(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
Beth’s roommate returned to the dorm from India. Rakhi shared sad stories about her volunteer work with children who were orphaned in the late December earthquake and tsunami. The tragedy killed more than 230,000 people in fourteen countries.
Living in Cambridge, a truly international city, I felt more connected to a big world than I had in Tiffin, Ohio.
About three weeks after the blizzard, Beth’s car still sat encased in snow and ice up to the windows. Snowplows clearing the street piled up extra snow on one side.
An announcement from the city of Cambridge incited panic.
Officials would begin to ticket cars that had not been moved since the winter storm. The next morning, crowds of people attempted to free their cars all over town. I tried my best, but half an hour later with little progress, I paid two teenagers to help who had chipped ice away from the wheels of another car. Spring couldn’t arrive too soon.
A new semester packed Beth’s days with classes, volunteering, swimming, ongoing assignments, and a heap of books. Her first semester grades, all B's and A's, calmed her fears of not belonging at Harvard. She didn’t stress about breaking her all-A streak from high school. College life challenged her with the daily basics, so she prioritized her time and avoided social activities. With early morning swim practices and late night studying, she took advantage of breaks between classes for power naps.
Beth made an attempt to take care of herself through her toughest winter.
The continuous scrapes on her legs and feet from the pool walls healed slowly. She put waterproof bandages on the worst ones. When a cold surfaced, she treated it seriously to avoid chest congestion and pneumonia. She followed her lung doctor’s advice with decongestants, extra water, and more sleep.
Swimming maximized the impaired lung capacity caused by her injury, but when she caught a cold, she still had a small, weak cough. She discontinued the last of her asthma medicine, Advair, with no return of symptoms. Since her leg spasms lessened with frequent swimming, she stopped taking a muscle relaxant. Except for a round of antibiotics now and then, she appreciated being medication free.
. . . A rare thing for someone with a spinal cord injury.
The college swim team season ended in February with the Harvard Women’s Swimming team as the undefeated Ivy League Champions. When team practices stopped for the rest of the school year, Beth focused on her four-year swim plan and continued to practice religiously. She grounded herself at Blodgett pool.
Next: An Astonishing Invitation!
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