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Someone to Lean On...Literally (Post #18)

It is a weird sentiment to have when leaving a hospital, but the day I was told I would be discharged was a day in which I felt sad, worried and concerned. Most people cannot wait to get out of the hospital and back to their normal routines, but the emotions I experienced that day were anything but what was considered “normal”. When I was first admitted to the hospital, I had no choice, I was thrown into a world of infection and surgery, I didn’t know what to expect but I made myself believe that as long as I was under the care of my impressive medical team, then things could only improve. Finally the day came in which I was deemed “well-enough” to be sent home to continue my rewarding, yet arduous recovery process. I remember my parents signing discharge papers at lightning speed, then packing up my belongings with the biggest smiles on their faces, they were ready to take their son home. The only thing was, I was terrified about being away from my medical team. Sure, I longed for my own bed, and to see my friends, and possibly get back to school; but the fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, especially to a teenager. When I was lying in that scratchy hospital bed, I was miserable, I was in pain, different parts of my body would ache for no reason. I had tubes sticking out of everywhere, the nursing staff would wake me up in the middle of the night several times to stick a needle in my arm and draw my blood. I faced setback after setback after setback, but deep down I always felt as though I would be safe because I had my team of medical professionals looking after me. When I woke up and couldn’t breathe, my team took care of me; when my arm swelled up three times its normal size due to blood clots, my team took care of me, and when I had severe pneumonia, my team took care of me.

But the day I was told I was going to be sent home, rather than being joyous and happy, I was terrified and anxious. What happens if I get home and I can’t breath again? Or what if both arms swell up this time? Being able to rely on my team while lying in the hospital was a form of comfort (even if the beds felt like sleeping on a fold out table covered in polyester fur). At this point, I learned to prepare myself for the worst, something that would stick with me for many years, but if the worst happened at home and I didn’t have my team there to back me up, what could happen to me?

Not only was I anxious about going home, but I was also emotional about leaving everyone whom I had met during this horrific experience. When you spend over six weeks in a hospital, you get to know everyone and over that time I developed some life-long friendships. We tend to underestimate the effect people have on our lives when dealing with a crisis. Sure, every nurse, doctor and patient care assistant who stepped into my room would collect a paycheck as part of their livelihood, but there were also those individuals who went above and beyond when it came to keeping me safe and comfortable. Everyone put forth their greatest effort when it came to keeping me alive and overcoming the numerous medical hurdles that were placed in front of us, but the individuals who took time to get to know me as a person, rather than a unique medical case are the ones I will never forget. There is a stigma in our society that if we ask for help, or accept assistance from someone else then we must be weak, but I can honestly say that is not true. We are meant to be collaborative, we are meant to respect one another and we are meant to rely on those around us during a time of need. Everyone has their own story, and we are meant to share that story with others. The art of self-examination is not simple, when we reflect upon ourselves and we find negative aspects of who we are or what we have done, we immediately blame some outside factor. But part of the self-examination process is discussing your difficult experiences with others in hopes that they can lend a helping hand. Nobody has all the answers, and that’s alright! You cannot expect to be able to handle everything life throws at you alone; we all need that shoulder to cry on. Once I began to accept the fact that I did not have to go through this experience unaccompanied, it became easier! Losing the comfort of having my medical team with me was tough when I left the hospital but we took pictures and celebrated in the moment! The support from everyone around me gave me the strength to accept the idea that I was allowed to move on with my life, but I was unaware of what else I would have to “lose” before becoming whole again.

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