Five Feet Apart

Posted by jennifer gibson on Thursday, July 18, 2019 Under: July 2019

I recently saw the movie Five Feet Apart and was pleasantly surprised by the story. It featured talented actors, Cole Sprouse from Riverdale and Haley Lu  Richardson, as 17 year old Cystic Fibrosis patients. Stella has learned to take take control of her life despite spending most of her time in the hospital. She figured out how to cope with disease by setting goals, big and small, to give herself a purpose. Everyday she sets out to achieve those goals which gives her the strength to keep going. 

When a new patient arrives down the hall from her, she becomes curious about him. Eventually they form an unlikely friendship despite their obvious differences. She has OCD and relies on a structured environment and lifestyle to cope with the illness. Will is the complete opposite and has a tendency to be rathe complacent with the diagnosis and his life. The two of them could not be more polar opposite of each other and despite their pull to one another, they try to come to terms with their differences. 

On top of that, due to the particular nature of the disease, they must remain six feet apart to avoid cross infection which can be deadly. Stella has been put on the lung transplant list and Will is trying a new treatment in hopes of eradicating B. Cepacia which is resistant to antibiotics. He is very aware of his life expectancy and his unlikely chances of getting a lung transplant. 

While I was watching this movie, I happened to be bedridden due to my chronic spinal pain and was very surprised as to how much I could relate to them. I had been in the ER for the fifth or sixth time in the last few months and sympathized with their situation of being in the hospital and living with a chronic illness. It’s not easy trying to keep under control and despite our best efforts, it can flare up very quickly and unexpectedly. Just when we thought it was smooth sailing, everything suddenly falls apart. It’s like having the rug pulled out from under your feet and you are trying to make sense of what happened. 

Stella does everything she can to maintain a consistent approach to her life while Will seems to be flying by the seat of his pants and jeopardizing his health in the process. Once Stella realizes that Will seems to have given up, she does everything she can to help him. 

What I admired was the way they handled the “no touching” rule and yet still relied on each other for support through the use of video chats. This is a brilliant way of staying in touch with the outside world and the people in their lives. They shared everyday moments such as their hospital food, medication, their routines and life in general. 

The nurses do everything they can to keep the CF patients apart yet they always find a way to get together through hilarious antics. Having to live with an obvious reminder that death is literally at their doorstep, they are determined to persevere and still be teenagers. They have a choice: to give up or make the decision to grow stronger. In Stella’s case, she chose to do everything she can to overcome it and also manages to find small pockets of happiness such as visiting the nursery, hanging out with her friends or creating a vlog of her daily activities. 

I loved how she was so proactive with her chronic disease and educating others through the use of her vlogs in such a positive manner. Then it struck me as to how similar we were in so many ways. We both found a way to share the positive and negative aspects of dealing with such a challenging life. I was amazed how I could relate to them despite our different physical issues. I  admired how she decided to help Will and encourage him to create his own goals. She also managed to find some redeeming qualities within him. Funnily enough, even though I don’t have the same disease, there were so many similarities that I recognized, particularly the sense of being consumed by the darkness of chronic pain. It’s a necessary reminder in terms of how much most people take being normal for granted when so many others struggle or even comprehend what it’s like for us. 

This was one of those movies I needed to see since it reminded me of hope and that I’m not alone. It’s about finding a way to embrace life even though it may seem impossible. It reminded me of the importance of having a support system through my friends and family instead of living a sheltered life. Five Feet Apart shows moments of what it’s like to be stuck in bed and wishing they could live a normal life which is literally me, every single day. 

I love how Stella and Will communicate with each other about their fears, dreams, common issues and many other topics they could relate to. Overall, they are fighters which is very much like me. 

I adore how they came from different backgrounds and have vastly different approaches and yet try to overcome it. The way they develop a sense of humour, coping methods and form a unique friendship is truly formidable. It’s a great way to see the world through their eyes and realize the scope of what they endure and finding ways of staying strong. 

It made me realize just how truly unique and beautiful everyone is regardless of their struggles. We need to remind ourselves that we are making a difference here. Most of all, we are human and doing the best we can under extraordinary circumstances. That’s what life is about. 

Recently I read the phrase “Ki Soku Tai” which is Japanese for “Mind, Body, and Spirit” and right away it resonated with me. Everyday I’m fighting a constant battle with my body, mind and inner spirit, it’s a never ending cycle. My life is so complicated that it’s hard to explain. It’s not until someone walks in my shoes or sees what it really is like for me when I end up in the hospital that they truly grasp the scope of my physical challenges and chronic pain. 

Through all of this, it gave me the incentive to keep hope alive by being there for others and reminding them that they are strong, courageous and beautiful. It’s about being there for each other, through the highs and lows. 


In : July 2019 

Tags: "cole sprouse" er  hospital 
Comment Form is loading comments...