september 29, 2021

written by Sydney Steinberg

One year ago today, I had to expect the unexpected. When faced with the unexpected, those with strong moral conviction will forgo their own comfortability. None of us are born with patience, and perseverance does not emerge until we are confronted with circumstances that allow it. Whether it was denial or ignorance, surgery seemed to be a magic wand fix: maybe I would wake up pain-free. 


I did not wake up pain-free. But it was a different pain. Not the chronic pain I experienced the previous 9 months of my teenage life. From the sick all-nighters in the hospital to screaming of pain to losing all my independence at once, I felt it all. Felt the struggle to wake up in the morning. Felt the struggle to put one foot in front of the other. Felt the struggle of feeling misplaced. 


But each day, I celebrated a little victory: taking that first step, moving another inch, bending another degree. Once I realized that it was okay to honor these little things as a big deal, it kept a smile on my face, or at least for the moments I had forgotten reality. Reality hits hard when you wake up one day and realize that I am a 16-year old that went through a life-changing surgery. I was mentally drained as each day went by, faking a smile while sometimes falling into my deepest hours. But somewhere along the road, the weight on my shoulders was lifted. I thought I was not built strong enough to handle the emotional challenges that followed a PAO but resilience isn't something you're born with. You can build it up and draw on it when you need it. You will discover who you truly are during this journey, and you may even become the best version of yourself. With over 1300 site views on PAO Buddies, I became the best version of myself.


I am not the same person I was 12 months ago because I knew that even though the road loomed long, and my resilience might falter, I had the drive and ability to finish the recovery. It seems repetitive to talk about how hard this has all been because those with me on my journey all felt it too. Nothing about last year was easy. At 2 weeks, I made it to my bed. At 4 weeks, I made it to my desk. At 6 weeks, I made it to PT. At 3 months, I made it to one crutch. At 6 months, I made it to zero crutches. At 9 months, I made it to my screw removal. At 12 months, I made it here. 


Here, as in the brighter days, I thought that would stay in my blind spot forever. My mom, my biggest supporter of it all, told me from the moment I walked into the hospital at 5:30 am one year ago that this bad dream would not last forever. I wish I could say I believed her. But the nightmare days in the hospital where I felt my world fall apart, I thought would never fade. 


Yet a year later, it is all a blur. My heart no longer aches at the thought of September 29th, 2020. Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Life can sometimes feel a little uncertain. However, one thing is sure, and that is the fact that it is still a beautiful world, filled with people who care. So thank you to the ones who through the storm helped me dance in the rain. Even if it took a year, I am smiling in the rainbow. I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel… Today, I woke up to a bright and shiny day.