Innisdale student battling serious illness offers perspective on life

Guest post by Kieley Mackey, Grade 9 student, Innisdale Secondary School

Hi, my name is Kieley Mackey. I am 14-year-old Grade 9 student at Innisdale Secondary school (GO INVADERS!). When I say I’m a student at Innisdale, I really mean a part-time student. Not because I’m ditching or anything like that, but because no matter how much I want to go, I am unable to be a full-time student.

Why? Because I have a disease that stops me from going to class full time.

Kieley (left) with a SickKids staff member. 6A is the ward where Kieley stays when she needs hospitalization to manage her auto-immune pancreatitis.

I have auto-immune pancreatitis. It’s a very stubborn case that just won’t go away. I’m sure most of you are wondering what that means. Your pancreas is the small organ that helps digest the enzymes in your food. Pancreatitis is when the enzymes don’t leave your pancreas, but the pancreas ends up over producing the enzymes.

Auto-immune pancreatitis causes a lot of pain and nausea. My bouts of pancreatitis often last for long periods of time, and I usually have pain and nausea that lasts all the time for most of the bout. My pancreatitis is very rebellious, and nothing seems to quiet it down. We’ve tried many different medications but we’ve come to a dead end.

Right now I am in a bout, and in the mornings it’s really hard for me to wake up so I go to school for the last three periods of the day. I miss a lot of school, between appointments, hospitalizations, sick days and recently a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

In my last three years of being sick and going to school, I have never had a bad teacher. Actually, I’ve never had a good teacher either—I’ve had amazing ones! I know that sounds really sappy, but I mean it every way possible. If during the last three years any of my teachers hadn’t been as understanding, I probably wouldn’t have finished Grade 8 and I wouldn’t be at school now. I don’t think people realize just how much it helps to have a teacher that helps you through all of this. I owe the fact that I am in Grade 9 to my Grade 6, 7 and 8 teachers. Thank you!

Being sick is a full-time job for both me and my family. They spend a lot of time taking care of me and holding my hand through the tough parts. I’m often tired and very nauseous, I also don’t eat. I have a tube in my stomach that helps give me nutrition—I haven’t eaten anything by mouth since October 2014. Yet I wouldn’t change my life if someone offered me a crazy amount of money or a wish from a genie. I have made lifelong friends and met people who have become my inspiration. I have learned so much, have been able to put my life into perspective and have an even stronger bond with my parents.quoteI am a very, very lucky kid in so many ways. My family is able to be by my side without worrying too much about their jobs, I am not dying or unable to understand what is going on, I have an amazing group of friends that cheer me up along the way and also I have an amazing team of doctors who care about me and never give up on trying to help me overcome this. And I am thankful for the teachers and principals who have made it possible for me to have a semi-normal life. I am thankful for the people who have helped me become who I am today. I know that I always have them behind me through difficult times and that’s what keeps me going.

Thanks to everyone who helped organize the Innisdale Raise the Dough night for me on March 4 through Domino’s Pizza. We have already made one trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to see if the doctors there can help my team at SickKids, and we will be heading back there for more tests and possibly for surgery this spring or summer.

To learn more about Kieley’s journey, view a video by SickKids Hospital.


3 thoughts on “Innisdale student battling serious illness offers perspective on life

  1. Darlene

    So sorry to hear how much you have to suffer. My daughter goes to innisdale (gr 10) and many kids with the disease my daughter has have tubies so I’m familiar with them. Sending positive thoughts and hoping you can find something to take away your symptoms soon! Take care hugs

  2. Erin Schwarz

    Wow you are an inspiration Kieley! I hope all of your work with sick kids and Mayo gets you back to full time school soon.

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