Proactive, patient, and positive. These are the three most powerful adjectives I’ve held onto throughout this nine month journey. These words have strengthened my confidence, solidified my values, and challenged me on countless occasions. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for them too.
Never be afraid to ask a question. Each of us are culprits of letting fear take over our ability to ask someone a question. Personally, I think not knowing the answer to a question is worse than knowing the answer…even if it is not the answer we want to hear. I’m not trying to sound like a motivational speaker here… but it’s true. Asking questions is one of the healthiest and most proactive things you can do. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s a sign of weakness or immaturity, because it’s not. The only way we can learn and be proactive individuals is if we continue to ask questions.
Here is a perfect example of how my proactive mom significantly impacted my future:
While my mom was waiting for my ambulance to arrive at the LewisGale Medical Center in Salem, VA, she was told several important details: 1) I was being transported to Salem to see a specific neurosurgeon; 2) The name of this neurosurgeon; and, 3) Surgery was a definite possibility to remove whatever was compressing my spinal cord. After receiving this news my mother Googled his name and somehow found his direct contact info. He miraculously answered the phone and she immediately asked if she could meet with him before I arrived. She learned that he was the on-call surgeon for that night, meaning he was not physically at the hospital. He explained that he knew my case and would come to see me the next morning. She refused to wait that long to see him and explained how much worse the nerve damage had progressed in my legs in just one day. Once I arrived in Salem, I was placed in an ICU room. Before we knew it…in walked my neurosurgeon.
If my mother had not been proactive in asking those concerning, uncomfortable questions, I probably would have lost full feeling in my legs over night and be living in a wheel chair today.
I am currently in my last month of treatment and it’s surprisingly been the most difficult out of all nine months. The resilience my body has shown in the face of trauma has been overwhelming. Despite basically getting internally mauled by a bear every week, my body always manages to fight back and return to normalcy. My mental state, however, has been tested beyond measure and this final month will be no different. Staying patient continues to be my hardest battle.
As a result of this experience, I have developed a renowned sense of appreciation for what it means to be truly patient. Our patience is constantly tested in our every day lives and all of us are forced to exhibit some restraint. But, there is an entirely different level of patience required when thinking about the future.
The best analogy I can think of is a bruise. When a part of our body receives hard impact our skin turns several shades of blue and is very sensitive to the touch. With time it heals back to normal and the pain subsides. I like to compare my patience to a bruise. But, instead of having time to heal, this bruise receives impact over and over and over again. Never giving it proper time to heal. If I picture my patience as a bruise, it would look like a disgusting mass of black and blue, with a glorious hematoma resting beneath my skin…sorry for the details.
As difficult as this battle of patience has been, I know how close I am to being a normal human again. If I have already experienced and overcome more than eight months of this…what’s another month?
Surrounding myself with positivity is one of the main reasons why you see a smile on my face every day. I can confidently say that I have always made an effort to be a positive person throughout my life. Sorry, but pessimistic people are the worst. There is a difference between being a realist and simply always finding something negative in a situation.
People constantly ask me, how do you stay so positive? Well, I guess my answer would be… negativity just simply is not an option. Just imagine how difficult it would have been for everyone to watch me be consumed by this disease…Yes…I had emergency spinal surgery. Yes…I lost feeling in my legs and had to re-learn how to walk, run, jump, etc. And, Yes…I have been through hell and back enduring nine months of chemo. As terrible as all of those things are and will continue to be… my life could still be worse.
Most importantly, being a positive person has helped me process and accept what has happened. It has also given me the opportunity to do amazing things and meet some amazing people. It has been a goal of mine to not let this define who I am. Instead, I’ve grown from these challenges and allowed these adverse experiences to shape me into the person I am today. As I have always said…in the midst of this terrible storm, I am choosing to dance in the rain.