BENEFITING: Transverse Myelitis Association
EVENT DATE: Oct 06, 2013
When you are 25, in the middle of medical school training and engaged to the most beautiful girl in the world, you think the whole world is at your feet.
This is how I felt on March 8, 1985, on my way to one of my medical classes. And I didn’t pay much attention to the abdominal pain that started to be more and more severe. I stepped out of the auditorium and went to the washroom, without knowing that these were my last steps. Once inside, I fell down, made some noise and some of my mates came to see what happened. So, 20 minutes later, I was getting out of the washroom, this time in a wheelchair.
The irony was that my class was held in a neurosurgery hospital. I went there for 2 hours and I stayed for the next 4 months. The diagnosis was quick and precise: Transverse Myelitis, at that time thought to have a viral etiology. I was in a state of mental shock and I spent the night with a cortisone IV, trying to understand. Why? How? Why me?
In the months that followed, I had to learn a new way of life, to adapt myself to a mostly hostile environment. I am talking about Romania, the country I was born and living in, which was (and still is) far from being wheelchair friendly.
With a huge support from my family and despite what some of my professors were saying (that I was FINISHED), in 1990 I graduated from the University of Medicine of Bucharest and I got my MD diploma. Some years ago, I had the chance to come to the USA and to be naturalized here.
Learning to live a new life was very difficult for me--to learn to be patient, to accept things I could not do anymore and to wait for things to be done by others, in their way.
Life in a wheelchair is frustrating, but it depends on you how you make it. If you see only what you’ve lost and you don’t see all that is left, you are really LOST.
I liked to hike very much and I still do it: my favorite channels are National Geographic and Discovery. With them I hike and travel a lot.
Of course I still have frustrations. Everybody has. Mine are mostly related to such minor things that before March 1985 I was taking them for granted: walking through a forest in a summer morning or in a foot of snow, running hand in hand with your better half through a summer rain (Oooops! – I can still do this, she grabs my hand and pulls me – I am only sorry I cannot jump over puddles! Thank you, Camelia, for giving me your hand when I asked for it), and much more. The important thing is that I learned to live with what I have and enjoy every second of my life.
There is a saying that guides my life:
God, grant me the SERENITY to ACCEPT the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can and the WISDOM to know the difference.
I am part of this action because I want to make people aware of the existence of this rare disease, for which medicine has to do a lot of studies and research to understand how, why and finally, hopefully, find a cure.
I have learned that life is a gift and everything that happens to me has a reason and a purpose. I don't always see it, or accept it. But I always must have the force to see the positive in it. It always exists.
The simple thought that I was put in a wheelchair just to prove that life is worth living, makes me feel better; and be happy whenever I can be of any help.