“Wow…you’re lucky you weren’t aborted.”
Let me back up a minute and set the scene.
It was 2011 and I was going under general anesthesia for one of a thousand reasons that I gloss over in my general life. I’m not sure what it is, but playing ‘hurt’ has never really been my thing. Pretending I’m not hurt is MUCH more my speed, so for this test/surgery/scan/whatever it was that required me to be put to sleep for a bit, I was being a proud, stubborn girl. A girl that said, ‘No, Mom & Dad. Don’t come to Pittsburgh for this. It’s not a big deal. I’ll be fine.”
So, I got up, got on the bus (because I wouldn’t be allowed to drive post-procedure) and went to the hospital. I quickly realized that I was being a Dumber McDumberson and began to panic. Holy shit. I was about to go under general anesthesia. Alone. CRAP!
There were rocking chairs in the waiting room, similar to the ones at my grandfather’s farm. I sat on one, pretended I was enjoying a summer day in Chest Springs, and rocked…and rocked…and rocked.
I was scared. There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. I was alone, and no matter how fast I rocked, I certainly was NOT in Chest Springs, about to have Aunt Linda’s meatballs and an evening listening to Uncle Bernie’s stories around the fire.
And it was all because I had made the choice that I was a 24-year-old-grown-ass-woman and I could do this myself.
As I quickly morphed to a 10-ish-old-little-girl, I wished for nothing more than my parents to be by my side, looking at me with eyes so worried that I laughed so much that I forgot about how scared I was. Instead, though, I went back to the prep room alone, and met my anesthesiologist. Like all first-timers, this doctor’s eyes got wide as she said, “Oh, wow! You’re not in a wheelchair.”
Medical personnel are always saying that because I really should be. I was born with spina bifida, but for some reason, without having done anything to deserve it, I had amazing parents and amazing doctors who figured out how to make sure I could, in fact, walk.
“You’re like Iron Woman!” is exclaimed regularly whenever I have any sort of scans that show just how much my back has been through. My brother and I used to joke that my height was “surgically enhanced,” since one of these “Iron Woman” surgeries ended with me being about three inches taller than when I started.
So, when the anesthesiologist exclaimed, “You’re not in a wheelchair,” I responded with my usual, “Yeah, I lucked out–the surgery I had didn’t exist a few years before I was born.”
What she said next, though, hit me like a ton of bricks.
“You’re lucky you weren’t born a few years later, too. Every doctor would have told your parents to have an abortion.”
Now, when you’re about to go under anesthesia, being told, by the doctor responsible for WAKING YOU UP, you should have never been born isn’t the best thing to hear.
Regardless, though, it’s certainly a big thing to hear. And I heard it, and keep hearing it, every day.
Why was I born in the small window when this surgery existed? Why was I born before a scan would have showed what I had? Why were my parents about as perfect as people as have ever existed so they wouldn’t have cared if I came out poka dotted?
I don’t know. I don’t know, and the guilt in the why kills me every day.
I like causing things. I bought a house because I worked for it. I paid off my student loans because I worked for it. I work and I do and I expect things from myself.
So, it’s always been hard that the reason I am here and the reason I can walk and the reason I can work for all of the things I have is because of nothing I did and nothing I deserved. Why was I the girl who had great parents? Why was I the girl who was born at the right time?
Irish-Catholic guilt is a very real thing and I have a VERY real case of it. I feel guilty Every. Single. Day. Guilty that I got lucky. Guilty that I’m not doing enough. Guilty that all of the work that I’ve done has nothing to do with how great my life is.
So, when my friend Erin asked me why I do things like Kiara’s Spring Fling, that’s what I answered her. It’s incredibly self-serving. I could be in Kiara’s place right now. If we think about it, we really all could. So, this Saturday, I’m going to do something that makes it a little easier for me to accept that God had something else in mind for me and to pay forward those blessings He gave to me.
I hope you join us. It’s going to be a ton of fun, but more importantly, it’s going to help a little girl who had just as much say in her lot in life as I had. She didn’t do or work or anything for what has happened to her, and for some reason, her first few years weren’t as great as mine.
But, together, we can make sure that her next few are.