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When we first arrived to Miami airport a month ago, we did a few ice breaker games; two truths and a lie, favorite ice cream, three fun facts, etc. The first fun fact I wrote was that I was born on St. Patrick’s Day. And then I said, I guess that makes me extra lucky.

Lately, I haven’t felt all that lucky. In fact, I have felt especially unlucky. Who has an emergency appendectomy in a foreign country alone? Who has surgery in a tiny hospital with one operating room and two doctors? Who has to go home early and miss the last five days of the trip? I felt cheated and confused. I hadn’t done anything wrong. Why was this all happening to me?

So, as I lay in my bed, just 24 hours later, feeling cheated, sad, alone, and most of all unlucky, I thought of all the reasons I actually was lucky – I’ll admit, the idea came with a little help from my mom.

Why I am so unbelievably lucky:

How lucky I was to have doctors who knew how to do an appendectomy in a small hospital

How lucky I was to have an instructor who was not only fluent in medical jargon but also an EMT

How lucky I was to have my parents fly out and come get me

How lucky I was to have three instructors who were watching out for me

How lucky I was to have a group that dropped everything during their free day, find a boat, and come say goodbye to me

How lucky I was to have gotten sick in the last phase of the trip, not in the beginning, and not during the trek

How lucky I was to have such a great support system during this trying time

How lucky I was to be somewhere in Guatemala that had a private clinic with an open room

How lucky I was to get home to the states safely, with the help of kind people every step of the way

How lucky I was to have this be my first time in a wheelchair, after 17 years of good health

How lucky I was to not worry about paying for surgery, unlike the majority of Guatemalans

How lucky I was to have such an amazing trip, with or without an appendix

As the plane took off from Guatemala City yesterday morning, I cried both tears of joy and sadness. I was grateful and ready to get back home, but so very sad to leave this beautiful country and amazing experience behind. Today, as I began to tell my family and friends about my trip over the past month, I wondered what I had missed the last 5 days, what memories the group had made without me. I began to feel cheated again, but then I remembered my luck and how grateful I was to be home. If I could go back and change my summer and be home for this surgery, I wouldn’t. I would do it all over again, a thousand times. So when I think of Guatemala, of that long, difficult, amazing month, I will think, as Winnie the Pooh once did,

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”