I had a math tutor to catch me up in my trigonometry course and everything else I gradually had to make up. I was tired all the time but I took myself off the big drugs and convinced myself all I needed was Ibuprofen. Mind over matter. Withdrawals from morphine aren’t that bad right? Wrong. I was newly seventeen and having withdrawals from a drug I hadn’t even been on for two weeks. Fuck me. After the hormone crashes, hot flashes, crying, and loss of appetite, constipation, night terrors, life was great. I was 5’8 and weighed 98 pounds by the end of surgery.
So here’s the thing. When your heart doesn’t work properly your entire life and then you get a new valve, life changes. I was no longer out of breath all the time. The next six weeks I changed drastically. I could run miles. I felt amazing. I no longer had asthma and I wasn’t sick all the time anymore. I finally felt normal. Despite having a huge scar on my chest I felt unstoppable. After a few weeks my dad took out my chest tube stitches. That hurt like a bitch. I remember biting a towel and laying on the couch as my dad took out the surgical kit he stole from the OR and cut my perfect stitches. He then took the sterile tweezers and pulled the strings through with no effort. I then understood why he was such a good doctor. My wounds continued to leak for another month.
Most of my life I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. When I got to high school I decided that I wanted to go to Stanford and be a surgeon. I watched countless Ted Talks. I rented DVDs from the library of lectures from neurosurgeon professors talking about the complexity of the brain. I began learning about diseases mentioned anywhere and everywhere, understanding how they existed, how the drugs used to treat them worked, how to live a normal life. One Ted Talk featured a doctor from Canada talking about how doctors made mistakes and how we should be allowed to talk about our medical mistakes. I was infatuated with the one disease he talked about, renal tubular acidosis, which I later was confronted with in biochemistry and was able to understand it at a much deeper complexity. I loved medicine and wanted to help others; to be that voice that not only wanted to treat and diagnose but understand and relate. I knew what going under the knife felt like and I understood vulnerability. I wanted people not just trust me, but be able to connect with me and comprehend that life and disease is scary, but I wanted to work with them. I worked hard in school. I wanted to take care of people the way Laura took care of me.
“Take care of yourself as if you’re the most awesome person you’ve ever met.”Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass