2020-10-22 Posted By Jenna
Have you ever had an "AHA!" moment? They come in all shapes and sizes and usually when you least expect them (if you were expecting one then it would be more of an "Oh ya, that's what I thought, pass the coffee" moment). But to human beings (some of us more prone to overthink just a tad more than others) an "AHA!" moment can be hard to come by because we don't really relish the idea of getting out of our comfort zone--no matter what magic may lie just beyond "the zone". But life never unfolds the way we expect it to, and some times we don't have a choice of where the comfort zone ends and our (new) reality may begin. But there are some brave souls out there who dare to put themselves outside their comfort zone with the intention of personal growth, to help someone else or because they realize, "Hey, this is life and no one gets out alive, anyway". Yes, they can lead to hearing some hard truths (rats!), but you just might learn to see (some of) 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.
I remember an "AHA!" moment that hit a bunch of strong, beautiful women, all of whom were dealing with varying medical challenges--but it took one fearless Wonder Woman to make it happen. That's right, she piped up about an issue that she had held onto so tight for the longest time. Never had she 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 and she couldn't take it back. ALL of our eyes widened realizing that all along there had been someone else wondering, overanalyzing, feeling isolated, not knowing someone else had been dealing with that "thing", too! The stories that ensued, let me tell you! Actually, I can't--it's a girl code thing.
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 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 I got home from the ICU, I was having nightmares, I wasn’t eating, I was having flare ups of the freak condition that started this whole near-death business in the first place, bringing me back to the ER over and over again over the next few months - defeated.
And yet, one of the things that pissed me off the most--I had to put off graduation that I was 3 months away from. 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 whether I would keep spiralling or turn things around? Until this point it had always been the latter, somehow my spirit would kick into high gear, despite my body saying it was impossible. But this was different, and in my darkest moment, I was veering away from the fight that no longer seemed to dwell within me--body, mind or spirit. I knew there might be one thing left in my control and it could end the anguish.
And then, you guessed it--I had an "AHA!" moment (well 2, in fact) in the ER after my 2nd relapse in as many months: 1) I had nothing to lose and everything to gain 2) my not being able to bounce back from the trauma right after I hit "the mat" didn't mean I was weak; if I could allow my body to rest and reset--I would come back STRONGER.
But first I had to get back to basics
I started thinking about what I wanted out of my medical system and my role in it (that I could control) for the sake of the future of my body, mind AND spirit. 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. I mean, I had the time with the graduation pushed back, how would you have spent your recovery?
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 essence of Patch Adams. I didn’t want to fight with my doctors to be heard (I don't think that's what they wanted, either), 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. The worst part of how things had turned out? I was becoming a cold person when taking my “patient” role (some say "possessed"), and that’s just not me. I then devoted my life to to figuring out a way to give the medical team 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
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.
As I have transitioned from patient to practitioner, I know the weight that I feel on my shoulders when I work with a client. I have also worked with other magical practitioners who know the same weight and don't take it lightly. We don't forget at the end of each day the people we have worked with, but, more importantly--what we have learned from them. I haven't worked with a colleague yet who does what they do just to pay the rent. We are all human and all that we can do is our best--patients, clients and practitioners alike.
We can all do better, the hard part is that there isn't a road map on how to do that--we have to get creative--and remember that just because we may have been reduced to ash...it can mean the beginning not an end
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