I went back to Seattle when I was 26. I went out of my way to meet with Dr. Inglis. I wanted to find a way to say thank you. How do you thank the man who saved you? How do you thank the man that saved you when you were an anger filled teenager who didn't want to save herself? I failed graciously at finding the words I had rehearsed in the weeks leading up to seeing him to simply say "thank you." To show him a picture of my three beautiful children and to tell him that it was because of HIM that I was now a mother. That these three amazing humans exist and that they are going to change the world all because he didn't give up on saving me. He was my very own Patch Adams.
I asked him how many surgeries he thought I had gone through. We roughly estimated around 65. So when I became sick again I began counting from there. I'm a numbers person. Numbers hold meaning to me. As I have gone through the last four years of care, now at Cincinnati Children's, I have continued to count. By my records I am currently at 99 surgeries. My next surgery is in 11 days. My 100th. I will have survived, and thrived, through 100 surgeries now. And its humbling. It's incredibly humbling to know that these medical professionals value MY life enough to keep trying. To keep fighting for me so that I can live. What a great responsibility this gives me. I need to ensure that these doctors know they aren't fighting for nothing, that I will give back and make them proud with the life I have been given purely because they continue to fight for me.
They are the reasons I want to be a doctor. Not just any doctor, but one that leads with my heart, with love, compassion and the willingness to fight for those who can't. I dream of the day I get into medical school and have my white coat ceremony. I want to invite Dr. Inglis, I want to stand on that stage and have him present me with my white coat to look at him and tell him "thank you. It is because of you I stand here today and if I become half the doctor you are I will be amazingly grateful. You are my inspiration. Words fail to express how much your continued work and dedication mean to me but I pray that I can make you proud and help even just one patient in the same manner you helped me. You saved my life and gave it purpose, even when I felt I had none. Thank you isn't strong enough to express my gratitude for all you've done."
I hope I make him proud. Here's to reaching 100. Here's to breathing again and continuing my pursuit of medicine, this time as the doctor who's been the patient. Here's to living a life of my dreams, because what better way to say thank you than this.