I was dressed completely different and I'm still not the one that stands out. Thanks a lot, Carowhine.
Chelsea Poole was not a planner kid. Yes, I smiled every year as a brand new school planner was slapped onto my desk on the first day of school. And I wrote my name on the front page in the best handwriting I could muster. But there was not one chicken scratch of homework in that thing. There were no circled calendar dates to remind me of my friend's birthdays, nor was January 23rd highlighted with my favorite color to represent my special day. In fact, it usually took about two weeks into the school year for that beautiful, crisp planner to be crumpled at the bottom of my locker, or more likely, gone forever, never to be seen again.
For the sake of the story, we will forget that time in 8th grade when I was on academic probation for failing three classes and I had to get my teachers to sign off on my planner every day. That story is for another time. 8th grade was a TIME, y'all.
No, little Chelsea Poole was not someone who kept track of anything. My room was a mess, my locker was a deep void that I pretty much avoided at all costs, and I started pretty much every class with turning to the person beside me and asking a series of questions:
1) "Did we have homework?"
2) "Can I borrow a pencil?"
3) "Can I borrow a piece of paper?"
4) "Can I borrow your book for a second?"
5) "No, I'm not doing my homework right before class, why do you ask?"
Failing three classes definitely makes sense now.
Little Chelsea's life was a plethora of inconsistencies and lost items and broken things, and as mentioned in a previous post, a lot of anger. But there was always one constant. Starting at the beginning of middle school and continuing on until just two months ago, my life had one constant. My broken heart.
Stop rolling your eyes. Not that kind of broken.
Many of you probably know about my heart condition, but just in case, the Ghost of Christmas Past is gonna bop us on back to tiny 11 year old Chelsea in her 6th grade P.E. class.
Dear lord. If this isn't the epitome of awkward stage, I just don't know what is.
Anyway, I'll set the scene. It's a cold day in December... maybe... I have no idea what time of year it was but the Ghost of Christmas Past brought us here so let's just play along. It's a cold day in December and my team is kicking. I'm waiting in line with bated breath because I can feel it in my bones that today is going to be the day I kick that back wall. Forget the fact that my legs are the size of twigs and I have never even kicked the ball halfway to the back wall. Today is the day. And then suddenly... BAM. My heart is beating like it's about to jump right out of my chest and splatter on the gym floor, which is NOT going to make Coach Cornejo very happy.
Sure, it's beating fast. Faster than any heartbeat I have ever felt. But more so, it's beating hard. Little me peers down to take a glance and I can see my heart slamming through my gym shirt. And suddenly, I can't get a good breath, and my chest hurts, and I'm feeling a bit lightheaded. So, I do what any kid in this situation would do. I ignore it. It's my turn, after all. I kicked it admirably. The kickball arcs over the head of the kids that have inched forward (jerks!) and I turn to run to the first base mat. And... no. Not happening. I make it halfway there and stop, mainly because my legs have suddenly stopped working.
"Um, I think I need to go to the nurse."
Everyone groans. I have interrupted mat ball. They don't seem to understand that my body is rejecting me. My heart so desperately wants to be on the outside of my body that it will interrupt my. favorite. game! Don't they see I am not in charge here. Coach Cornejo waves me out the door and I make the miles long trek to the nurse's office, uphill, barefoot, in the snow.
Now, I could be remembering that part wrong. I know the nurse's office was not miles away from the gym; I was for sure wearing shoes; and there's no way we were at school if it was snowing. But it sure felt like the elements were against me as my noodle legs wobbled their way to the nurse.
And, because it's me, my heart suddenly goes back to normal the minute I open the door to the school building. For a brief second, I consider running back to the gym to reclaim my spot in the lineup. Who knows how my team has fared without me? But I shake off the feeling and continue on into the nurse's office. And here, in this tiny office in the middle school building, snuggled in between the Annex (a classroom so big it was given its own name) and... a Latin classroom, maybe?... my journey begins.
At this point, I have no idea how much time I will end up spending in this room. I am unaware of how many times I will trudge in asking for Advil, another headache bashing its way through my head. I cannot fathom the amount of heart pills I will sheepishly ask for, having forgotten to take mine that morning. I have no idea that I'll eventually have an episode so extreme that I'll lie on a bed in this very room, trying to cry as quietly as I can, as the nurse calls an ambulance. I don't know how majorly this is going to change my life.
But for now, I just skip right in, flash my recently un-braced (for now) teeth and start to ramble about this really weird thing my heart just did in P.E. I have no idea what's coming. And I wish I could reach out and put my hand on her bony little shoulder and tell her one thing.
"When they mention the surgery the first time... don't wait... don't be afraid... just do it."
TO BE CONTINUED....
And don't worry, that anecdote about the planner will come back into play.
By Chelsea P. Poole