Student meets obstacles with positivity
Emily Emerton is pictured with her service dog Fran near the clock tower at LCC. Photo by Mallory Stiles
By Mallory Stiles
The dictionary definition of being positive is being hopeful and confident; to think of the good aspects of a situation rather than the bad ones.
Emily Emerton, 29, always has an inspiring smile to offer despite having a disease that pulls her apart at the joints, literally.
“I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or otherwise known as EDS,” Emerton said. “It is a connective tissue disorder. In layman’s terms, my connective tissues are the cheap stuff whereas a normal person has high-end connective tissues. My kind means that my joints dislocate easier and more often, because my tendons are like loose rubber bands.”
Despite having a disease that hinders her every single day, Emerton is continuing her education and is currently taking 11 credits. Her classes are Calculus 1, Intro to Computer Science, and Modern European History. The latter she refers to as her “fun class.”
Emerton has yet to settle on a major but said she is considering pursuing a career in data science if she continues to show promise in and enjoy computer science.
Even though simple tasks can become a struggle, she just keeps moving.
“My joints dislocating is extremely painful, I have gotten stuck in places before because I couldn’t move from the pain,” Emerton said. “I remember once my hip popped out of place when I was living alone. I just laid on the floor and used an object to maneuver my phone closer to call for help.
“But I have had a lot of help now. I have an Apple watch with a fall detector and I can call from it, so if I get stuck it isn’t quite an emergency. I often forget my phone because of the ADHD, but I have several mobility aids including my service dog Fran and my joint braces.”
Emerton has asked that people on campus be reminded service dogs are not for petting. Fran is cute but on the job, and all the attention is sweet but distracting.
Fran needs to stay focused, but Emerton prefers to distract herself from the chronic pain by cross-stitching and reading true crime books. She shared that she is currently reading “Haunted Lansing,” which is a collection of all of Lansing’s ghost stories.
Her long-time boyfriend, Matt Mackie, spoke highly of his partner.
“She has such a caring nature, whether it be our pets or people she loves,” Mackie said. “It’s what made me OK with getting our first pet together.”
Emerton said besides Fran, their home also includes two rabbits, another dog and a cat that keep their lives filled with excitement and love.
“I consider myself an optimistic realist,” Emerton said. “I could have just stayed depressed after the diagnosis and finding out that there is no cure for EDS. But it takes too much energy to stay sad. I accept that the worst can happen anytime, but I always keep hope alive that things will get better.”
That’s the thing about positivity, it’s infectious.