“It’s amazing how you just soldier on.”

One of my professors stopped me, oh a few weeks ago now, to ask about my health and ended with the above quote.  I’m still struggling to understand why I’m still struggling with that sentiment.

Part of what I don’t like about it is I get a feeling of exceptional-ism.  I get the sense that people, including this professor, think that I have done something remarkable in being back in class so soon, in planning to graduate with my class next week, in continuing my life.   The sense that all of this is a reflection of a greater drive or commitment of my part. 

Part of what I don’t like is that when the professor said this what I hear is not “I am impressed with what you are doing” but rather “I am not seeing how you are still recovering”.  Which I then, unfairly perhaps, extend into “I will never see how this will continue to affect your life”. 

And part of what I don’t like is that this treats this surgery as somehow unique.  Over the last six years of my life, I have had this surgery three times, earned two degrees, and moved across the country.  Right now, having surgery is almost a chronic condition.  (Yes, I do understand that as a depressing reality of my health, but that’s what it is.) 

What I know is that I have done what I have been capable of doing.  Had less been possible, I would have done less.  I know that recovery is going to take a long time.  It will be months, if not years before I will physically feel as though my body has reached “recovered”.  And even then, there will be things I will not do because of my surgeries and their effects.  And I know that even if this never happens again, these past six years will influence every interaction I have with doctors, the field of medicine, and my body for the rest of my life.

I am not soldiering on.  I am living the life I have, today.  Just as I did a year ago.  Just as I plan to do a year from now.

Further, I plan to enjoy the life I have.  Because that is the kind of life I want, not one I soldier through. 

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