From the moment of my diagnosis, I’ve been empty.
My passions disappeared into smoke as I was given an insurmountable fate.
All I could do was lock myself in the darkness of my room in hopes of sparing those around me from the pain I was in.
As days became months without any change, as my body continued to wither and ache, a light of hope entered my dark room.
While hospitalized, I graduated high school virtually and applied for multiple universities, including Briarson.
Initially I was put on a waiting list but after months of tribulations, a full acceptance was sent to my home by mail. It was the kick I needed to begin walking forward once again.
As my mind tried again and again to drag me back into my isolated room, the pros so heavily outweighed the cons that I made up my mind.
I have to at least try.
Now resolved to face the challenges of living a normal life once again, I packed my bags with the help of my family and made my journey across the country.
Although leaving the safety of my home was nerve-wracking, I settled in quickly once I arrived.
Thanks to my amazing doctor, most of the medical information was sent before I arrived, including all of my medications and other needs.
Additionally, as the university was specialized as a medical school, I was able to get additional care from a variety of experts in the campus hospital.
Academically, I was also given many special accommodations and privileges due to my condition.
I could attend any classes I wanted with much less structure compared to my peers. Most of my classes and assignments became digital in order to become less of a burden on my health.
Every department had at least one professor or lecturer who would aid me in their free time by adding to the online resources.
I couldn’t be more thankful.
After exploring the campus and meeting my new doctors to discuss the details of how I was going to continue attending the school as normally as possible, I made a stop at the student shop.
As I perused the isles for much longer than anyone should, I came across a small black bag for sale.
At the time, I had no idea why I was so adamant about buying it, but I knew it would be important.
Eventually I decided to use it to store my medications, ensuring no one else would be burdened by my darkness.
As the days of monotony passed, between doctors and games, the first event of the year was finally happening.
It was time for the Club Fair.
Throughout the entire day, I felt a nagging in the back of my head. Deep down, I knew what it was I wanted to do.
No matter how sick or injured I was, MMA was my lifestyle until the accident, and I couldn't leave it behind.
As I walked through the rows of recruiters, desperately looking for a easygoing society that would interest me, I came face-to-face with my past: the MMA club.
It was from that point on my fate was sealed.
As I continued going and fighting, day after day, I could feel my body slowly breaking down.
Not only was I out of shape but my ALS was having a much larger impact than I initially realized.
I couldn’t go to Muay Thai classes and even the jiujitsu classes were barely possible as I changed my fighting style to accommodate my new challenges.
I was not going to give up.
I made it too far to give up at the first hurdle. As I continued to push forward, I also pushed everyone away.
The dark fears I felt were overbearing, the pain of letting people in just to be a burden was overwhelming.
Even still, with all of my standoffish behavior and attempts to create distance, one person just refused to listen.
No matter how hard I pushed back, he just plowed right through my walls. The disgustingly bright light he shone with was blinding.
As I continued attending the club meetings, slowly but surely, my eyes adjusted to his bright persona.
Slowly but surely, following his lead, every single club member began forcing their way through my defenses.
Until I was no longer as empty as I used to be.
We talked more and more and made memories together until eventually, I made the decision to tell him my truths.
I cared too much about him to be able to hide it any longer. I knew that our relationship couldn’t continue to progress unless I took this leap of faith.
Even though I trusted him greatly, there were a couple secrets I could never tell him.
That’s a story for another time though.
Finally, as the second term rolled in, I made a final decision. I would no longer be fighting.
I could tell the extensive and intensive exercise was hurting my body as the aching and control I felt worsened considerably. Despite this, I couldn’t simply quit.
Resigned to never fight again, I came to a compromise with myself.
Even if my time was over, I could use the skills I have gained up until now to usher in the new generation.
Rather than fight myself, I would become an MMA teacher.
Aside from demonstrating moves and testing my students on occasion, I would never do MMA myself ever again.
Even after accepting my fate, it was still a hard decision to come to.
Just half a year ago, I’m sure I would have given up and retired completely.
Things are different now. I have people I care about who I wish to see succeed more than myself.
As we continue fighting our individual battles, I will ensure that they can face whatever demons they come across without flinching.
I will help them become insurmountable.