1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
  2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
I’ve had nurses tell me everything from, how surprised they were that I wasn’t spending my days crying.. or how I was just in ‘shock’ and that’s the reason why I was as tough as I was.. or the famous, ‘kids your age aren’t mature enough to understand sickness so you think you’re all invincible.’,.. I like to think that I’m just plain resilient.
I was 18 years old when I was diagnosed with cancer and everyone in the room cried except for me. I was busy staying a step ahead, focusing on the cure rather than living in the moment at hand with everyone else. It was a waste of my time to sit in a hospital bed and worry about every little thing.. Resilience. 5 years later and people still look at me like I’m crazy when I smile and explain all the health problems I face daily.. some even argue with me, telling me to stop smiling and realize what could happen to me, as if I wasn’t already aware of all complications I face.. Resilience. Those people remind me of the angry nurses who would tell me that I thought I was ‘invincible.’ I’ve had to realize that those people spit those lines out to anyone they can, because they could be dealing with the pain of a loved one who let the bad news defeat them. 
I snapped out of my stare and started eating breakfast again, watching black and white movies on TCM while my mom piled more and food onto my bedside table. Blueberries, pineapple chunks, fruit punch capri-sun, and chocolate milk. Anything you would get random cravings for at home, was on my table. My dad continued to tell me that the doctors were going to need to run another test to see if the artery is bleeding uncontrollably, and right when he said that, the anesthesiologist walked in. I immediately greeted him with a happy “Hello!!”. He smiled and said “I see you’re feeling better, is there any questions you have for me?”, I couldn’t think of anything, but I wondered what he meant by ‘feeling better.’.. I don’t like to take up time and ask little things like if I woke up screaming or crying or urinating everywhere.. so I just told him I didn’t have any questions at the moment while I wondered if I tried to resist or fight anyone while waking up from anesthesia. The doctor followed in right after him to quickly inform me that tomorrow, I would undergo another angiogram to make sure my arteries are stable, he waved goodbye and let a nurse in behind him. It was a busy little moment for me there.
The nurse said I must be a special patient because he never comes in on his day off. I smiled. Ricardo woke up from the noise and stretched out. I was greeted with my favorite expression of his.. the ear to ear grin that makes my heart melt. The first words out of his mouth were “Can I get you anything, honey?” and as soon as he said that, he peered over and realized that my table was packed with all sorts of goodies. “You’re so spoiled!” he jokingly said to me. I grinned back and with a mouthful of food, told him how it was ok and I didn’t mind the attention at all.
The nurses encouraged me to relax while they took my vitals. Today was a day that I would recover and didn’t have to worry about anything except laying in bed. So I yawned, smiled, and then I thought about the deep artery that my dad told me about earlier this morning. I thought back to when I saw my mom crying, so I decided to just go ahead and ask as I was curious enough all ready. I sharply said, “Why was everyone crying yesterday?? I told y’all I only had a headache.” She exhaled and replied, “Your surgery lasted 4 and a half hours and the doctors didn’t want to let us see you because of the condition you were in. Your dad wasn’t going to let them tell him if he could see you or not. He argued for 3 hours with the staff and they got tired of it and finally said they would let us all see you.. When we got in here the left side of your face was bright red and swollen, you might think you looked ok, but you had pain written all over your face.. I think we were all a little scared because both your hair and pillows were completely soaked in bright red blood.. it wasn’t an easy thing to see.” I squeezed my lips together and told her that must be the reason why the nurses kept changing my pillow cases out of view. There was a short pause before I blurted out, “I can’t feel my torso but I can feel my legs completely! I can even lift it, see!”
The sudden news filled their eyes with hope as they smiled and congratulated me. They wanted me to lift my weak leg over and over, so I did. I hadn’t been able to lift and hold it high since before the stroke, and now I showed off my refreshed talent, 8 days after being admitted. I could lift and hold my leg like nothing. It felt really good to have my arm and leg back. A few days ago I was sitting on the 6th floor, making a promise to myself that I would take advantage of dancing whenever I felt like it, and with my leg back in business, I was now going to be able to check dancing off my mock bucket list. I smiled. I was happy to finally be at the point of moving forward.
My mom and dad stepped out to go run their Tuesday errands while Ricardo and I talked. Everything I said about the surprise artery was news to him. He wasn’t in the room at the time that the assistant came into the waiting room with the results. We started to talk about the lack of communication that went on between the different levels of staff and how confusing it made things for me. To get my mind off, Ricardo stepped to the foot of the bed to take a photo of me with my thumbs up, while I held my legs clear off the bed. I looked so excited in the photo that I decided to post it on my facebook page with a little description of the previous day, hoping that it would put a smile on peoples faces as well.
It read:
I woke up in icu and put my finger to my lips so my parents would whisper instead of talk cause I had a major headache. My mom started to cry and I said why are you crying only my head hurts.. I understood why they were so happy to see me after my surgery went 2 hours over the expected time. I want to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers, you’re all so incredibly kind for taking time to think of my brain and I. I will need to undergo 1 more angiogram so the doctor can see if I have a deep artery that needs work too. If not then my focus will be recovery, if so, then I will need another surgery with far more possible complications, but, whatever God chooses as my path, I’ll accept.. Love, B
I didn’t get much sleep that night. I listened to Ricardo’s breathing while I daydreamed about the upcoming angiogram. Looking back, I never really got as much rest as I thought, I usually fell asleep around 2 AM, woke up at 7 AM, and stayed awake to make sure I had a chance to speak to the doctor. I thought about how this experience had made me more comfortable to speak openly about my faith. I thought about how surprised I was that I actually woke up. I smiled when I thought back to how they used facts to help me come to terms with the diagnoses. Yes I had a high risk of death, but I was in a hospital and if I ever got to a dangerous point, they would drill to relieve pressure in the skull. You know those aha moments you have, when you’re in a near death experience but you live, so you start laughing after you realize you’re fine?

That day was my aha moment. 


2 thoughts on “Resilience.

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