Sometimes it takes serious trauma to gain a fresh look on life

By Clay Parlette

As many of you may know, I recently went through a very challenging time in my life. Long story short, my body became unexpectedly and severely infected, first in my abdominal area, then later in my blood and lungs. As someone who has otherwise lived a very active and healthy life and having never been admitted to a hospital before, this illness brought a large amount of shock to both my family and me. And yes, you’re probably thinking that it’s easy for someone like me to write a nice reflection on my experience, but since my recovery, and having been told by doctors that my body was critically close to fatally shutting down, I have realized an entirely new outlook on life and how I should live it.

Even after being discharged nearly a month after my first symptoms, I am still left without a definite cause for my illness. I don’t know what I did or why something so bizarre would happen to me and bring me so eerily close to my deathbed, but life has never felt so precious. I now find joy in the simplest of things – the ability to walk from class to class on campus, the perfect taste of a mint ice cream cone at Dietsch’s, meeting a friend for coffee at George House, and laughing about stupid things with my family. Sometimes I think (with a hint of hesitation), that maybe we all need some sort of tragic event in our lives to help us appreciate the miracle of life and to bring us to our knees once again.

The support from UF has been incredibly humbling for me. Never in my life have I received so much love and well wishes from any one place or group of people. The messages, Snaps, phone calls, gifts, hospital visits, and the grocery bag full of cards I received when I was down have warmed my heart so much, and for this, I wish to thank this whole community from the bottom of my heart.

Many of you do not associate with any sort of defined religious belief, but this experience has showed me the sheer importance of faith and prayer. Given the way this chaos all panned out, I thoroughly believe that I owe my life to divine intervention – and the prayers received from this community. I ask only that you all explore your faith and realize that as much as we take life for granted, we truly never know when something terrifying may happen to us. Literally, one minute I was bouncing around campus, going from classes to meetings, studying, and meeting friends to another minute lying on a hospital bed being told that I was lucky to have come in when I did because, well, you get the drift.

So, Oilers, I leave you with one last thought. Yes, we are college students. We don’t get enough sleep. We drink too much coffee. We fit way too many things into our schedules. We put off studying until 2 a.m. so we can go to meetings or socialize with friends. Some of us have great weekends of friends, booze, and Taco Bell. We stress about exams and internships. And, though we may not mean to, we do, on occasion, forget about those who love us back home. While this is essentially the definition of the college life, please be careful. Know your limits and above all else, listen to your body. The college life isn’t exactly the healthiest time of our lives and could be the perfect time for some part of our health to suffer. I learned the hard way that, as young and resilient as we are, we are certainly not invincible. Please, for your own sake, check potential issues out to be on the safe side and always seek help when you even slightly feel that you need it. After all, your life depends on it.

I don’t like walking around with a PICC line in my arm and I certainly don’t like how far behind I’ve fallen in classes, but at the same time, I’m overjoyed because I’m back at it in Oiler Nation, amongst friends that care and love me more than I could have ever imagined a university was capable of. Thank you, friends. God bless you all, and I’ll never forget how amazing this place really is.

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