Sunday, May 27, 2018

Weekly Inspiration: My Son

You may have been wondering where I've been for the past couple of weeks, and why I haven't been posting much here (or on Twitter or Facebook)...we have been getting ready for a huge event and the subject of today's Weekly Inspiration...

Our son graduated yesterday from college with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering!! This would be a wonderful accomplishment for any young person, but he has had ME/CFS for almost 14 years (since age 10) and also has Lyme disease plus two other tick infections. He barely remembers a life before chronic illness, and the combination of these diseases has been devastating and, at times, incapacitating.

For the past six years, he has worked harder than anyone else had to in order to achieve this incredible milestone. He showed amazing persistence, taking 3 classes each semester (that's all he could manage), plus often taking a class during summer and winter sessions, so that some years, he had almost no time off all year. He remained committed and determined, even after most of his friends graduated two years ago. He hit some major roadblocks along the way: the year he caught the flu in November and was completely incapacitated for 3 months; the many times he crashed so badly that he had to come home for 2-4 weeks and then catch up on all the schoolwork he'd missed; and just last week, days before graduation, a professor told him he failed him for missing too many classes (despite his accommodation plan), which resulted in an incredibly stressful lead-up to graduation with visits to Disability and the Dean of Students (now you know why I've been too busy to blog!). The result of that fiasco was that he still needs to take one last elective this summer...but he did walk in the graduation ceremonies this weekend.

I am in awe of what he has done. I think back to my own college days - the most carefree days of my life! I was perfectly healthy (and took that for granted, of course), partied wildly on the weekends, and worked hard all week, graduating easily in four years, ready to start my adult life. I manage support groups, both online and locally, for families whose "kids" have ME/CFS and related conditions, so I personally know or know of thousands of young people struggling with these diseases, and I have huge admiration for all of them. I was 37 years old when I first got sick, and that was immensely challenging. I can't even imagine what's it like for all these young people, including my son, to grow up like this. Of course, some of them are too sick to even try school, but many of them, like my son, struggle every day, week, and month to do what other kids do effortlessly. It truly is awe-inspiring.

So, here's to my son, my inspiration, my heart, for this incredible accomplishment. His commencement speaker said something to the effect of "the important thing in life is not what you achieve but what obstacles you overcome to get there." Our son overcame one obstacle after another to achieve this goal that other young people might take for granted, and we are so proud of him!

I hope that you are inspired by his journey, too.

NOTE: If you are wondering how someone with all those diseases was able to manage college and graduate, check out my post on Effective Treatments for ME/CFS - it outlines the treatments that have worked the best for both of us over the years and those that have allowed us both to become more active and live semi-normal lives. If you have a teen yourself, you might also be interested in the post, How My Son Went from Couchbound to College, about the treatments that helped him that summer before college, when we were desperate to find what would work to allow him to start college on time with his friends (which he did), after he'd missed 90 days of high school his senior year.

No comments:

Post a Comment