Hello, my name is Morgan Rayhill and I am a senior in high school, attending my final year of Louisville Creative Arts Academy. This past November I had a bit of a scare. I was rushed to the hospital the day after Thanksgiving because a precautionary CT Scan revealed a mass in my brain.
This was rather scary for me, because not only is it a little scary to hear you have a brain tumor, but my father had been diagnosed with a brain tumor the year before. He had surgery, and he’s better than ever now, but I had experienced first hand all the challenges he had to face before he could get back to normal, and I wasn’t sure I was strong enough.
Not only that, but being the busy person I naturally am, I had several plans coming up. That night I was supposed to spend the night with my cousins, the next day I was supposed to be having a big meal with some close family friends, and the next weekend I was supposed to perform in Louisville Drama Project’s annual Dinner Theater.
One of the biggest things about me is that I hate letting people down. I’d like to think people can rely on me, so when I end up unable to do something I said I would do, it really tears me up. So my biggest worry while I was at the hospital, while everyone was trying to figure out what to do, was how quickly I could get something done and recover. I needed to know if I would be able to perform, and I was ready to either put off doing anything until the show, or getting treated as soon as possible so I could start the recovery countdown.
I have a tumor at the top of my brain stem and it was blocking the flow and drainage of spinal fluids in my head. This led to pressure in my head, causing painful headaches. They decided the first step would be to have surgery to insert a shunt into my body. It has a valve that senses the pressure in my brain and when it’s too high, the door opens, draining the fluid.
They brought to the plan to us, and I asked how quickly recovery time would be. I ended up telling them I had a performance the next weekend I didn’t plan on missing. He told me the usual full recovery time was about two weeks, but there were exceptions, and I was determined to be one.
I received the surgery on Monday, lasting about two hours. That day and the next I was stuck with strict bedrest. As the days slowly crawled by, I worked to move and recover as much as possible, but I was frustrated by how slow I felt I was going. I could barely stand after my two days of bedrest and I had to lean against the walls or my parents to get anywhere. And as the days passed, I grew sicker and sicker of the bland hospital walls. My emotions were all over the place and all I wanted was to get out of there. And on top of everything, I couldn’t help but think of how close the performance was.
I went home Thursday night, still a bit unstable, wobbly, and tired, but I was determined. The next day, though I had to miss most of my classes, but I attended LDP (musical theatre) for the final practice before the event the next day. I was a bit unsure about what I was capable of, but returning to something so normal like a well-practiced dance, something I knew so well, was incredible. I told my mother on the ride home that although I was exhausted, I felt so much better than I had all week. The familiarity of it all still brought the happiness it always does, really lifting my spirits.
The next day I was able to perform in the songs where I had large parts, which included running, spinning, and even lifting someone off the ground. I wasn’t completely recovered, but I was able, and that was all I needed.
I’m nearly back to normal now, but I am constantly reminded how blessed I am to still be able to do the things I love. Dancing, singing, acting, creating - they all bring me such joy and I am so very lucky to be able to continue doing what I love.
Because Art Helps.