Going through the medical dog and pony show has been quite the eyeopener for me. I now understand things about people in pain that I never even considered. I also now feel the inconsiderate thoughts and words of others and it can be very alienating. Some people are mean because they think it is funny, some because they don’t know better. Some treat me with kid gloves or like I have become a fragile relic, some artifact that reminds people of who I used to be.
Then there are the people who feel like I have overcome some supernatural enemy and I stand in bloody victory waving my banner. They weave a narrative about how horrible everything became then how it was miraculously transformed and I have earned some type of sainthood for enduring life. And while I imagine is is great to bask in that feeling, I do not wish to be stuck in my own puffed up head as if I had much to do with surviving my ordeal.
I am no hero. When they told me that I had to have brain surgery, I sat in the parking lot and wailed as if someone had died. I called my mom and was in such a worked up state that she had to calm me down before I shouted that I had to have brain surgery. I hear my daughter gasp. Mom’s phone was on speaker because she was driving. My daughter, who was on her way to a performance, had heard me lose my marbles on the phone. I went to my sister’s house and cried for three days. Sometimes she sat and cried with me. Other times, she let me cry in solitude.
Hard to imagine Batman ignoring everything (even my own child) because he was told his brain slipped out of his head and was drooping into his neck. He has his own source of pain though. I suppose this is where we differ. He has turned his pain into a mission and proactively fights crime. I am good to be making it to my doctor appointments. While I do some volunteer and advocacy work, I am not fighting for anyone else right now, I am fighting for me. So that I can have the ability to speak out for other people who don’t have a voice.
Just imagine how awkward it is for someone to tell you that you are brave for living or a hero for living or an amazing person for living. I feel like that takes away from people who are actually heros. A firefighter puts his or her life on the line daily to save others from dangerous situations. THAT is a hero. Police deal with all sorts of insanity, knowing every day that they leave their house might be their last. THAT is a hero. Our service men and women willingly go out onto battlefields and too often come home changed physically, mentally, or emotionally. THAT IS A HERO.
My neurosurgeon spent 6-8 hours operating on my brain with the full understanding that my entire life was in the care of his highly skilled hands. HE IS MY HERO! He got me out of there alive.
Still, I am no hero. I feel that we shouldn’t use that word so lightly. If put in my situation, most people would do pretty close to what I have done. Deal with it day by day. Try to enjoy the good times. Complain about the bad times. Really, it is a dull existence that pushes me to want to become a hero of sorts. I spend a lot of time with doctors, on the phone with insurance and doctors, and scheduling future appointments with doctors. Not nearly as heroic as it sounds.
Don’t let that fool you though.
I plan to be a hero one day and use my abilities to assist my community. Then I can accept being called a hero. Living in pain is a life that many people have and they make it through. They go through the same things I do, at times more and they aren’t being called heros. They are often forgotten about. Some are considered a burden and are made to feel ashamed about their condition. I just happen to look “normal” and seem “normal” to many people and so I must have overcome some giant hurdle and I am now an inspiration. I wonder if I am as inspiring when I haven’t taken a shower for two days and my hair looks like a rat’s nest and all I want is coffee and cartoons because my head is killing me. Am I an inspiration when my attitude is like a fiery cyclone leaving only destruction in my wake?
No. No I am not.
I do not wish to be. I want to be Michelle. A mom. A minister. A witty woman. All of this other stuff that is going on is just me doing the things that I have to do to keep going. I am not sure how to just give up and that is NOT heroism, it is simple perseverance. I have to keep going so my daughter has me here to help guide her through life as well as I can. That is the SAME THING that every mother does no matter her situation. Sometimes I don’t do as well or go as fast as other parents, but many parents are perfectly healthy and slow.
Life would be easier if we recognized that it is not brave or heroic for going through a medical procedure, it is simply a part of some of our lives. I would like to feel welcome and loved instead of having to live up to the standard of a hero. That is too much burden to bear. I am human and I fail. I have moments where my faith is wearing thin. The best are the moments when I can’t control what is coming out of my mouth and I would be considered ANYTHING but a hero.
So, before we celebrate victories we can’t comprehend, let us just treat each other well and be there in the victories and the losses. Be there when the test results come back and aren’t good or be there in the middle of the night when there a tears of pain overflowing. You will find a fragile human with issues that is not wearing a cape, but is wrapped in a blanket to help feel comfy. There will be no soaring through the air, only splayed out on the sofa or bad, trying to stay in a position that feels OK!
While the sentiment is lovely, save it for the people who deserve and earn that title. I am a fighter who is training to be a hero someday.