My right foot is so swollen and I don’t even care. But it does prove that the past week was exactly what I needed. Nothing go in my way. Almost every day I was on my bicycle and in 7 days I did more walking than I have done since March. One thing is for sure, there is nothing that can possibly stop me now; not even the pain or aches. If I can make it an entire week walking and biking everywhere then I can’t see why I’m not ready to go back home. When I say home, I mean Charleston. So let the packing begin? I think yes.
You could say that this trip was some kind of pivotal moment for me. Just because I have this annoying contraption on my leg doesn’t mean that I need to sit around all day and do nothing. Part of the reason I felt like a different person down there was because I was moving constantly. The guilt of eating breakfast and then just sitting around watching Regis and Kelly was not there. Every day I was surrounded by people who just treated me like the same old Kristen they knew before the surgical debacle. Yes, while walking down the street I got some crazy looks but it honestly didn’t even bother me in the least. While at Whole Foods for lunch, a woman came up to me and said something along the lines off, “You got style sista.” At first I was a little confused because I do not consider myself in tune with the latest fashions. But she was looking down at my leg. Then she put her hand on my shoulder and told me that I made something painful look beautiful. Right then, I got all warm inside. Rather than the usual grimace or “that looks like it kills” kind of comments, I got a compliment. Let me tell you, it really is the little things that make a huge difference. As much as my leg did hurt at that very moment, it all went away instantly and I was on cloud nine with a huge, true, smile on my face.
Friends kept asking me what I wanted to do for my big day and I honestly didn’t care. What I did want was to be around my friends in the city that I love so much. One of my favorite things that happened on my birthday was just sitting in the park after indulging in a delicious cupcake with two of the best friends a girl could ask for. We laid there and shot the shit for a good hour or so and it was awesome. Dinner and tea with the sweetest of soul sisters made for the greatest of birthdays. It was then that I decided if so many people are here for me then I certainly can be there for others. That’s where the ‘Inspiration’ came from…
What inspires you? When you think about it, finding your inspiration gives you a goal and a passion to seize the moment. Just imagine finding yourself at the end of your rope feeling like you can’t go on any longer. Many of us have been there and then we were inspired and everything changed.
My journey, the one we all like to call LIFE, began twenty six years ago. I was born with dwarfism but never did …I let only that define me. At twelve years old I met my hero, Dr. Dror Paley, and made the decision to undergo a series of radical surgeries known as extended limb lengthening. After four years and the craziest rollercoaster ride one could ever imagine I found myself standing completely changed and thirteen inches taller. My height is just a number and I am proud to stand at a straight, proportionate, pain-free, independent and loving five feet tall. In March 2011 I went back in for an unexpected surgery. Initially figuring that this time around would be a piece of cake. I knew what was coming, been there done that. Wrong. Never in my life have I been in so much pain, felt so angry, sad, frustrated and alone, wishing I could be anywhere but here. It felt like I had reached the end with no light at the end of the tunnel. Then I found it. For me, inspiration is nothing tangible but a feeling of desire; the desire to make a difference. Sparked by a few special people in my life and fellow patients of Dr. Paley, whom I now call my friends, my inspiration became clear.
Lucky am I to have found Dr. Paley and my life has now changed for the better. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for all I have gone through and everyone who has helped me get here. Yes, it was hard but no-one ever told me that it would be easy. The debt I feel for all I have been given is insurmountable and now it is my turn to give back and be there for those in need. After being inspired now is my time to act. The Paley Foundation™ is dedicated to transforming the lives of children and adults around the world who suffer from rare orthopedic conditions. The mission: “Saving Limbs, Improving Lives.” On December 5, 2011 a chapter in my life, the surgical chapter, will come to a close. On that day, in the presence of Dr. Paley, his staff at The Paley Institute, fellow patients and friends I will walk a loop of the Palm Beach Marathon in West Palm Beach, FL in hopes of opening the door for others less fortunate than I. When I stand back and look at all I have gone through, it is a few small bumps in the road compared to what some have to endure in their lifetime. My inspiration has led me to believe that even though I am closing a door, somewhere someone else is opening one. We are all capable of making such a thing possible.
Everyone says they have life changing experiences. It is so cliché yet so true. I truly believe that all I have gone through in the past fourteen years is what has shaped my personality and beliefs about myself and how I fit into this crazy different world. My experience and the amazing people I have met along the way fuel my inspiration. Every single person makes a difference. Never underestimate the impact that you can have. My wish is for you is to feel inspired and maybe even help me make a difference.
To make a tax deductible donation:
Visit www.Paleyfoundation.org and make a donation online
Mail a check to me (payable to The Paley Foundation) to
405 High Street Pembroke, MA 02359
For more information on Dr. Paley and the The PaleyFoundation™: http://www.paleyinstitute.org/
Love and light.