I know it’s been a while. My life has been very busy yet also filled with a whole lot of beautiful, blissful nothingness. I guess you could say I have taken a leave of absence from writing and I will on another day touch upon why that is so.
So far, 2014 has been pretty good to me.
I thankfully matched into great residency programs. I am doing one year of internal medicine at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and then I will be specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I also graduated and earned my medical degree this past May. I am now a real doctor.
People turn to me for help. For the most part, I am no longer seen as an invalid. For the most part, I am respected now. I have the privilege of seeing people when they are most vulnerable. I have the ability to help and to heal.
The things for which I worked so hard my whole life, especially these past five years, have finally come to fruition. I struggled so much these past five years.
My friend’s father suffered a hemorrhagic stroke the other night and is still unconscious. It reminds me of my traumatic brain injury that also resulted in a significant brain bleed. I was in a comatose state for about two weeks. My doctors at first did not think I would survive. After I survived the most critical time period, my family and friends were told that I may suffer significant mental deficits. I am forever grateful that I made it through better than what was expected.
When I wasn’t able to lift my right arm, I worked hard to get it stronger and stronger. I could not transfer onto things by myself but I worked at it just so I could move out of my family’s home and live by myself and attend medical school. That was my dream and I had to hold on to it. It was one of the very few things I still had left.
I didn’t want a van. I wanted a car. I didn’t want a big power wheelchair. I wanted a small, manual wheelchair. I wanted to be as “normal” as I could be.
When I had to see a neuropsychologist and speech therapist every week and they told me that I was not mentally the same and that I had to adapt, I ignored them. This was my chance. I had been given a second lease on life. Who knows how much longer I would have. So many things had been taken from me. I had to use whatever I still had left. If not for myself, then for everyone else I have come across who are in much worse conditions than I am or ever have been.
I would have to be the best I could be.
It has been five years.
That’s half a decade.
That’s half of the age of my youngest sister.
Things could have been totally different. Some say that things should have been totally different. I may be an outlier.
But I refuse to live life with the societal restraints of simple terms such as “handicapped” or “disabled” that people use when they themselves have not come to term with their disadvantages.
I do not remember what it was like to walk. I do not remember what it was like to stand. I do not remember the feeling of sand between my toes while on the beach. I do not remember running, jumping, playing or lifting.
But these things do not bother me. I have learned that life is not something onto which we can hold. It is not supposed to be perfect. The future cannot be feared. These past five years have shown me that.
And now, looking back, I would not want my life to be any other way.