by Jake Doolittle
I’ve been sick for the last fifteen years. When I was three years old, I was bit in the head by a tick. When I was three and a half years old I was in my first wheelchair. I remember having kids make fun of me for showing up to pre-school in a wheelchair. Around the time I was five years old, I had a full body bone scan to test me for bone cancer. From five to thirteen years old, I felt like knives were being stabbed into my muscles at all times. I couldn’t read, comprehend, or genuinely think because the pain was so bad. I was never able to feel like a normal kid because I never really had a childhood. As others were outside making friends and running around, I stayed inside and writhed in pain. Of course, there were ups to counteract my downs. But it wasn’t ideal at all.
In middle school I started to fully understand what discrimination is. One day, I showed up to school in a wheelchair because I woke up and couldn’t walk. I rolled up to the front door and the nurse greeted me by rolling her eyes. She pulled my mom aside and told her that my wheelchair was too much of a hassle and a distraction. The entire school thought I was faking my pain for attention. They hastily brought the wheelchair lift down from the top of the staircase, brought me to a meeting room and put me there for 6 hours with some worksheets. They didn’t allow me to be with friends, I don’t even remember if I ate lunch that day because nobody checked on me during that time. That was the last day I went to middle school. There was no point. I was in pain, I would get put by myself all day, and my teachers were failing me because I had 4 doctor appointments a week and that was too “difficult” for them.
From there on out, it was just my mom and I. She homeschooled me and I cheated my way through the remainder of middle school, because I wasn’t able to read or write. All my friends stopped talking to me because they thought I was crazy. Then finally after at least one-hundred doctor appointments, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Treatments took four to five years, and finally now I’m feeling better.
At this point I’m able to look back at my life and comprehend what had happened. I was being discriminated against because of my disabilities. My friends ditching me, my teachers failing me, and my school nurse putting a handicapped twelve or thirteen year old in a room for hours. That’s just the start, there have been many more times that I’ve been discriminated against in my childhood, death threats, punching, and tripping are to name a few! But I’ve always had a sense of reality during even my toughest times. Is Lyme disease awful? Yes. Are there people suffering more than you? Yes. Even when it seems like the world is against you, it’s important to remember that this is a dream scenario compared to others. Though I had an awful time during my developing years, I fully understand that the discrimination directed towards me was nothing compared to some other peoples discrimination.