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The lesson of my health scare...

Since my health scare thoughts about my health have become all consuming. I have also been trying to make sense of my life. I understand more than most that bad things happen to good people—saints and sinners alike. While I haven’t allowed myself to dwell on “why me”, I have struggled to resume my life.

Nothing in my life feels like it did before my hospitalization. Even my clothes feel ill fitting.

After leaving the hospital I struggled with picking out an outfit. I felt strange donning my normal attire. As desperately as I wanted to “get back to normal” I found it impossible to return to normal when my experience had changed me forever. Putting on my clothes made me feel like I was an impostor--masquerading as a normal girl.

Since leaving the hospital I have learned that the severity of my infection could have caused me to lose my limbs, have permanent organ damage, or even die. Every time I look at my hands and legs I am convinced of how blessed I am to be walking, talking, and writing. My ability to do basic tasks like urinate with ease is somewhat of a miracle.

I have learned that recovery takes time. I go through my daily activities in somewhat of a conscious fog. I am absolutely overwhelmed by the magnitude of my blessings. I am so overwhelmed that I am constantly on the verge of tears. When people ask me how I am, and I how I feel about missing the marathon, I struggle to answer without gushing about my miracle, full of joy and tears.

Because I am me, I avoid having mascara streaming down my face in public at all costs. Accordingly, I have mastered the art of the socially acceptable answer. My standard response is, “I am doing better every day.” While that response is truthful, it doesn’t begin to express how I feel. In many ways I feel dishonest. The truth is, I want to exclaim at the top of my lungs, with tears of joy, that I feel extraordinarily blessed that God spared me from long term damage.

I want to tell them that I don't care that I missed the marathon. I want to tell them that even though I tire easily and I am a little weak, I am overjoyed to be able to respond to the question. I want to tell them that I am constantly trying to understand why I was fortunate. However, recognizing that there’s a time and place for tears and emotional disclosures, I hold back.

I am unable to conceal my feelings when I am alone or with close friends. The other night I was with a friend having a light hearted conversation and I jokingly said, “I’m here”. That comment made me cry. I didn’t just cry a few tears. I released a full blown waterfall. It was uncontrollable. The magnitude of my statement hit me. Being “here” was an accomplishment. When I was lying in the ICU I questioned whether I would ever return to my normal life.

According to my doctor, my lab results indicated that I am indeed back to “normal”. I just need to work on increasing my energy level and my strength. I didn’t ask him how long it might take to feel “normal” again. However, perhaps there is nothing wrong about feeling that being “here” is miraculous. Perhaps, that is the lesson my health scare. Indeed, that is the only thing that seems to make sense.
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