During a particularly bad moment I emailed my old high school religion teacher that I was in the middle of a crisis of faith and didn't really know how to carry on. His response was simple but so profound, "to believe in the face of it all - that is faith. Impossible things happen every day."
I am a native of Pittsburgh PA. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, my health took a turn for the worse. Over the next few years I began to experience severe bouts of fatigue, diziness, balance problems, headaches, eye pain, and a tremor in my right hand. Test after test came back negative and soon the doctors wrote me off as a child simply making things up for attention. Though the symptoms persisted, I began to hide them as best I could because I couldn't handle being told that I was making it up. It was about 8 years later when I developed drop foot that the answer was finally found. A neurologist saw me, saw the pain, saw the frustration and most importantly he believed me. After running some MRIs of my brain and spine he came back with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic, progressive, debilitating disease of the central nervous system.
As if MS is not enough for a young person to have to cope with, in 2004 I had what was supposed to be a routine operation on my right knee to fix an old soccer injury shortly after moving to Maryland. Unfortunately, the operation was anything but routine, and I developed a life threatening infection and was rushed into the first of many emergency operations. I was operated on repeatedly and I was placed on IV medications for 6-8 weeks at a time repeatedly, but a few months later, the infection would undoubtedly return to ravage my knee again. After 19 operations on my knee in the time span of just 4 years I made the hardest yet also the easiest decision of my life. I made the decision to amputate my leg above the knee.
My leg had become dead weight. I couldn't walk on it. I had intense pain at all times. Due to the repeat infections and repeat operations my knee joint had been completely destroyed. The only options left for me were to allow the cycle to continue, amputate, or fuse the joint. To continue the cycle would mean death and I couldn't imagine life with a straight stiff leg which would greatly limit what I could do. Amputation was my best option and though it was scary, I knew it was the right thing to do. I came out of the amputation surgery looking and feeling healthier than I had in a very long time.
Unfortunately, 7 months following the amputation I developed an infection in what is left of my leg which needed to be operated on. To date I have had 22 operations on my right leg alone. I have experienced pain so bad that I thought I had died. I have had my MS react to anesthesia to the point of it short circuiting the nerves in my chest causing me an inability to breathe. I have experienced some dark days and bad moods. But despite it all, I'm still here.
I have looked death in the eye and I know that life is worth fighting for and life is very much worth living. I have learned that a sense of humor will see you through anything. I defied the odds by learning to use my prosthetic leg and walk without any assistive devices which due to my MS, doctors thought I'd never be able to do. They assumed I'd always need a cane or crutches, but I have proved them wrong. I have learned that there is no shame in admitting your fears.
Some people feel that I am an incredibly unlucky person, but I beg to differ. I am not only lucky to have had whole new worlds opened up to me because of my health, but I am truly an incredibly lucky person because I have the love and support of so many important people in my life. I have learned so much about who I am and what I want to achieve in this life. I have met amazing people who I'd never have met had these things not happened to me.
I now take the time to answer the questions of strangers when they take notice of my prosthetic leg. I have helped other amputees or people facing amputation by sharing my story and being there to listen. I'm not afraid to share my experiences because if they can help someone else in some small way, then it's worth it.
My religion teacher was right... impossible things do happen every day and I'm glad to be proof of that.
Submitted by Anonymous
We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories