Emily Boucher

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The past year and a half have simultaneously been the worst, and the most educational months of my life. I suffered my fourth major concussion, and had to drop half my classes at Western. Not only was my academic career set back, but I felt as if I had been robbed of my “prime” years. Everyone says university is the best time of your life, and yet here I was, sitting in a dark room, in chronic, debilitating physical pain, while my roommates got to study and party. Due to the nature of my injury, symptoms not only included chronic headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness, but also anxiety, depression, loss of sleep and appetite…

I tried everything possible to reduce the suffering, except medication with dangerous side effects. After being diminished and belittled by various doctors, and being passed around from service to service at Western, I felt I had been failed not only by the medical system and Western Administration, but also I had failed myself. My body had failed me, my cognitive abilities had noticeably worsened, and I felt helpless.

In December, my father was admitted to the hospital for a little under a month for multiple abscesses in his intestines. Thirty-five pounds lighter, he was able to come home for Christmas and was greeted by my sister and her nasty flu, as if someone was telling him he could lose a few more (lol). We were all affected - including my dog Maggi. We could barely move and yet, my mom was the one that cleaned up after us (and Maggi).

I’ve always taken pride in myself for being very strong willed, and I attribute that to the example my mother has set for me, because she has been through more than she will ever share with me. Even when things were falling apart around us, she always stayed strong and inspired me to do the same. The same summer I suffered my concussion, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after more than enough setbacks, she is still powering through.

I felt like a failure because I felt sorry for myself, even though I knew my mother had it worse. I felt like I had failed her because I was struggling to stay strong for myself, let alone to support her. After two surgeries for my mother, and after canceling exchange for me, my room flooding, and a death in the family at the peak of exam season, I felt like finally the worse was over and things would settle down. That was mostly true for me.

Fast forward to now, and I am fortunate enough to be able to take 4 courses each semester, and I just hit Ceeps Thursday for the first time in a year and a half (yeet). My mom, however, just finished another (but hopefully her last) surgery.

I still have bad days, but they are way outnumbered by the amount of good. The hardest part now is to maintain the boundaries I have set both with others and myself because I may no longer in pain all day, every day, but this isn’t the type of injury that just “goes away”. I will be affected by this probably for the rest of my life, as will my mom. The difference now, is that anything else that comes my way, I know I can handle it.

Thats the thing about failure; it is a terrible feeling, but the lack of it would mean we stay stagnant. If you never fail, what is the point on pushing yourself farther, to be better? Last year, I felt like I did not have the luxury to stress about school and exams. Now, when I do, I am grateful. You have to experience failure in order to appreciate success. It doesn’t matter how small you think it is, you have to learn from every bad mark, every injury, every fight, every hurdle life throws at you, because if you don’t - it means you went through it for nothing. And hey, we all go through it too.