Blog and Random blog12 Jan 2014 11:20 pm

10 years ago in January 2004, I moved from the arctic Michigan winters to sunny San Diego to start an exciting new life.  I had just graduated with my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Michigan Flint.  I was excited to explore a new city as a single young professional fresh out of grad school.  I fell in love with the weather and food after my first night out in downtown San Diego!  When I first moved to San Diego, I lived in a friend’s house in Rancho Bernardo (RB) with a bunch of friends.  I was introduced to blogging, poker, and real flip flops here! The house was like a private hostel for people passing though and needed a place to stay.  I was still in the “broke-grad-student” mindset, so I had no problem living “frugally”.  I would commute an hour to and from RB to work at Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.  I started my career in Physical Therapy on the acute care orthopedic rehab team and eventually settled in outpatient orthopedics. I was first assigned to the in-patient orthopedics floor.  I saw many total knee replacements, total hip replacements, post-op orthopedic surgeries, and occasionally a few oncology rehab patients.  I saw some very interesting cases there!  Ironically, I evaluated a few brain tumor patients post surgery.  Most of the Neuro-Oncology Rehab patients I evaluated were not in the hospital very long.  Little did I know that I would eventually become one of the more complex brain tumor patients in rehab.  Based on what I had seen, I thought that I would be out of the hospital in a few days.  I was WAY wrong! The location and size of the tumor complicated things and required a MUCH  longer hospital stay (8 days in ICU and 8 weeks total in hospital.)  I’ll admit it… When I first moved here, I was having fun discovering San Diego.  I was always out doing something! People would always want to come visit or I would go out of town to visit friends in Orange County or Los Angeles.  After a “humbling experience” associated with the lengthy recovery from my brain tumor surgery, my life was put on “hold.”  The people I used to see often were getting busy with their own lives.  It was frustrating not being able to go out and see friends or go anywhere on my own!

Recently, I’ve been able to rediscover San Diego, but from the perspective of someone with a physical disability.  I couldn’t go anywhere unless someone took me.  The only time I would see people is when they came to visit me.  For the first time in my life, I felt trapped in a prison constructed by my physical impairments.  Ultimately, I learned to evolve or more precisely… I  forced myself to evolve.  I do credit the brain tumor for igniting a new fire for advocacy, but I’m still bitter at everything I lost.  Almost everything that defined me was taken away: my job, participation in sports, my mobility… Very humbling… It took a lot of background research and experimentation, but I have found new hobbies/activities in San Diego. Reading, writing, video production, education, and a “new-found appreciation of life” have become my new interests.  I’m starting to have new adventures by exploring different parts of the city via handicap accessible public transportation.  It is essentially “rediscovering” the city that drew me away from my “comfort zone” in Michigan.  Redefining my NEW comfort zone post-treatment is introducing new possibilities for me.  Change is the only constant in life.  Adaptation is the best way to address it.  Many of my favorite restaurants/hangouts are now gone, but I’m having fun discovering new ones! 2014 will be filled with many more adventures.  More international travel is planned later in the year.  “Discovery” will be my theme for 2014.  Stay Tuned!

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