At the beginning of the semester, I was determined to do better in organic chemistry this time around. I went in and expressed my concerns with my professor the first week of classes; my abysmal grade in the first semester, and my withdrawal from the second semester. He told me that it would be a fight; maybe 2% of students that struggled like I did first semester pass the second semester at all. That was a scary statistic, but I had already decided this semester would go better.
Fast forward to the end of this semester. Not only did I pass, but I will receive a grade that is two full letter grades better than my first semester organic grade. I had set a goal for myself, and I blew it out of the water. This shouldn’t still be so surprising to me…I was walking like normal two months after having a paralyzing stroke. I was back in school full-time five months after sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury. I decided that I wanted to be home for mother’s day, two months after my accident, and I was. No, this is not me tooting my own horn, this is actual shit I have done and nobody will be able to take that away from me.
Clearly, there’s a trend here. When I decide I want to do something, I make it happen. Unfortunately, sheer willpower does not seem to apply to nerve regeneration. Yes, we’re back on this again but it’s a constant struggle of mine. I can pull off that hail-mary A on an organic chem final, or re-learn how to walk in a few months, but why can’t that apply to my nerves? It is so gratifying to be able to do this- to be able to accomplish just about anything I set my mind to. I am limitless, but not completely. It’s hard to understand and let go of the fact that there are some aspects of my recovery that are outside of my control, but I suppose I don’t have much of a choice.
I think this lack of control is what really lies at the root of my frustration. Clearly, I am the master of my own destiny most of the time, but there are some things that just cannot be controlled. This is where I tend to spiral into a self-pity vortex. My nerve wasn’t severed, and they were able to decompress it. There’s no reason for it NOT to come back, but I’m in that lucky very small category where it doesn’t matter that I have done everything right, or that I really wish it would come back. It’s not coming back. My mom used to tell me ‘let go or be dragged’. I can count the things I hate about my face and its paralysis, or I can move on. I’m moving on.
I conquered organic chemistry round 2. I presented my research at a national neuroscience conference. I had two surgeries within the same month and was back in school a week later. I am graduating college feeling more triumphant than I could have imagined, my face is healing well, and I’m about to begin working for a company and cause that I truly believe in. Wherever it can, things are coming together, and I will keep moving forward.