Life After Graduation: Madi's Story

My name is Madi Blinzler. I am 18 years old, and I should be in college right now. College is the next step that every senior is beyond ready for. As graduation passed, and summer flew by, I was getting nervous to start the next chapter of my life. When you find the perfect university your heart is set and ready to go. Mine was too -- until July. I never really planned on attending college anywhere except Missouri State. As summer approached, I was anxious to get ready to leave my hometown of Kansas City and say hello to Springfield, but that wasn’t the case.

It started back in February of this year, with a dry cough and a runny nose. I figured it was just a seasonal cold, but as a month or two passed, I knew this was something else. Between the span of seven months, I’ve had five or six sinus infections, been to seven different doctors and have spent countless hours waiting in doctors’ offices. In July we went to a pulmonary doctor to see if he could figure out my continuous cough. Going into this I didn’t think much of it, but walking out of the room with tears streaming down my mother’s face it was heart wrenching.

My doctor ran some tests and came back with horrid results. He told me that he was shocked that I was still alive, with my lung functioning at below 30%. He then told us that he’s had four 18-year-old patients with my condition (severe asthma) and two of them have died. He was afraid that I was going to make it number three. At this time my mom and I were completely blown out of the water. Sitting there with tears in her eyes and frustration in her voice as to how this could be. I was a former cross country and track runner and a swimmer...with asthma.

Leaving with that kind of news put a hold on my college plans. As soon as I talked with my mom about what my alternative plan was, my heart was shattered into pieces. I had been waiting to go to college since the beginning of senior year and here I am putting things on hold. Luckily I had completed the A+ program in high school so I had that under my belt, but I didn’t completely accept the fact that I wasn’t going to be down in Springfield on move-in day.

The past seven months have probably been the hardest time of my life. Waking up everyday I face a new struggle - not only with my health - but my life. This happened at such an inconvenient time because all of my friends had left for college and I’ve never felt more alone. It’s crazy to think how quickly things changed for me, and the hardest part is the process of it all. But the best part of it all is that my family supports me like no other and will drop everything to help me. It’s been a crazy journey but I’m extremely blessed, thankful, and lucky to still be alive.

One of the major things I got to take away from this past year was that when there are bad days, there are always better days to come - it just takes time. Staying positive about things really helped me get through this, and knowing that sometime soon there will be an end to all of this. No matter what the outcome of things – I’m still happy that I am alive and breathing.