Wellbeing Biography: My battle with a deadly disease

If you were to ask me to describe myself, I would probably say something like, “Hi, I’m Jason Trovela, I am a 4th year senior at Marquette University studying psychology and marketing. I’m not sure how else to answer this because I would usually tailor it towards the specific audience listening to me.”

When it comes to wellness, my life has been pretty well. I would consider myself someone that never had any major medical issue. I never had broken a bone or had any major illness. I have never even had the flu. The worst medical issue I’ve had before this are bad migraines (which didn’t even start until I turned 19).

This all changed pretty rapidly for me, though, when I was a sophomore here at Marquette. I wasn’t feeling well one day and, you know, I knocked it off as a cold. Typical student sickness. I had plenty on my plate – classes, fraternity meetings, work on the side. Now being sick wasn’t something I wanted to deal with so I tried to sleep it off. Only I woke up feeling even worse.

Once I could no longer move from muscle pain, I finally went to the hospital. I had no idea what kind of sick I had gotten but it was definitely doctor-visit-worthy. When the doctors from the ER came back with my blood test results, it almost seemed like a scenario that wasn’t happening in real time.

“You have meningitis.”

The words didn’t mean too much to me then but the doctors treated it with the utmost seriousness. Everyone else was extremely shocked, but I was unnerved. It needed to sink in.

Meningitis, if you aren’t aware, presents flu-like symptoms and is hard to diagnose without in-depth medical tests. This makes sense since I felt like I was just really sick, but with a really bad cold. I thought I was getting the flu for the first time. I was having physical joint pain, but I thought I just did something stupid over the weekend that caused me to hurt myself, so I thought the pain would pass. I got really nervous when I started developing red spots/rashes all over my body, but I have an allergy to sulfa. I had an allergic reaction to a medicine I had when I was younger, so I thought I just had to take a different medicine and it would go away. Turns out, these were all the tell-tale signs of deadly meningitis.

I was in so much pain that once I was in the hospital, things became very hazy. There were intense painkillers involved and many other intricate medical tests, procedures and seclusions.

Eventually, I realized what was happening to me. I was numb. It takes an incredible amount of luck to get meningitis. According to the CDC, the mortality rate for meningitis can be as high as 70 percent, and most survivors are left with some sort of terminal disability, such as neuro damage, loss of one or more of the senses or even the lost of a limb.

After a few months of recovery, though, I was cured. Unscathed.

Although this seems more like a sickness biography, this is my story on my way to a higher sense of self wellness. Once I was admitted to the hospital, and even though others felt that I was doomed to this sickness, it never once crossed my mind that I wouldn’t leave that hospital. I never stopped trying to get on my feet again. I was instilled with a new sense of life.

After surviving a perilous disease, I don’t take anything for granted anymore. I don’t complain of being bored any longer. After recovering from such a painful experience, it still feels good just to breathe.

I think of this as my second chance. I am constantly striving to go out and make something of myself. Of course I think of how lucky I am, it is always in the back of my mind. But I am determined to not waste my life. My second life. My new sense of life.

Ghost-written by Sarah Schlaefke

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