Being in the right place, on the wrong day, I was blessed last week to hear Dr Ronald Boucher speak. It has taken me a while to process all that he shared on staying optimistic in spite of horrible situations.
As a Naval Medical officer, he was sent to start the state of the art diagnostic xray department at the NATO hospital, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. His unit was the reason, though the injuries on the battle field were some of the worst ever seen in a large combat situation, the wounded were surviving. I will spare you the details of the pictures he showed of some of the injuries he treated as they are that graphic, except to say, the fact the person made it home a live was a total miracle.
The next thing he shared was even more heartbreaking, and that is the fact he had lost his 21 year old son. That is a heartbreak, that as a parent, I pray I never have to face.
After surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, the size of a golf ball out of the bone of one thigh, while going through rehab to learn to walk again, he lost everything he owned when his house burned down. Honestly, I am not making any of this up. When he shared, he showed pictures. The most heartbreaking picture being of him speaking at his son's memorial service.
As he shared how he stayed optimistic through everything he had gone through, I started to think how does this apply to my having TN? One was realizing, even in the worst of situations, there is always something positive to be found. Being that it was a NATO hospital, not everyone at the combat hospital, he was stationed at spoke English. He said that some of the best friends he made outside of his unit, were people he had to find ways to communicate with. Personally, I think of the fact my neurosurgeon is from Cairo , Egypt. While he speaks English, I have learned much from him about what is happening in Egypt, from the perspective of someone who has lived through it.
When things are at their worst remember, with time, things will be revealed. In the fall of 2005, as I was going through the first, of what was to have been 3 TN relapses. I was depressed, and suicidal. I strongly thought of killing myself, by jumping off a 12 story bridge. If it were not for my kids, I would not be here today. I had a lot of shame thinking about the pain I came close to putting people through, when I struggled to handle my physical pain. In June 2013, I started sharing my story, as part of a suicide prevention drive, at the bridge I once considered jumping off of. 3 people told me they did not attempt suicide after hearing my story.
Lastly, remember you are not alone in the struggle. I respect TN can be isolating, but you have us here.