“You are going to be fine. It happens to a lot of people. Just remember to keep taking your medicines on time. Okay?”, the doctor said.
“Yes uncle”, Aditi replied.
“But isn’t she too young for this? I mean she never showed any signs of this for almost 14 years, and now suddenly she is falling ill because her cold and cough resurface time and again.”, the father asked.
“Sometimes, it is hereditary. It can begin to show its presence in later years as well. But don’t worry, let’s see how she responds to the medicines”, the doctor assured Aditi’s parents.
Aditi was a chirpy little girl, loved fondly by her parents who discovered at the age of 15 that she had asthma. As a child, she was traumatized to learn about her illness, especially because she always remembered a similar girl of her age who was often the face of an asthma medicine commercial. It wasn’t really the disease that bothered her, it was the empathy people looked at her with. She didn’t want to live her entire life surrounded by sympathetic words, hugs or smiles. She wanted everyone to believe there was more to Aditi than a respiratory ailment.
As years went by her breathing became shallower and it began to impact her self- esteem. By the time she turned 23, the situation became so grave that she often underwent panic attacks which lasted for days. Her parents began to rush her to the hospital in the middle of the night fearing her health almost every week. Amidst all this, she often questioned her existence. She would ask God of all the people why was she given such a life. As her parents patted her to sleep, she couldn’t stand the sight of their teary eyes and fathoming grief.
During one of her medical check-up, her doctor suggested her to add a routine of work-out to increase her breathing capacity. Knowing her problem, with great nervousness she joined a gym. On the first day itself, she had an asthma attack and went back home crying. As she lay in bed that night, she decided she didn’t want a disease to define her, a thought she held on to for years. The next day, she went back and eventually began to enjoy her routine. Through the same, she discovered her love for running. She was very aware that being a patient of asthma, it was a huge risk but she pursued it anyway. With immense enthusiasm, she searched for running tracks, events and relished the thought of running in a marathon.
But the fear of asthma didn’t let her register for a marathon. She struggled with that thought for almost a year when one fine day she realized she had to grow bigger than the fear. She found out about a marathon scheduled at the end of the month and registered for it. Getting up every day at 5 AM, she would convince herself she could run like a normal person and she did. This meant she would still take a dose of her medicine through the inhaler before the practice run but the fact that she was trying was a huge motivation.
A night before the race, she couldn’t sleep as anxiety and fear gripped her. As the alarm struck at 5 AM, she mustered her courage and dressed to face her fear and dream of running the marathon. As she slipped into her running shoes, she sent a silent prayer, “God, prove me wrong today. Make my fear vanish. Let me breathe, let me run, let me fly.”
With a pounding heart, she stood first in line, as the whistle blew and the race began. With every step, she could feel the air lifting her, almost as if she was flying. With every breath, she could feel the weight of her shoulders become lighter and lighter. As she approached the finish line, her eyes swelled up. For years she had imagined this moment, and she created it despite her fears. As she caught her breath, a volunteer came smiling to congratulate her with a medal. As she embraced it, a mild shower began to drizzle. As tiny droplets feel to her face, she looked up in the sky and thought, “You let me fly after all.”
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