A Fork in the Road not Taken

By Alexa Stewart –

Sometimes family members can be an inspiration, leading by example.  Sometimes they can inspire someone on how not to live.  I realized before I was even a teenager that I wanted to be active, motivated and independent  – exactly how many of my family members were not.  Funny thing happens with plans I make, sometimes they have a will of their own.

In high school, shortly after I turned 16, when I would usually be finishing up my spring dance season, I ended up living the life I promised myself I never would. I woke up one morning and could barely even walk. I turned into a couch potato in the matter of a week because I had no other choice.

I was rushed to the E.R where I was told I had a Pilonidal Cyst the size of a quarter growing on my spine. I had no idea what that even was and was too out of it to care. I just wanted to not feel the pain I felt anymore. The doctor told us it evolves from a birth defect called Spina Bifida and is inherited. Mine didn’t show up until later in life and I was told I was very blessed actually that I wasn’t born with it because I would have had a shortened spine.

All I really caught was heredity? My mom explained she’s never heard of it and called up my grandma who said, “Nope, not our side of the family.” Hmm, had to be my Dad’s side. Great! When my mom called my dad’s mom she explained mostly everyone on that side of the family has shown signs of it. Well nice to know now after the fact. Better late than never I guess?

Penn Points staff member Alexa Stewart

I practically lived on the couch for three months and it killed me. Each month I had surgery, but it just felt like it added to the pain. I couldn’t participate in basketball or dance, which were practically my life. I continued to be mad at myself for something I couldn’t help.

After those three months of surgery and a couple months of recovery I was ready to get back into basketball and dance. As soon as I stepped on the floor, I knew I was out of shape and just couldn’t get into the rhythm like everyone else. After of few weeks of practice, I knew that was the end of my sports career, I just didn’t feel it any more.  I found a job right away at the mall because I wasn’t going to sit home and just do nothing. That changed my life.

Getting that job was the best thing that’s happened to me. Some people may be thinking it’s just a job. It’s not. It made me learn a lot about myself, like that I didn’t really want to be an athlete as much as I made myself think I did, and that I was planning my future for someone but it wasn’t the real me. A simple job did this, because it showed me so much more about myself, the job and the people.

Now I work practically everyday with my best friends at the best job ever. I live my life so differently than two years ago and I love it! I’m more independent and motivated for something totally different. I’m so excited for my future because my past showed me the way to a different way of life.