Retaking My First Steps

Retaking My First Steps

Sometimes first steps do not involve walking across the floor.
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The sickly smell of antiseptic overwhelms the air. My body is still weak from the heavy sedation and constant influx of pain medications. I am so weak, I can hardly feel my legs. The only thought running through my mind is that I’ll never regain enough strength to ever walk, dance, frolic, or even stand again. There could be nothing so stomach-wrenching, so painful, so infuriating, as lying in this hospital bed with the sensations of tiny needles prodding into my torso and the nauseating scent of vomit, plastic, and agony that every hospital emits.

Just then, the outline of a white-coated figure through bright fluorescent lights finds its way into my line of bleary sight, another piece of my body that isn’t performing as optimally as it once did. As the white figure comes closer, I remember why the shape of this body in particular is so painstakingly familiar to me. The figure and I have spent many countless hours in doctor’s offices, examining x-rays, discussing treatment plans and how they will affect my future. The friendly face of my wide-eyed and bushy-tailed surgeon – who, regardless of nine hours in surgery, looks young and crisp while I lie there, resembling something close to death warmed over with mucus outlining my nostrils and bags underlining my eyes – peers down at me. I expect comforting words such as, ‘you did so well,’ or ‘everything turned out just beautifully.’ Anything would have been music to my ears in comparison to the foul words that escaped his lips.

“Are you ready to walk?”

I laugh meekly, and suddenly his usually cheerful, jubilant demeanor has transformed into one of pure seriousness. Surely he had to be joking. I just had two titanium rods fused onto my crooked spine! How could I even learn to stand barely twenty-four hours later, let alone walk?

He smiles as he reaches out his arms, and I reluctantly grab ahold to help myself up, all the while glancing at my mother on the other side of me, hoisting me off the bed with great vigor. Blood rushes to my head as I rise as if I were a newborn giraffe learning how to walk. My legs feel like foreign appendages, jellylike and uncooperative. I make it two microscopic steps, each of which feels like two miles, before I feel my legs buckle, and I practically collapse onto the hospital bed nearby. I receive congratulatory looks of pride from my doctor and my parents in the room with me, looks that say I’ve accomplished so much more than two mere baby steps that day. With those encouraging faces staring back at me, I realize that I am more than capable of regaining my strength, and every day I will take more and more baby steps, determined to reach my goal.

Those first few steps after my scoliosis surgery were like the first steps of my impending adulthood. The cold, tiled hallway of Roanoke Memorial Hospital was my own pathway to maturity. I do not think that had my parents not decided to go through with the surgery that I would be the person I am today. Before, I was a child, only a two year veteran of middle school, meek, self-doubting, and entirely unaware of all that I would accomplish in my high school years to come. Today, I consider myself an eager, confident young person, fully capable of anything I wish to accomplish. I am not yet an adult, for I still have much to learn. The strong impact my surgery had on my life is what I believe prepared me to take those further strides into adulthood.

Cover Image Credit: newsjunkiepost.com

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10 Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Pets

Using CBD Oil for Pets!
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Cannabis herb has grabbed the attention of vets and researchers for offering a lot as far as the health and well-being of the animals is concerned. Just as the CBD has proved to be beneficial for the humans, many studies have proved that it can benefit the animals too with its health-enhancing and life-saving benefits. Let’s take you through ten benefits of this herb for animals which is usually misunderstood so far to clear the air.

1. Increases Appetite and Resolves Nausea

If an animal is having trouble eating or is suffering from nausea and vomits then CBD might be the solution for it as it increases the appetite and treats nausea caused by toxins.

2. Reduces Anxiety

If an animal is suffering from separation anxiety, then it might benefit from the anxiety-relieving property of the CBD oil. Since the herb has also proved beneficial in reducing anxiety related issues in humans including panic disorders and PTSD and hence can also be used for animals.

3. Fights Cancer

CBD and other chemicals found in cannabis have an antitumor effect which prevents the growth of cancerous cells and increases the tumor cell death. Therefore, it can be used in combination with the conventional treatment to enhance its effects and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

4. Treats Seizures 

Animals with seizures are mostly treated with drugs that while helping to control seizures cause potential damage to other organs like the liver. While CBD helps to treat seizures without such side effects.

5. Relieves Pain

CBD oil is also beneficial in relieving the pain effectively as it has anti-inflammatory properties, so it has proved to reduce pain by decreasing the inflammation.

6. Not Psychoactive

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are compounds found in cannabis and hemp, and THC is responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana. However, CBD oil is mostly without the THC which means the animal wouldn’t get high.

7. Helps with Neurodegenerative Diseases

CBD shows a lot of potential for animals with degenerative nerve issues. Studies have shown it to be beneficial in preventing cell death in the brain which is caused by toxins and free radicals in animals.

8. Helps With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

CBD has antibiotic properties which according to research have proved to be helpful in preventing colitis and treating the inflammatory bowel disease.

9. Reduces Chronic Inflammation

CBD has proven to be helpful in reducing the release and production of the inflammatory cytokines which may cause in allergies and hypersensitivities in animals. It can decrease chronic inflammation while acting as a powerful antioxidant.

10. Promotes Cardiovascular Health

CBD is also linked to heart health as studies have shown that it helps with balancing heart rate by reducing the damage from damaged blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.

These are some of the amazing health benefits that CBD oil can offer the animals. But it would be imperative to involve a vet before going ahead with treating the animals with the CBD.

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Parkland, Florida's Mass Shooting Taught Me To Expect Catastrophes While Keeping An Open Mind And Heart

I soon realized that my indifference to the recent school shooting wasn't was nearly as disturbing as it was pragmatic.
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I've been watching the local and national news ever since I was old enough to look at a screen. It's all part of a daily routine that, save school breaks and Sundays, has not been broken in years. Every morning, my brother and I would wake up a good hour and a half before school to my father's call. My family isn't talkative in the mornings, so my father would switch on the TV, and we'd all begin the day with a healthy dose of WSBTV'S Channel 2 Action News. Then, the clock would strike 7 a.m., and we'd spend the remainder of our pre-school morning watching ABC's Good Morning America.

The thing about watching that much news (besides being more well-informed than most of my elementary-aged and middle-school aged peers) is that one gets accustomed to hearing a plethora of local and national and international tragedies on a daily basis. Missing children on Monday, mystery murders on Tuesday, tragic car crashes on Wednesday, thieves on Thursday, corpses of the missing children found on Friday and so on. As I was born post-Columbine, I could depend on hearing of school shootings monthly or so with varying degrees of success.

While the widely repeated "no news is good news" isn't strictly true, it was perhaps 99 percent true for me, and over time, I've become desensitized to tragic events to an alarming degree.

When I first heard about the school shooting through one of Alpharetta Odyssey teammates, I couldn't even be bothered to look it up. 17 dead, she said. Tragic, I thought, before realizing that it had been a while since there was a successful school shooting. With how common they've become, it felt like we had one long overdue.

As my community peers expressed their shock at humanity's general decline, I had two epiphanies in subsequent order.

First, I noticed how people avoided liking my post like they were with everyone else’s because of how disturbing the concept of normalizing something as horrific as school shootings is. Second, I soon realized that my attitude isn't was nearly as disturbing as it was pragmatic.

It's horrible that I've learned to normalize the idea that some humans simply lack hearts. But once you get past the initial implication associated with the idea, you will realize how ignorant we are to continue to be shocked every time something slightly more tragic happens at this point in time. I’m writing this on February 14, 2018 — Valentine's Day. We are only one and a half months into 2018, and there have been 18 school shootings (of varying degrees of success) in the America.

It's about time we start learning to expect situations like this and prepare ourselves accordingly, like the way we do for other unexpected disasters, such as fires and tornado warnings. And while it can be truly difficult to implement a feasible school-wide system against the ingenuity of the determined heartless, we should replace the mentality "Oh, it's never going to happen to me," with "It might happen to me." (But in moderation. There's also something to be said about being so afraid of possibly dying that one simply fails to live.)

It's truly tragic that we have to resort to such a mentality. But then again, it would be much more tragic to actually die without ever having considered that dying is a very real possibility.

With that all said, however, do not start singling out people you may see as potential school shooters. That is an unsolicited assumption, and you seriously do not know that person as well as him/herself. Only that person can know if they are capable of shooting up a school. Second, pointing out certain people and alienating them based on assumptions might actually be the direct cause of the suspected person shooting up a school. Driving a person into a corner puts everyone in danger.

I truly applaud the people who continue to believe the best in people, despite events like this occurring. Those are the people who let their guards down and are open-minded, regardless. And though it may seem counter intuitive, it is actually people like these who are the best remedy to the prevention of school shootings. People with true friends (or at least people who have someone to reach out to, at the very least) are much less likely to become the perpetrators of such a catastrophic scenario with such a collateral ending.

Nevertheless, we should learn to expect catastrophes, while also keeping open minds and open hearts. I know. It's not easy. But for the sake of everyone, know that the effort is worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Matthew Henry

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