In November of 2017, I underwent an emergency attempted spinal neurofibroma resection surgery. Neurofibroma is a fancy word for a tumor that is embedded in one’s nerves. My tumor, lovingly referred to as Hamilton, had begun pressing into my spinal cord, thus significantly restricting my nerve functionality on the lower right side of my body. They were unable to remove the entire tumor, but the outcome overall was still a complete miracle. With a now fused spine, a rod and two screws nestled into their home, I feel deeply fortunate every day. With quite the cocktail of surgical medicine, my mom and husband still smile gratefully at the memory of seeing me for the first time in the post-op bed, thrusting my now working right leg into the air and slurring, “LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!”
Last fall, during my one-year post-operative CT scans, they discovered that the “unshrinkable” Hamilton had, indeed, shrunk a half of a centimeter. When I go back in this fall, we are extremely hopeful we will somehow receive similar news yet again. I’ll never be “normal” again…but goodness gracious, how could I not be grateful?
Through all of this, I have discovered the power in story telling & community. Undoubtedly, walking into community and connecting on things that are often hard to speak about is the most powerful and life changing way to push through not just a chronic illness, but any mountain at all. Sharing my heart in hopes of helping anyone feel not so alone in times I know for certain I did is my truest passion. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t absolutely terrifying all in the same breath. Anything of worth always is…right?
I launched my blog, aperture expanding, at the darkest time in my life. After the diagnosis, major surgery, and losing everything that I knew to be “normal”, I had to purposefully search for peeks of light to stay above water. The more I searched for the good, the more good came. I feel this is true in anything. If you start thinking about the color yellow a lot, suddenly it seems everyone and their mother in the grocery store, salon, and gas station is flaunting the hue. The same is true for goodness. In horribly grim chapters, you have to search for it.
When it came time to launch my blog, the only thing missing was pretty essential: a title. I had an ongoing iPhone note with key words that came to mind when brainstorming my vision. None of which fit. Discouraged, I went to my brother-in-law: a wizard in the world of words and advertising. He shot back a list of ideas. In this list, my eyes locked in on the word “aperture”. An aperture is defined as “a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument.” The aperture, a widely unknown term, a small but mighty opening, helps the beauty of real life become captured fully. The light comes in through that opening, and focuses in on the raw beauty of what’s in front of it…Oooof…I. Was. Rocked. Guys.
Aperture expanding was created on the idea that when you search for the good, when you open up to let the light in, it’ll come. And when it does, fixate on it. Dive into it. Talk about it. Be unreasonably grateful for it. Broaden the peeks of light. In every season. In every day. It’s there. Just gotta let it in.
Kelsey Pfleiderer is a Writer and Founder of the blog, Aperture Expanding