Through the Looking Glass: Seeing New Colors
By Gabby Josebachvili
Published on Friday, February 22, 2013
Editor’s Note: We welcome submissions from all members of the community — both past and present — who wish to write about defining experiences, moments or relationships during their time at Dartmouth. Please submit articles of 800-1,000 words to email@example.com.
At first, I thought I had a hangover. I was working my shift at Left Bank Books, feeling like my head would burst. It had been two full days since I’d woken up with the numbing pain of this headache on Thursday. It was now Saturday.
I thought of all there was to do: homework, my job, going out. I closed my eyes to try and focus. My brain thrashed against my skull. That’s when it hit me. It was a strange feeling. It was almost like deja vu. I opened my eyes to see that the store was spinning. My vision blurred. I reached for my phone but couldn’t read the words on the screen. My stomach turned into a pit of nausea. The store was empty. I had to call for help.
I checked into Dick’s House for the night. The nurses treated me for a sinus infection. A full 24 hours passed and my “sinus infection” wasn’t getting better. I started presenting other symptoms: confusion, tingling in my left arm and leg. That’s when the nurses decided to send me to the emergency room. They didn’t know what was wrong.
They shook me awake to tell me. I was still half-asleep. Confusion turned into terror. I couldn’t think straight. I wished I wasn’t alone. I called my mom. I remember sitting in the Safety and Security car on the way to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, hoping I would be alright. Once there, the nurses got me checked in right away and sent me to get a cat scan. That’s when they discovered that there was bleeding in my brain.
I wasn’t told anything right away. The first few days there felt like a dream. Every moment blended with the next. I was half asleep most of the time.
I never knew who I was talking to. It could have been a nurse, a neurologist or just another patient. I had no appetite. Each day felt the same as the last. There was a pain between my legs that I later learned was a catheter.
My clearest memory is seeing my sister’s face appear at the foot of my bed. She was the first of my family to make it to me. She was smiling. I smiled back. Finally, I wasn’t alone.
As time went on, things became clearer. I slowly regained the things in life I used to take for granted: my appetite, the ability to walk, the ability to go to the bathroom. The doctors tried to explain what had happened to me.
“You had a minor type of stroke,” they said.
That’s when it all settled in. I had been in DHMC for more than six days.
Everyone here knows that missing one week in Dartmouth time is like missing an entire year in the normal world.
I couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around the amount of class, gossip and life I’d missed. I wasn’t done healing from the blood clot, and already I was stressing about school. I couldn’t breathe.
I was released from DHMC on Friday afternoon, over a week since I first woke up with my headache. I’m still on my feet. I decided to stay on campus and finish my classes. I didn’t come this far just to quit.
The best moments of being back have simply been the days I can go outside.
Fresh air is stunning. The colors of the sky are more vibrant. Each time I look up, it’s like seeing a new color for the first time. Clouds amaze me. Their shapes and the way they float through the sky. Listening to music is a full-body experience. I can feel the sounds echo within me.
A simple conversation leaves me overwhelmed. Never before have I been so aware of the vibrancy of my surroundings. Smells and sounds come at me like a rainstorm. It feels crazy in the best possible way.
I’ve realized that the most important thing to have is happiness. Before, it was easy to get caught up in everything else and lose sight of being happy.
I was always thinking of something else. I certainly never appreciated the colors of the world as I rushed to class everyday.
All I need now is the joy of seeing and hearing the world. If those things aren’t being taken away, than there’s no reason to worry.
I’ll still have my happiness. I’ve lost my fear of missing out. Everything around me is so bright and engaging. I don’t have time to worry about what I’m missing. There’s always something amazing happening at the moment.
It’s all about perspective. You can decide if something looks good or doesn’t. When you look at anything next to the New Hampshire sky, things have a way of appearing pretty good from here.