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The thrill of making it to graduation with chronic fatigue syndrome

  [ 55 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Connie Howard • • January 1, 1999

It’s been a long hard road but I’ve finally made it. On Sunday, May 31, 1998, I graduated from New Albany High School. It’s been a tough road to get to where I am today. Four and a half years ago I became ill with CFIDS. I’ve been on and off homebound teaching ever since.
High school sure didn’t go as I had planned. During my freshman year of high school I was totally on homebound teaching, after attempting about two weeks of school. The summer of ‘95 looked promising. I enrolled in three afternoon classes for my sophomore year, supplemented by two mornings a week with a teacher in the library. It worked well until I relapsed two months later. I completed the rest of my sophomore classes at home.
My family and I agreed not to even attempt attending school during my junior year. Since I am eligible for an extended school year and wouldn’t be under pressure to finish my classes on time, I joined my church’s Celebration Singers so I could be around kids my own age.
In April ‘97, I was able to attend my junior prom. That summer I performed in my church’s annual musical. Combining these two activities landed me in the hospital in June. I decided it was time to take some time off from everything. My family and I vacationed in Florida after an appointment with my CFIDS specialist (Dr. Lapp) in Charlotte, N.C., in July.
While my classmates were entering their senior year of high school, I was still working on my junior classes. Despite another relapse, I was finally able to finish my junior classes and begin my senior classes.
The past four months have probably been the hardest, yet the best, part of my life. I came from being over a semester behind to participating in another church musical, attending my senior prom and suffering another hospital stay to participating in graduation ceremonies. On June 26, 1998, I officially finished all of my classes. I received my diploma the next week!
I’ve lost a lot of what a teenager would have gained from high school, yet I’ve learned a lot of things more meaningful in life, that someone my age would never have experienced. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve wanted to give up on everything. But I’ve kept pushing, sometimes beyond the limit, and I’ve finally made it! If not for the continuous support of friends and family, I don’t know where I’d be today.
I don’t know what’s in store. I have hopes and dreams for the future. I am looking forward to relaxing over the next year, in hopes of regaining my health and being able to go on to college. But the future is in God’s hands and I just have to trust that He knows what’s right.

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