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Phoenix Attitude is born

2014-10-14 Posted By Jenna

Ahhhh, the AHA! moments in life! I have luckily found myself in the nirvana of an AHA! moment once or twice (apparently, you don’t have to be Oprah to have one), and I wish you the same opportunity. What I’ve found, in order to have one, is that it helps to be open to putting yourself out of your comfort zone with the intention of personal growth or to help someone else. You also have to be willing to hear some hard truths (rats!), learning to see them as tools to help you and not hold you back. When it happens, you can find yourself in a place you only dreamed existed.

One of my AHA! moments came when I was with a bunch of strong, beautiful women, all of whom were dealing with varying medical circumstances. Then, one of us piped up about an issue that this person had held on tight to for the longest time. Never had this person been ready to open up about it, not knowing if it was a girl thing, a wheelchair thing or a specific medical condition thing, but then it was out in the open. Our eyes widened realizing that all along there had been someone else wondering, overanalyzing, feeling isolated, not knowing someone else had been on the same journey. The stories that ensued, let me tell you! Actually, they’re not appropriate, so maybe not...

Some AHA! moments come from taking a leap of faith, while others might be the thing that saves your life.

Three years ago, I felt like a victim. I came this close to dying. Nope, this isn’t a case of being melodramatic, I was actually seeing the light getting brighter and brighter after a freak series of unfortunate events. Naturally, I felt like my life was not my own, and there was nothing left in me to do anything about it. Once home from the ICU, I was having nightmares, I wasn’t eating, I was having flare ups of a condition that started this near death business in the first place and I would end up back in the ER over and over again - defeated.

And yet, one of the things that pissed me off the most, (after I lived and got out of that exam I hadn’t been ready for that started this whole thing - kidding!), I had to put off graduation. I was so angry that I was letting my medical life take over the life I wanted and worked really hard for. I had been fighting that potential since the day I was born with Spina Bifida (or somewhere around then). I was never prepared for it to define me or hold me back from what I wanted to do (or in my younger days - what the other kids were doing). I started to spiral. The big question was: would I keep spiralling or turn things around? In my darkest moment, I was leaning towards the first option because of the things I couldn't control and the decision I could make that would end the anguish. And then, you guessed it: I had an AHA! moment - I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I started thinking about what I wanted out of my medical system and my role in it (that I could control). Every time I had an idea I’d write it on a scrap of paper and move on. Then I started looking at my scraps with big ideas and started to break them down to see how I could make them work in the real world.

At this point, I wasn’t focusing on what the establishment would say or even other patients. This was about me. This was about how I was going to learn how to interact with our less-than perfect medical system and throw in a little, actually A LOT, of Patch Adams. I didn’t want to fight with my doctors to be heard, I didn’t want to feel like I had to look over my medical teams’ shoulders to make sure that I was getting the right dosages of my meds or that my allergens were staying out of the room. I was becoming a cold person when taking my “patient” role (some say possessed), and that’s just not me. So I wanted to figure out a way to give the doctors what they needed to help them give me what I needed - that way we could all move forward peacefully. “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome.” - Patch Adams

“See what no one else sees. See what everyone chooses not to see... out of fear, conformity or laziness. See the whole world anew each day!” - Patch Adams

It’s my favourite clip. It’s makes me cry every time, and my favourite sound in the universe is a child laughing. I know that doctors doing this for their patients all the time might be unrealistic, and that some doctors have others skills necessary to competently care for their patients. We can’t all have the comedic timing of Robin Williams. Heck, I even realize that some patients want that wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am service and to just get the heck out of there!

But I, for one, wish that every person who enters a hospital or a practitioner’s office, putting their life in the hands of others gets in return the gift of respect, compassion and humanity. I hope that it’s never taken for granted the trust it takes to put your most prized possession - your life - into the hands of others. Nor is it forgotten that the people helping to make you “better” want to help. Is that too much to ask? I certainly know it’s not too much to dream for.


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“Overcome the notion that we must be regular... it robs you of the chance to be EXTRAORDINARY ”
Uta Hagen
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