This has been a long time coming, folks. For the first time in close to 15 years, really since starting high school, I went a FULL calendar year without a pulmonary exacerbation.

For most of my life, I was the kind of person who went on IV’s once a year with the occasional exception. It’s been so long since that exception I can’t even remember it. As far as I can tell, it was before high school, about 15 years ago.

All of that changed near the end of my college years. I’m usually pretty guarded about intimate medical details, but there are days I wake up and look back on the last few years of my life and cringe. From the beginning of 2013 to the beginning of 2018, I suffered close to 25 total pulmonary exacerbations, each complete with a PICC placement or the occasional bronchoscopy. My chronic infection has been so stubborn and difficult to treat that it has come close to killing me a few times. I was on a cycle where I’d be on IV’s for 14-21 days, off for two weeks, and then right back on.

That was when I reached my low point. The subtle question, “why?” popped in my head over and over.

What’s the point? Why am I doing this?

The answer to those questions is today. I’m still here, and I am healthier than I have been in a long time. Years of backbreaking, hard ass work have gotten me to where I am today. Chemistry has certainly played its role, but mental fortitude has been the solution to my riddle.

I refuse to be a victim. The victim, woe is me, mentality is the single worst thing that can happen to a person living with chronic illness. It prevents us for seeing each day as a challenge to be overcome, because that’s what everyday is when terminal illness is the lens through which we live. Nothing is given, and everything is earned.

Each time the “why?” pops into my head, I take it upon myself to push it right out. I have been oxygen dependent, I have had chronic fevers, muscles aches and thousands of reasons to give up.

But I never will.

Quitting is not in my vocabulary, and I will never allow the victim mentality to infect my way of life. The same challenge I fight every single day of my life is yours should you choose to accept it.

Are you a victim?

I’m currently reading (and loving) David Goggins’ book, Can’t Hurt Me where he talks about how mental fortitude has shaped his life. Join him, and get the victim mentality out of your head.