A Life of Pain and Love by Jessica Coviello - HTML preview

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Epilogue

Early Life

I was born on the 17th day of July in the year 1999. I weighed 8 pounds and I was a beautiful Italian baby; as so I’m told. I had jet black hair and I was a chunky monkey. I looked nothing like an Italian when I was born but I was insta-famous. I heard stories that people would always look in the window where all the babies were kept and just say

“look at that baby over there, she’s so beautiful”. I think part of that saying was because I had a full head of hair. I do not know if these stories are true but if they are, I thank you. The minute me and my cousin were born; a week apart, the hospital switched our records; for a brief minute. They thought that my parents had him and his parents had me, it was an easy confusion. We are both italian, were family, and we were born in the same hospital. That story always cracks me up; I just wish that we kept more contact with each other because him and his family are one of the good ones. My brother came not long after me, he was born in 2002; I was 3 at the time. When my parents brought him home, I was very upset because I had to, now share my parents with somebody else.

As you can probably guess, I did not know any better at that age; I thought he was a girl so I gave him one of my headbands to wear, I thought he looked very pretty. When my parents saw, they took it right off of him and they did not get a picture. He had some hair, and at that time, I did not know what a boy was; really. To my surprise, I did not know why they took it off but I just forgot about it and went to my room; which I shared with HIM. When I went to preschool, I LOVED it so much! I went to the Ripley right down the street from where I live. I made three great friends when I attended, they were triplets; I was so shocked when I first saw them. I was like “wait you are all sisters and you look alike”. I wasn’t a very smart kid when I was young. The best part about preschool was when I got to take home the class animal for the week; and yes, it was stuffed. When I went, we got Curious George and when my

brother went, they got Elmo; I was so jealous. Even to this day, I love Elmo. At that stage of my life, I was a weird, innocent, healthy and extremely happy little girl, I loved everything. If I was to look at my younger self today, I would say “why are so happy” and “what could have made you smile that much”? Back then, I was a dancer, and a pretty good one. I used to dance at an academy close to the Ripley. I loved dancing, it was fun and I did make a friend or two there, it was awesome; we even had recitals where I would show off; a bit.

I started elementary school, and believe or not, I had a lot of friends, like a lot. I went to school at Lincoln Elementary. I loved kindergarten, my teacher was so kind and caring, she was amazing. First grade took a little more time to get used to. My teacher was very strict, and that was good. I was the queen of spelling bee’s, I beat my whole class, I was just that good and I had a photographic memory, I got straight A’s in elementary school, it was amazing.

Second grade was even tougher, my teacher would make us read every day in a circle and we had tests. Surprisingly, I did good in wellness and in all of my subjects, I don’t know how but I didn’t question it.

Falling ill

When I started third grade in October of 2008, I was assigned a fantastic teacher for homeroom, I walked in with the normal attire, a pencil, a book, and I carried a backpack. Once I found where my desk was, I sat down and looked to see my new room. My eyes went a little wacky and I was not to sure why, so I put my head down on my desk and when it was time to circle up and pick a book, my teacher called me but I didn’t hear her, I wasn’t getting up, I just stayed laying on my desk. I blacked out, I do not remember much; all I remember is that someone took me down to the nurse and I did not leave until, maybe half into the day. When my mom came, I complained that my head hurt and I was very dizzy. She took me to see a doctor, and he checked me out, but found nothing wrong with me. All he said was that I had a virus and it would go away within a week. That was it, we just left and I got a good night sleep.

The next day, my dad took me, my brother, and his friend apple picking at Smolak Farms in New Hampshire. I was fine at first, but then something weird happened. We were in the field of red delicious apples and I was walking straight until my eyes starting going and then my feet were turning and turning; I was not quite sure what was happening until I fell into the grass. My dad found me, immediately dropped everything and took me to Mass General in Boston. He called my mom beforehand, so she would drop everything and rush over as well; she was working at the

time. Mass General was where they got the answers that they were looking for. My neurologist was the one who told them. He said that I had OMS. *I never found out how I got it*

That was the day when my life changed and never remained the same……

When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with OMS. I had a tumor on my right adrenal gland that affected me in so many ways. OMS stands for Opsoclonus Myoclonus Ataxia Syndrome. It is a very rare neurological disease that happens more to infants.(19 months) It is a 1 in 10,000,000 case, the disease starts with fast eye movements(dancing eyes), then you start falling, and you begin to lose all movement in your body. I was in three different hospitals in the span of 6 months and in a wheelchair for 3 years. The hospitals that I went to were Mass General, Franciscan, and Spaulding Rehab. I was comatose for several months, since no one really knew what was wrong with me. My doctors and my nurses would come into my room every day offering me new medications.

I needed a lot of one on one help, I was really out of it. Thank God for my neurologist, and in finding my tumor the way that he did. Once they found it, they removed it, I needed a bunch of surgeries, I did receive a lot of cards and get well soon gifts from my friends at school and some teachers but seeing them would have been a far

greater present. Don’t get me wrong, I am sincerely grateful; they didn’t have to do that. I had a lot of family members come by and visit me but I was completely out of it. I felt nothing, I could move nothing, I was plain in simple, out cold.

Half of my time in the hospital was either being comatose or being in a wheelchair. I did however, have a walker that when I was somewhat strong enough, I would use that and walk a few steps a day. I had to move around all that I could during those days and try not to stay sitting all the time.

In my time at Spaulding Rehab, they would bring in therapy dogs to comfort the patients, it helped us find our senses. I remember loving that time when the dogs would come in, I would love to pet them, to get their sense of smell, and love. The dogs were the happiness that I’d get before each surgery I had to have. I would have a lot of nausea afterwards, I would have new doctors come in and give me a new treatment, as well as medicine. I had a lot of Chemo and IVIG all rolled up into one. I eventually got to go home but with a few setbacks. I could not go back to attending public schools so I did get pushed back in the third grade.

Going to Beverly

I redid my three years at a school called The North Shore Educational Consortium, it is a school up in Beverly.

It was a really good school for me at the time. They not only helped me with my walking, but also with schoolwork.

Everyday, I had my O.T, my P.T, and my Speech therapies. In O.T, I had to work on little things like picking up blocks and counting on my fingers, In Speech, I had to work on talking as little as saying hi and bye. My physical therapy was the hardest at that time, seeing as I could not walk, they both had to physically take me out of my chair and put me back in. I had little to no function at that time and they also had me do the treadmill, but I mean she did help me by getting on behind me to make sure I did not fall. The only thing that I wasn’t to keen about was the fact that I had a gait trainer, it really messed up my arms. My P.T appointments would be scheduled everyday for an hour.

I really enjoyed getting to know them but I could’ve done without the treadmill.

To clarify, I started off my days with Physical Therapy in the mornings for an hour which was followed by Occupational Therapy in the afternoons, and Speech to finish off the day. I worked on my legs and arms in P.T, I worked on my hands in O.T and I worked on my vocal skills in Speech. They were all hard, that is precisely why I said I hate my therapies. My therapy was every day and I got very tired of it all. I had to improve myself, which was

the hardest because I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk, and I barely could see. I had a very raspy voice due to all of my surgeries.

My class and I would go on field trips every Monday. We would go to the grocery store for our cooking class, we had to find the ingredients at a reasonable price. Cooking was my favorite class. The main goal was to work on fine motor skills and build strength in our upper bodies. We made all types of food, but mostly baked cakes, cookies, anything that involves batter. That school was great, I loved all of my teachers, my classmates, and my therapies, as painful as they were. They all really helped me; I met my favorite person there, she was the main teacher. She would always tease me but I knew in the end it was never intentional. She would do it because she knew I was not my illness. I always looked up to her, and though she was the one to give me all of this work; and she did that because she knew I had intelligence, she saw something in me; and apparently she had to joke around with me to get it through my thick skull. She was my favorite person there; at that time. I had a lot of favorite teachers at that school, some were aids, and some were students. We had a daily schedule every day so it wasn’t like work work work, we had our fun. The agenda consisted of a walk, snack, library, for me P.T, Speech and O.T; I mean we all had it but all of us were at different times. I got a lot of free time considering; and I would do my best and try to make cards or friendship bracelets. I did

however make a friend in that school, he was a teacher as I remember, he used to if no one else could; take me to the bus or get me from my therapies or just help me with my skills; like making friendship bracelets.

The days that I was home, I would either be in my bed that Spaulding Rehab gave me or crawling on the floor.

The bed that they gave me out of the hospital had a net on the sides that would zip up so I couldn’t fall out; and believe me that happened, quite often. I had tons of fits/episodes and when I needed to blow off steam, my parents would put me in my bed and zip me up. I would have episodes all of the time, I remember trying to get up when I was crawling and got so frustrated that I banged my mouth into the kitchen floor and broke a tooth. My episodes were awful, I had no idea that I was hurting the people around me, even saying bad words. I was fully out of my mind set, I had no idea what I was doing.

There was one day, I was in my wheelchair at Mass General with my aunt and my mom. I had just finished my chemo treatment and my mom was going to drive me to school. We were taking the elevator down to the lobby, and I screamed out my first word since I got sick; “FUCK”. As I said, I had no idea what I was doing, I had no idea what came out of my mouth. I went through so many treatments in my life that I was just focused on one thing; the pain and not my surroundings. That day, I was the worst I could be, my mom got stuck in traffic right near my aunt’s house, I got so aggravated and wanted to go right to school that I made my aunt walk the rest of the way to her house. I was

late to school that day but my point is my illness made me so bad that I didn’t even care. I had little to no emotion, I had to learn everything from the beginning, it was like I was a baby all over again.

But, hey, I’m getting way to ahead of myself here….

My Hero

In my first few days at Mass General, I got three different rooms, “hey I needed to be as comfortable as I could get”. They brought me in on a stretcher and seeing as I could not help at all, I needed 3 doctors on either side of me to help transport me to my room. When we all got there, they rolled me onto my bed, “that hurt” At first, I had no idea where I was, I was faced down; ahh so that’s why. They turned me over and what was awesome, they had a bear waiting for me on my bed, it was a huge bear; but don’t get to excited, it was a coughing bear. I had him if I needed to cough or barf, I had him almost every minute of the day, They did however, give me a cough pillow.

While I was at Mass General, I would get lots of MRIS and lots of CAT scans for my brain. “O yea the tumor affected my brain”, I had no movement of my body when I got admitted. My only visitors at the time were my parents and my brother, he was really young at the time and he didn’t really know what was going on. My mom and dad

would always put the movie Eragon into the dvd player, so I could watch it on the television with them. I was forced to watch it; I hated that movie. I don’t know how much I actually saw because my eyes were going nuts but I guess it was good. We watched it over and over again; it was either Eragon or Mary Poppins. I was so sick of Mary afterwards.

Day by day, it was a tradition for my meds, usually crushed up pills in applesauce or liquid since I could not swallow pills.

After my meds, they’d want me to go outside and be active to the best of my ability. Considering what was going on with me, I was not; at all, in the least bit active. My mom took me outside in my wheelchair, she was the one walking; obviously. My eyes were open but my mindset was sleeping. When we got back in, I would go back to my room ready for bed, but no; my nurse came in and took me out to try and do some arts and crafts, she was the one who gave me a guitar for my birthday, as I remember it. She would always call me a diva and I think she did so because of how sassy I was. (I still am.) My episodes were far from over, I would get them out of the blue, my intentions to do things were all over the place.

At times, when I wanted something; I would kick my nurses, I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t see them, and I could not walk. I was very frustrated; as you can imagine. I spent a total of 2 months at Mass General, when I moved, the paramedics took me to another hospital instead of my house; I was so depressed. They

took me out of the hospital in a stretcher, and moved me into the ambulance to go to hospital #2; Franciscan. Now, I went to this hospital for about 2 in a half months, I fell into a coma at the time. I was comatose for several weeks, I did get out and when I did, I would have calls on the telephone and I would do my best to answer them but my voice was very raspy. I remember, one day at Franciscan, I called my dad and because he was already coming with my brother and cousin; I got up enough voice to ask him to get me Mcdonald’s, I really wanted that donkey toy from Shrek; not even the food. ( I know, crazy right?)

Half an hour later, they came and I had a huge smile on my face. Especially, when I saw my cousin AJ. My eyes would always shoot up when I saw him, which is very rarely. When my dad came to my bed to give my kids meal, I see my burger, and my apple slices; I was so annoyed with him, I wanted fries, not apple slices. But what I really wanted was my toy and I didn’t see it; my cousin had it the whole time. When I saw my toy, I left the food for my cousin and my brother.(you’re welcome, BTW) My dad would always tell me I had to eat but with all of the steroids that were in my body at the moment and all of the chemo that I was on, all that food would do to my body was make me throw up. I did eat, probably a bite; but I rarely ate when I got my treatments.

Throughout, the visit with them, I was laying on my bed; completely out of it. The only voice I was aware of was my cousins. I loved when AJ visited me, it always brightened up my day. He was the highlight of my life when I

got sick, I would always cling onto him. Another time, my grandma brought him and my brother to the hospital; they wanted to see me. They all said hi to me, but the part that I remember was my AJ and my brother, Matthew climbing into the bed with me. I was holding onto AJ for dear life, I did not want him to go; It was depressing being there alone.

They stayed with me until I fell asleep. All I had was my doctors and my nurses, I was still getting used to them so my surroundings were not familiar. I was at a new hospital, new care, and the staff was alright. When I woke up, I was surprised; I saw a nurse right in my face with my medication and my wheelchair, getting ready to move me to the breakfast room. This is all my opinion, but I hated being woken up like that; even if I was sick.

The next hospital I was moved to, by stretcher; of course was my favorite. Spaulding Rehab, I don’t remember if I had the nurse who called me a diva here or Mass General, but she was a big reason as to to why those hospitals were my favorite. When I got to Spaulding, I was moved to a big room with a huge TV and once again, my routine did not change one bit. I forgot something big here, I had no function in my body; Which meant that I could not go to the bathroom myself. I did have a bedpan at times but it was so frustrating that I could not do it myself. I needed somebody behind me at all times, and in most cases; it was a nurse. I was in Spaulding for awhile before I went to my new school.

The hospital was no fun, I had that stupid bed with the net on the sides of it, so I would not fall. I was actually required to take naps at a specific time of the day; I was never tired and they literally wheeled me to my room and I was just wheeling right out because I wasn’t tired, sorry. I was actually saved on that day though; my aunt and my dad came to sign me out of the hospital for an hour or two. I was bummed that they didn’t actually take me out forever but thankfully, they took me away from a nap. When i got to the car, my dad surprised me with a blackberry phone; I thought it was for me, but sadly no. He wanted me to use it, and maybe gain strength in my fingers. He wanted me to try and type a message but the keypad was so damn small, even my aunt had troubles. She was in the back seat with me, she was helping me sit up, my dad either took us out to eat or he took us to my grandmother’s house. All I remember about that day was that we had fun and I got to go outside and be out of the hospital for a bit.

When I got back to the hospital, I probably made the nurses happy; because I went right to sleep. The next day, my other grandmother and grandfather signed me out of the hospital, also for a couple of hours. They brought me tamales and took me out to eat, my grandma was in the back with me; she was helping me sit up and not fall through the cracks. It was the same visiting wise in the hospital, it was Franciscan that my other auntie visited me at. The first time that I saw her there was when I was getting my central line in and I was so excited to see her, She bought me a

Hannah Montanna shirt, I had a huge obsession with Hannah back then. “Do not ask me why, I have absolutely no idea”.

As I mentioned before, I was getting my central line and I had to stay awake so my aunt did a good job with that. How my surgery went, was they put a tube through the left part of my chest and it sucked in. It felt like they were giving me a chest implant, like they were taking my chest out. My aunt felt so bad for me, I probably felt bad for me, but I was gone, I was focused on what was happening. Not even after my surgeries, did my plans change. I still got up, my nurse would be in my room giving me my meds, and then she put me in my wheelchair to move me to my new surgery or the breakfast room. They had horrible food. I would always throw up after.

There was one time in the hospital, I believe my Auntie Debbie was there and she had to feed me, but she, not to play favoritism but I can say that she is definitely is up there. I love everybody that visited me in the hospital, and beyond. I remember that one of my best friends visited me along with her mother. She would always talk to me about working together; being doctors together. Everybody who visited me got me a bear, balloons, or some cheesy thing that said get well soon; she got me flowers with a card, and a pillow. They stayed for a few hours and I would try my best to talk to her and be there in the best way that I could. Me and her were always the best of friends, even in elementary school. We always used to chat and sit next to each other. We would always have playdates over at her

house, and we would drive our brothers absolutely crazy. She was a really great friend to me back then, she is definitely one of the good ones. Back, way before I got sick; I had a bunch of friends but we grew apart when I got sick. I lost mostly all of them. It was pretty lonely in the hospital when I got sick.

In the hospital, I did, however, make a friend. He got sick at the same time as I did; he got Viral Encephalitis.

That is also a very rare disease, he was in the hospital for awhile with me, it was really nice having a friend in there. I am not sure if this really happened or if this is just my imagination, I remember one day in the hospital; our parents left us to go to the church. He came over to me and since I was already in my wheelchair, he wheeled me out to the front doors and we tried to escape. In bad news, it didn’t work and we got busted! He got better and he went back to public schooling, which was great for him. I got transferred to Spaulding Rehab at that time; more therapy, more consults with doctors, and most fun of all, more surgeries. I would see my parents every day, but seeing as they had to work; it was hard to come by. They brought me DVDS and CDS to try to get me to visually, mentally, and physically improve myself.

One of the CDS they brought me was The Naked Brothers Band, I would listen to them constantly; sure I couldn’t sing but they were catchy. Another favorite of mine was the DVD called Ice Princess; I would watch that every day, when it ended, I would have my nurses rewind it to the beginning. It annoyed the nurses so much but that

movie was so good, I loved the main character and her overbearing mom, sort of reminded me of myself and my mom.

I very much admired her standing up to her mother and doing what she loved; figure skating. She was serious about her schoolwork but enjoyed athletics a little more and her mom did not see that until her daughter showed her how good she was. I would imagine that I watched it a bunch of times but I fell asleep most of the times because of everything going on and being in a bed for all hours. My sickness impacted me very much, but it also impacted my families lives; coming to the hospital, waiting on me hand and foot, also getting me to the places that I needed to be at.

It was a pain to take care of me when I got sick, I had the whole shebang; I, once went home with those little stickers that they use for X-rays on my body. One was in my belly button, another was on my side, and the others were all over the place. I needed to be washed very carefully at that time, I had a whole manuel. When I got sick, I felt like property; because I was so defenseless. My family was my greatest support system; especially my aunt Rosanna.The next day, I had to go back to the hospital for nine hours and get IV treatments. I never lost one single hair but I did go all you go through with cancer. I could not hold myself up, I could not do anything myself, I had to rely on my Aunt Rosanna for everything. She was my PCA and she was a damn good one. She would drive to Boston every day, she stayed at the hospital with me while I suffered through IVIG. She took me while I was throwing up, She was there through it all.

She was always there for me, I have mentioned her before but, well she is my biggest inspiration. Her and her family,

which included my cousins Aj and Melissa, whom I look up to; and also my grandparents helped me a lot and I am very thankful. She would help me in many ways; she bathed me, she fed me, she changed me, she held me up, she was my eyes when I was legally blind, and most importantly, she never gave up on me. She was there for me when I was at my absolute worst. She is a major reason as to why I am here today; my aunt was my PCA when I got sick and she would always be there.

Every day, I needed to go to the hospital for chemo or IVIG treatments and she was there, at my house, right at 8. She’s alert, aware, and the best aunt I could ever ask her. My aunt is amazing and I cannot thank her enough for what she did concerning me. She deserves a bunch of the credit, but so doesn’t my mom. My mom was the one who was with me at my treatments when my aunt could not. My mom helped me get through the needle sticking into my hand, she cleaned up my vomit when I got sick, she played card games with me, and she helped me with arts and crafts. My mom is a physical therapist; which did come in handy at the time. She helped me with my fine motor skills, and I would not let her help me with anything past that. I got to watch movies for 9 hours; plus side of IVIG, I always got a room with a big TV. My nurse giving me the treatments; she would be the one who would give me a list of movies and I would decide by pointing to which ten and she would bring it and put it into the DVD player. My mom

was there, my aunt was there, my nana was there; they took days off to come and stay with me for my retched 9 hours.

The hospital and the treatments were complete torture; but I had my family on my side, and that’s all that I needed.

I will mention events and people more than once; I had a lot of favorite parts to my life when I got sick. One favorite part is my family, especially my families christmas eve parties. My uncle hosts it every year, Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year, we do the seven fishes but I hate hate hate fish; I know some will say what’s wrong with you and but your italian. Yes I know that I am italian but fish is not in my vocabulary. I’m the one in the corner eating pizza, I will, however make an exception for one type of fish and that is calamari but only cuz it’s fried. I love this day because I get to see the rest of my mom’s family. Seeing them for me is maybe twice a year, for my uncle and his family like my awesome cousin Drew. This Christmas Eve felt very empty without a member of the family; my aunt Angie, she was my great aunt and my mom’s aunt. She was always so funny, she was the loudest of the family, she would always be the person who would talk to each and every family member, never leaving anyone out. She was always there for me when I wanted to use her pool at her condo; She would always call me up and say hey if you wanna swim or workout the pool’s open. When I got to the pool, she was waiting for me and my nana; my mom’s mom. She would never swim in the pool, just putting her feet in; My aunt loved the sun, whenever there was sun, she would not miss an opportunity to lie out with her oil and relax. She was one who I could have things in common with

and the one where I could go to for advice. I can tell you one thing, she is a person that can never be forgotten, I loved her so much and that will never go away. She passed away in early November, it was really hard for me to process it. I still stuck through school and work even though I was crying through.

One day in English, I guess it just really hit me and I started crying and screaming that I ran out of the classroom, She was very close to me, so much as my Auntie Debbie, which she is her daughter and I love them both very much. I love my family, they did so much for me when I was sick that I wanna help them in anything they need. I don’t think I would be here without them, I owe them all so much, I don’t know how I can ever repay them for all they did for me. Seeing family that I don’t get to see as much is a gift to me, I do love christmas, don’t get me wrong, I love the whole shebang. On Christmas I go to my dad’s mom’s house for dinner, she always makes a feast alongside my auntie Rosann. They go all out for Christmas, making lasagna, ham with pineapple, fried broccoli, artichokes, filet mignon, and my favorite mashed “smashed” potatoes with corn; you wanna win my heart there you go, that is my favorite dish. My favorite part about Christmas is not only receiving money but seeing my family like my auntie Rosann, my dad’s mom nana, my papa, my cousins Aj and Melissa, my little cousin Nevaeh and her brother. We got a fantastic surprise this year in seeing my cousin Aj’s girlfriend and her amazing family. They are a fantastic contribution, I love them so much.

Going back to public school

Another “awesome” part of getting sick was my school up in Beverly and my physical therapist there. She was such a good friend, she is so cool and I would always jump at the chance to go have therapy with her. I wanted her to be my sister as I did look up to her as one. She always used to french braid my hair; she was down with the lingo.

Another was my teacher, the main teacher of the classroom; she was a good friend and she would always talk to me. I did appreciate that more than anything; she was the one who always arranged our little meetings and what we would do for the day. She was a crazy, silly, and funny teacher who made jokes all the time. Literally. There was one I got so annoyed with, playfully annoyed, and it wasn’t really a joke but a statement to a play kindof. She would always tease me with “Oklahoma”. I hated that and I have no idea why; maybe the way she said it. Regardless, She was my favorite person when I went there; she threw me a karaoke party when I graduated to go to the Melrose Middle School.

I remember on this one spring day, my O.T teacher told me that I was going to a public school for 6th grade and I threw all my papers into a folder, ready to go. I was so excited to leave that school and finally be where I belonged. I frowned when she said “no haha not today but soon.” I wanted to go right then and there. If I saw myself from then, right now; I’d say “why Jessica why?”, “Public School isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be” and “I wanna go back to Beverly”. One point that I want to get across to right here is that, I loved all of them very dearly and I will

always keep a piece of that/them in my heart; I think they’re also a main reason as to why I want to help little kids; and become a teacher. Before, I went to the Middle School; my mom put me on a Challenger League Division for baseball.

The league is for people who have disabilities, there are buddies that would help us running around the bases; we get a lot of help on that league and it’s really great that we have one here in Malden. It definitely helped me a lot, I had a lot of buddies throughout the years and they all helped me on the field, and when I was up at bat; I was still in a wheelchair at the time and it was hard for me to stand up straight. That league saved my life, I am so grateful to them and I still, to this day am playing on that team; I even help with the younger kids. We are always looking for more help and more players; it is a great program and they help you x1000%. I made very great friends on that league, but two of them really stick by me. I love my coaches and everyone there. Baseball is my favorite sport to play and I enjoy it very much, they make it fun and enjoyable. I do not know where I would be without them.

Back to the topic of Middle School, my psychologist from there came in and said that I would be a perfect fit to go to the school. As I got better, I did visit there; and got to know everybody. I got to know my 6th grade teacher for the year. I was so excited to leave my school in Beverly and get to go to a public school. When I went to the Middle School, I was probably in my wheelchair for a day or two. I did have an aid to help me around the school; which was great. I was in my 6th grade teachers class all day; I was starting my first year in a public school slowly. I had to get

used to the feeling of going to each class; and walking there. My first class in school was with a boy named Nick, and a girl named Survene; there were a few other students in that class. Some just came in and out as they pleased. My teachers in that class were so nice; there was a main teacher, and two paras. It didn’t change that much from my old school. I used to whine all of the time, I hated school work, I didn’t like being told what to do, and I wanted to go my own way.

In the end, I saw that I did need help and I did make friends, I did get used to the school, and my classes were good; hard but good. Eventually, I got used to going to classes, and I had a lot of great ones. One was Geography, I hated that subject; but I asked for help and I got the work done. Next, I had Math, and the teacher was very fun. She wouldn’t just talk about math; for example, she told us that her favorite animal is a pig. Also, when it was someone's birthday; she had a plastic crown for them to wear. I always felt left out in the birthday department, because my birthday is in the summer and I never got to wear the crown. I had Science next, she is definitely a favorite teacher also. She is very silly, very outgoing, and very motivated. We always acted out our science lesson, I remember one time we had to crawl under the table for one. We went outside to look at clouds and track them; day by day. The only cloud that I remember is Cumulous. Another class I had was gym, we had to line dance for an assignment; my science teacher would always be the only teacher dancing with us. It was so great and I loved doing it. On the topic of gym,

my teacher that I had; he had a lot of challenging things that we had to do in that class. I could not do a bunch of them, so I was the awkward kid walking laps on the sidelines. Running was very difficult for me, I could do a little but then stop after half of a lap. I got a lot of help in gym; during 6th grade at least.

On the topic of grades, I never got a C on a report card which will probably change now; just a progress report.

I was pretty happy with myself that I never failed on a report card but I did fail on tests and quizzes. I am not a good test taker; whatsoever. I do study but all this information never clicks with me. I got into seventh grade no problem, I didn’t take gym, which was good for me. I did, however, take wellness and that was funnnnnn. Fun fact: my wellness teacher was also my track coach, I got very tired, very easily. He did; I thought take it easy on me, I never went to my track meets though. It was just too much for me, and if I went I knew the team would lose because of me. I wasn’t the most fit in school, I wasn’t the most prettiest, and I sure as hell was nothing like the others.

Seventh grade was my worst year in school, that was the first time that I ever got bullied; online first and then talking about me behind my back. I admit, I probably did say one bad thing, but she was egging me on and I was just trying to stand up for myself. She did threaten to beat me up at one time; I had to get my dad involved after 2 weeks of this. After this event occured, my self-confidence went down the toilet and never recovered... I thought it would go

away but it kept going, I got the assistant principal involved and my school guidance counselor. They helped me a lot with the problem. That is basically all that I remember about my seventh grade experience.

My eighth grade experience was a little better, my teachers were great; as they always are. The assistant principal left for another job that year, I was bummed because he was really nice. Our principal was also great. The best part of my eighth grade life was the break the chain dance; organized by him and one of my other gym teachers.

All of us girls would practice it every day until we had to perform on Valentine's day. We all performed at a few schools, there were special guests that came, and it was great to perform for people, it is an amazing feeling for me.

On the second to last day of school, we got Melrose shirts and all of our classmates would sign them at the graduation barbeque for us 8th graders. Also, yearbooks were provided to us, which classmates also signed. Clumsy me, spilt coffee on mine and now all the pages stick together.

My Freshman and Sophomore year at MHS

I went into my freshman year of high school, it is very easy to get lost in this building, it felt like I was an outsider at my own school. I suffered with depression during my whole experience. My freshman year, I had a few friends who were always there for me. I got bullied. I used to always go to the nurse; crying. My nurse at school, her name is Kathy, her and I became really great friends. Whenever I see her, I call her my mommy, she is always there for me, and she is the greatest; especially in high school. She gave me a job. It was cleaning her house every Tuesday and Thursday, but she got yelled at because I was still a student. It was still a good year. Transitioning to my sophomore year was okay; not great. My year was very sad, my teacher that I mostly had in summer school passed away. He was a great guy as to when I got to know him, we both had a common interest with a pizza place. I found out in chorus, I had just got to school and I was hobbling because I had sprained my ankle; I started bawling my eyes out.

There was a senior boy at the time, he saw me crying and he offered me a hug; I thought that was so sweet. He was really nice to me and he didn’t have to be. I am so thankful to him and what he did for me. People like that are hard to come by; nowadays. Hugs mean the world to me, when I am upset or having a bad day; it’s really nice to be

comforted. It shows me that you care and it is just a reminder that I have a friend. It’s reassuring to know that everything will be okay. Anyways, I hobbled to the nurse because the elevator was not working, and when I got there, I see a pool of students crying. When you are upset or sad, you are supposed to go to guidance but the nurse was a safe place for us; especially me. I did go to class, but we had an easy day; considering. I was really sad, but I did have the comfort of my best friend, Jenny. She is always there for me, especially then; she would get me from class five minutes early. She would help me transition to class. We always help each other, we are always there for one another; if one of us is upset or just angry at the world, we have each other to confide in. I treasure our friendship more than anything, we are like family; Sisters by choice. I love her to pieces, she knew that day was hard for me, and she comforted me in the best way possible; just by being my best friend.

That day was definitely one of my saddest, the rest of my sophomore year went pretty smoothly. I was the quiet one in the back of the classroom, I tried my best. My high school guidance counselor is a major part in my success of my schoolwork; he helps me a lot; especially the time that I got to my Junior year. When I started my year, I tried my best and I even looked at colleges with Jenny. She was a Senior when I was a Junior, that was depressing because I was supposed to graduate with her. We both share a common interest in Salem State University. We would have days in school when a college administrator would come in and give us information about the school. We would

always make appointments together during lunch. I love looking into college, I love learning new information, and getting to know the school through college visits; it was so much better having someone to look at the school with me.

My Junior year

My Junior Year was really good, I met my lifelong friend on the first day. His name is Chris, he is an amazing guy; I know I can rely on him for anything. I really like just talking to him and talking about how our days went. Our friendship is based on trust; being there for eachother. We were in the same math class during that year, he can always make me laugh; even when I’m upset. From the day I met him till now, I knew he would be my friend forever. Chris and Jenny are and will always be my closest and greatest friends, I love them both with all of my heart. During my Junior year, I spent all of my time with Jenny; it was her last year and she was going to go on an internship.

Every school day, we would always meet each other at our locker after class, and talk about what was going on or if we just needed to blow off steam. What was great was that me and her had an office assistant class together, and we would run passes together; plus she would do my makeup. We were those types of friends that were always together; we were always walking the halls together. When she went on her internship, I was very upset because I felt like I lost my best friend in school and out. I would always text her to see how she was doing. Jenny and I; were

inseparable. She visited me one time from her internship, I was so happy to see her; it felt like forever. I love getting to hang out with her when I can. Then it was prom; everything happened so fast. She was my makeup artist and hopefully she will be this year also. I am so grateful for her and all that she does; especially makeup, she does such a great job.

For my prom, I left school early to get ready. My date was Chris, we went as friends and because we thought it would be fun to go together; and it was!!! Anyways, when I left school early, my cousin, AJ and his girlfriend were at my house. He was being a supportive boyfriend and drove her there to do my hair; she should be a hairstylist because my hair looked amazing. I made the right choice in asking her. She is an amazing person and I hope we can spend more time together; if AJ doesn’t hog her up too much. My hair and makeup were on point that night; I looked beautiful. My Auntie Debbie came, my cousin, and her husband; they all came to see me get ready. I was so happy that they came. I love them all and family means everything to me! Especially all of them, as you read before AJ is my favorite cousin, he has an amazing girlfriend, Jenny is my best friend and sister, Auntie Debbie is my aunt that I call my mother, my cousin is my favorite old lady, and her husband is also my favorite. In about 3 hours, Chris arrived with his family; he came with a beautiful corsage and boutonniere. I was so excited and very nervous, I have never been to a prom before; and never ever had a date.

When I saw Chris with my corsage, it was like I was dreaming and I never wanted to wake up. We took a few pictures in front of my house to make our parents happy; then his parents drove us to the school. When Chris and I got to the school, we took a few more pictures; and I saw Kathy, I was so happy and so excited to see her since she now works at an elementary school; of course I got a picture with her. We also had the red carpet, we were called, couple by couple to walk to the bus that was assigned to us. Before the red carpet, we all had to meet in a classroom to take attendance and wait for our bus to take us to our prom which was in Gloucester. My nurse now; Suzy was at the school waiting for everybody to walk down the red carpet. She is so kind hearted, me and her have gotten very close over the past years. She is also a great friend. I was very excited to actually get to the place. When we got there, dinner was served, photographs were taken professionally, and there was a beautiful ballroom floor to dance on. When I looked outside, I saw all the boats, and the view was incredible. It was one of the best nights of my life; prom was amazing. Our class representatives did one hell of a job planning it. The prom was beautiful, we ate, and we danced the night away. We all got back by bus at 10:00 and when we did, Chris’s parents drove me home and that was it; I went right to sleep, I was so tired. The most important thing, I felt so beautiful in my dress and my hair and makeup done by two amazing people.

I’m not sure if this was before or after prom, I got really sad news; my other teacher passed away. She was my para in middle school, she meant so much to me. She used to call me her italian daughter. She was my mommy, I used to joke around with her and I would always tell her about my life; the boys I had a crush on, and I told her about my family. I told her everything. I had a connection with her like I did not with anybody else. There was one time, I was a freshman in high school and she came over with a student. I was in MCAS testing and we just went on a break, so I asked to go use the bathroom because I wasn’t sure if I could ask to see my middle school aid. I ran out the door and hugged her for dear life, I was so excited to see her and because she helped in the middle school, I didn’t see her much when I went to high school, if only we could’ve had more time. That day was definitely my saddest. I loved her so much. To this day, I miss her dearly. Again, I did have my friends to comfort me. I have Chris, when I’m sad he is always there for me. He is always there when I need a hug, especially then. That day was the worst for me, I spent it in guidance instead of going to class. I did not think I could go to class and work; not on that day. My friends comforted me throughout the day which helped me a lot. I am very grateful to have the friends that I do. I did, eventually get through it and I went on with my Junior year. She will always have a special place in my heart.

After all of this, graduation happened for the seniors. It was Jenny’s graduation, I was so jealous because she got to leave school early but I was really happy for her. She graduated without me. We hopefully plan on going to

Salem State; her in the spring and me in the fall of 2018. I did finish my junior year off strong, I got all of the work that I got handed to me done and in on time, if not then before the deadline. I did well for 11th grade. I have to say, my cousin Marissa helped me a lot with college planning. She helped me to look at financial aid, scholarships, and making the plan to visit colleges. I owe her so much, that was so nice of her and I appreciate the help; she gave me a lot to look into.

My Senior and last year

I started my senior year; thankfully! I started it off healthy, no sprains, no breaks, and no fractures. I have my friends, I have amazing teachers, and I have a lot to look forward to this year. My year is looking great so far; stressful but really good. I have a lot of work to do, but nothing I can’t handle. I am, to say in the least, making friends and I am trying my best. I honestly, cannot wait for internships, senior week, prom, and graduation; I am most excited to go to college and to live away. I got two internships for 2018, one is with Mass Rehab helping little kids and then another is an internship with Kathy at the school she works for; assisting her as a nurse. I am very excited for the end of the year, We have senior week; it is a fun filled week of activities. There is one day where we will go to Canobie Lake Park,

another where we will have yearbook signing, another where we’ll rehearse for graduation; there is a lot to look forward to. The school also provides us with senior packets, it is basically how you leave your mark at Melrose High.

In my opinion, I do not like that we have to vote for best things that we think students are. I would say vote everyone, everyone is equal, we shouldn’t have to choose. They might have a different reason for why they do that for the yearbook and that’s great; I go with the flow. I am so ready and so excited to put on my cap and gown; and finally graduate. As you saw before, I stayed back a year and I wasn’t too keen on that fact. Most importantly, I am so grateful to start my life in college next fall, I cannot wait to study what I wanna be when I get older; I know it will be hard, new, and different but I’m positive that I can do it. I am looking forward to being on my own and pursuing what I want to pursue. I am finally ready to start my own life. My life hasn’t been the definition of perfect, I’m not rich, I’m not active; I’m not calm, cool, and collective like most people. But I mean whose life is perfect anyways? I definitely have to keep working hard and trying to get across that finish line; but I know that I can do it. My Senior year is going great, I feel more confident and I feel like I can make more friends than I was doing in the beginning of school. I am trying very hard to get good grades and work very hard for next year while I am away at college. I know it is very hard on my parents, paying for my fees and all. I am very grateful for them and I promise I will not disappoint them while I am away. I am so grateful to all of my teachers for helping me and pushing me to try my hardest; I would have never

been able to do anything if it weren’t for them. I am so proud and amazed by all of my accomplishments; I have to say I would not have been here today if it weren’t for my parents, and my Aunt Rosann, or my doctor. I am so very thankful to anybody who ever visited me, became my friend, sat with me, talked to me, or even was kind to me just for a second. I am so thankful to life; thank you for giving me another chance to redeem myself. I am now, better than ever; in my senior year, preparing for college; this is the greatest feeling in the world for me. I am proud to say that all of my accomplishments paid off and I found out that I got into Salem State for the fall of 2018; Salem is my dream school, I hear they have the best early childhood education program and I am looking forward to going there to study and achieve my goal of it. I can’t contain my joy; I am so honoured to say that I will be a viking next fall; Class of 2022, I knew I could do it.

All in all, I went through hell and back; but I found myself a loophole, I got help and I overcame it. I worked really hard to get where I am today and I cannot be more proud of myself. Nowadays, I am an 18 year old woman, with her fair share of scars; but hey I’m healthy. I have never broken a bone in my body, and I haven’t sprained or fractured anything since two or three years ago. I feel wonderful; I just received wonderful news and I have a new cousin. I have an amazing family, friends to count on, and a new life in college with my best friend. I am very thankful to have my life back; it has been a long journey and in the end, everything turned out to be wonderful. Everything is

back to the way it was; except for my straight A’s. The first two pictures on the next page are of me at the hospital and at my house. In the first, my nurses had to hold me down because I was tremoring so much. My body was being taken over by a racecar; I had no movement or function in my body whatsoever. I had no idea what was going on, I knew who people were but I did not communicate, I could not see, and I could not walk. I was gone; to say at the least.

In the second picture, it shows my dad and I; he taught me how to walk again. I used to wake up and call his name, he would come to my room and make me get out of my bed and had me walk to him; I hated him for making me do that because it was so hard for me to move. Now, I can walk with no problem; I am a healthy young woman, going to college soon and I could not be more thankful or more prouder to be living my life now.

As I am living in the now, I should say my cousins are my life. My cousin and I, both born in july but him being my brothers age; we got off to a rocky start. We hated each other back then, but now I sincerely do not know where I would be without him and his mother; I love them so much. I cannot stress this point enough; my cousin AJ is my life, I love him to death. He is my first cousin, so that part probably rubbed something off on me. He was always there for me and ya sure he is a jerk sometimes, but that’s how he jokes; he really doesn’t mean anything by it. I will always be there for him, I don’t care if he doesn’t need me; I will be there whether he likes it or not. My cousin Melissa is the greatest, she’s the one that I go to for help and boy troubles. I need her advice, I look up to her and I do

not think I could choose someone better to look up to; because it’s her and I love her for everything she does. My cousin Marissa is amazing, all that she did helping me with college, I am so grateful. Whenever I have a question, she helps me; I am very glad to have her. My family is very important to me, all of my mother’s side and all of my father’s side. They have helped me more times than I can count, I love all our gatherings together. Every friday, I go to my dad’s mom’s house for dinner and then Sunday, it is my mom’s mom’s. It is very nice to see them all, some more than others.

Pushing Through

My Senior year is full of many obstacles. The greatest of them all is that it is my last year, I cannot wait to graduate and go to college. As I am in my final stages of this year, I have many things to do; especially because I will be going on an internship. When you go on an internship your senior year, you get 4th quarter off and you don’t have to do final exams which is amazing!!! For my internship, I will be assisting Kathy at an elementary school with little kids, I am so excited to work with her and to see the kids faces every day. I cannot go anywhere without getting my

senior paper done so that’s what I am pulling my hair out, working on. My topic is how women do everything and men do scat; let me clarify…..

Women do not get an equal chance that men get. In the early stages, women were treated like pack mules while men got to go to work and leave the house to their lovely wives. A lot of the time, men did not think women did a good job so they would constantly call them failures, stupid, and worthless people who do not know how to do anything right. Women had to stay home and take care of their children everyday, they had to clean, cook, and stay.

Women were controlled back then, they never got a say and the men were their superiors. This topic pisses me off and I have strong emotions towards it.

Even today, women still get pay cuts unlike men. See, when a boss is male and he is a hiring a woman, he will look in all the wrong places. Most of the time, your going to have a sexist pig as a boss when your attractive and he hires you. He will most likely have you fetch coffee instead of the job that you applied you; say it was editing. Men do not think women can handle their jobs so they give them small jobs but what they really don’t know is that we are capable of more than they are and we can do far more than what they give us. Wage gaps suck, women and men should be treated equally, not by 80 percent but by 100 percent. I’m not necessarily talking about now now, but this was how it was not to long ago and all I am saying is that it should change. It has to!

There was one instance, in 2013, a woman got fired from her job for being too attractive. What the hell was that about? A woman in Iowa had a job as a dental assistant for ten years and one day, out of the blue, she got fired for being too attractive and a threat to this man’s marriage. Now to me, that sounds like bullshit, suck it up dude!

My paper is really about Joy Luck Club and how they were treated but women all over the world can relate to them in someway. They were all strong, independent women, just like their daughters. Joy Luck Club is a really good book, I recommend reading it and to all you men out there, take in that perspective. Now I would not say that I am a feminist per say but I believe in sexism and equality. I believe in women just as much as I believe in men, I believe that we are all worthwhile and that we are all capable. I believe that we should all get a say in the matter and that is what I am doing right know, I am speaking my mind, I have a voice; I want to be heard.

So again, my name is Jessica Coviello, no fancy publishing name, just Jessica. I don’t like to talk about my past that much because it was very painful, more on my parents and my family, they had to see me like that everyday.

I could not move. Anyways, I love to write, I love English, I love reading, and I love anything romance haha. The story that I want to share with you is all about me when I was young, but I can’t just wallow up on a book about when

I was sick, I wanna tell you everything about my life, starting with my schoolwork and how I overcame my sickness. I loved school and I mean loved it, when I was young; more than I do now. I love to study and do my homework, I love being an overachiever, I love when someone tells me good job, good work, or even when they tell me that they’re proud of me. I love being the one called out for something that I did well on, it’s an amazing feeling for me. I’m not the talkative type, I am very shy and very quiet; I like it when people come up to me and not the other way around. I guess I can thank my sickness for that.

To be completely honest here, my life isn’t all that interesting, I am a young adult woman who has had her fair share with surgeries, hospitals, chemo, and loneliness. My school life was good, I was lucky to have some amazing teachers, and I’m graduating this fall with my class- now that is something worth talking about. If it weren’t for some people in my life, I would not be here right now, I am very thankful that I got another chance at life, I did not think I would. Not to brag or anything, but I’m smart, like really smart when I want to be, I love seeing good grades on my report card, I know I can advance when I want to and I know I can better my life. I know I will be okay and that’s enough for me.

My Hero

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THEN

NOW

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Family

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Favorite Cousin

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Best Friend

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Baby times