We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofClifton Holley

It was a hot June summer night, and I was drifting off to sleep. On this particular evening, I awoke to find myself having had an accident in bed. I found this shocking and alarming -- as a 12-year old, this hadn’t happened since I was a small child, so I knew something was wrong. In response, I immediately leaped out of my bed and saw a big stain outlined on my sheets. I found myself in a state of confusion so I told my mom, and she was shocked, too. Quickly, and with little discussion of what just occurred, we worked to take off the bed sheets and wash them. We put new sheets on and both went back to sleep.

But the very next night, it happened again. At first, I thought to myself, it was because of me having juice right before going to bed but together, my mom and I quickly realized that something more serious could be happening. My mom and I trusted our instinct to call for help and dialed 911. 

In the moments that followed that life-alerting phone call, I vividly recall sitting on my bed in my room wearing my favorite basketball shorts. I looked up to see my little sister standing in front of me repeatedly asking me if I was okay. I responded to her with ease, reassuring her that indeed her big brother was okay. Little did I know that I would soon learn that I was going through a serious health crisis. 

Before I knew it, the paramedics arrived, and two men -- one who was Black and and one who was Vitetimese and both in their early 20s -- walked upstairs, put me in a stretcher, and rushed me into the ambulance. Before long I was on my way to Boston’s Children’s Hospital. 

One of the paramedics began to ask my mom questions such as, “Are there any food allergies that your son might have?’’ and “Does he have any other medical conditions that we need to know about?” The truck was like a big spaceship that had big and bright lights on the inside and I felt as if I was going to go blind. It was very cold too, so after a while of being inside of the truck, I asked for a blanket.

After arriving at the hospital, I was checked in and brought into a room. Nurses started setting everything up, hooking me up to monitors, and letting me know that there was a phone by my bed and a red button on the TV remote that I could press at any time for an emergency. Eventually, after running some tests, the doctors came in and started to explain why I was wetting the bed. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The doctors reassured me that I would be okay, but I was again shocked. 

After my mom and I got more information, it was time for her to go home. Seeing the look on her face made me sad because she looked hurt and scared. I knew everything was going to be okay, but I was sad that now I would need to stay in the hospital over the summer. 

Something I’ve learned over the years is that difficult things happen, but there’s always a reason and your outcome depends on how you fight through the struggles. 

A way I stayed positive through this difficult time is by making sure that I’m taking care of myself. I also learned to keep a positive mindset because I can’t get mad at myself for things out of my control. Everything happens for a reason and that’s something I can’t forget.

© Clifton Holley. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.