Words cannot say how much you mean to me.
There is no one in this world who I admire, love and look up to more than you.
You are the strongest person I have ever met.
I know that our relationship is different than most mother daughter relationships. Having four major illnesses is not the ideal, but having you by my side makes up for all the unfairness. Throughout my journey, your strength is what has kept me alive.
The first time you saved my life, I was just 13 years old. My skull fell on top of my brain stem and I had severe brainstem compression. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t go to school and my life was in danger. Although there was no one locally to operate on me, you didn’t give up. You looked across the country to find a doctor who was educated regarding my condition. You scheduled an appointment and made sure I got taken care of.
The second time you saved my life, I was fifteen. No one where we lived could figure out how to image my neck properly. You didn’t give up. You searched across the country and found a radiologist that was willing to perform a fluoroscopy. It helped that we were family friends. All I had to do was turn my head. They saw that my C3 was almost fully dislocating on top of my C4. You found an explanation for me being unable to walk, and within two months I was out of my wheelchair and running around.
The third time you saved my life, I was almost sixteen. I had just had my shunt out and you spoke for me. I was unable to move, or talk, or think, but you stood by my side and helped me get through it alright.
I want you to know that you are my superhero.
I have been through 19 surgeries. I have too many diagnoses to remember. I have chronic pain every day. However, I could never take your place. Still, I cannot begin to understand what it is like to watch your child, who you have taken care of all their lives, who you have come to love more than life, sit there in pain.
I can’t imagine how tempting it must be to give up and stop looking for answers. If you were to do that, it would be my problem not yours, but giving up is not in your nature. Instead, you research doctors and fly me all over the country to get the care I need. Because of this, I have a normal life. I am able to go to highschool. I am able to hangout with my friends. I am able to walk. I fully recognize that I am able to do all these things because of you.
You will never put down that computer and stop researching doctors. You will never quit your job that provides us with the money we need to travel. I know that you will never give up on me. I know that you will support me in everything for the rest of my life. I know that you will never leave my side.
Tomorrow, we will be heading to the airport together. You will be taking another two weeks off from work, putting an even bigger stress on our family financially. You will be taking a break from your Physical Therapy sessions for the discs in your neck. You will be giving up your bed and all the comforts of home. You will be doing all these things to be with me.
When I’m in surgery you’ll be sitting there alone. Waiting for the calls from the nurse who will keep you updated. You will receive your first call after they have intubated me. You will receive your second call while Dr. Liu is placing the shunt in my brain. You will receive another call once he is closing up the surgical site. Once the surgery is over, you’ll head to my recovery room. Here I will be rude and crude to you, but worst of all, you will (you always do) get vomit all over you. You’ll explain to the nurses how crazy I am on pain medicine and that normally, I am a nice kid. You’ll answer their questions and do everything. When I am coherent the first thing you’ll do, is ask me if there is more that I need from you. I will probably come up with something. You’ll barely sleep and barely eat. Still you will smile and get me everything I need.
I know that you will never complain…
Instead you will smile to reassure me it is going to be okay. You’ll make jokes when you feel like you have nothing left, because you’d rather hear me laugh than cry. You’ll sleep in the crappy chair that the hospital gives us, even though it causes you pain. You will fight for me every day.
I have had so many surgeries. The last surgery I had was the first “scary” surgery. This next surgery is going to be my second “scary” surgery. The list of things that could go wrong are terrifying, but I know I don’t have a choice. This is the only option that I have left. The only way I can live my life. In difficult times, we use strength to push us through.
Being brave is my superpower, but all superpowers must have a source.
I know that I get all my bravery from you.