Consider yourself lucky if you know someone who has walked in your shoes. Not many people do but for those of us who have that connection with another person or persons – it is quite a blessing.
Having had so many surgeries and doctors appointments, I have also had the privilege of meeting some phenomenal individuals. Some of whom I’m no longer in contact with and some who I have become extremely close with. Either way, they have left and continue to leave footprints on my life path.
A few years ago, when I went for emergency surgery due to a major infection in my right leg, I ended up across the hall from a girl named Shauna. Though we were in the hospital for different reasons, we were (are) both patients of Dr. Paley and young women with dreams and goals that was more than enough to connect us. Our dad’s would chat and keep each other updated on how the other girl was doing. Due to the drains coming out of my leg and the severe pain I was in, I couldn’t even get out of my bed and Shauna was fresh out of surgery on her foot. A few days in, Shauna actually got into a wheelchair and came into my room to visit. We talked for quite some time and our understanding for each-other’s situations was instantaneous. The pain, the frustration, the goals, the decisions – it was all understood; similar yet different. Even after being discharged from the hospital, we continued to keep in touch.
Not long after Shauna and I met, there was a special on television on Dr. Paley and the amazing work that he does. One of the patients interviewed for the special was a young woman named Julie. Again, totally different situation medically but I felt compelled to reach out to her because we were similar in age and had overcome enormous obstacles throughout our lives. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to track Julie down (this isn’t as creepy as it sounds, I swear) and we began to chat. As it turned out, We both ended up in WPB for clinic visits on the same day and were able to spend some time together. Again, Julie and I continued to keep in touch.
Well wouldn’t you know that both Julie and Shauna ended up in WPB at the same time for appointments with Dr. Paley. So I put them in touch with each other and viola! we now have an amazing little tripod of support for one another. Our goal has become to reunite all three of us in one place at one time; it has yet to happen but I’m confident that it will someday in the near future.
Those days when we are frustrated with pain and discomfort or a tough decision, we know that each of us are only a group text or phone call away. We are all unwilling or just unable to lose track of one another – the time that passes between a phone call or text doesn’t matter.
Despite the difficulty that living with a ‘different-ability’ can bring, there are also major advantages. In my mind, I am convinced that we are able to form amazing and lasting bonds with just about anyone. Our love and compassion goes beyond someone’s outward appearance; we dig deeper. These connections continue to form and the understanding grows stronger. With people like Julie and Shauna in my life, I know that I can reach out with out fear or judgement ever being involved. It’s an unconditional friendship that three gals hundreds of miles away from each other will ever understand. A coast-to-coast understanding of sorts.
That, my friends, is beautiful.