Personal Narrative-Anesthesia In High School

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“Would you rather sail in Punta Cana or climb Mount Kilimanjaro?” the anesthesiologist asked. As my eyes shut, I replied, “Hmm, I would probab—”.

Akin to the seasonal migration of birds, high school students use their Spring Break to tour prospective colleges. An appointment with the Johns Hopkins Department of Craniofacial Reconstructive Surgery stopped me from joining the flock. Instead, surgeons removed soft tissue from my right thigh and placed it underneath my left cheek to enhance facial symmetry. I was born with Goldenhar syndrome, a rare congenital defect characterized by incomplete development of the nose, soft palate, lip, and mandible.

Following an 8 hour anesthesia-induced slumber, I awoke to blinding lights and inaudible conversation
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I quickly dressed and thirty minutes of NASCAR later, we arrived. My doctor explained that a venous clot occurred in my cheek, resulting in loss of circulation. Removing stitches from my chin, the surgeon allowed accumulated blood to flow onto a gauze pad.

Recovery was slow and it became apparent that I would be missing 1 week of school. Every time I sought productivity towards schoolwork, I became fatigued and made my way towards a couch. Miraculously, in the span of 2 days, I buckled down and wrote a 2,000 word essay for AP Seminar, finished a debate project, and performed 563 mirror checks. Before I knew it, Monday morning had come and before I left for school, I instinctively checked a nearby mirror. There was a slight improvement, but “bloated” was still the accurate adjective.

Sitting aside in weight training class, I had ample time for self-reflection. As my peers exerted themselves, I thought how I too had grown stronger. Rather than whining, I chose to walk while unbalanced and study while resembling a festive pumpkin. Never again could I make excuses, because I proved to myself that nothing can deter a strong will...besides a urinary catheter. In the midst of self-reflection, I drifted back into reality and gazed upon my sweat-covered classmates. Though my peers were hoisting gargantuan weights, an even heavier one was lifted off my chest. No angst, agony, or annoyances left. I had
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