Road to Recovery

Boarding an airplane. Checking into a hotel. Meeting Dr. Shahinian. Visiting the Santa Monica Pier. Seeing the Hollywood sign. Throwing up in the parking lot of The Hollywood Bowl. Checking into the hospital. Being wheeled into the operating room. Then finally, brain surgery.

Ladies and gentlemen, it happened. And two weeks later, I am overjoyed to say that I am doing just fine. I am so close to conquering the biggest mountain that I have faced in my 17 years of living, and let me tell you, it feels invigorating.

My time in California was a whirlwind. From the bright lights of Los Angeles where I took a spin on Rodeo Drive, to the elegant houses of Beverly Hills that were just blocks away from my surgeon’s office, to Thousand Oaks, where my surgery was actually conducted, the glamour and ritz of the area swept past me in a blur.

When I met Dr. Shahinian, I have to admit, I was a little starstruck. The man was impressive. From his solid gold watch protruding from under his pressed suit, accompanied with his rather demanding orders to his employees, his manner screamed elegance and business, you quickly caught on that he did not mess around, or waste any time. But along with his sense of purpose, Dr. Shahinian displayed a quality most of the doctors I had previously seen lacked-compassion. He genuinely cared about my health, my life, he even wants a video of me playing volleyball when I can get back on the court. I have never met a man so influential, so life changing in what he does in my entire life. He is amazing, to say the least.

His amiable characteristics did not fail in the operating room, either. Although my mass had herniated into my third ventricle, had calcified, and was bigger than they intended it to be, they successfully removed all of it. They do not have a definite size as we are still waiting for reports from Pathology, but Dr. Shahinian confirmed there is no chance of it growing back. As he explained, although the operation they conducted is very risky, it is the only assurance one can resume their normal life again and not have to undergo further surgery. Most surgeons will simply go in and drain the cyst, which leaves a 90 oercent chance recurrence rate, and as Dr. Shahinian put it, that is “the chicken’s way” of doing things. He is anything but a chicken.

Although the surgery went flawlessly, the recovery is definitely still a challenge. The first day I woke up with five IVs in my arms and an oxygen mask on my face. I began slowly traipsing around in therapy with my walker the second day. By the third, I was able to walk on my own, though with support. I have to lay at a 45 degree angle for one more week (it was three in total), and today I actually got my staples removed. In six weeks, I will be able to resume volleyball once more, and once I am able to move my head around more freely I can begin driving again. It’s truly amazing how things are moving along. It’s crazy to think that just two weeks ago I had a portion of my hair shaved off (though thankfully, you can’t even see it), a dime size hole cut into my head and a cyst in my brain removed. It’s crazy to think that I was sick for the majority of 2012, and that now, finally, I am on my way to being better, completely.

Looking back on the year that precedes us now, it astounds me how much I’ve grown, how much I’ve been through. I know this time last year I never saw myself undergoing the struggles that I did and I would never foresee my life the way it is now, but it is. While ringing in the new year though, I realized life really isn’t always about knowing. I couldn’t have prepared myself for this, if someone had warned me, I don’t even think I could have believed it. Life is more about embracing each moment for what it is, even if it isn’t exactly what you thought it would be. I know I have many tough days that lie ahead of me before I can truly say that I am completely healthy again and I know recovery is a wavering line and some days that line will be lower than others. It’ll be hard, it is hard. I’m finally here though, I’m finally on the road to recovery. I searched for so long just to find how to get here and now that I’m on it, I’m never looking back. I may take a few wrong turns, but nothing is going to get me too far off the map. My eyes are set forward, and my rearview mirror is officially being ignored. The past and it’s hardships are behind me. It’s time to focus on the future.