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Julia Kwamya

Brooklyn, NY
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My brain is flooded with memories of numbness and articulated nerve pain as I write to you now. Memories. Visceral sensations of a body attempting to protect itself from anymore danger. I am grateful that I can look back and say as much. If it were not for Dr. Steve Lee, Dr. Duretti Fufa and team I don’t think that I’d be able to say that much.

In January 2019, I was in a grave car incident. Many injuries were inflicted upon me but the most notable was the loss of mobility in my right arm. I kept waking up day after day hoping, believing, and praying that it was all a bad dream and that my arm would repair itself and get back to work. That bad dream was my reality and very quickly. After months of occupational therapy, I was faced with the possibility of a dead arm. But some divine timing happened! My therapist remembered her connection to Dr. Steve Lee and quickly set up an appointment for me to meet him, which led to a quick decision to have surgery. Whew!

Now that the gnarly stuff is out of the way let’s get to the fun.

Now, when I woke up from surgery, the kid in me kind of hoped that PRESTO!, I’m fixed. I’d never injured myself before so my naïveté was through the roof. I learned that this recovery would take time and patience. I had a lot of time. Patience, I had to learn to have.

To keep my mind focused I had to go back to my roots. The arts. I knew that I wanted to continue to play the piano, or strum a guitar, play a show or act on stage again! I was not about to let this injury prevent me from doing the things that I love. I decided right then and there that I was going to invest in both my arm and my art measure for measure.

I started to train my body by doing Pilates exercises; I needed to strengthen as much of myself as possible. I continued to take an acting class; Despite a shattered self image I needed to practice being around people, in person and on Zoom, as complicated as it was. Even if it was one note, I had to play the keyboard and guitar; I wanted my nerves/muscles to remember how it felt to play. Sensations. I had to practice, and still continue to practice feeling things emotionally and physically. So much had been lost but with meditation, acupuncture, Alexander technique, bodywork, therapy, physical therapy, Yoga, voice lessons, music theory, Cleopatra’s final monologue, Sonnet 27 and Chekhovian stories, I have been able to get some of my sensation back. I am alive. I feel alive!

I am grateful that I worked as diligently and patiently as I did and continue to do. We can all work this way for ourselves. The results are manifesting in a variety of ways. I have released a record that I truly believed would never see the light of day after my accident. I have auditioned to attend a prestigious acting school; I let them see the glory of all of me. I have most importantly learned to be compassionate towards myself.

It takes a lot of courage and belief in oneself to take this healing journey. But as my dear Cleopatra says, “Now to that name my courage proves my title; I am fire and air!” And who is going to argue with a Queen.