By Chelsey-Ann Fernandez Lawrence
When I was 17, my parents told me that there were three times I almost died in the ICU. One time, I stopped breathing. The other time, my blood pressure fell really low. Another time, I was losing a great deal of blood and nobody knew why.
When I recovered, the doctors called me “the miracle child” because they couldn’t believe it when, within a week after waking up from my coma, I was talking, walking (as much as I could anyway), and laughing again.
At 17 I was given a second chance at life
Looking back, I wonder if I made the most of this second chance in life. I did change my life direction. I went from planning on going to law school to planning a career in human services. I sought to volunteer as much as possible, and I have always shared a smile as often as I can.
And then my illness came back. . .
But last September, my illness came back again and put me in status epilepticus. I was having so many seizures that I did not have time to recover before a new seizure began. The doctors said my seizures were about 20 seconds apart, and this happened for almost a week. They told my husband I could be permanently disabled.
Thanks to God, we won this round again. I was given my third chance at life.
I am determined to beat this disease–and live!
I was raised with the attitude that quitting meant losing. And since I tended to have a competitive streak in me, I was resolved to win as often as I can–even against my own illness.
When my illness tells me, “Chelsey, forget about planning that part of your life, you’ll never get there because I am still here,” I tell my illness, “No. I will not give up. I have too much hope for my future. I did not work hard my whole life to just sit at home, wondering if I will ever have another flare up.”
I love people too much to accept that being alone is okay. I love God too much to think that an illness can ruin any plans He has for me.
Encouragement is defined as “the expression of approval and support.” Encouragement is meant to help us move forward in our goals. And like this quote says, “When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long.”
Reflecting on the reasons that keep you going will help you work harder, and be happier at what you are working for. If you are struggling with a job to support your family, think of how you are doing this for your family and how much you love them.
When my husband and I were struggling financially, he told me that he would dress up in a bunny suit and hold silly advertisement signs on street corners, just so he can provide for me. When I was in the hospital last September, he told me that he couldn’t bear to be away from me even when he was at work. But at work, he reminded himself that by working, he was making money and therefore would be able to put food on our table, buy my medications. In this way, he can care and provide for me in the best way he knows how.
Every life has meaning, even when you don’t see it
Remembering the reasons that give your life meaning is the best encouragement you can give yourself. And remember that encouragement goes hand in hand with perseverance, and perseverance says, “Don’t quit before the blessing.”
Chelsey-Ann Fernandez Lawrence lives in the United States with her husband. She grew up in Canada and recently graduated from Trinity Western University. When she was young, she was diagnosed with pediatric central nervous system vasculitis. She seeks to give hope to others through a career in human services and the online community of “HOPE – Helping Other Patients Everywhere.”