SOME memories are unpalatable and hard to totally disregard. There are some moments I never wanna look back on nor relive. Until now, seeing my only daughter’s old biopsy surgery scar gives me the chills. But unfortunately, this week, she had to undergo a battery of tests again after complaining of: shortness of breath, pain in the chest area, joint pains, and feeling tired. She has a long cardiac-neuro (heart/brain) medical history, so these symptoms alarmed and bothered me.
I already know that worry is the thief of today’s joy so that kept me from having a full-blown meltdown. Worry is akin to paying interest for a debt I haven’t even incurred yet. It’s like stepping on the accelerator with the gear shift on park; I burn gas but don’t really get anywhere. Typically, I take everything in stride with a smile. But this is my child…and the sudden gush of memories of what she had to endure in the past came in one fresh giant swoop. It seems worrying will always be part of the parental-package no matter how hard I pray! Hey, human here.
We were able to secure blood works right away and two of her test results revealed a score that was quadruple the normal baseline. Talk about a kick in the gut. We had to wait for her pedia-cardiologist’s sched (she’s busy because there’s only 2 of them in this region) and it is the burden of waiting for results/diagnosis that is always the hardest. Yes, I am afraid! And there’s always this nagging feeling of unwarranted guilt—is it my fault?!
My dad told me: worry but don’t be unproductive. And my bff Weena said: I can’t tell you not to worry, it will happen, but divert your attention. I tried both (so this essay came alive)! Thanks to the many others who listened to my woes and worries. People continue to amaze me with their generous, kind, loving, and encouraging spirit. If troubles come, others do step-in to make you feel whole and loved amidst your brokenness. Plus, it’s this realization that being positive doesn’t necessarily mean being happy all the time. It just means even if you’re feeling low, you know that it’s not permanent, it will end, and there are better days up ahead.
My daughter was a sickly child. Memories of her under treatment still make my stomach churn. We have passed the challenging periods (or so I thought), and I hope the powers that be are kind enough to never make us relive them...yet there we were dealing with another 2-D echo/heart imaging. As much as I wanna forget, looking back is essential because we are who we are precisely because of our history. My daughter was given this mountain to show her (and me) that it can be moved.
Her bout with Rheumatic Heart Disease and Sydenham's Chorea when she was 8 in 2011 has made her a seasoned pro when it comes to hospitals, labs, CT scans, MRIs, 2D-echos, needles, and the sight of blood. As her most constant companion in all of those instances, I haven’t gotten used to, nor will I ever get used to this, especially seeing them poke her with needles.
In 2014, at the age of 11, she had another scare when a giant lump appeared on her neck. She needed a biopsy to check for malignancy. When she was told that this procedure was a kind of minor surgery, she said: "Oh, wow my first surgery!" I only saw a fleeting hint of fear. Her eyes became glassy with unshed tears for a second, but when she blinked, they were gone as fast as they came. She was determined and bravely declared, "Okay whatever's needed."
She was told by the surgeon that she would be asleep the entire time. And her only concern was, "Mom, I move a lot when I'm asleep. I might kick her (the doc)!" The doc chuckled and replied, "Don't worry about me. Even your hair will be asleep!" We all had a good laugh.
My daughter later on asked me why she always got sick. Frankly, I was asking the same question too. I know a lot of meaner people who need this kind of humble smack more than this little girl. But forgive me, we shouldn't really wish ill on others no matter how deserving we think they are. Since it took me awhile to reply, she proceeded to answer her own question, "Maybe because God wants us to know that He is with us. And we are in good hands no matter what."
Her statement really showed me how all the aches and pains she went through made her strong, mature, and far wiser beyond her years. We are indeed in very good hands with Him. Ironically, it is usually in suffering that we feel closest to Him.
The lump turned out to be not cancer, but the agony of waiting for that declaration was nerve-wracking to say the least. Right now, 2018, I feel the same way as we awaited the doctor’s verdict. Thankfully, it is not as bad as I worried it would be. She has thickening in her heart’s mitral valve again, but it’s very mild and can be managed with oral medication. Praise God she can go about her daily life like a normal teenager.
If there’s one thing I have learned in all of these—never let go of His hand, especially during trying times. Always trust that He is leading us where we are meant to be. Keep the faith and hold onto hope! Worries and the things that pain our hearts are always temporary. Experience has taught me to use my worries as a time to recalibrate and examine my priorities. All days may not be good, but there is always at least one good thing in every day. Most of all, every single day is already a gift. Thank you, God.
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Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 03, 2018.