Kristen's Reflections

Kristen was 14 years old when we vacated our Colorado home. A freshman in high school, she was struggling with her grades and her ability to concentrate. She was increasingly depressed. I still thought of her as one of the "healthier" ones in our family. She didn't have organ failure, didn't lose her ability to walk, and wasn't dizzy like some of our other kids. She was, however, impacted just like the rest of us. She had been on high doses of seizure medication since moving into the home. She struggled with fatigue and mood. Teachers often commented on her "messy" handwriting. She had a hard time putting words to her feelings. She became less and less verbal. She experienced joint pain in her knees and had symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy.

Because of our move and the resulting fight to recover, Kristen let go of high school. She received a year of at-home tutoring and completed her GED in the spring of 2011. At the age of 17 she enrolled in the local community college.

Kristen has completed 12 hours in her first two semesters. While her root canal removal last summer gave her immune system a nice boost, she still struggles with fatigue and the ongoing issue of putting words to her thoughts. (See her Story of Tooth #8 in this previous post.) Still, Kristen is progressing, blazing a trail that inspires those who watch.

Last week she turned in a paper for her writing class. Her first paragraph offers this perspective on the move and her illness:

In October 2008 my family of 11 and I left our home and all of our belongings because of mold. The stachybotrys growing in my home was affecting our bodies so intensely and quickly that we had no other choice but to vacate. We moved to a drier air climate and began our road back to health. During this three-year process I've discovered that my brain has been severely impacted. Negative thoughts flow through my brain in large waves and although I try to think more positively it is sometimes impossible. Because of a seizure disorder and the drugs I was put on to "fix" it I have lost a significant amount of overall feeling. Like one of my seizures I have walked around in a fog, not feeling anything, for most of my life. Over the course of the last three years I've come to realize my problem and am striving to make it healthier. This semester and the books I've read as well as the movies I've watched have reinforced the idea that the way I see the world starts in me.
Kristen turned 18 on Monday. It was a quiet, unobtrusive celebration, just like Kristen. A reminder that courage comes in all forms—sometimes with a loud roar, sometimes with a whisper that simply says, "I won't give up."