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I always considered myself a healthy kid. But in 2015, I struggled even to muster up just enough strength to walk to the kitchen with my nauseating lightheadedness. My coughing fits grew more violent and my breathing became more shallow. The bug persisted for a couple of days until we decided to get it checked. It was pneumonia.

The diagnosis was some pretty grave news, but I had no clue the weight of it then. I was probably too groggy to even understand if someone tried to explain it to me. But I wasn’t tired enough to ignore the worried looks on my parents’ faces that silently suggested this really wasn’t something small. 

The pneumonia eventually dictated my entire lifestyle. My diet was restricted to stale bread, soggy rice, and banana mush. My days were spent confined to the couch, either sleeping or forcing myself to doze off. If I were so brazen as to venture all the way to the kitchen, I would have to stop halfway before nausea overwhelmed me. I was sick of it. 

Eventually, the pneumonia worsened to the point where the clinic doctor suggested I go to the hospital. I didn’t want to hear that. The hospital was where really sick people went, people who were going to die. Was I going to die?

I hated how I was worrying my family and how they had to sacrifice so much for me. My dad took me to clinic visits and stayed overnight with me at the hospital and my mom always stayed home to watch over me. Even my dog slept next to the couch with me. And that was all on top of all the financial burdens. I had multiple x-rays, went to the clinic enough times to give a tour of the place, and had plenty of medications. Knowing that I had become a burden made me feel guilty in a twisted, weird way.

Complete recovery took another week. I began to be able to move away from my strict diet and go outside for something other than a doctor’s visit. Doses of antibiotics grew fewer and farther between and my congestion cleared up. One day I came home to a colorful stack of papers on the couch. I scanned through it and found get-well letters from my fifth-grade class. A lot of these people I wasn’t even friends with, but I found it comforting nonetheless that they took the time to wish me well. 

I still have a lingering paranoia of another pneumonia episode and I sometimes get unreasonably freaked out whenever I have a slight sore throat. I am more cautious of my health and I wash my hands more, but you can’t let some bacteria scare you from living your life. It’s kind of funny that, out of all the things, pneumonia taught me that people make sacrifices for the ones they care for, like my parents or classmates did. I continue to try my best to help someone out whenever I can, just to pay forward the same kindness I was shown through my times of helplessness.

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