Me sitting down at a restaurant and smiling. A cup filled to the brim is in front of me with a straw poking out of the glass.

Here we are. What’s today, you might be wondering. Valentine’s Day, of course…. and… come on, people! You should know better, especially if you’ve been following this blog for a while.

Drum roll, please…

It’s been three whole years since my SDR surgery. Can you believe it? I can’t. These past few years flew by faster than those jets in Top Gun: Maverick.

I’m struggling with what to say that I haven’t already said. I’m still just as grateful and thankful as I was last year and the year before that. I mean, I’m definitely not as nervous as I was on this day three years ago…that was me trying to be funny. I know. It’s hard to tell when reading this. I think.

I was very calm the morning of the surgery. After months of anticipation, I was geared up and so ready to get the show on the road. Contrast that with my intense anxiety and nervousness a few days before that…phew! Man. The difference was like night and day. I surprised myself with how calm I was — and that’s not easy. I guess it’s true what they say: when it comes down to it, you do what you have to do. There was no time to be nervous anymore. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to hide. Not when I was lying on a gurney in a gown and waiting for the doctors to take me to the operating room.

I suppose you could say I’m currently in a phase of my life where I don’t have to think about SDR and all the pain during the arduous recovery and beyond. Ironically, SDR has played a significant role in allowing me to not have to think about it…if that makes any sense. I’ll elaborate. Of course recovery and rehab were all-encompassing in the very beginning. I couldn’t think about anything else. I ventured to physical therapy four to five times a week, rain or shine. Even when I didn’t want to go (sometimes I really didn’t want to), I still went. As you know by now, SDR is a huge commitment and my normal routine went from zero to 100. Quickly. It felt a bit like I was suddenly thrown into the deep end of a pool filled with freezing water and told to swim. Sound a little miserable? Yes. You’re correct. “A little miserable” is only the beginning.

As difficult as the initial recovery was, SDR has given me so much more than pain and improved mobility. I can reach higher and go harder. I’m in law school now! And I can truthfully say that I might not have pursued law school if not for SDR. Bold claim? Maybe not. Let’s just think about the following chain of events for a moment, roughly in chronological order:

1) Stopped chasing a possible career in medicine (yay! BYE);
2) Seriously considered a career in publishing;
3) Interviewed for a job in publishing;
4) Got rejected from said job (boo! But whatever);

I actually remember the exact moment when I found out I didn’t get that job in subsidiary rights at a publishing house. My exact thought process was well, didn’t get the job. Guess I can have the surgery now. Not kidding. My life hit a lull, a natural pause. It was almost as if someone pulled apart a velvety red curtain and said to me there’s time now. But not much.

What do I mean by that? When I got rejected from that job then decided to make it official and apply for SDR, I was 25. The cutoff for a patient having the surgery at the Children’s Hospital — which I had heard was truly a positive experience — was 26. Age 26 was the cutoff for other things, too, like…insurance. Eep! At the nudging of a very dear friend, I filled out the initial application forms for SDR and sent them in immediately. The rest, as they say….

I also should mention that I had the surgery at the last possible second before something else…the COVID-19 pandemic. Talk about impeccable timing.

If not for SDR, I wouldn’t have had all that time during recovery to think about how dissatisfied I was with my life and how badly I wanted to change it. Clearly, publishing was a dead end. Something about it didn’t feel quite right. So, I began looking into other options. Enter law school and a future career as an attorney.

Where am I now? Well, I’m working hard as a first-year student, feeling so unbelievably exhausted but loving every minute of it. Obviously, today I thought about my SDR journey as I tried to keep up with my Civil Procedure class (challenging course. Jeez! That deserves a blog entry on its own). My point is, this long and rewarding journey has always been on my mind, even when it feels like I’ve had to push it to the back of my head. I guess at some point I realized that while important and life-changing, SDR is not my entire life anymore. And that, in itself, is a beautiful gift.