Foundation

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My jeans are stained a darker blue as I lift my head to stare at the ceiling, trying to stop the pain streaming past my cheeks and onto my lap. The thought “why me?” echoes through my mind as I listen numbly to the loud buzz coming from the fluorescent lights. It just isn’t fair. Every part of who I am has been taken from me. My soccer team, my friends, my education, and, the one thing that should be guaranteed to everyone, my health. All because of a simple injury in gym class a year ago that escalated until it took over my life. A hit in the head turned into a very powerful concussion; constant headaches, blurred and double vision, and nausea became part of my day-to-day life. Doctor’s appointments, a myriad of treatments, and more medications than I can count or pronounce consumed my time, taking over my life until it seemed natural to spend more time at the doctors than at school. Other people didn’t have to deal with what I was going through; what made me so “special”? I was beginning to lose hope. Why me?
I take a cleansing breath in a futile effort to regain some composure and dignity. I snap my eyes down from ceiling I had been staring so intently at and look in the direction of the door as a nurse walks in. I openly recoil at the syringe in her hand. The needle catches the glare from the synthetic lighting and laughs at my pain. Why me? A shudder ripples through my body as the needle bites into the tender skin of my hip. The tears continue to leak from my eyes, an endless outpouring of pain, and a tribute to what I’ve been through. Through the dull pounding of my migraine and the fresh sting in my hip, I struggle to concentrate enough to comprehend my current situation. The pills I’ve been taking, my only defense from the throbbing and consistent condition of my head, the only thing that revives me and my hope, is no longer a viable cover. All the medications and treatments have given up on me. I’m alone. Why me?
Soon after, the doctor walks in. He pauses for a moment, taken aback at the miserable, pained state I’m in. Why me? He sits and reads my papers then starts the usual routine: rattling off more medications and treatments. My mother smiles apologetically at me and pulls out her pen to take notes. I sit there numbly, not really hearing and so hopeless I’m not really caring anymore.
“So what do you think, Emily,” Dr. Hammer asks suddenly. I open my mouth, about to lie and mutter my usual acceptance of whatever they ask of me, but I close it before words come out. Something starts to build in me. At first I think it is frustration and defiance but as I really think about it I realize it’s something better…desire. Desire fueled by the smallest spark of hope. The desire to get my life back together; to take control of it and stop sitting back and waiting for it to fix itself; waiting for others to fix it for me. I felt a burning desire to not rely on medications anymore; a desire to stop constantly seeing doctors and ceaselessly going to appointments; a desire to play soccer, to go to school, to see my friends. A desire to live. I look up to see my mother and Dr. Hammer smiling at me, expecting me to endure whatever they ask me to do, whether it be to try another form of physical therapy or test the latest drugs. All of these things might help the pain, but they weren’t going to fix my life, and, in the end, truly living is worth any pain that can be thrown at me. The desire burns in my heart and I smile and shake my head, “No more.” With that, I took my life back in my hands.
Even though it took another year for my head to completely heal, my life became a lot easier after that moment. I set limits on how many medications I would take and how many doctor appointments I’d go to. Slowly, I started going to school and seeing my friends more and more. I had my life back. Even more importantly, I finally learned the answer to the question “why me”. I realize now that difficult times are not a punishment, but rather a blessing in disguise, ones that you have the responsibility of learning from. Going through hard times makes you stronger by showing you how much you really can handle. They open your eyes to how silly the petty problems in life are, like failing a test or fighting with your friends. They build up your compassion to others less fortunate than you, such as those with terminal illnesses and disabilities. When I see somebody going through a hard time in life, whether it’s from an injury or a parent’s divorce, I no longer pity them. I feel compassion for them. I understand what they are going through and genuinely sympathize. It’s the hard times in life that make you realize how lucky you truly are. I now see my concussion as a blessing in disguise, one that taught me lessons that I’ll use throughout my life, lessons of love, strength, compassion, and, above all, hope. David Brinkley’s quote adds a touch of humor to my ordeal. “A strong man builds a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” My concussion was a brick and now, whenever I ask myself “why me”, “why not me” quickly cuts in and I feel my foundation grow stronger.





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