the symptoms I was experiencing. I started to develop headaches, it felt like someone was taking my brain and squishing it into a pulp. Then I started to have memory problems. We kept on seeing the psychiatrist and psycologist who kept on diagnosing me with differnt things and trying to prescribe different medications until my parents put their foot down and baisically said “No”. They knew there is something else going on here but no one would listen. Against the doctors recommendations, they finally drove me to Children’s Hospital in Boston. An MRI revealed that I had a brain tumor. I was kept there that night to have an immediate emergency surgery on my brain. I was put asleep and dont remember much of that day heading into the OR but I still cannot even imagine how scared my family must have felt for me. When the surgery was done they had informed us that my Tumor was a Pilocystic Astrocytoma and was ths size of a tennisball and it was benign, but some of the tumor was coiled around my optical nerves that the doctors could not remove because they did not want to risk me going blind. So I have 20% of the tumor inside of my brain that has to be monitored every few months with a trip to boston for a MRI. But this was not the end of the tramatic experiance for me. Three months later, In November of 2012 I went to childrens hosptal for another checkup because my symtomns were coming back. I had another MRI of my brain and they had then discovered that I had a bleed in my head called a Subdural Hematoma that was causing pressure on my brain again and it had to be removed quickly. I was back in the Operating Room and had the bloody drained out of my head. Other than the damage the tumor caused to my brain, things were going well until recently. This past March I had to recieve another surgery because my tumor which is in the third ventrical was blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid causing a buildup in my head. The third surgery a device implanted in my head called a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt installed to consistently drain the fluid that builds up in my head. There is valve now under the skin on the back of my head that goes into my brain and it channels a tube that runs down my neck, over my shoulder, down my chest, and into my body. When I tell this story to people they usually ask me what it feels like and the answer is I don’t really even notice it is there. It is similar to a bulging vein beneath my skin and the only time I can feel it is when I get tired usually at the end of the day, it starts to make my neck feel sore, uncomfortable, stiff and occasionally the tube pokes me from the inside causing sharp pains. When you look at the positive side of having this shunt implanted in me, it is saving my life so I can live with a little pain here and there.

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      1. acox1umassd

        Would you like to post the shorter, 250 word version here and submit this longer version for the essay contest? Please refer to instructions page for explanation. If so, I’ll delete this comment and post your other one. Either way, please do submit for the contest!

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  4. So, for some reason my essay didnt post in time for the contest. I did make a shortened version of this essay but I thought I’d go ahead and have the full length one, since it wasnt orignally posted, hopefully its ok, thanks admins

    Alzheimer’s
    This is always a hard but necessary topic to cover since it’s a chapter of my life and I like being honest and transparent. Some extra context to myself, especially family dynamics, which are complicated to me, Is that I was adopted. The family that adopted me divorced shortly after. Which left me living with my adoption mother and visiting my adoption father. My (adoption) mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease around five years ago at the age of fifty-four, while I was in eighth grade. She’s almost fifty-nine now. Since then almost every aspect of my life has changed, for better or worse. Instead of focusing on her current condition, I’ll talk about the life my mom used to live, and what she represented. She was born in Medford, Massachusetts, just another one of those cities that flow into Boston. Coming from an Irish family meant she had multiple family members which included two other brothers and sisters, but she was the oldest. It also meant they were loud! She completed high school and went immediately into the workforce. Sometime in between her life, she married a couple times and skipped around different job opportunities. She settled on working as a secretary at Tufts University for several years. Finally, I came into the picture and was adopted. She wanted to become a “stay at home mom” with me, so, with the time off she began writing children’s books. She was fascinated with fantasy and the imagination so she implemented those aspects into her books. She also added my personality into a character in the stories.The last step was to get them published but unfortunately, it didn’t fall through.
    Then the disease came as I was about to enter high school. I didn’t expect much from it, the typical things that came to my mind was that she was going to start forgetting some things. “No big deal,” I told myself. Probably just leave her purse when going out or forgetting to walk our dog. Then I started doing some research on the disease, side effects, symptoms, causes, clinical trials, etc. I quickly realized it wasn’t what I thought it was, it broke the stereotype that I had placed on it. I looked into statistics in the U.S, an estimated five million people living with the disease, fifteen million caretakers. The sixth leading cause of death in the U.S, being the only top ten killer without a means to prevent it, cure it, or slow its progression. Almost half a million people are dying every year to the disease (more than prostate cancer and breast cancer kill combined). My mom, unfortunately also had epilepsy as a child, often having seizures which would cause her head trauma. Neurologists believe this progressed her disease to arise faster than “normal”. My mom was also a minority for the disease, being one of the 200,000 out of the five million with “early onset” Alzheimer’s (meaning developing Alzheimer’s under the age of 65). Average life span after diagnoses is around eight to ten years. However, having early onset Alzheimer’s means that things “can go downhill faster.”
    I graduated high school in the beginning of June and a week later I was checking my mom into a nursing home. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see her next year or even next month. I am sure, regardless, that she’ll always be on my mind. I wanted to share this to spread some awareness for the disease. Another thing I can try to convey is a lesson. I remember in the darkest times of my life, realizing other people, from all over the world, were suffering worse than me. Yet, they were still aspiring to greatness, and I thought “why can’t I do that?” To endure my predicament and move forward. Of course, that sounds easier said than done. I’m not going to lie, and as most people know “life sucks”, but if you have the mentality to push through it, you can do anything.

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  5. Elvin Pimentel

    Throughout my life, I have had to deal with illness as a constant antagonist in the lives of many loved ones. When illness did affect my family I was always left distraught and feeling hopeless, but with experience and understanding I learned that the only way to combat the negativity of an illness is with strength. I believe in strength more than I do almost anything else because it is what enables positivity and hope and is the strongest force against the suffering and fear brought on by an illness. When I was only eight years old my grandfather was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer. This completely destroyed me. My grandfather needed a bone-marrow transplant which was a tricky procedure. The transplant was successful but it was then and only then that my stubborn grandfather finally admitted to me that he was somewhat afraid of what could have happened. I asked him why he hadn’t admitted it to me in 2006 and he responded with “My little boy, I didn’t want to worry you because you are my strength, and if you are not strong then I can’t be strong”. In November of 2014 my attitude and opinion toward illness was solidified when my great-grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She started to forget me. She started to forget everything. I would visit her weekly and each week that passed the more she forgot of me. Illness did plenty of harm to me and my family but fortunately the one bit of good it did was solidify my belief in my own strength and give me the drive to make sure others around me have the strength and support system they need when dealing with illness in their own way. With these experiences under my belt, I strongly believe that you only know how strong you are until it is the only choice you have.

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  6. Mike Curtin

    In my opinion Illness is a hard thing to go through and releases many emotions. In 2012, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It changed my life forever.
    As a child, I was always energetic and did well in school. But by the time I got to eighth grade, everything started to change. My grades started to decline, I could not focus, I started getting headaches and could not stay awake. Then my memory started to deteriorate. The symptoms were escalating. I was brought to the hospital and had an MRI of my brain. That was when we discovered that I had brain tumor the size of a tennis ball. I underwent a 14 hour surgery, but they were not able to remove the tumor entirely. I now live my life with 20% of a tumor in my head. Over the last 4 years, I had to receive two more brain surgeries because of complications due to my tumor. Along with every visit to the doctors for checkups brings many mixed emotions of fear and trauma for my family and I, never knowing if there was going to be another complication. My last surgery was this past March. The surgeon had to implant a VP Shunt into my brain to release the pressure caused by the tumor settling and blocking the flow of cerebral-spinal fluid.
    My life is not like the lives of my peers, illness has made my life more complicated than the average 18 year old. However, even though I have to live with this illness, I am happy that the doctors did what they could to keep me alive.

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  7. Kaitlyn Morris

    Mental illnesses today are often overlooked and hard to understand. Throughout my life, I’ve watched my mom struggle with depression and bipolar disorder. About two years ago, after coming home from school, I walked into my house hoping to see my mom so I could tell her about something that had happened that day, however my mom was nowhere to be found. I walked up to her room and heard the television on but the door was locked. After about thirty minutes of continuously pounding on the door and yelling for my mom, I started to panic because I knew something had to be wrong. I then came to the conclusion that I needed to call the police and I was tremendously thankful I did. Once the police showed up, they knocked down my mom’s bedroom door. I walked into my mom’s bedroom and saw her lying on the ground unresponsive, and surrounded by pills. I was told by the police that if I did not call when I did, my mom would’ve died. I did not realize the misery my mom was going through until she almost died right in front of me from committing suicide. Since that day, she has got the help she’s needed; my mom is happy and healthy and the relationship between us has grown. I’ve always loved the feeling of helping others and being there for people, even if they’ve hit rock bottom. The experience with my mom solidified my decision to become a nurse so I would have the opportunity to help others every day like how I helped my mom heal from the pain she experienced and went through. It also has taught me an important life lesson. Although it’s not easy to see a loved one hurt, I believe anyone can overcome any hardship in life.

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  8. Kimberly Medeiros

    I believe that illness makes you appreciate the simplicity of life. In my case, my illness made me a stronger individual and with this experience I chose the career path of becoming a nurse.

    When I was younger, I was referred to Boston Children’s Hospital where I would be an out-patient for the next eight years. Nurses came in and out of my room to examine me and perform multiple tests. The rheumatology doctor finally came and diagnosed me with Dermatomyositis.

    Dermatomyositis is a disease with symptoms affecting the skin that could progressively weaken and deteriorate muscles and organs. Appointment after appointment, I would receive special care. Nurses kept a close eye on me, looking out for the first sign of muscle weakness.

    I became inspired by the nurses that helped me year after year. I looked up to them whether it was them telling me a quick joke to easy the stress, giving me medication to ease pain, or simply maintaining conversation while my parents went to grab lunch. All of these simple gestures motivated me to help others.

    They say many people overcome obstacles and experiences that internally guides them to their future endeavors. For me, I believe that becoming sick and being exposed to the hospital environment is what encouraged me to follow the medical path.

    I believe that to overcome an illness you need an immense amount of strength. I credit this life experience for guiding me to major in Nursing at UMass Dartmouth.

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  9. Elvin Pimentel

    Throughout my life, I have had to deal with illness as a constant antagonist in the lives of many loved ones. When illness did affect my family I was always left distraught and feeling hopeless, but with experience and understanding I learned that the only way to combat the negativity of an illness is with strength. I believe in strength more than I do almost anything else because it is what enables positivity and hope and is the strongest force against the suffering and fear brought on by an illness.
    When I was only eight years old my grandfather was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer. This completely destroyed me. The short, funny, and slightly grumpy man that I called my grandfather was my world. His jokes and even his laugh could and still can brighten my day even from the darkest of clouds. My grandfather needed a bone-marrow transplant which was a tricky procedure, the day of his transplant arrived and up to that day he had kept a smile and a never ending list of jokes he had memorized in his head. Never once did he seem sad or depressed. Minutes before he was taken away to be operated on he told me with his usual smile that everything was going to be okay. The transplant was successful but it was then and only then that my stubborn grandfather finally admitted to me that he was somewhat afraid of what could have happened. I asked him why he hadn’t admitted it to me in 2006 and he responded with “My little boy, I didn’t want to worry you because you are my strength, and if you are not strong then I can’t be strong”.
    In November of 2014 my attitude and opinion toward illness was solidified when my great-grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 78 years old and had looked and been the same as she always had, cranky, loud, and sarcastic. The thing was, she started to forget me. She started to forget everything. I would visit her weekly and each week that passed the more she forgot of me, even confusing me with my uncle that is married with four kids.
    It was extremely difficult for me to find strength at such a time, I felt as though I had used up all of mine, but that was untrue because strength is limit-less and lasts forever. Illness did plenty of harm to me and my family but fortunately the one bit of good it did was solidify my confidence in my own strength and give me the drive to make sure others around me have the strength and support system they need when dealing with illness in their own way.

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  10. Kristen Boehner

    There is a negative connotation with people who suffer from mental illnesses. Due to people not being educated about this topic there is a discrimination towards the mentally ill. People in society should recognize mental illness as any other physical illness that anyone can have. Society does not like things to be different than what they believe to be “normal” no two people are exactly alike so then what exactly is normal? . Mental illness has been given a bad reputation because of society. People should not have to feel ashamed and think they have to keep their mental illness a secret so people don’t judge them. Society has grown to accept physical illnesses and should accept people with mental health problems. Mental health is the way your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect you so why does that make people crazy? It just means that your brain just works differently than others. For years people with mental illness have been labeled “crazy”. Society needs to stop labeling the mentally ill as “the crazies” I believe that if we all work to educate society on mental illness they will see that they are just like everyone else. People who suffer from mental illness need the same things everyone else does and that is being loved and accepted. Society should be more accepting and needs to putting negative label on mental illness. If we all take the time to be more accepting of others and their disabilities than the world would be a more peaceful place and people would not have to always be worrying about being judged because they are “different”.

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  11. Jacob Parsons

    Dementia is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “a mental illness that causes someone to be unable to think clearly or to understand what is real and what is not real.” My family has lived directly next door to my mother’s parents since I was four, meaning I grew up with two sets of guardians. My grandparents would visit daily, going to dinner with us and acting as a member of the direct family. It was in my younger years I noticed that my grandfather acted strange, and wasn’t until much later that it became obvious he had dementia. After my grandmother died in 2011, my grandfather began his descent as his memory and grasp on reality worsened. He began to visit at all times of the day, wondering where my grandmother was, and asking when she will be back. Due to dementia, I lost my grandfather to a confused state of mind. He was once a member of my immediate family, and now resides in the Hannah B.G. Shaw Home for the aged. My life had changed in much the same way when my grandmother died. The loss of a family member due to disease had affected me twice, once in death and once in life. Dementia has taught me to cherish every moment with my father’s grandparents, knowing that their lives are shorter than it seems, and that although they are here today, they might not be here tomorrow.

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  12. Zachary Davenport

    I believe in health. Obviously this entails eating healthy or having other good habits such as sleeping schedules or brushing one’s teeth religiously, or even studying to maintain one’s mental health and stability. However, there is another side to “being healthy”. What is truly meant by “being healthy” is who and how a person associates with others. I believe it is healthy to surround one’s self with those who care and support you, actively trying to make themselves better and help you in doing the same.
    I believe it is healthy to always look at your relationships and be able to say or feel “I trust you”, or, if you can’t say that, be able to remove this negative impact from your life. Additionally, I believe in a person believing in themselves. This is one of the most important aspects of “being healthy”. If one does not believe in him or herself, this is a set up for failure, no matter the situation, no matter the goal being strived for. It is irrelevant how difficult or impossible a situation may seem, it is important to be able to say “I can do it” because this empowers him or her, in a healthy manner. If one does not believe in him or herself, he or she will not put forth all of the effort he or she could.
    On the other hand, there is always room for improvement and it is healthy to recognize this. I believe in someone trying to better themselves, no matter how well set or “down-in-the-dumps” he or she is. If you take a look at large corporate businesses such as Apple for example, they are one of the most successful electronic companies in the world. However, every year they are consistently releasing new technology that is increasingly advanced, even though it is one of the largest and most successful in the world. This can be taken and learned from. It is important to self improve, especially since self-improvement can never do any harm, particularly to others. If someone has done horrible things, he or she is trying to be healthy, trying to change for good, then another person should be able to recognize that and be able to help them change. Practicing healthy habits may change the world, or at least another person’s world, and that can make all the difference. Practicing health ensures that those around you and yourself are in a better environment, and that is something for all of us to strive for. I believe in practicing health one both a personal and a social level because it creates a better environment and longevity.

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  13. Benjamin Macedo

    I believe that healthcare should be free. There are too many instances where young adults whom can no longer be claimed on their parent’s healthcare plans, often do not treat minor illnesses or injuries due to the cost of general check in costing between $128 to $188. This steep price is difficult to pay when the average young adult is living from paycheck to paycheck, barely being able to pay for the bills they already have, never mind adding another large bill to that as well. If the found issue is not solvable with rest, then the person will now have to pay for additional checkups, as well as needed treatment. Even if the person in question is financially stable and can afford a short term amount of treatments, but that person can soon face a larger and larger increase in the costs, causing them to accumulate debt to afford the treatment needed. As a result of the debt the person can lose their home, and if they do not have family to fall back on, they become homeless and now have to deal with the imminent threat of their injuries or sicknesses becoming much worse due to not having the treatment they so desperately need, often in resulting in the death of that person. Even if that person is able to overcome the disease, it is proven that once a person becomes homeless, it is extremely unlikely that the person will ever be able to get back to the financial status they used to be at. But with free, or at the least, more affordable healthcare, the United States can see less homelessness, less illness, and less death

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