This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is everything you dreamed that it would be
When the world was younger, and you had everything to lose?
I loved this song in high school. Back then, I said I lived life with no regrets. This is a badly written essay from back then. VERY badly written. Read at your own risk.
This is your life, are you who you want to be? When the world was younger, and you had everything to lose.” These lyrics from the song This Is Your Life by Switchfoot, sum up how I feel about my life. I don’t live with regrets. Yes, there are events in my past that I wish I could just pull out my big pink eraser and wipe clean. So many times I wish that I could simply just snap my fingers, and shout out “DO OVER!” And yet, I can’t. I don’t believe in living life with regrets. The events of my past are the things that shaped me into the young lady I am today.
One of these events happened when I was four years old. Starting when I was three, I was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disorder. Neurofibromatosis is distinguished by having at least six café-au-lait marks (round, brownish marks) on the skin, lisch nodules in the eyes, and learning disorders. Often, other more common problems walk hand-in-hand with NF, such as scoliosis. Another “problem” with neurofibromatosis is that there is an increased change of developing tumors anywhere that there is nervous tissue.
So there I was, three years old. They knew that I had a tumor somewhere, they just didn’t know where. Dr. Annemarie Sommers, a genetics doctor at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, finally pinpointed the tumor. I had had a urine sample done earlier that week, and she wanted to repeat it. The hormone HCL levels had completely skyrocketed. Dr. Sommers flat out said “this child is NOT leaving this hospital till I find this tumor.” They ran an ultrasound, and found a ganglioneuroblastoma in my left adrenal gland. The adrenal gland (in the words of the renal doctor) is the gray blob that sits on top of the kidney. The ganglioneuroblastoma was the fifth tumor of it’s kind, in the entire world.
And thus begin the chapter of my life that I spent in the hospital. The original plan was to take out the tumor sooner then they did, however, the anesthesiologist refused to touch me. They were afraid that my tumor was a different type, and that when they tried to remove it, the tumor would explode, sweep over my body, and kill me. Because of this, they then had to shut down my endocrine system. I spent a total of two months in the hospital, (one month, then a few weeks home, then another month).
I am extremely fortunate. I never had to have chemotherapy; I never had to have radiation. The tumor wasn’t even the kind they feared it was. On Monday, April 27th, 1992, the tumor was removed. I was so sick and tiny at that time that I was placed in the infant ICU after the surgery. All the nurses were amazed because they weren’t used to have patients that were able to talk back to them. The only reminders I have left of that surgery is the fact I only have one adrenal gland, and the large scar across my stomach that we loving call “Dr. Cooney’s Signature”, after the doctor who removed my tumor.
There are times when I wish I could change my past. I wish I didn’t have to see doctors all the time, and I wish I didn’t have to go through the surgery. However, would I go back and change it if I could? No, I would not. These events have shaped me, and molded me into who I am today. This trying event has taught me such a valuable lesson. Life is fragile. We don’t know what lies around the corner, when I could have another tumor, when I could begin to show worse signs of the disease. I can’t know what tomorrow holds.
There would be certain consequences of undoing this event in my life. If I were to go back and undo it, I don’t think I would fully appreciate life as much as I do today. I wouldn’t be able to know what a precious gift life is. Yes, life has it’s hard days, and yes, I do wish I could change some things. But I would never do it, for I like the person I am today, for I know the person I am is the person I was meant to be.
“This is your life, and today is all you’ve got now, this is your life, and today is all you’ll ever have…” More lyrics from Switchfoot remind us that today is all we have. Yesterday is “dead and over”, and so why should we worry about it? These events have formed me into the person I am, and have melded me into the person I am meant to be. Today is what I have. I don’t have the future, I only have today. And that is why I live each day to the fullest, thankful to be alive, and thankful to be living with no regrets.
I am older now. My old blog was called “forgotten regret”, based on the line from Rent: “There’s only us, there’s only this, forget regret or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way, no day but today.”
These days, I feel “Will I lose my dignity? Will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?” is more fitting. Right now, I regret my life. Right now, I regret and wish that I didn’t live in pain every single day of my life. I don’t know what it’s like to be without pain. I don’t know what it’s like to be free from this nightmare – from this pain, from this heartache. I look at my 9 years ago self, who really couldn’t write to save her life, and think she was wise beyond her years.
Because 27 year old Nora regrets. 27 year old Nora wants to change it. 27 year old Nora is sick of the pain, of the anguish, of living life from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital, playing medication roulette.
And I just want the nightmare to end.