"Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him." Aldous Huxley
"We're on the go, let's go! We're on the go, let's go! Lancers g-o! Go-go go!" Just as I finished cheering at a boy's high school basketball game, I wobbled weakly over to my cheerleading advisor. I declared that I was sick with the flu and I needed to go home. She said that I could go if I needed to.
As I scurried through the people, the stench of gym socks became overwhelming. I started to get a little light-headed, but as I reached the exit door, I felt a calm over my entire body. The nippy air forced goose bumps onto my bare legs. I reached for the phone to call my dad but I was unsuccessful. The receiver fell until the metal cord stopped it. The flu was getting the best of me.
The iridescent headlights of my dad's navy blazer illuminated my trek to the blazer door. Slowly, I elevated myself to the leather seat. My dad stated in a raised voice, "You need to rest so you'll be okay for Christmas."
Three days later I woke to the sound of hail pouncing again the window pane. I tried to recall the past few days, but I only remember that I was so tired that I slept most of the time.
I jostled out of my bed and crept into the living room. The bulbs from the pine Christmas tree colored the room like a page out of a disney coloring book. The crisp paper around the packages glimmered with each flash of the bulb. Today was Christmas (1995.)
We began to disembowel the packages as I became more dizzy. My mom quivered as she said, "This sure is a hell of a flu." Like a child, she aided me in opening my gifts from "Santa."
The wooden door creaked shut as my family slid into the blazer. The engine roared as puffs of exhaust raised into the frozen air. They left to visit my family. I slept.
I don't even know what happened the next few day except for my constant plea of "NO DOCTORS!!!" I insisted I would get better.
In my mind, I knew I wouldn't. "10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-Happy new year," boomed throughout the emergency room. The impolite nurse called me back to the table as my mom balanced me in a cradle-like embrace. I was so weak I couldn't do anything on my own.
They checked my vital signs. They checked my teeth. They asked if I was pregnant (I don't know how a virgin could be pregnant.) They stared at me, probed me, stuck me with needles. They said that they noticed weakness on my right side (duh!). They wheeled me to the room that clocked out at about zero degrees. They performed a CAT scan. It wasn't painful--just intimidating. I was scared--frightened, horrified, afraid, confused, aghast, alarmed, fearful, panicked, shocked and terrified.
Finally after two hours of sitting on a bed that was wrapped in sandpaper-like sheets, the doctor came in. He recorded that I had a small "abnormality" on the base of my brain (Pons area.) He scheduled me an appointment to see the neurosurgeon in a few days. They sent me home. A few days later I trudged into an airy room and had to endure an MRI. It wouldn't have been bad if it hadn't take three hours and if you enjoy pretending you are in a coffin.
Things only got worse. I couldn't walk, talk or write. I slurred my words and my right eye was almost closed shut. I was dizzy. I had no balance. I couldn't swallow. I couldn't sleep. I was seeing double.
With the help of both of my parents, we traveled to the neurosurgeon. He said that he thought it was cavernous vascular malformation (a disorder where there are irregular veins.) He said that I should start physical therapy in one weak. I felt doom wash over my system. I glazed outside and watched the bleach snow melt as it touched the ground. Although it was so peaceful outside, it was hell inside. We got sent home again.
The heat from my room was unbearable. I tossed and turned in my bed. Mariah Carey sang "One Sweet Day" as I told my mom I had another headache. I honestly did not mean to tell her - it just came out. She ran into her room and woke my dad up. He called the university hospital and they ordered him to rush down there.
I literally kicked, yelled, screamed, bit, cried, whaled as they carried me to the blazer.
I sat there in the blazer almost not there. I wasn't in my body. I displaced myself from the situation. I concentrated on the rain and stench of mildew in the air.
They carried me to the emergency room, trudging through the puddles or rain. The ER doctors started the whole "Let's Torture Nickole Process." They immediately wheeled me to the neurological intensive care unit. After we settled, they kept checking on me and told me that I needed to get another MRI at 5a.m. I tried to sleep, but when I finally did I was awakened. They said I need a catheter before the MRI.
I freaked out. They must have thought I was a baby. I didn't care. I didn't know what a catheter was.. I needed someone to explain it to me. I was seventeen years old and I still needed help like a child would. After that--procedure, they transported me to get another MRI. This time it was short and not as traumatic as the first time.
I went back to ICU and remember the wacky male nurse. He pointed out that even in ICU, I was cute. I wanted to kill him. Serious. But I didn't have enough power to kill a germ. I didn't care about my looks! He was trying to be funny but it wasn't.
That day as the sun blazed onto the linoleum, the team of neurosurgeons came to my room.
I must have removed myself from the situation because I didn't pay attention until I heard, "She needs surgery."
"NO! NO! NO! I WILL NOT!"
The next day they put me in a regular room. The reek of macaroni and jello came through the heater vent. The nurse stated that they couldn't do surgery until the blood was dissolved. I would get a checkup in six weeks.
Meanwhile the nurse with body odor taught me how to use a cane. I was SO self conscious. She later discharged me and told me to relax. Whatever.
When I came into my house, my five pound Yorkshire terrier, Puddles trampled me. Kisses everywhere.
I LOVED HOME MORE THAN EVER!
I had to get a brace because my leg was hyperextending. I also had to start physical therapy (PT.). My mom was my legs, arms and voice. I have never had to rely on anyone. I was humbled.
My personality was different. I hated PT. I hated life. I hated humanity. I hated God.
Finally I came to the point of recovery. I realized that I could never walk again unless I changed my attitude. I connected my mind, body and soul.
Soon after a few months of PT I recovered.
"RRRIIINNNGGG!!!" I headed to English after missing one term of school. One girl thought I died. Another though I was pregnant. Everyone was glad to see me. It really annoyed me eventually because they kept asking me what happened and I was trying to put it past me. I know they were just trying to be nice.
In just two weeks, I completed an entire terms worth of work. I managed the softball team and I had a new social life. I guess I had a new life completely.
I had no limp, no physical pain, just a little fatigue and extreme emotional pain. I don't think even know, that I have healed emotionally. I try to ignore what has happened to me. I don't know why it happened, but after reading all the other narrative, I realize that a lot of good did come out of this experience.
I know that my mom, my dad, my brother, my dog, my aunt and my
grandparents will do anything for me.
I am humbled.
I know my priorities.
I am stronger than ever.
I know my true friends.
I love life, family and god.
Because of this I am stronger. Here are some of my "major accomplishments" since then:
Graduated May 97 with honors
Sterling Scholar for Business
Business Communication Student of the Term
Completed an internship
August 1 of 97 I will be attending Stevens-Henager Business College. (If anyone has any information on scholarships I would appreciate it if you would let me know. I still have to come up with $8,000 out of 12,500.) I can walk
I can write
I can type
I can sleep
I can live my life knowing that I am lucky!
"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important." -- Arthur Conan Coyle
I hope that this narrative/story found everyone "healthy." I love people. I love to talk. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE E-MAIL ME! Any help, hope, experiences, stories--anything, just talk to me, please. :) - Thanks for your time.
I had to rely on my strong intuition not to get surgery. I had too many signs that pointed to the fact that I might become permanently paralyzed if I went through with it. So far so good. Please help me in praying that it will not bleed again.
Author no longer active 3/14/2011
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