As many of you know, I've been disabled my entire life. Because of my disability, I spent a lot of time in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I've had two different reconstructive surgeries, one on the tendons in my knees and lower legs and one on my hips. Now, you might be thinking and understandably so, that having to stay there is quite unfortunate. However, the days I remained in C.H.O.P. and the Seashore House rehab center was one of the best things that ever happened to me. At the young age of ten, I was brought out of my comfort zone and forced to deal with extreme physical challenges and meet all different types of people, from all different kinds of backgrounds when I wouldn't otherwise have gotten the chance.
Anytime you go under the knife; it's serious. No matter how old you are being put to sleep knowing, someone is going to be slicing through your flesh and sawing through your bones is scary; when you're just ten years old, your ability to compartmentalize and keep your fear under control is that much harder. However, it's what I had to do. I had to learn very quickly to put my emotions aside and remain calm. I had to learn very quickly that some things are out of my control and I have to put trust in people. My operations went well, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has some amazing doctors. But, after every surgery, there's a rehab process. I remember going through mine there was so much pain and struggle. But, it taught me to overcome and persevere through anything.
Learning to overcome obstacles might be the most important lesson anyone can learn in life. However, to me, it was even close to the things I learned from my surroundings. Growing up in such a rural area, I was never able to experience much diversity. But, it didn't just regard race or ethnicity. I got a chance to see what other kids had to go through on a daily basis. I saw children with breathing tubes, broken arms, atrophied muscles, burns and gunshot wounds. I've heard kids scream in pain and struggle just like me and sometimes worse. It might not be the happiest of environments, but it taught me perspective. That no matter how bad you think life is for yourself, there is always someone that has it worse.
There is no doubt that some of the toughest situations in life can still be some of the greatest learning experiences. Even at such a young age, that was the case for me. I will always be thankful for my time in C.H.O.P. and always support it any way I can; monetarily or otherwise. And this will not be the last time I write about my experiences there or the people.