In my travels as a speaker my goal is to inspire others; however, the joke is on me as I get to meet people who inspire me… Meet a young lady from Independence, Kansas who shared with me her story.
I realize now that an injury or mental condition does not have to define who you are….
By Laura B. of Independence, KS
“I had worked my whole junior year preparing to be, what we call in marching band, the head drum major of the band. I was going to lead all 105 members out onto a football field for every game, every competition, and I was ready. In our band, to be a head drum major, you had to spend your junior year preparing yourself by learning under the current senior drum major. My position was the assistant drum major for a year, and then, with my own senior year approaching, band camp was about to begin, and I would get to lead the band and become a better leader. Unfortunately, life doesn’t play through that smoothly if you want to succeed.
At the beginning of the summer, I was taking an evening shower. My mother, father, and sister were all in their rooms. Next thing I knew, I woke up in a room of white, in a hospital bed, with an IV in my arm, and my parents beside me. I had no idea what was going on around me, and I had never been more scared in my life. My mom told me, “Honey, you’ve been badly burned, and you’re in the hospital.”
I could not remember anything major. It is like trying to remember a vague dream. According to my parents, I had passed out in the shower, and my hand had hit the temperature nozzle, which turned the water heat up to its maximum level. I lied with the boiling water flowing over my back, until my mom had found me and called the EMT. Apparently, though I remember almost nothing, I was so delirious and violent that it took my dad, five EMTs, a few police officers, and two horse tranquilizers to get me to calm down and to get me into an ambulance. I had received second and third degree burns from my left armpit all the way down to my hip and lower back. I started wound care in July, and the doctor told me the burns would take over 6-8 weeks to heal, and band camp was 4-5 weeks away. I felt hopeless.
I decided though, to try my best to heal before my deadline. No one else could do my job, and the band needed my experience. So, over the course of three weeks, I dealt with vast amounts of pain, wound care, protein shakes, and rest in order to heal myself. And it worked. I was discharged from my wound care clinic in August, four weeks earlier than the doctors had expected me to heal. I was not completely void of the burn injury, not even close. But I could be relatively active, and even though she was worried, my mom let me go to band camp in mid-August, and I thought my bought of bad luck was over. But as I said, life doesn’t work like that.
We had never found out why exactly I had passed out in the shower that day. My parents and I had assumed that since we had been camping that weekend, I was dehydrated, and that the hot water and steam had just caused me to faint. The doctors didn’t know, and I just assumed that it would remain a mystery. I was wrong. About a month after school began, I was eating in the cafeteria with my friends. And yet again, that normal and simple moment was the last thing I remember. I woke up, yet again, in a hospital, and heard my mom say, “Honey, you’ve had a bad seizure, and you’re in the hospital.”
It turned out that I had focal structural epilepsy, and after numerous doctor visits, and a “side trip” to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, we were able to piece everything together. My seizures are triggered by stress, and I was about to go into an enormously stressful position into the band, and my senior year was about to start. I had not passed out in the shower; I had a seizure. Then, a month later, in the middle of the cafeteria, I had another that caused me to be hospitalized, and we discovered the problem.
I was instantly put on medication, which helped me continue on with my life. I was able to finish the marching season, win awards at competitions, maintained the respect of my peers, and most recently, was elected the Winter Homecoming Queen.
I realize now that an injury or mental condition does not have to define who you are. It can help you gain the determination you need to make yourself successful, and to keep trying no matter what the situation may be.”
If you would like to see your story published please send an essay style short-story to firstname.lastname@example.org