I was 14 when I was first prescribed a lifetime supply of steroids
We compare ill people to ourselves, and deem them inferior
An emblem of puerility, I had thought that I was the mightiest of all children. I used to believe, was confident, that I was infallible—fireproof. Like all children, I ran across fields, dreaming that perhaps one day I would grow wings and fly. I used to scrape my knees, come home weeping to my mother about the bad boys who chased after us in school. “They ruined the glitter puddle that I made,” I had said, at seven years old. And to ruin my glitter puddle was to me the worst thing they could have ever done.
At fourteen, however, I was proven incorrect. Suddenly, the scrapes on my knees became explosions of deep purple, blue, at times yellow, and even red. A party of Petechiae, my skin stood out. I would bruise so easily that even the simplest touch would leave splatters of what looked like ink stains (but were actually signs of internal bleeding). My parents, being the caring and most loving pair that they are, took me to a hematologist who ultimately diagnosed me with Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura, “a disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding.” And yes, I was fourteen years old when I was first prescribed a lifetime supply of steroids.
Now let me tell you what those do to you. Imagine you are sitting in a chair (i.e. the steroids) that has a mind of its own. Strapped to it, you are expected to flatten your back to the point of pain. Your legs are also strapped to its legs, and the chair wants you to remain still. But you see, your mind is suddenly working miracles, racing at a pace that is beyond human capability. The chair is commanding you to focus, but you simply cannot. Now imagine that two birds begin flapping their wings above your head. You want to look up, but the chair is asking you not to. With a pacing brain, you begin to hear their beaks clink, their feathers flick and flap about, and claws strap onto the metal of their cage, dangling like the doorbells of hell. You are that focused, but you are also that unfocused. The littlest and most intricate noises that you hear haunt you, and so do the incessant commands of the chair. And your heart begins to worry — begins to palpitate. Your brain stings, and there wallows your life.
Here is the thing, though. My little brother was only two when he was prescribed a lifetime supply of steroids — was only two when he was forcibly strapped to this hypothetical chair. This, of course, meant strictly that the boy had not even the chance to believe that he was the mightiest of all children. At only two, he was diagnosed with a blood condition that is entirely worse than mine. With a platelet count as low as 20,000, he would spend most of his days being transferred from one hospital to the other. And to him, the least pain the “bad boys” could have ever inflicted upon him was to call him an abomination. And the worst pain? Well, they had tracked the “sick boy” down to teach him a “lesson.” Omar was thrown to the ground, and was hit until his bones bruised.
The reason why I am sharing this story with you is because at times, we do not know what people are dealing with. As much as we try to empathize with others, we find ourselves incapable of seeing the less fortunate as our equals. Our children are idolizing the concept of superiority, as though it is the most crucial aspect of their untainted lives. We automatically compare ill men, women, and children to ourselves, and as a result, deem them inferior. We even convince ourselves that we know exactly how it is like in the minds of others, as though we had been offered a front row view into their brains. And with that, we walk amongst others with a mindset that belittles those who suffer beyond our day-to-day suffering.
With that, let me clarify that I am not asking you to stop empathizing with people who are battling illnesses. Neither am I asking you to quit complaining about your own problems, because you matter. What I am asking you to do is to stay careful; I am asking you to stay aware. After all, no one knows what it is like to live inside your mind or mine.