Overcoming Obstacles while Getting On with Life
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
(author – Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale)
Chelsea Rolph – Survivor of Brain Injury
This has been one heck of a decade! When I think back to how it all began, I would have never seen myself where I am now.
I began this decade healing from a concussion and graduating high school. I chose to do a “Victory Lap” so I could have the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my future.
As the school year began in September 2010, I returned back to varsity sports to continue to do what I loved … play.
Unfortunately, as most people know, it did not end well. I was knocked out during a basketball game in the last 4 seconds, leaving me with the concussion of all concussions.
I remember sitting in accounting, music, and business classes and crying to myself because it hurt too much to read the text. I also remember going home and breaking down because I no longer had the sports to turn to as a stress relief. I was frustrated with the amount of exhaustion I was feeling at the end of the day.
I was sent to a concussion rehab clinic for a few months, and this was the first time I felt like I finally had some answers. At the beginning of this decade, my parents would take me to the hospital every week to get tests done on both my heart and my brain. These tests concluded with doctors suggesting that my “new normal” was going to be a long transition with no end in sight.
Although all of my friends were applying to colleges and universities, I was told that I should not consider post-secondary education at that time. Despite this, I still applied to colleges and universities to keep my options open.
After being accepted to all of my options, I decided to go to McMaster University (MAC), so I had family support close by if I were really struggling. After accepting MAC, I met with a counselor to discuss what the rehab clinic had said I should have for accommodations.
After the guidance counselor at MAC agreed to all of the accommodations that were recommended for me, she suggested that I should take two classes a semester and take ten years to complete my undergrad.
Fast-forward to the end of the decade – most people know that not only did I choose to take a full course load, but I also chose to try to accomplish it without the accommodations recommended. The counselors did not believe I would be successful even with the accommodations and tried to talk me out of it. Not only did I take a full course load, but I was also working close to full-time hours at the same time.
Four years later, in May of 2015, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In August 2015, I was hired in my first full-time job! After three months, I received a promotion, and then, ten months after that, I was promoted again to the position I am currently in. Over the last 4.5 years, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with so many amazing students and colleagues who have helped shape me into the person I am today. Unfortunately, I have chosen to leave my current position to pursue other opportunities.
As this decade ends, a new and exciting chapter begins! Today I find myself writing this from the comforts of my home as I begin my journey as an entrepreneur. My business partner and I are so excited to have the opportunity to quit our full-time jobs to focus on running our own business.
Along with reminiscing about my professional career over the past ten years, I also think about the personal experiences. Many have been positive, but I also had my share of sorrows. I have lost so many amazing people in my life, including both of my grandmas, my uncle, and a friend. I have lost a pet and nearly lost two more. I struggled with immigration. And, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I am very happy to say that I have also had the opportunity to see my mom defeat cancer and ring that victory bell. I am also happy that Rod and I no longer need to worry about immigration or travelling out of the country together for events. I also have a long list of amazing other things that have happened over the past decade: graduating, falling in love, buying a car, travelling to many cities and countries (for example, Las Vegas, New York City, Ecuador, the east coast of Canada, mainland Europe, and the UK), attending a conference in the United Nations headquarters, fundraising around $150,000 for both local and global organizations, making so many amazing new friends, experiencing weddings, getting over my fear of babies, having nieces and nephews, getting a kitten, and going back to school to study French as a second language.
Here’s to hoping that the next decade will bring less of the sadness and more of the happiness and excitement that I have been lucky enough/privileged to experience.
Cheers to 2020!
Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
(Photos compliments of contributor.)
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