Every culture has different superstitions that cover wide ranges of topics. One that is common to America is the belief that the number 13 is unlucky. For me, the number has an entirely different meaning; instead, it marks the moment I learned to accept myself. When I was not yet two years old I went though my first surgery; I was to receive tubes in my ears. The operation wasn’t life threatening or anything to be concerned about but it was personally upsetting for my entire family. It was nerve wrecking for my mom and dad to watch their baby girl go through something like this. As I got older, I continued to receive the same operation over and over; totaling seven. But in January of fourth grade something a little strange happened; I grew a tumor on the roof of my mouth that hurt so much that eating was impossible. My mom asked around the neighborhood for an ENT that had any previous experience with something of this nature. She took me to 5 different doctors ranging from an orthopedist to an oral surgeon and ending with an ENT, standing for ear nose and throat. We soon learned that no one had ever seen this before. My mother got the name of a surgeon who was well respected in his field and we saw him immediately.
He removed it and sent the bump to a laboratory to try to determine what it was. The only good news was that it was non-cancerous. After the first mouth surgery, I was sent to UC to see 6 more specialists, such as a cardiologist and a genetics expert, all of whom had no clue what I had. Three months later it came back, I got an new surgeon, and was operated on again. Under the watchful eye of this doctor I had three more surgeries. My bump came to be called a peripheral reparative giant-cell granuloma. All the doctor could explain was that once the bump was removed and my body started to heal itself, it just didn’t know when to stop and therefore over grew. It was at this point that I began to feel really self-conscious and began to ask, “Why me?” For a long time, I struggled with the fact that no matter how many doctors I saw, no one knew what was going on with me or why it was happening. I didn’t understand why it was only me who had to go through something like this.
My doctor told me that I was simply unique but I knew that I was just weird. This thought caused me to think too much about myself and miss out on events that could have been meaningful. On April 21st of this year, I had my 13th surgery, the 5th on my mouth. Even then no one knew if the “bump” would ever grow back. But after walking around with a hole in my mouth for two months that later escalated to a second hole connecting my mouth and nose, I began to see that everything previous to this was nothing. What I was going through, even at that exact moment, didn’t matter. My situation could have been worse. I could have been fighting for my life. From that point on, the surgeries I have gone through are nothing more than a odd story to tell to friends. Because from this I learned to count my blessings and to focus on what truly matters. This course of events has made my lucky number, 13.