Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
This is what it feels like to stand along the edge of a cliff. That was the thought that ran through my head when a conference room full of adults with medical degrees turned to look at me, waiting for my answer. It has been decided after two weeks of evaluation that I was indeed a candidate for an experimental surgery which, if everything went well could make it possible for me to do things I wasn’t able to before. However the doctors couldn’t say exactly how much of a difference it would make other than saying that in their professional opinion the potential benefits outweighed the risks. Because it was surgery on the spinal cord itself there was the risk that I might end up worse off than I was now, though the doctors couldn’t define what “worse” might entail anymore than they could “better”. The surgery was never performed on anyone older than 14 so if it was going to be done and had to be this year. The doctors looked to my parents and my parents, reasoning that I would have to deal with the consequences good or bad, long after they were dead, looked at me.
I sat. I thought. I deliberately imagined the worst possible scenario I can think of, could I live without my voice and my hearing if things went badly? I imagined being trapped inside my own head and felt my gut twist into a Gordian Knot and my toes literally curl in my sneakers. I silently admitted to myself that if that were to happen I would probably see a mental health professional in order to cope, at least at first. refuse to even contemplate seriously any idea of what a best case scenario might be because even if the operation were successful chances are it would fall short of my hopes and I didn’t want to be disappointed. They were still looking at me. Nothing ventured nothing gained right? With a mental shout of “cannonball!” I jumped, and heard myself say “let’s do it.” The rest is history.