Dear O.I.,

I know all the trash they talk about you, and believe you me, I know FAR too well what you do -- but despite all of that I'm glad we're together. Our relationship has had its fair share of bumps and fractures (hah, see what I did there?) but I've come to appreciate your quirks and learned to manage your more annoying habits.

Let's think about the first time when I, through my own self-realization, truly appreciated you. I was very young at the time, and we were still getting to know each other so it was pretty rough going between you and me. But I was sitting on the medical table in the cast room at Children's Hospital, twiddling my thumbs while I waited for my doctor to saw off yet another cast... that you were responsible for. I had spent the past couple of months relying on my parents to carry me everywhere, had spent weeks getting sponge-bathed, and was starting to get sores from having to be on my back in one place for so long. Needless to say I was more than ready to be rid of your baggage.
As with many other times I have been in the cast room, this time I was not the only patient. There was a little boy seated, or should I say squirming and wailing, on the table next to me. His parents were trying to shush him, his face was a violently furious red, and he screamed for all he was worth - twisting his face away from his broken arm. I wanted to tell him that closing his eyes wasn't going to take the pain away. I wanted to tell him that no matter how much he screamed and thrashed, it wouldn't work either, in fact moving more would just make the pain bolder. I wanted to tell him that soon it'll be all over. I wanted to tell him about patience, about healing, about getting stronger, about how in the bigger scheme of things -- his broken arm was nothing. I was probably no older than 10 but I knew these things because you had taught me all about them. In fact, these were your gifts to me and at 10 I knew that these were the things that made me different from my friends.

About that, you taught me how being different is something you adapt to instead of fighting against. You know, there are often days and nights when I think to myself that if political leaders and iron-fist world rulers could understand the things you have taught me, perhaps there wouldn't be as much struggle, hardship, strife, or anger in the world. Maybe people would want to work harder to mend, to converge, to be patient, to be stronger together, to adapt. You've taught me how to survive by adapting. Whether that's by adapting to other people's expectations of me, to the tall shelf that I can't reach, to the bank teller who never seems me, or to my friend's house that I can't get into -- you've showed me how everything is possible.
I wanted to thank you for that possibility that you continually reveal. In times like these I see so many people who have lost sight of possibility, hope, and clarity for themselves. It is a frightening and incredibly sad sight, and although I have so many amazingly supportive people in my life who help make my own possibility happen -- I believe that it all begins with you. Sure, I have to fumble and wrangle your neck a few times before you'll show me the way but it is ALWAYS so worth it!

Sometimes though, I'm not sure if you realize your scarier influences on people. Sometimes you bring a lot of fear and unknown into people's lives and I resent you for that. Aren't there better ways to prove your point? Less dark? Less of a hassle? Ways that aren't as much of a struggle for folks? Do you have any idea the fear you put into a mother who has her O.I. baby taken away because she's being investigated for child abuse? Or what about the fear of a child who isn't sure he'll be safe at school that day? Or what about the unknown for the twenty-something who isn't sure she'll ever have a 'normal' independent life outside of her parents' home? Or what about the family who isn't sure their O.I. child will live past the next day? I have seen so many of these instances play out and what makes one situation find success is strength and determination. You drag us screaming and kicking to prove what we are made of. You are unrelenting in your instructions. You give us no option but to prove the best of ourselves, but in order to do that, I understand that you must first put us in the worst case scenario. I just wish you wouldn't do that... all the time. Like, sometimes, can't you just let ME handle the remote control to life? Why does it always have to be YOU who gets to choose which channel we watch?

We can't get rid of each other. This relationship is made up of a promise more sacred than that of a vow, it'll last longer than the rust of a wedding band, and no amount of money could pay divorce lawyers to end it. So I have resolved to make the most of this -- whatever this is, whatever you are, and whatever it is you do. But after all, making the most of things is the first lesson you taught me 20 years ago when we first met, right? And just look at where it has taken us now!

With love and admiration,

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