Growing Up

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

I can’t feel my legs.

That was my first thought when I woke up in a hospital room alone. I saw red when I opened my eyes; maybe it was the memory of my blood splattered on the car ceiling. Or maybe it was the memory of seeing that bright crimson red spilling over my fingers after I touched my face. Images of the car accident flooded my mind… Being separated from my family, being airlifted to a different hospital, talking to a nurse before surgery… Before I could delve any deeper, the doctor entered my room and gave me the diagnosis.

Forty stitches. My seatbelt had ripped my intestines. My lower L4 backbone was compressed and fractured. I didn’t know what this meant, I only knew this: I couldn’t feel my legs.

Panic started spreading painfully into my chest, forcing air out of my lungs, creating chaos in my head. It was too much for my 11-year-old brain to handle. I let the darkness take over and lost consciousness. When I woke up, the doctors asked me to walk to assess the damage. Sitting up was easy enough, but when I tried to walk I crumbled to the ground, red-hot agony radiating through my legs and back. The nurses lifted me up, “Try again, sweetheart. You can do it!”

It was humiliating. I couldn’t stand, much less walk. I...

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