Sunday, November 24, 2013

Friday Night in the Emergency Room and the Nurse Who Made an Idiot of Herself in Thirty Seconds

On Thursday night, I started coughing. It wasn't a big deal at first...I drank some water, took some deep breaths, and waited for it to subside.

Thirty minutes later and I was on the floor, desperately trying to catch my breath and still coughing uncontrollably. My whole body was shaking...I couldn't stand up, and I couldn't get my hands to move.

After a few minutes of trying to catch my breath and half a bottle of water, I was a little better...still shaky, but my hands could move again and I was able to get up when someone knocked on my door.

A student from the floor above me whom I don't know had heard me coughing and was concerned. I tend to underplay situations, though, so I thanked him and told him I was fine...he left reluctantly. I assumed it was just a cold of some sort, and it would go away on its own.

I slept about four hours that night because I was coughing so hard that it was difficult to sleep. In the morning, I got up at 7 a.m. for my chemistry class, which I had considered missing, but the coughing was better, so I threw on a sweatshirt and toughed it out.

The morning wasn't so bad, but by the afternoon, my cough had come back with a vengeance. I laid in bed from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m., unable to sleep even though I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

And then after dinner, it got even worse...I was having some trouble breathing, so at 9:30, I grabbed my coat and room key and decided to go outside to get some fresh air.

I was floored by the amount of people, many who were strangers, who stopped to see if I was alright. I insisted I was. After about thirty minutes of trying to catch my breath on the sidewalk outside of my dorm, a group of my friends happened to pass by, and they were concerned.

Despite my insistence that I was okay, they refused to leave, and one of them called Campus Safety. By the time the Campus Safety officers arrived, I was having trouble speaking because I was trying to catch my breath. I could inhale reasonably well, but my breath kept catching when I tried to exhale.

One of my friends went with me to the ER. Once we arrived, a nurse escorted me into a room, and OMG. This nurse could have written a guidebook entitled, "How to Make an Idiot of Yourself in Thirty Seconds."

She saw the way I walked and immediately assumed that I was drunk. I was nothing but polite when answering her questions, but her tone of voice was biting and irritated.

"Sit down," she said flatly. "Have you been drinking?"

I told her no, and she snapped at me to speak up. It takes a lot to get me angry, but I COULD HARDLY FREAKING BREATHE...how did she expect me to speak up?

And then another nurse came in to take my medical history. I told her that I have cerebral palsy. And OMG. If I wasn't trying to breathe, I think I would have laughed forever at the expression of horror on the face of the nurse who had assumed I was drunk. She immediately warmed up to me after that, but she was clearly mortified for treating me rudely because of a medical condition that I couldn't control!

Then the doctor came in, checked my breathing, and was immediately thrown into a panic because my breaths were catching and I couldn't cough normally. I was given a steroid shot and a breathing treatment. The first breathing treatment didn't work, so I was given another one that helped tremendously...and my friend and I laughed about how the treatments made me sound like Darth Vader, haha. :-)

I was in the ER until about 12:45 a.m. (about two hours) because the steroid shot made my heart rate shoot up, and the doctor refused to let me leave until my breathing was smooth. They don't know exactly what happened, but my breathing problems were either due to some sort of inflammation in my throat, or because of a virus that just causes a cough (which normally wouldn't be an issue, but because of the lung problems I had as a baby, it may have caused me to have trouble breathing).

I slept about two hours that night because the steroid shot made me jittery, but I got about 14-15 hours of sleep last night to make up for it, and had only a few coughing episodes through the night!

I still have a cough, but it's getting better, and I have an inhaler and some medicine until I can breathe well again! This wasn't exactly how I wanted to spend my Friday night, but it made me realize how many amazing friends I have. I am so, so grateful for the friends who refused to leave my side and who called for help, for the friend who accompanied me to the E.R. at 10:30 p.m., for the friend who picked us up at 12:45 a.m....

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Obstacle Course

I was eight years old,
my heart pounding in my chest
as I faced the obstacle course in front of me,
a physical representation of my life.

 The other children in the karate class sat
with their backs pressed against the wall,
watching intently.

Will they laugh? Please God, don't let them laugh at me.

 I took one shaky step, numb with worry, and began to work my way through the course, afraid to glance at the children against the wall, afraid that their faces would be painted with judgment.

Shame settled in my stomach when the instructor lifted me over one of the obstacles because my eight-year-old legs were unable to jump.

That's when I heard them. It was a low murmur at first, a gentle whisper...

The other children...
they were chanting my name.
 They were cheering for me.
 All of them.

The dread gave way to pride as the murmurs became shouts, a chorus of children's voices chanting my name over and over again.

My steps were still stumbling, my gait still shaky, but somehow none of that mattered anymore.

I saw no judgment in their faces, no laughter; only smiles.

To this day, I am grateful to those children who cheered for me, week after week and year after year. They got me through countless obstacle courses.

I haven't seen most of them since middle school, but I hold their encouragement within me, turn to it when I feel unable to navigate the obstacle course that is my life. They have no idea how much their cheering meant to me.

And I just want to say thank you to you, my readers, for your encouragement. I'm not sure what I expected when I started a blog, but it wasn't this. I never expected to meet so many incredible individuals, people who boost my spirits when I'm down and cheer for me when I'm afraid. I never dreamed that I would find such an amazing community of people.

Thank you for reminding me that our world is a beautiful place to call home.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Is it Thanksgiving Yet?

I want food. And sleep. And maybe some free time would be nice, but that might be too much to ask for.

I'm sorry I've been M.I.A. for the past week or so, but I've had one of those ridiculously busy weeks. Friday evenings are usually my day to relax and watch a movie with friends...

Last night didn't quite live up to that ideal.

I was lying on the floor of my dorm room surrounded by textbooks, trying to understand some biology concepts for my exam on Monday and questioning the meaning of life. ;-) It was 1:00 a.m.

Earlier this week, I was sitting in class when I realized that it was 4 p.m. and all I had eaten all day was half of a snack-size bag of popcorn...because the popcorn bag had exploded all over my lap five minutes before I had to leave for class.

The next day, I had to take a chemistry exam, and I thought it went well until I proceeded to think about my answers for hours afterwards, wondering if what I had written was accurate.

I just keep telling myself that there's just a little more than a week before Thanksgiving break...until then, I'll be in my dorm room with the remainder of my chocolate stash and my mountain of work!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fallen

I feel your stares...they burn like fire on my back. I hear your unspoken questions as you watch me walk. They sting, but not as much as the questions that make it to your lips and float across the air like an arrow.

"What's wrong with her?"

I caught that. I heard you. I hide my face so you can't see the hurt.

Nothing. Nothing is wrong with me. I am perfect in all of my imperfections. At least that is what I try to tell myself as I walk away from you, alone in the silence that pounds in my ears, suffocated by the pain of being different, of being an outsider. The words you dared to speak aloud echo in my head, catch in my throat...What is wrong with her? What is wrong with her? What is wrong with her? What is wrong with me?

I am walking, and my legs give out suddenly...I collapse in a heap on the floor. You wait until you think you are out of earshot, and I know you didn't mean for me to hear, but I hear you anyway....I hear you laughing and it aches a thousand times more than the fall...

"What was that?" you say, your laughter pummeling me as I scramble to get up.

You see me as broken, pathetic, damaged goods....You left as soon as you saw me fall...you didn't stay to offer a hand, didn't take the time to look at me for who I really am. You didn't stay to watch me brush myself off and pull myself to my feet again. If you had stayed, you would have seen...you would have seen that I am so much more than my clumsy steps, and I am so much more because of my clumsy steps.

I went home that day and wrote in my journal, in big scrawling letters across the page:
I hate that I fall so often.
 
Underneath that, I wrote,
I love that I always get up. 

And really, that is one of the most valuable lessons that my CP has taught me: it's okay to fall. Everybody falls.

Life isn't about how many times we fall . . . it's about how many times we get up.