Alicia Santiago Cutler Achievement Award Story

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Alicia Santiago’s Story

I am honored that my counselor has nominated me for this award.  I have spent the last 9 years attempting to recover and rehabilitate my body from the devastation that has transpired.  After nearly dying twice, my body has surely seen better days! It began with pulmonary embolisms and progressed from there.  For the last 9 years, I have been on SSDI, grieving for the person that I used to be. That being said, I have also spent these years working hard to save myself!

There is nothing like the fear of failure to keep me striving to do the best that I can do.  My physical and mental health have suffered greatly during this time. I have worked hard to overcome most of the challenges presented to me.  My blood clots resolved fairly quickly, but left me with some permanent damage. It also expedited the severe sleep apnea, which was diagnosed shortly thereafter.  Add in being poisoned by a common antibiotic, and my life became complicated very quickly!

I have experienced multiple unexplained physical/emotional side effects that continue to plague me to this very day.  Some days are good and some are not so good, but I keep moving forward. My daughter, who is now 22 years old, has had her own share of medical issues since she was 10 years old.  My Mom, who is 91 years old, has also seen her share of problems. I help Mom with many of her responsibilities, as well as, I still help my daughter. This can be challenging at best, but I continue to do what must be done – all while balancing the job that I started on 07/31/17.  A dear friend of mine from years ago called me with a part-time opportunity that he was sure I could handle. He has been the sole reason that I have been successful in my venture!

He has allowed me to come back “out of my shell” and join the living again!  I may only work part-time, but it has enabled me to regain and further rehabilitate my body to a point where I feel productive once again.  I may NEVER work full time and I will most likely never be able to return to nursing, but I am eternally grateful and hopeful for the joy and overall good feelings that returning to the workforce brings to me.  Each and every day I wake up hopeful that I will continue to improve and defy the odds. My doctors told me that I would never work again – I proved them wrong! So do I deserve this award? Personally, I don’t think I’ve done anything special to earn it – I am just doing what I have done my entire life…  NOT waving the white flag and giving up.