Victoria Appiagyei’s Story

Another Chance

What would you do if you faced adversity and the whole world rested on your shoulders? This is the story of how I died; well sort of. I was seventeen years old, and it was nearing the end of my junior year. The ACT, prom, and college visits were the main attractions of Girard’s junior class. The marching band had been planning an end-of-year trip to Disney World, and we had reached our fundraising goal. The trip was two weeks away, and my childhood dreams were finally going to come true. Unfortunately, a week or so before the end of the fundraiser, I was violently ill. I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst headache imaginable. Now this was not your regular run-of-the-mill migraine; this was a headache that was impossible to ignore. I missed two days of school and called off work, but never once did I imagine the events that would come. On that Friday, I stayed home from school because I felt “off”. The initial headache had worn off, but I had this feeling of unease. Something was going to happen, and I wasn’t sure what. Saturday, the 28th of January, at eight AM, is when my aneurysm ruptured, and I had no clue. It was a searing pain, as if I’d been shot by an invisible hitman. I felt it when it happened, it was located behind my left eye and it took my eyesight with it. I stumbled around blind and violently nauseous. My arms and legs felt like they were covered in cement, and each movement made me sicker and sicker. I began to cry. Miraculously, I got dressed and crawled to the bathroom. I took a shower to try and wash off that spell that I was under. I went to my mom’s room, took some medicine, and the world went black. I woke up to my father yelling at me and shaking me; he was crying. I didn’t know if my eyes were open or closed, but everything was black. My father tried to stand me up, but I couldn’t walk. He picked me up, and then my mind went black again. I woke up in a yellow room with a bench and paintings of animals on the wall. This was the children’s ICU unit in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. The doctor kept repeating the word trauma. Eventually, I would have five C.T. scans, twelve blood draws, and two different hospital admissions before they finally concluded a ruptured aneurysm. I was transferred to the adult ICU of Cleveland Clinic, and in the morning I would undergo an emergency craniotomy to clip my aneurysm. As you can imagine, this is a lot for a seventeen-year-old. It would be a long journey before returning to “normal”. I had to learn how to walk again and relearn basic routines. I could go over all of the things I missed and what I have lost; I could mourn the girl I was before. I had every right to snap in two and never recover. However, I decided not to. If I took up all the time to feel sorry for myself, I would never stop. I had to strengthen my mind along with my body. I began to think about the rare once-in-a-million-second chance I was given. Unfortunately, many others have passed after a rupture, but I had the privilege of pulling through. I started to realize how small all of my insecurities and complaints were. I had my friends, family, and school behind me, and they weren’t going to let me heal alone. I was not broken but fortified, and I grew into someone I never believed I could be again. I will not pretend and say I went through it with a bold smile and beat like a common cold. It was quite the opposite, but that is a great metaphor for life. It tosses you down and it cuts you up, but eventually, you grow stronger and wiser from having endured. I am now eighteen years old and a senior in high school. I use my story to encourage others to overcome whatever challenges they face.