The Chronicles of the Chronically ill

The Chronicles of the Chronically ill

Lauren Mathews

Chronic illnesses in teens are becoming more and more common. Some of the illnesses being diabetes, asthma, autoimmune conditions, heart disease, rheumatoid  arthritis, cystic fibrosis, migraines and many more. The word chronic means constantly recurring, or persistent, it doesn’t go away with treatment. Being in middle or high school while having a chronic illness is a daily struggle for those who are able to attend school. Especially for those whose chronic illness is invisible. An invisible illnesses is when their disability is not obvious to the outside world. For example, diabetes is an invisible illness, meaning that although they have diabetes, it’s not clearly visible that they have it.


My top three struggles of being a teen with a chronic illness are making it through the school day, keeping track of my other illnesses, and people telling me “you don’t look sick”.My illness, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, (POTS) is another example of a chronic invisible illness. I was diagnosed at a younger age, around twelve, and having this illness and being in school is a daily fight. Because of my illness, I come in halfway through the first block. I fight dizziness, tachycardia, low blood pressure, and fatigue. Although it affects me in school, I am grateful that all my teachers are able to adapt to my schedule which makes it easier on me as a teenager with a chronic illness.


Sophomore Kayleigh Matthews ,who has asthma, said, “ When dealing with asthma at school, it’s frustrating and embarrassing to explain why you can’t do a simple task. Sometimes even walking across the street and up the stairs can be problematic and conditions can vary on any given day.” Many people don’t see stairs as a challenge, however to some it is a difficult climb, especially those who have asthma. “It doesn’t help that most people don’t understand how severe asthma can be,” said Matthews.


Brooke Bollinger, a sophomore who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in June 2011 said, “In someone without diabetes, their pancreas gives them the correct amount of insulin to cover for every carbohydrate they eat so that their blood sugar can stay at a healthy level (80 – 110). When someone’s pancreas isn’t working they need to administer insulin through injection every time they eat or even if their blood sugar is out of range.” Bollinger said that her top three daily struggles with type 1 diabetes are; swings in her blood sugar, pricking her finger, and people who don’t understand her illness, but don’t try to ask questions. “If people have questions I would love to answer them correctly rather than have people spread incorrect information. Just ask me! I don’t mind,” said Bollinger.
With many chronic illnesses appearing in high school, just keep in mind that some of these illnesses are invisible. There are many people don’t realize that other people have an illness. Teenagers who have chronic illnesses don’t mind sharing information with you if you have questions.  Everyday activities such as climbing the stairs, or walking to class, are harder for people with chronic illnesses. Keep in mind the next time you see someone walking slowly or looking disoriented that they might be facing an illness. Be respectful to people who have chronic illnesses, and ask questions if you want to understand their illness, don’t just brush it off. People who have a chronic illness are fighters, trying to survive high school just like you.