How I Got Through a Medical Emergency in College

The day I moved into my college dorm freshman year should have been an exciting day. If your idea of excitement and fun doesn’t include getting a five hour emergency surgery on your arm to put both bones back into place and stabilize them with two metal plates and twelve screws, are you even doing it right?  Here I was sitting while high on painkillers and already had to make the most important decision of college. Classes hadn’t even started yet and I had to decide whether or not I should stay at Virginia Tech for the semester or take classes at the community college in my hometown. I had worked so hard to get into Tech and had spent all summer so excited to finally move in. I was determined to stay and make it through the semester.

It was not easy. Recovery was slow and painful. My mom stayed in a hotel with me for the first week of classes, which was also the first week after my surgery, just in case I decided to come home. She was there at my first post-op appointment when I got the news that there was a chance I would never regain full function of my arm. She was there through the first nights when I would scream for my pain killers because the pain was unbearable. She drove five hours through a massive rainstorm so I could spend a few days of the hardest part of the recovery in the comfort of our home. To my surprise,  my dad was the only one who stayed calm throughout the process, and to this day I still don’t know how. He took the time to take me to my first physical therapy appointment and made sure I did my exercises myself every day, just like he did with my previously broken ankles. But unfortunately, this was not the end. He stayed by my side through, through every complication, from an infection, to re-breaking my arm nine months later and needing two more surgeries, he stayed calm and collected and the real rock through it all.

Every college has a Dean of Students office which is there specifically there to help students with disabilities or any emergency. Virginia Tech’s Dean of Students office was extremely helpful throughout the whole process. They gave me all the resources I could’ve possibly needed, including a note taker and notifying professors of my situation for me who then worked with me separately. As small of a thing this seems, it took a huge amount of stress away from an already stressful situation. They even checked up on me throughout the year to see if I needed anything else.

I was lucky enough to have already known a few other incoming freshmen, so I wasn’t alone when my parents dropped me back off to college. My friends were incredibly kind and most importantly, they were extremely patient. I wasn’t easy to deal with. I needed help doing very basic things. I couldn’t carry a plate of food by myself in the dining halls. I needed rides to physical therapy two to three times a week in the town over, and only a few people I knew had cars. My doctors told me that someone had to be with me at almost all times for about a month “just in case” anything happens. I could not have been more thankful to go to VT during this process.

Looking back at the whole situation, everything could have been a lot worse. The only reason it wasn’t is because of the amazing support system I had. I owe my parents and my friends everything and I am so thankful for them.  So the next time you break an arm, an ankle, or even a heart, I’m your one stop shop.

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