On New Years Eve in 2014, I posted a collage of photos on my Instagram account, along with this message, “2014 has been a beautiful mess… full of love, laughter, and challenge. Happy New Year, and bring on 2015. Here’s to the relentless pursuit.” And for the first time, I followed that post with an anchor, and a blue heart.
From that point forward, almost every Instagram post I’ve made pertaining to hydrocephalus includes an anchor and a blue heart emoji. I started adding those symbols to the messages and comments I sent to other patients and parents of hydro warriors, as they prepared for surgery, battled headaches, or just needed a little love. And slowly but surely… I started to see them show up in other people’s posts and messages…the unofficial “logo” of our little community of online support— a way to let other people know that I understand what they are going through, encourage them to stay strong, and to let them know I’m here for them.
For me, the anchor represents strength in the midst of chaos, hope, love, and solidarity. The anchor also references our constant battle with water - the water in our brains. The blue heart is a symbol of community; a bond that comes from walking a parallel path of struggle. It means that I see your fight, I support your spirit, and I believe in your ability to rise.
Over the past year, the anchor has become what people close to me associate with my journey through repeated surgeries and recoveries. I have received cards, gifts, and jewelry with anchors and hearts… all of which I have loved and cherish. Every day I am surrounded by these reminders of love, compassion, and security.
I am continually amazed by the supportive community I have discovered via social media. On Instagram, I communicate regularly with hundreds of people from all over the world, who have experienced similar hardships from life with hydrocephalus, and other brain conditions. Over and over, I’m inspired by how willing they are to reach outside of their own pain and struggle, and lift up people that they may never have the opportunity to meet in person. There is no more important gift you can give another human, but to offer connection and let them know that they are important, you see their struggle, and that you are there for them.
This weekend I got a tattoo of an anchor, to serve as a constant reminder of the loves in my life who anchor me through the storms, but also to pay homage to the incredible community of people battling hydrocephalus— who have rallied around me, pushed me through challenging times, and inspired me to share my story with the world.
Here’s to the the relentless pursuit, my friends.
My name is Amy but friends and family call me Am. I am a lover of dogs, good whiskey, and strength training. I'm a brain surgery survivor (x25), a fiddle player, a construction designer, and a boxing enthusiast. I have six real siblings, and five fake brothers. I love deeply, and consider my close friends to be family.