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The Remedy: A Teenager Reflects On Illness And Friendship

Daniel Cheak
Basim Blunt
Daniel Cheak

Things shrink when a person is sick. They're in the house, in their bedroom or maybe even a hospital bed, but today's Dayton Youth Radio student learned that living in a small world has given him wide dreams.

Growing up, I've spent all of my time invested in school and my studies. For my family I was always forced to complete any homework right after school and to place education above all else. I've even received acceptance for a couple of full ride college scholarships, but none of it has been easy.

High school isn't a piece of cake. I've been battling with health issues for five years now.

At the age of 11, I started feeling very unwell. I had headaches, stomach aches, and back pain. I got so bad I had to ask my mom to finally take me to the family doctor. Eventually I had to see a gastroenterologist and a neurologist to roll out any possible illnesses. One of my worst memories was going to the neurologist and getting injections in the back of my neck in order to try to numb the spinal cord and stop my migraines.

After five years of doctors and misdiagnoses, I was finally told that I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and fibromyalgia. Both of these limit my day to day mobility and what exactly I can do.

Around this time I stopped hanging out with people. I had to stay in a lot, and I began watching the entire Grey's Anatomy series. The concept of saving lives was beyond fascinating. When things started to get better and when I finally found myself getting out of bed, one of the first people that I hung out with was Andrew.

"The first time we met was in freshman English class," says Andrew. "It was like the last two weeks of school and I was changed from sixth period to eighth period, and I sat right in front of you."

I remember going over to Andrew's house just to show him Grey's Anatomy. I showed him so many scenes from that show, and I just kept talking on and on and on about how much I loved it. I know he probably had to be getting so tired of it.

"I think the worst part about having to watch you go through all this pain was seeing how much it took a toll on your mental state," says Andrew. "The issue that you have with your joints and your muscles isn't something that I hear about every day, especially with young people, and it made me think of how yoy have a very different life. And it made me see how strong you are."

One thing that really helps me stay positive and get through this is the idea of what I want to do after high school.

Obviously talking about the medical field, it has always been of interest to me, but so is engineering. What I want to go into is prosthetic designed for kids. I hope that through doing this I can give them a better experience in the hospital than what I've had. There's nothing worse than the first time going to the hospital, and I think that that with kids especially it's something that I could help try to smooth the process of and try to be you know a friendly face to some of them. That's just really important to me.

There's nothing that's impossible, and I feel like this was my impossible situation and I got through it.

Daniel Cheak is a student at Stivers School for the Arts. Special thanks Leslie Rogers and Eva Maksutis of the Creative Writing Magnet. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.stivers.org/ Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.