Let’s Talk: I Was Dying And So Was My Art
When I was 15, I was diagnosed with a disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It wasn’t uncommon for a teenager to have it, but it was uncommon for it to be as severe as it was. I was told that if I ate well, exercised and took my medicine that I should be fine.
My freshman year of college I had the “welcome to the real world” slap in the face of realizing I wasn’t the most talented actor in school anymore. I took a class called “Movement for Actors” (a LOT of Laban work) and my hair started to fall out in clumps.
My sophomore was when my throat went downhill. Part of Hashimoto’s is that your thyroid becomes swollen. I took a Voice & Speech class for two semesters and spent the majority of my free time apologizing to my professor – try explaining to someone you’re dying without using the words “I’m dying” – I think he took pity on me because I passed.
My junior year was the first time I crashed and almost didn’t get back up.
I was staying up late writing papers, taking exams and just about cracking all of my ribs wearing a period corset for my Acting class when I found myself one night hunched over the toilet throwing up blood.
My friend finally convinced me to go to the ER. After 3 days of agonizing testing, I was diagnosed with Hepatosplenomegaly. My liver and my spleen had simultaneously enlarged and were more or less squishing my other organs in the process. I knew it was bad because my parents came in from out of state. We learned about Stanislavski and using previous pain to motivate us. I didn’t like it.
My senior year I had what can only really be described as a ghost ulcer – all the symptoms of one without any actual one. I was the Clown in The Winter’s Tale and for the first time in my life almost missed a line because my internal monologue of my blood-curdling screams of pain almost made me miss my cue.
It took visiting two separate surgeons to convince me. The first one told me to my face I was going to die in a year. The second one told me the first one was an idiot and that it would help me feel better. I wanted to feel better so badly. I had the surgery on January 17th, 2017.
Sometimes people ask me what my scar is from, other times I can watch their eyes drift to my neck. I took my medicine, ate my vegetables and still got sick. I threw up blood and went to the hospital on a Thursday and was back in class on Monday – I never asked for pity or a break. The point is that no one can stop you from doing what you want, beside yourself. Be the toughest person you know. No one ever told me it’s ok to struggle so I’m telling you. I’m happy (and more alive than ever) now. Go get yours.
Also by Katie Veneziano:
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