An Illness Took Me on an Unexpected Detour, but I Embraced It

I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in my life. As a kid, I grew antsy with impatience, waiting until I was older to start dating, to go to the mall unsupervised and to learn how to drive. I counted down the days until I turned 18, giddy at the idea of college and independence at last.

Amy Oestreicher the mighty

But two weeks after I turned 18, waiting took on an entirely new meaning. An unforeseen blood clot caused my body to go into septic shock, and my life changed forever. Now it was my devoted family who had to wait patiently and lovingly while I recovered from a three-month coma.

When I awoke, I had to wait many months before I could take a breath of outside air once again. I had to wait eight more months before I was discharged from the ICU. Three years passed before I could drink a sip of water or eat a morsel of food again. And it took 27 surgeries before my doctors could create a makeshift digestive system for me.

I became extremely well-versed in patience.

But I also learned something far better. Even though my life as I knew it was shattered, I could reassemble the pieces together differently, but beautifully like a mosaic. These imperfect shards of a life I longed to reclaim could create a work of art of even greater impact.

A decade has passed since my life took an unexpected detour. It was a messy detour that put most of my life plans on hold. But this detour also turned out to be the richest time in my life. To this day, I’m still healing physically and emotionally. Every morning, I make a new attempt to find who I am and to discover who I am becoming.

If I had waited for life to be perfect or at least for life to go back to how it was, I would have missed out on so many things. I would have never mounted my first solo art show after learning to paint in the hospital. I would have never written a one-woman musical about my life that I’ve performed for three years. And best of all, if I hadn’t had the audacity to set up an online dating profile for myself while still in my hospital gown, on IVs and recovering from a disastrous surgery, I would never be marrying the love of my life next month.

They say that all good things come to those who wait. But why wait? Every day is an opportunity to learn, to grow and to better myself. I love the imperfect twists and turns my life has taken, simply because it has made me into who I am. Yes, it’s been a mess. But bit by bit, I’ve been reassembling my life — different, imperfect, but beautiful all the same.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

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