Winter is Coming

Winter is coming. You are either giggling, telling yourself, “Of course winter is coming. Everyone knows that. It’s the season following autumn.” If not giggling, then you are probably wondering, “How do you know winter is coming? We live in Florida, so we never really have a winter.” All thoughts are valid, however, I want to share my personal way of knowing when the cold season approaches.

My twin brother and I were in the room playing with Legos while my mother was in the kitchen cooking one afternoon. The Lego pieces were scattered about the carpeted floor of the bedroom, bright colors entertaining both my brother and me at five years old. Eager, I stood up; however, do not ask me why I do not recall. I stood up, and, suddenly, I remember falling down. As cliché as this will sound, I remember falling down in slow motion. I remember seeing my brother’s reaction, I remember seeing the floor coming closer and closer and then I remember the snap. I was five years old when I broke my wrist completely---a complete snap of bones. I apologize for the horror, but this is the reality I want to share. It’s the horror and reality my mother screeched at when I entered the kitchen. She was preparing macaroni and cheese, the spoon in her hand dropping when seeing her little girl holding onto a limp wrist.

Funny to think that me falling over Legos would lead to a doctor finally knowing what I have. Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Try asking a fifth grader to spell that for a spelling bee. It was a relief for my mother and father to finally understand the cause behind my fractures and easy bruising. By the time I was five, I’d already broken my wrist and arm more than once, and I already experienced my first back surgery at ten months old. People would speculate whether or not my parents abused me, especially since my father was in the military. That, though, was not the case. My fractures and bruises were my own fault over simple actions. For example, I once broke a wrist because it got stuck between the bars of a crib. That’s how easy it is to break my bones. I am fragile. Please handle me with care.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta is a rare brittle bone disorder. If you were to Google the diagnosis, it will be defined as brittle bone disease. However, I do not like to consider it a disease. "Disease" makes it seem nastier and scarier. I promise, if you touch me, you won’t wake up the next day with Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

Not wanting to get too scientific with you all, I will try to explain the cause very simply. It’s from a mutation of a gene that provides the instructions for creating collagen. Type I collagen is essential for bone, skin, and connective tissues; therefore, if this gene is mutated, the weaker the bones, skin and connective tissues will be.

There are eight types of Osteogenesis Imperfecta, ranging from mild to severe. I am thankfully diagnosed with Type I which is the mildest. Because of having Type I, it’s not easy to tell that I have anything unless you know the specific symptoms and signs. My short stature is a sign, but the most interesting sign would be how the sclera of my eye is tinted blue rather than being purely white. If you are curious to see, just ask me.

Despite having the mildest type, at 19 years old I have experienced about 20 fractures. That must seem impossible for someone who has never broken a bone before. Aside from fractures, though, I also experience awful joint pains and irritating bruising. I bruise like a peach, literally.

Because of my sensitive bones, to circle back to the topic, I can tell when winter is coming. During the colder months, my bones ache even more. My joints feel stiff, and I badly want to crack my neck, but I have to sit still because who knows if I’ll end up breaking my neck. That would not be pretty. Hold up, let me knock on wood.

Courtesy: Denny Ryanto on Unsplash

I knew that this week I wanted to publicize my disorder, and that’s why I think it is funny that last Monday I found myself in the emergency room. Leaving with a harmed elbow, I joked to my friend, “I told you winter was coming.” My friend did not laugh. Most of my friends do not like it when I joke about my disorder. Trust me, if you laugh, you are not offending me. I like joking about this because why be sad and sensitive over it?

You can either think of me as a groundhog or compare me to Karen Smith from Mean Girls. Just as she could predict when it would rain because of her breasts, I can tell when winter is soon approaching. And because of my recent elbow injury, I want to say winter is, indeed, nearby.

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