“Hey Joy.” My classmate Savanna called. “What’s your superpower?”
In Miss Tory’s class we were doing a superhero section. Superpowers were what you were best at.
“I guess I’m okay at art?” I told her.
“Okay!” Savanna yelled. “You only got disqualified because the judges think you took a picture EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!!!!!!!!”
But really, I have a superpower far greater then being a good artiest. I had a huge secret. It was one that most people wouldn’t know how to keep, but it had been a reality all my life. Only my parents knew about it. Sometimes I wanted to tell, but I don’t people to pity me. I wouldn’t know how to tell, but because this is just a journal, and you need to know to understand me? Okay……………………………………………………………………………………….Here goes.
I had finished writing early, so I opened my journal.
Ok so where was I? Oh yeah, my secret.
I’m sick. Not with a cold or the flu, but with a chronic illness, (Meaning it probably won’t ever go away.) Only my parents know about this, but that doesn’t make it any more bearable.
Every day I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus- tiered, sore, and wanting to skip the day. Sometimes it get so bad, that I can’t even do normal things like go to school. Sometimes I have to skip things I really want to go to.
Here’s a pain scale. Most people complain when they get to two, but for me, it’s a nine most days. I never tell though. I hate being pitied, and if people knew, I would be pitied all the time. So no one knows. Not that it’s easy though. I try not to lie, but sometimes I have to to cover up my secret. Some days I can do things like open draws, climb stairs, and get dressed. Some days it;s like climbing mount Everest, and it takes all my strength. If you see me sliding down the banister, it’s not because I’m insane, but because it takes too much strength to simply walk down the stairs.
Anyway, maybe I should tell you a little more about me, because my illness doesn’t describe who I am. My name is Joy Fully. Yes my parents really did name me Joy Fully. I have a middle name too.(But you will never ever figure it out.) Mom often tells me to do things Joyfully, and I do, because that’s me. Sometimes I get teased, but I don’t bear it alone. I have three sisters, Hope Fully, Faith Fully, and Grace Fully.
I really like art. I am pretty good at it too. And I love writing in this journal, but I have to hide it, because I don’t anyone finding out my secret.
I have a hard life, but what can I do? It’s just who I am. Joy Fully.
We were staring our gym class this week. Miss Rachel the gym teacher stood near the beam, and told us to do a leap, cartwheel, and dismount. Maria instantly fell off. Savanna got on. But she leaped/fell off. Then it was my turn. I was last, and it was almost time to leave. I got on the beam. LeapedCartwheeledAnd dismounted. Savanna started hugging me, and the teacher said something in the background that didn’t click until later.
“You are amazing! I’ll have to see if I can get you into a more advanced class, where you have more time to do stuff.”In bed that night it hurt. A lot. I couldn’t handle all the pain, it hurt so bad. I thrashed around, trying to go to sleep.
“I never want to do gym class again!” I thought“Stop wiggling!” Hope yelled at me as she turned over.
“Fine!” I yelled back. I stopped wiggling, but it hurt. It would hurt to get out of bed and get some pain killer, but it hurt to be in bed. I wanted to scream. Finally I dragged myself out of bed.I went to get Mom who gave me pain killer. Then I slept next to her the rest of the night. I felt better. Until I remembered what Miss Rachel had said. “I’ll put you in a better class where you have more time to do stuff.” What was I going to do now?
We went to gym class again. I groaned because I didn’t want to do it. I sat next to Savanna as we listened to the teacher.
“Joy will go first.” She said “Because we have a special guest joining us today to see her.”
I gasped. Someone wanted to see me?
“This is the gymnastics teacher.” She explained “If she likes what she sees, Joy will work with her during the gym time instead of here.”
I was stuck. I couldn’t go to a gym class by myself. I would be miserable. Then I had an idea. I smiled as I though of it. I was going to have a case of over confidence.
“Are you ready Joy?” I stood up. “I am ready.I got on the beam as everyone went to the wall.Then I tried a fancy flip. Then (Just as planed) I fell off. I heard a sharp crack, and felt a lot of pain. I screamed.Everything was blurry as Savanna walked over to me. Then the world went black.
I layed in a hospital room, Mom on the bench next to me. I didn’t know where I was, or why I was here. I sat up and looked around. Mom still read her book. By the furniture I guess a hospital room, and then I remembered falling off the beam. Mom set down her book and moved closer to talk to me. But then the nurse came.
“Oh Joy you are awake! I’m one of the nurses here, and I am going to help make you comfortable. You broke you leg. Can I get you anything?”
“So what happened?” That was all. No chance for mom to explain, no baby voice, just a nurse talking to me.
“I fell off the beam at gym.” I told her. But somehow she could sense that there was more, and she didn’t say anything. I took that as a cue to continue. “Last time I had gym I was good at it, and they wanted me to move up a level so I could do more. But it hurt so bad the first time I fell off the beam so I didn’t have to do it again.”Mom turned to her.
“She has a chronic illness.”
“These might help. Also being gluten free might help with your chronic illness.” Then she left. Behind her Savanna almost toppled over under the weight of some stuff. I had no idea how long she had been there, and how much she had heard, but I didn’t say anything and nether did she. She dumped the stuff on my bed and I winced. “Broken leg. See?” She moved over. “First of all a teddy bear.” “And a card everyone signed.” “Some macaroons” “And a brush.” As she did my hair, I felt so much better. But soon she had to leave. And that night I lay in bed wondering. “what if everyone knew my ‘secret’?”
Several days after they released me from the hospital I sat in bed at home. It was a school day, but I had no intention of going. My leg wasn’t healing very well, and I didn’t feel well enough to go. I was just to tired, and sore. It was like I broke everything instead of just a leg. Plus the pain medicines weren’t helping. Same story as every day for the past two weeks. Mom came in the room.
“Are you feeling up to going to school today?”
All she needed was the look on my face. I wasn’t going.
“Savanna stopped by and asked to see you. Is that okay?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Hi, Joy! How are you feeling today!?”
“Same.” I managed to say. I sat up and patted the spot next to me. Savanna came and sat down. “I really miss you, you know.” It was like all of her cheerfulness left. “Why can’t you ever come to school?”
The real reason was because of with my broken leg and the chronic illness, I just never felt up to it. I couldn’t tell her that though. I came up with something, though it didn’t seem all that true.
“I had a really bad break, and the doctor told me to stay home for awhile.”
Savanna looked like she didn’t believe me, but she said “Oh.”
“What are you doing Joy?” Mom asked. Her hair was messy, like she had had a long day.
Mom seemed to know that it wasn’t the right answer. She pulled me up. “Savanna is here to see you. Why don’t you go talk to her.” Savanna and I walked down the street together. She knew something was wrong, that I didn’t feel well. She came up into my room and pushed a bed next to the bunks so she sit. As soon as I asked her what was happening in school she started talking.
“They are doing a fundraiser for homeless people. You can work alone or in teams. The teams can do it however they want, but the team that makes the most gets an extra recess for a whole week, the last week in school. I was kinda hoping you could do it with me?”
“I don’t think I can.”
“Can’t you help? You can walk! Why can’t you help, or come to school, or do anything anymore?” Without waiting for an answer, she left.
Mom and Hope were at the store, and I was all alone doing homework. Then a scary thought struck me. What if I was like this forever? I knew that chronically ill people took longer to heal, but what if I was like this forever? I hadn’t known that ‘falling’ off the beam could change my life forever! Something had to change. I didn’t want to put up with this forever. I snuck down to the empty kitchen. Then I pulled the biggest knife I could find out of the cabinet. Raising it, I was about to use it to stab myself.
“Joy!” In a blur I jumped, and dropped the knife on my foot. I sat down and bandaged my foot. Having hobbled up to my room I flopped on the bed, trying not to believe what I had almost done, crying myself to sleep.
“What happened here Joy?”
“It’s a long story.”
“You need help Joy. I shouldn’t have left you home alone. I am taking you to a therapist, and after that you are going to school.”
She cut me off. “No Joy. You need help, and you are going to get it, like it or not.”
I sighed. “Fine.”
After that things changed. Every day the next week I hung out at the therapist. She helped me, and got me ready to go to school. It helped to know someone cared.
“Before you send me away, just listen. I came to say I am sorry. I know you are dealing with a lot, and I shouldn’t have gotten mad about you not coming to school.” I slid off of the bed and sat next to Savanna.
“It’s okay, I guess. I understand. I am coming back to school tomorrow.”
She jumped up and down. “Really!”
Then she noticed. “What happened to your foot?” I had enough secrets from her. I finally opened up and told her, if not the real secret at least something.
Even though I never said it she knew what I meant.
“Be more joyful. Don’t leave!”
But at that moment she was all the joy I needed. Just knowing someone cared.
Today was the day I went to school. I was fine until gym class. I had been walking around on a aching leg all day, and it hurt enough. I knew if I did gym it would be agony. When I got to the gym I was a little late and they had already started. I saw instantly the gym had changed. They were doing bar now, and Grace was on the bar. Gathering my courage, I walked up to the teacher.
“Oh Joy! You are finally here again. I am glad that you are well enough to come.”
“I am here, but I don’t think I can do gym today, with my broken leg and all.” I confessed.
“I am sure you can do bar.”
“She is such a idiot she won’t even do gym.”
“Seriously?” She said. “We all know that you want to not have to show everyone your terrible skills, but you don’t have to complain about her getting to leave.”
“Don’t listen to them!” She told me. “They just are jealous that you get to skip class, and they have to do stuff that they are terrible at.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“Hello Miss Maria!” I greeted her. “I was wondering if I could rest in here for a bit?”
“I have an idea for a project for the money raising race,” She told me. “And since you haven’t been here I thought you might like to take it, it’s already started.”
“I have been making blankets, hoping we could sell them for fans?” She told me.
“That’s a wonderful idea!” I burst out. “I’ll do it!”
“Now you should rest,” Miss Maria reminded me. So I took the book and read it with the pile of blankets at my feet. Soon enough gym was over and Savanna came in. Then I sat up and told her about it. She agreed it was a wonderful idea, one that would surely win.
Over the last few weeks Savanna and I had been making blankets. I made them whenever I had time, usually during gym class. The teacher always asked me to join in, but I always refused. Finally we had enough to take them around the neighborhood to sell. It was a sunny day. Savanna and I had loaded almost thirty blankets on her scooter and we took turns pulling it. Coming up to the house we asked the lady coming from the house if she wanted any blankets.
“Would you like to buy some blankets to help support Brazil?”
The girl ran to get her mom. They looked at the blankets. “These would be perfect to give to Abby and Jessie at their birthday sleepover!” The girl exclaimed.
“And these would be perfect in the room you share with your quadruplets.” Her mom said. The blankets kept disappearing. One colorful lady took all of the bandanna blankets.
“Aren’t you the little chronic illness girl?” The lady asked.
“I think you are mis”
“No, you are the little chronic illness girl!”
I rolled my eyes. “Would you like a blanket?”
I shrugged. I really wanted to tell her, but it was too late now. “I have no idea.”
I felt bad for lying, but also really good. We had sold all of the blankets, and made almost three hundred dollars! What was to feel bad about?
Over the next few days Savanna and I made and sold more blankets. We came up to 500 dollars! Soon it was time to go to the party in which the winners would be announced. As I put on my party dress I was starting to feel bad. I had helped rearrange our room the day before, and it was getting to me. I knew I needed to stay home, but I really really really wanted to go, so I ignored it and pretended that it all was fine. I knew I needed to rest, so I took a nap. Savanna came in. She was wearing her party dress, and look great in it. I got out of the bed and sat next to Savanna. She giggled at my hair.
“Why don’t I fix it for you?” I agreed, and she messed with it until time to go. Soon we arrived at the party. There were people EVERYWHERE!, and I was starting to get overwhelmed. A group of girls Savanna knew were in the corner talking. We went over to talk to them. Some of them teased me, but I shrugged it off. An hour of dancing, partying, and being overwhelmed later I saw my mom talking to a teacher on stage. I walked over to them.
“When are you going to do the awards?”
“In just a minute.”
Mom saw my flushed face. “Are you okay Joy? Your face is flushed.”
But Mom felt my forehead and announced I had a fever. “I’m taking you home.”
I tried to argue my way out of it, but she wouldn’t even let me stay for the awards. As we walked out they did awards.
“In first place Is SAVANNA!” I heard her walk on stage and accept the prize, another recess for a whole week. She didn’t give me any praise, or even acknowledge that I was there. Mom came into my room. “Do you need anything Joy?”
“Just leave me alone!”
I was at the point of tears. I really wanted to go to this, and I came down sick. I wasn’t just sick, I was sick of life. Why do things have to turn out wrong?”
The whole week of an extra recess I was sick. School ended and Savanna went away to camp for the whole summer, leaving me alone with nothing to do except deal with my illness, and feel sorry for myself. When would this end?
Summer. It used to be fun. That was when I had Savanna, before her Mom got a job and she went to camp all summer, and I could move without being in agony. (Just pain) I had written everything, done everything there was to do without having other people around. (Mom was at work, Savanna was at camp, my sisters were at classes, I didn’t have any pets.) Then I got an idea. We had a woods behind our house. I would go on a hike, and be home before anyone noticed. I went outside and started my hike. As soon as I crossed the bridge it was a wonderland. Huge trees, adventure everywhere. A log twice as tall as I was. A very tall tree that was thinner than me.
balanced on a log, trying to stay on. A breeze came on. I must not be very good at balancing, because I went…..
CLONK! All the way down the hill. As soon as I stopped tumbling I pushed myself up. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get out. I lay there for hours, trying to get out but nothing worked. A couple hours later I heard Mom calling. “JOY!” I screamed till I had no voice left. Soon though, Faith tumbled down to meet me. She grabbed my hand and pulled me up. I don’t remember much of the way back, as it was all blurry, but I do remember one thing.
“Joy, you can’t be home alone anymore. I am afraid you will hurt yourself. I am sending you to camp.” I probably protested, but it was settled. I was going to camp. After I recovered from this hike.
After I got checked in, (Savanna’s cabin of course.) I went to our cabin and tapped her. She was caught up in a story our leader Bethany, was telling. She stopped what she was doing and hugged me tight.
“You must be the new girl!” She exclaimed. “Come try our rock wall!”
I tried to back out of it. “I have a broken leg. I shouldn’t.”
“You have to!”
Eventually she made me, and I grabbed onto the wall, fearing that I was going to fall. I had good reason to fear, for ten seconds after I had started climbing I couldn’t hold on. The world turning blurry I dropped to the ground. Just as Savanna stuck out her hand to help me up the dinner bell rang.
“You go.” I told her. “I am going to the infirmary.”
“Are you sure?” She asked. “I could go with you?”
Somehow I got my journal, writing away. A couple hours later I went to bed. The rest of the camp was doing something else, but I was ready to go to bed. Bethany was in the cabin, but she wasn’t paying any attention to me. If she was, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to go to bed. A few minutes later I plopped on the bed and slept, a first day of camp over.
The end of my first week of camp we were going camping. The ‘fun’ part was hiking to get there. It was a four hour hike, one that I couldn’t take, but I didn’t want to tell my secret. I went, though it was hard for me. I wasn’t feeling very good at the beginning, and four hours of hiking wasn’t going to help.
Let me tell you about the worst/best thing I did at camp, since this is what changed my life.
“Is it you, or is this fictional?”
I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t tell her. “Fictional.”
“What do you mean? It is all fictional. This is not my journal!”
“How come it starts with ‘Welcome To My Journal.’?”
She got me. She knew. I looked around before starting. “You’re right. This was my journal. Joy was me.”
There was more than a trace of hurt in her voice. “How come you didn’t tell me? I wouldn’t tell anyone!”
“I didn’t tell anyone.”
“So if you are Joy, than does that mean you have the whole chronic illness thing?”
“Yes. This is my real life. I didn’t tell you because I hate being pitied. I wanted to ignore it, to not deal with it. I wanted to be normal.”
“Oh Joy, I am so sorry!”
Then I poured out the whole story, starting with when I started realizing I wasn’t normal. It took a lot of explaining. Savanna listened with horror, realizing just what I had to go through.
“I have something to tell you. There is something I have been hiding. Something that is my real life. I can’t hide it any longer. I need to tell you.” I poured out my whole story.
Surprisingly the group took it well. They weren’t mad at me for hiding it, and they were very supportive. Mia told me that I could talk to her whenever, and she would listen. Then they started telling me stuff about them. Each girl had a secret. Some of them were really small, like fighting with sisters, but one girl had diabetes, a chronic illness like me. Savanna was last. Her parents had just divorced, and that was why she spent so much time with me. After we were done talking I heard Bethany whisper “Joy!”
“Do you want to go back to camp instead of hiking another ten hours?” I gladly accepted. I was glad I told. Now I could not do things that would hurt me, and not feel bad about it. I went back to camp, but I was fine being alone. I had things to plan.
I know I haven’t written in awhile. I am almost out of space, so I am just going to sum up the rest of the story. After I told people were more supportive. It took awhile for people to see just how bad I was, but they never minded if I skipped out on things. Now I have more friends, and I am happier. The best advice I got was ‘when you feel bad, just remember there are always people worse than you.’ I had gotten cards and gifts, and they made me feel good. It was inspiration enough to start a new project. I organized care packages to give to people worse than me, and it made me feel better too.
I don’t need this journal anymore. I have more friends, and though I have the same pain, having people who know about it helps. I am not the same anymore.