My mind surged with memories of me being at school, sitting at my desk and talking to my friends, going to play golf, belting out songs in my car, and dancing at the school events – all of which seemed to change in a matter of months.

In the beginning of senior year, I was diagnosed with a recurring pilonidal cyst on my tailbone.

After an excruciating trip to the E.R. where I had undergone an incorrect procedure, and another surgery by a specialist that I was dreading to see, I was on bedrest for months.

On top of this, due to a miscommunication, my school had lost all my paperwork and had been marking me absent without providing a Home & Hospital service until weeks after my operations.

I felt alienated. I could not walk, sit, or use the bathroom by myself.

I had countless missing assignments which had taken a toll on my grades, had lost all contact with my friends from school, and I detested being dependent on others to complete simple tasks. Most of all, I hated feeling helpless. I wasn’t myself.

Though this experience was completely unusual to me, this would be my new normal throughout my slow recovery. I had decided I would only fall more behind if I did not start doing my work. I knew that if I didn’t want to feel helpless, the only thing that I could do was make the most of my situation.

The challenge was in getting my work done while recuperating from my surgery. I asked my family to sit next to me so that they could type or write whatever I said to complete my school-work. I spent hours figuring out different ways to lie down while doing the work, and had to find new resources such as using the voice-to-text feature on assignments. Even lying down, I was able to catch up on a lot of my work.

I learned that no matter how significant of a challenge I face, by being determined, discovering and taking advantage of resources, I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.

Weeks later, after cooperating with my high-school and understanding staff members, I was put on Home-and-Hospital service where a teacher would come to my home with all of my work and would help me catch up.

Though I tried my best to keep up with my peers prior to Home-and-Hospital, without the help and support of Meghan Souza, I would have never been able to fully catch up on my assignments and feel control over my life again.

Not only did I learn that I was capable of using my resources to accomplish my goals, but I learned that the staff members at Los Banos High School were truly passionate and committed to helping every student succeed despite their circumstances.

This surgery has led me on a transformative journey where I had learned a lot about myself and those around me.

Teachers such as Alexandria Montiel, Michael Salaz, Stuart McCullough, Kevin Coleman, Ulises Gonzalez, and especially Meghan Souza made me feel less alone, and as if I was a part of a benevolent community dedicated to helping one another. They have shaped my time at Los Banos High School, and have left an everlasting impression on me by empowering me to be a better version of myself.

I write this to give tribute to the community we live in, and praise the people who put in the effort to build the strong support that is unique to our town.

I would also like to add that there will always be hardships and struggles that life entails – such as having surgery at the beginning of senior year – but it is up to ourselves to not let them define our life.

We often obsess about the things that bring us stress to the point where we forget to appreciate the days we can walk, talk, feel, and be surrounded by our loved ones. Never take the little things for granted.

Prishaa Vala