I’m writing to you today because I’m in a dark place. It feels like there is no way out, but I’ve been here so many times before and I know there is a dimly lit path that leads to the exit. I’ve taken the route so many times that I can no longer doubt that it’s there, it’s just that sometimes the lights seem so faded and the trip feels so daunting. I’m writing to you from inside of this place, Eva, because I know you will inevitably find yourself feeling trapped here, at this very same place, at some point in your life. I’m writing, not to show you the way out, but to tell you that you are not alone there. Think of my story as a candle to lead your path.
Mother’s Day started with abundant sunshine. You were rambunctious, so full of life. We sat on the beach with family, including your Nanny O., your great-grandmother, and your Nanny. I felt so grateful to be sharing this beautiful moment with four generations of our family on a gorgeous May day that snapped us quickly out of a long-hanging winter depression. Summer seemed quickly approaching and you have been growing into your big personality with similar speed, making our days so fulfilling and joyful.
But Sunday night it all hit me harder than a Joe Frazier punch. Dada had to call the ambulance again. The medics swept over our house like an FBI swat team while you slept sweetly in our bed. I took my third ambulance ride of 2014 that night. It was one of just a handful of mornings that you woke to someone other than your mama. I’m sure you wondered where I was. I’m glad you didn’t know.
My first two hospitalizations of 2014 were easier on my psyche. You see, I left with no diagnosis. No diagnosis meant nothing to worry about and that path was so brightly lit and I quickly found my way out. This time, I was transferred to my “regular” hospital (I hope you never have one of those, Eva). The doctors at our local hospital found my CT scan to be daunting. They weren’t sure whether I needed to go under the knife and the attending ER physician said, “no surgeon here would touch you with a 10-foot pole.” I very much hope their surgeons aren’t well-practiced at operating with 10-foot poles, but nonetheless, I was relieved to be sent off to see my regular team and even more relieved to be receiving hourly pushes of Dilaudid.
I was diagnosed with Chronic Small Bowel Obstruction. My previous surgeries have finally come back to permanently stalk my body and mind. The scar tissue from all of the previous trauma of surgeries had finally laid down their own path. But the labyrinth that these adhesions have laid inside me has no end. There is no way out, only new paths that the adhesions will stake. I was given a number for an ambulance that would come and pick me up wherever I am and take me directly to my “regular” hospital, which I was told I would be visiting quite “regularly.”
I remember laying in bed at night as a child, unable to sleep because of a fear of a robber breaking in at night, or of being trapped in my room by a fire. Neither of these things ever happened, and I eventually learned that my fears were irrational. I eventually learned how to put myself to sleep each night, without a worry in the world. But you, Eva. Now my fears that you will come to know the sounds of a siren in the night as well as you know your lullabies has become a painful likelihood. I don’t know what it’s like to have a chronically ill mother. Your Nana has always been my rock. I don’t know how I can be your rock when my health is going to become the source of your greatest fears. When I am the reason you can’t get to sleep at night.
For now, I am going to do all I know how. I’m going to fight. I’m going to find my way out of this place, Eva. But I know I have an even bigger task ahead of me. I need to show you how to find your own way out. I need you to know that the path to that sunny beach will always be there. It is my job to make sure you know that and to help build a strong little fighter in you. One who will whack the weeds that stand in your way without a doubt in your mind that you will find your way to the other side.
Come Hell or High Water,