Going through my teen years with a disabled parent had me constantly torn between the world I lived and the world I thought I deserved. A few years ago, my father experienced a stroke. A father is mostly everyone’s childhood hero, a person you never thought would get hurt, the strongest person ever, both mentally and physically seeing him like this is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. To me my father was someone I turned to when I was in need of protection or help. He was someone who would carry me inside when I was a child after I fell asleep in the car, who would walk me through a scary movie telling me it’s not real, and who would give me advice on anything he could relate to. I am not looking for pity at all. I was not the one suffering, and my parents never accepted any sort of pity for themselves.
I remember that first trip to the hospital. My mother picked me up from school early and we went to Mount Sinai Hospital to see my father. I remember my mom telling me that my dad was going to stay there for a couple of days. The thought of what happened stayed in my head as we walked into the hospital room. My dad laid there, locked in a bed, his body not able to respond to what he truly desired. Several machines were keeping him alive. I was terrified, but my mother encouraged me to get close. I looked into my father’s eyes, and he couldn’t even look down as he was speaking to my mother. I put my hand into his hand as he encouraged me to get closer, and it took every ounce of his strength just to squeeze it. Seeing him like this was the hardest thing I have ever experienced.
My father is paralyzed on the entire left side of his body. His left leg is permanently straight and his left hand is permanently a closed fist. You have to peel back his fingers just to give his nails a trim, they are almost impossible to move. His balance is almost entirely gone, so he needs a cane to walk. Adapting to his physical limitations is a daily battle. His walking cane has basically become his left side, as he uses it to close doors, open cabinets, and extend his reach. These experiences have enabled me to feel motivated about what I want to do with my life.
When my father returned home from the hospital things were very difficult for me and my mother. My mother would put my father’s socks and shoes on every morning after she would bathe him. I got called to help my mom get my dad in and out of bed, grab water every time a medicine had to be taken, and organize all his medications, etc. many times a day. So often that I sometimes didn’t have time to finish assignments, or if I would finish assignments I would not have time for sleep. Keeping up with my grades to be able to keep performing at the top 20%, while striving to get to the top 10%, during this experience was very stressful. Some days were worse than others. I had to miss certain days of school in order to help my father with anything he needed while my mother went off to work her 3 jobs, but I would take advantage of those days to be able to catch up on any missing assignments. I always here students complaining about their parents, how they’re always on their back about cleaning their rooms or doing their laundry. It’s crazy to me how someone could even say they hate their parents. Someone else can have it way worse than what you’re complaining about. I have friends who do not even have their parents and are struggling to get by. It’s very rough growing up without having someone to look by to decide what path you’d like to take in life. Kids usually take after their parents or become the complete opposite because of their parents.
Despite his limitations, seeing my father struggle and never giving up no matter what has really motivated me to always look at the positive in every situation. His struggle has given me purpose, helping others is what I need to do. I want to be the person that others can rely on. I want to share in helping others look forward to living their life no matter the situation. His powerful will and determination to be better has motivated me to become a person who can take on any challenge in order to follow my dreams of becoming a registered nurse.