Today, July 9th, 2014, commemorates the sixth anniversary of my spinal cord surgery. In 2008, I was diagnosed with a pilocytic astrocytoma in the thoracic region of my spinal cord (T4-T7). It was, without understatement, a life-changing discovery. Nonsurgical treatment was not an option in my case; the tumor needed to be removed, and quickly, if I was to have any hope of recovery. Six weeks later, on July 9th, 2008, Dr. Michael Edwards successfully removed the tumor surgically at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.
While the surgery was a success, following the surgery I was paralyzed from the waist down. I have since regained the ability to walk with assistance (a cane for the last several years), and, more importantly, the tumor has not returned. Yet permanent nerve damage remains, and I cannot help thinking fondly of my life prior to my spinal cord tumor and disability.
As suggested in the above video, my education and academic aspirations have remained a significant constant both before and after my surgery. They kept me from giving into depression following the surgery, and academia still remains a field in which I am not limited by my physical disability. I’m happily writing my dissertation, preparing to apply for teaching jobs in higher education, and planning to graduate with my doctorate in May 2015.
In regards to my limitations in mobility, I’m also preparing for continued progress, as I will be returning to physical therapy at the end of this month in the hopes that further freedom of mobility can be achieved. My dream is to be able to walk unassisted, to finally lose the constant companion of my cane.
I’ve met a lot of amazing people since my surgery and the release of the above video, and we can all attest to the fact that life goes on after surgery and/or disability. It’s different and difficult, and it’s not what we may have expected, but it continues and we adapt and thrive.
I hope to have more good news to share on my tenth anniversary in four years. 🙂