Teen Voices: Taking on High School with No Regrets

By Madeleine Darowiche

Starting high school can be tough, especially when you are dealing with a medical condition such as hydrocephalus. I started high school two years ago, and I am now a junior. Even though I luckily have not dealt with any shunt revisions in 6 years, I really felt the other effects of hydrocephalus during my freshman year.
I was not real social, and when people would talk to me, I was terrified to even respond. I would always sit alone at lunch because I was so scared to interact with others. I would not say anything when a teacher would call on me. I also never told anyone that I had hydrocephalus.

Looking back, I think I should have because people might have been more understanding with me. There were people who tried to be my friend, but I think I would miss all the nonverbal cues which just made me seem even more aloof. I also was struggling in math as I always have, and even after my mom and I tried to explain the condition, my teacher kind of just shrugged it off. I was so miserable my freshman year because I was so scared of basically everyone.

Now in my junior year of high school, things are so much better. I have a great math teacher who is really patient and understanding. I have an A in math now and I used to get C’s and D’s. I have gotten more confidence in talking to people. I am still really shy, but I have come such a long way from where I was. Attending the National Conference on Hydrocephalus this summer really helped with my confidence.

My best advice for any of you high school freshmen is to not be afraid to talk to people. Most people will be nice. Do not be afraid to educate teachers and other students about hydrocephalus. Even if they do not listen, you will know you tried. I regret some of the things I did not do, but I am fixing them now. Do not make the first year of high school a year of regret. Everything will turn out okay in the end. Have that confidence that first year, and you will set up your four years to be awesome. Please listen so you do not make the same mistakes I did, if you already made them, do not be afraid to fix them, it is never too late, as I learned this year.

Here is a picture of me with my friend at the South Florida Hydrocephalus Association WALK. I had told her about the walk and my hydrocephalus back in August, when school started. She remembered it, and a few days before the walk she asked me when it was. I told her, and she said she would come. I was skeptical about it, but she came, and I really got to know her better even though I have known her since freshman year. It made me realize, that for the first time since I began high school, I actually had a peer who really understood the condition and a real friend. This meant so much to me because I tried telling other students about hydrocephalus once I started junior year since I wasn’t embarrassed about the condition after the conference. They never listened or showed interest.