My name is David. It was a hot July summers day in 2006, I could hear the engines of the Moto GP bikes in the pits, the gut wrenching rumble of 250 horses zooming around the track at over 200 miles per hour. My family and I were on our summer vacation through California, our last stop was at the 2006 Red Bull U.S.G.P at Laguna Seca. I have been waiting for this vacation for years, and it was finally here. Race day fell on a Sunday at two p.m, the bikes were on the starting line, engines revving at thousands of RPM’s. Three, two, one! The green flag drops and they are off, my brother Dylan and I glued to the fence on the side of the track. About half way through the race I noticed something different, my nose had started to run, just an ever so slight drip. Almost like I was coming down with a cold or something.
I went back to where we were camped out for the day and grabbed a Kleenex, thinking it was nothing, I went on enjoying my day at the races. But little did I know over the next three months I would be in the fight for my life at the ripe age of 16 years old.
Upon our return to Austin two days after the race, I was getting worse. I could barely breathe out of the right side of my nose, and the left was by far no better. I kept it to myself for some time, because I knew that Lacrosse season was coming up for my high school and the last thing I wanted was to be sick for the first practice. I had just come off of a very successful sophomore year, I was team captain of the JV, and leading scorer (35 goals and 20 assists), I had a varsity starting spot secured, I was ready and trained over the summer for my time to shine and lead my team.
Weeks had passed with no improvement, bottles of empty high-powered antibiotics littered my medicine cabinet. Something was not right, and I knew it. About a month prior to when I was diagnosed, we made a trip to see my dads ear, nose and throat doctor by the name of Dr. Chris Thompson. When he examined me he said that he had never seen anything like this before, “its weird” he exclaimed. Chris had noticed that my sinuses were totally blocked on both sides by what appeared to be some sort of a cyst on the sides of my septum (which we later discovered were granulomas). He suggested a blister pack of prednisone and a super high-powered antibiotic, he believed that we probably would not even have to call him back and that these drugs should knock it right out of me. Sadly, that was not the case. We were back to see him in two weeks, and I was much worse, I had developed a deep throaty cough along with horrible nosebleeds, and was loosing my appetite. During this visit, my ENT had done some research and came upon two diseases that could be causing my symptoms in my sinuses and the rest of my body either Sarcoidosis or Wegeners granulomatosis. Before we left his office that day, he had ordered a C-ANCA blood test and a chest x-ray stat.
Three days after that appointment I was laying in my bed, skinny, weak, too tired to move, I peered over at my clock and it was 3:00 in the morning. I could feel the blood running down the back of my throat. My mom came rushing in and said “we are going to the hospital now!” They admitted me that morning. Every thing I had ever known was going though my head laying in that hospital bed, my parents, brother, family, places I might never get to see, things I have never done, would I ever get to play the sport that I love again, everything. My greatest fear was to die at a young age and never experience life itself.
The C-ANCA test came back high, and I was scheduled for a nasal biopsy to confirm the suspicion of WG on my birthday, September 20th, 2006. I was 17 years old. The call came on a cloudy Friday afternoon from the lab of my ENT. Three months after I had reached for that fateful Kleenex that blistering hot summers day back in California I was diagnosed with a rare form of vasculitis known as Wegener’s granulomatosis. The next couple of months or so I would be battling this disease back and forth, discovering what life really is and what it means to me.
About a week after being discharged from the hospital I was at home and on the mend (lots of medication of course, prednisone and Cytoxan, etc.). My mom told me to call this guy by the name of Peter Capizzo, who also has WG. The next day I gave him a shout and am I glad I did. Peter is a great man with a heart of gold, he always made and still does make time for us to talk and have a great time playing video games and exchanging e-mails. He has helped me in so many ways, I am forever in debt to him. Peter has been there for me time and time again through the good and the bad. That’s by far the best thing that has come from the disease, meeting my good friend Peter Capizzo. I just hope that one day I can change a child’s life the way that he has changed mine, for that will make my life worth while. He has given me more hope and strength that has helped me through my life-changing ordeal than I ever thought possible. I would be lost and alone without Peter and I love him like a brother for that. He’s my brother from a different mother I guess you could say. I thank you very much Peter for you have changed my life more that you could imagine, it means so much.
I see things differently now that I have gone through such a trying time in my young years. It has been a liberating experience to say the least. Everyday I wake up and am thankful to see the sun rise on another day of my life. To be with my family and friends for another day, I live every day like it will be my last. Because you never know, it could be. Material possessions are nice, but the real gift of all is the gift of life itself, because without life what are material possessions? They are but nothing. When I was in the hospital I would constantly repeat these nine words “The grass is always greener on the other side”, and to tell you the God’s honest truth, it is. I believe this disease will change me for the better, and it has. For it has given me a new lease on life itself, my new normal…
(This essay was written for a high school assignment.)
Published: May 2009
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