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“Samantha Nicole!” my mother began. The deliberate usage of my middle name indicated she was preparing to reprimand me. I instantly knew I had been caught peering underneath my neon pink Barbie bandage. As do most young children, I chose to satisfy my curiosity over my mother. The scrape I had received from the playground pavement was just too intriguing to ignore. My eyes widened in wonder at the little red circle on my knee. Just a day ago, it had been brand new, and now, with the help of a modest amount of hydrogen peroxide, it was half the size. Although as a six year old observer I had no comprehension of the complex mechanisms at work, my fascination with the body’s ability to heal was already apparent.
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Scrapes were the most serious injuries I needed to worry about until last October. The Friday before the season’s third football game, I fell six feet during a cheerleading stunt. I attempted to land on my feet, but rolled my right ankle. After the doctor exclaimed that my bruised and swollen ankle was the worst he had seen in his career, I knew that the injury would not heal in the amount of time initially projected by my school’s athletic trainer. Usually, a hairline fracture on a talus bone and a sprained ankle would just be two more of life’s little inconveniences. Yet six weeks with a cast has had a sustaining impact on how I think. By forcing me to change my perspective, my first broken bone has forever altered my outlook on life.
Although I have always wanted to be a doctor, the many trips I made to the physician’s office during those six weeks allowed me to better understand what the profession entails. Medical doctors are respected for their intelligence and inexhaustible concern for their patients. While many seek the title of physician for its large paycheck, the best doctors are those that have passion for the profession. For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of becoming a physician. Being aware of the hard work that is required of a medical doctor only strengthened my drive.
In addition to looking toward the future, I began to appreciate the present. While on crutches, I learned to value the gifts life gives everyday. I was upset that I could no longer participate in cheerleading, but my daily struggles forced me to realize that there are people that will never have the chance to do physical activities. I began to realize I never saw how difficult little things like opening a door or getting up the stairs could be. Now, completing these tasks was something of which to be truly proud. Choreographing my actions so that I could move around my house was a tedious task. Without planning, I could easily climb the same flight of stairs three times, each trip returning with another forgotten item. Not only was it tiring and time consuming, the loud thuds that resulted from the hop to the next stair were never well received by my family past ten o’clock at night.
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The moment I was able to walk without crutches, I noticed how much easier life actually was. I had forgotten what it was like to open doors by myself. I could climb the stairs quickly and quietly. I was able to go into small rooms without worrying about falling over on an out of place item of furniture. My regular life seemed so much more exciting and fulfilling with this independence. My newfound passion for life could only have been achieved through the removal of what I had taken for granted.
I have discovered so many things from breaking my ankle that I no longer look back upon the situation as negative. In fact, I now look upon negative situations in my life as the best and most impactful type of learning experiences. I failed to realize that the awareness that had served me so well in the discovery of my first passion, biology, was slowly fading away. By slowing down and focusing, I was able to uncover daily treasures that were passing me by. I pride myself on the maturity that I have gained as a result of this disguised blessing, and know that what I have learned was well worth six weeks of inconvenience.
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