I’m sitting on the plane on my way back to school reflecting on where I was this time last year. My dad and I were driving my car from California back to Charleston, because we’d had it shipped west so that I could learn how to drive it with one eye. Since I had so much time on my hands (enough to watch 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy), I planned every day of our drive back INCLUDING 3 meals a day. Our trip had been delayed slightly because I had to see a stroke neurologist before I left, and the only available time he had was right before we had to leave. The purpose of the visit was just to discuss what the long-term implications were of my stroke and occluded carotid. It was mostly things I had already heard; take aspirin, periodic imaging studies of my blood flow, and that the clot in my carotid was far too big to do anything with except watch.
I was extremely nervous to get back to a full-on ‘normal’ life again, but I was craving something that felt familiar in the midst of everything that had changed in my life. I was re-taking some of the classes that I had been in the semester I ended up withdrawing from, so that combined with my new-found motivation made the academics the least of my worries.
Sometime during the first few weeks of class, I was walking from class to the library, and I fell victim to Charleston’s famously uneven sidewalks. For lack of a better word, I ate shit. People stopped and asked if I was ok and I said yes, only my ego was bruised. I hurried to the library and cried in the bathroom. The actual fall wasn’t what I was so upset about; locals see people do the ‘Charleston shuffle’ all the time. For me, it was probably a reaction that came from me feeling so vulnerable, but it just felt like such a defeat. I had spent my entire summer training to walk in heels and be able to kneel and tie my shoe while looking like a normal person, and I felt like I should have been able to handle a stupid uneven sidewalk.
So aside from the occasional issues with remaining upright, I was mostly worried about how my friends, teammates, and sorority sisters would react to my new reality, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’m a little more ‘spacey’ and less outgoing and no one can talk to me into my right ear, but everyone close to me took it all in stride. I cannot begin to describe my relief at this realization. From fending off drunk, flailing freshmen at a party to pretending not to notice when I would manage to get food all over my face, I have amazing friends. I have been surprised by the positivity and support I have received from friends, family, and even people I thought felt lukewarm-at-best about me. So thank you for pleasantly surprising me and restoring my faith in humanity. Anyone who is reading this who feels like it could apply to them, it probably does. So thank you, again.