[Listening to M83]
I’ve had my fair share of drugs, both legally and well, not so legally.
In my 21 years of existence I’ve had two near death experiences. For some, that’s two too many and for others, that may mean I’m not living life enough. For me, those instances both taught me valuable lessons; 1. Always wear a life jacket and 2. Don’t get brain cancer.
I could start by telling you why I believe I got brain cancer. I believe the universe was telling me to pretty much slow the f*ck down and not power through my youth. I’ve always had a plan, get into a decent college, power through my undergrad in three years, get my Business Management degree, land a great job and make lots of money so that I could help my parents out and be financially set. If you ask anyone who really knows me, they would tell you I’m always thinking about the future.
Things started to slow down for me about a month after I started my first full time job. I went to Kaiser for headaches, was diagnosed with migraines and was sent home constantly with a bag of drugs. After countless “migraines”, tons of money spent on useless prescriptions and an emergency room visit, I was convinced these weren’t just headaches.
Labor day weekend, my boyfriend drove me back home to my family in Los Angeles. While I tried extremely hard to enjoy the mini vacation, I quickly learned that it would be nearly impossible to do so seeing that I had the constant pounding on the right side of my head. It felt as if someone was drilling into my skull with a power drill at full speed.
I spent the next full week in darkness. Any bit of sound, light or movement would seem to intensify the pain. I hardly ate, moved or even spoke. No amount of drugs they gave me would mask the pain. I laid there essentially wanting to die. During that week I was taken to the emergency room by an ambulance three times. The first two times, I was shot up with morphine, never given an MRI and was told to go home after. I was constantly asked “What’s your pain level 1-10?”, and I almost always answered with an “11”. It wasn’t until the fourth visit where my family raised hell in the hospital to get an MRI did the physicians realize the extent of my “headaches”.
Before I knew it I’m lying there in the ICU confused and slowly piecing things together. The pain had slightly subsided, and as my family and friends would shuffle in and out of the room, I tried to mentally be okay. I wanted so badly to go back to that daily “normal life” routine. Yet every waking moment, I was struggled to convince those around me that I was okay as well as convince myself. Sleep was something I knew very little of. It wasn’t the ideal place to sleep seeing that countless times during the night I was poked with a needle, or waken up to swallow countless pills. As I try to think back to the feelings I felt during it all, I can’t really put my finger on one emotion. I was angry, sad, hopeful at times, helpless, and confused.
As my older sister slept on the sofa in my hospital room and comforted me on a daily basis, I couldn’t help but let the guilt build inside me. That it was my fault that she put medical school on hold to be there with me. I felt guilt that my family, boyfriend and friends were going to have to emotionally deal with this burden. I felt that I was a burden.
Yes, everyone has their own obstacles and struggles. Yes, we try to understand from the outside looking in. Yet when it comes down to it, you aren’t in their shoes, you have not seen nor experienced what they have, so you can’t truly understand. You were not there slowly gaining consciousness in the recovery room, nor lying there with 52 staples in your head, or having to mentally and physically push yourself so hard to walk down those ICU halls days after your 2 brain surgeries. You were not there having those surreal moments when you wake up every morning in pain, hoping and praying that it was a dream. Even though I had all the support in the world, I knew that it would take more then flowers, words and visits to cure me. Looking back at all that I’ve been through before being diagnosed, I don’t know how I did it, but somehow I needed to get over this hurdle too.
There are so many pieces missing to this story. Partly because I’ve tried to forget a lot of it but also because I don’t want to think about those times right now as I try to emotionally pull myself together again.