hospital bracelets and lost hair.
Last summer I attempted to start an online writing group. Fueled by my desire to improve my writing and duplicate the workshop-style setting of the writing courses I was taking in Los Angeles at the time, I wanted to create a forum for promising writers I knew to share work, receive criticism, and explore the work of others. It was a good concept, I thought. I cast a wide net, contacting people I considered intelligent, who I also thought were down to critique and be critiqued. The issue was execution. Rather than stick to the five or so dedicated writers I originally foresaw, I opened the group up to about 10 or so people. Some wrote casually, some ranted online, some were legit writers, having been published in various formats. Seemed like a good idea to me.

Then, the responses to the prompts I posted slowed. I struggled to nail down a functional format for the collective. Some used it as a rant space. Some would respond to an outpouring with, "I like it." And that was that. And: life happened. It slowly faded to black, still searchable online, never to be used again.

Last week, my awesome parents sent me a care package of books I requested. In this box was also a journal I didn't request. The entries in the composition notebook range from Christmas Eve 2009 until Fourth of July 2010. I didn't ask for this book, but I'm glad they sent it. Sure they are probably caught up on my love life and hoe shit escapades in Los Angeles, but the book contains a draft of a writing prompt I posted in the defunct writing group: write a letter to yourself five years ago.

It's dated 5/8/10, which was five years after I was diagnosed to lupus. More specifically, it was exactly five years from the day I emerged from a coma, after being hit with double renal failure, heart failure, and having my brain and lungs attacked by the mysterious autoimmune disease. Peep it.

05.08.10. five years later.
Well, you survived. You made it through to the other side. Congrats. This is the beginning of a long, uphill battle. You must be strong and keep your head up during the next few months. Your appearance will change dramatically. Fear not, it is temporary. All will be okay.

Three weeks ago, you were a dancer. Today, you lie in a hospital bed, most likely waiting for a nurse to come exchange your soiled bedpan and wipe the shit from your body, as you cannot currently do it on your own. Though it kills you, an unsupervised trip to the bathroom is not a good idea. The IV stand cannot support you. You will fall and you will bleed. This is temporary, king. In 3 months, you'll be halfway normal again.

To go from active, mobile dancer to bedridden charity case will be a bigger blow to your pride than you may currently realize. After all, donning a walker, sweats and slippers isn't the coolest way for a 20-year old to be seen in public. Please understand that when people ask bewilderingly, "What the hell happened to you!?" they mean no harm. Tact is not God-given, like common sense. And some just don't know how to correctly address awkward situations.

A very unlikely source will suggest you keep a journal. Do it. Perhaps it will help make some sense of the chaos in your head right now.

King, you are not crazy. You'll soon begin having wild thoughts and creating many theories in your head. Write it out, talk to someone. You don't realize, but this is the start of psychosis. You will question all of your significant friendships. You'll become debilitatingly paranoid. Because of these theories, you will say and do many horrible things to people you love, who love you fiercely. Again, you are not crazy. This is a side effect of Prednisone, the steroid that helps with the joint swelling and pain that you will soon notice. It is a tough call: to be in pain and hate your life or to not be in pain and hate your life. Decisions. This drug is also responsible for your newly round face, fucked up bladder, explosive acne, and a dozen other life-ruining side effects. Deal.

You will be tested daily. Try not to spend so much time reflecting on the things you cannot do right now, like walking. Life will provide you countless opportunities when you're ready to accept them. Though your feelings on priorities and friendships will shift drastically soon, don't regret any of the decisions you are about to make. Shed needy friends, pack up and move, stay single for now, and continue your "path to greatness."

Doctors will try to increase your Prednisone dosage. Don't listen. You will soon be shown why it's important to be your own loudest advocate. An issue will arise and you will toy with the idea of a case against the doctor who tested you for lupus months ago, but failed to notify you of the results. You absolutely do have a case. Don't brush this off. Don't listen to your family when they say it may be an uphill battle. This coma could have possibly been avoided.

In a year, you will move to New York. You will meet the most amazing man you've ever met. (Not that one, the other one.) Without altering the course of history too much, try to appreciate him and respect what you two have. I'll just go ahead and tell you: you're going to hurt him to the core. Many times. You will change him forever. In turn, he will hurt you, physically. Move on. Years from now, you'll be best friends.

You will inspire many of your friends. You will make your parents proud. You will change your phone number, move across the country, and do great things. You will breath on your own. You will walk unassisted again. You will undergo chemotherapy and lose some hair. You will dance. You will be hurt and disappointed. You'll fall in and out of love a few times. It's okay. It's all a part of the plan. You will live a great life. Avoid playing the victim. Try with every fiber of your being to be more honest with yourself and those you care about. It'll save you much grief in the long run.

I know that right now, life seems like it'll never get better. It will. You will get up from that bed and those tubes will be disconnected. Everything will be just fine. Some family members will eventually call you "El Sobreviviente," which means, 'the survivor.' You got this.

 No worries.


The wiser you.


all feedback is welcomed. yes, even those of you in the Bronx.|be notified of new posts: Subscribe