Wednesday, April 11, 2012


[I'll go ahead and apologize for this post being dumb and how it seems to repeat things I've already said before.  I was just frustrated when I wrote this.  It only describes a very, very small fraction of what I was thinking.]


I was being interviewed for something today, and when the camera was briefly turned off and the interviewer was about to pack up, I decided to let down my guard.  I was all smiles before that moment, as I almost always am.  Even as I discussed the true state of the last two years, I continued to smile and spoke of it as if I was summarizing a book I had just read.

“These past two years haven’t been all smooth sailing for me.  I’m not sure if you are aware of this or not, but I also suffered a traumatic brain injury at the time of my accident,” I said and discussed the extent of the injury for a few minutes.  This is not something anyone can physically see. 

“During my first year of medical school, of course there were times when I questioned if I should be there or not, if I was going to make it or not.  Somehow I made it,” I continued.  “There were times when I was really depressed.  It was as if everything I had ever known was gone.  I was a completely different person now.  My mind worked completely different.  I didn’t how to handle it.”  I know everyone has experienced working hard and not having the results to reflect the effort, but I don’t know too many people who can say that they would have been able to get results before an unexpected incident occurred in their life.  That now, they will have to relearn how to learn, relearn how to function, and relearn how thrive.  It was like being born again.   The frustration that came with this was almost unbearable.  “Why can’t I just be normal, or at least the way I used to be,” I would ask myself.

I continued, “Second year, I was much more relaxed.  But again, in the beginning, I was struggling.  So I finally decided to get myself checked out to see what exactly was going on.  It turns out, I wasn’t dumb.  I mean, I wouldn’t be surviving medical school if I was dumb.  I scored fairly well on all sections of the neuropsychological tests, but still there was something lacking.  I had to make more changes.  I took the recommendations that were given to me by the neuropsychologist, and now, I am seeing progress.”

I realize that I have mentioned this all on here before, but I don’t think I can truly express these thoughts in a way that can be fully understood.

Still.  After so long, there are still some things that make me ask, “Is this real?”

I was watching a video of myself today and I couldn’t help but feel… somewhat embarrassed.  That’s what happens when I see photos or videos of myself:  I get to see myself in the way others see me.  Do people even remember what I looked like standing, walking, running, exercising, and being crazy?  I know I have a real hard time remembering.  A lot of people I talk to now, including all my classmates, only know this current state.

I recently made another new friend and I realized I am embarrassed of my disability around her.  Although I think I have a feeling I know why, I still do not like this friend seeing me transfer off and on my wheelchair from different places.  I am also embarrassed by how skinny my legs have become.  I saw my legs in the video of myself that I watched, and I was disgusted.  I remember I used to do heavy squats and deadlifts because my relatively small frame and years of running left me with fairly thin legs, but my current state is enough to leave me self-conscious.  Wearing shorts all day and stopping by the gym whenever I take a break from studying is something that will have to be postponed for a while.

Who have I become?

I had many plans for my life.  We all know life doesn’t always go as planned, but I wish there was a way I could have anticipated this.  I know everything I have ever experienced has prepared me, but now, like everyone else, I just wish I knew what the future will have in store for me.

Will there be more turmoil?  Will more things be thrown at me?

I have to remind myself that this is who I am.  This is who I have become.  There is no way to reverse time.  Everything in the past has passed, never to return again.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making grand plans for it

So in the end, was it worth it? Jesus Christ. How irreparably changed my life has become. It's always the last day of summer and I've been left out in the cold with no door to get back in. I'll grant you I've had more than my share of poignant moments. Life passes most people by while they're making grand plans for it. Throughout my lifetime, I've left pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there's almost not enough to stay alive. But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded my talent. There are no more white horses or pretty ladies at my door.

I sometimes think about how much my thoughts, views, and actions have changed since the start of my predicament.  Well, more than those is just the change in feelings I have had.

Over time, I have become incredibly used to things.  Things are no longer out of the ordinary and I’m not self-conscious about people viewing me strangely anymore.  I honestly don’t feel any different from anyone else.

But occasionally, I am given reminders.  Someone will say something to me that really knocks me flat.  When I am reminded of how different I am from everyone else and how adjustments have been made and will have to be made, and how much it not only affects me, but other people as well, it is indeed a setback.  “How irreparably changed my life has become,” and the rest of the above quote goes through my mind.

The truth is:  yes, I am different.  I am not like “normal” people.  I can’t do some things and I have to do other things in a slightly different way.

So, does writing that make me feel strange or exposed for who I really am?

No, no it does not.

Almost exactly 2 years ago, I wrote a post entitled “Compensate ”.  In it, I describe how because I cannot do certain things like others, I must compensate in other areas of my life.  For example, I am living completely alone and going to medical school and working 3x harder than most people I know just to sort of “prove myself” to the naysayers and doubters.

Although I still feel like I have to compensate and work harder just to be treated a certain way, my views have slightly shifted.

Changes happen.

Obstacles come up.

For some people, they are large, and for others, they seem almost petty.

The early 20th century lawyer Clarence Darrow said it best, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.”

Things have happened.  I am different.  There is no avoiding the obvious.

In poker, when we are dealt a certain set of cards, we have the choice to either fold the hand or keep playing.

Keep playing.

Some people expect peace of mind and happiness to be a destination.  “I can’t be happy with this in the way.  I have this thing going on. Other people don’t have to deal with it,” they may say. They really wish and pray that a certain thing will happen—whatever it is—so they can be happy. 

Things in life don’t always happen as we expect. I never would have guessed I would be like this and be where I am now. Like everyone, I also sometimes feel like nothing in life is going my way.

“But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded my talent,” I have to say to myself, repeating the quote from above.

Do not ever wish for so much that you stop being thankful for what you have.  Do not wish for different circumstances.  The ones you have are good enough.  Find peace in this, for finding peace when you have nothing is better than chaos when you have something.

As Clarence Darrow said, it is the one most adaptable to change that survives.