Recently I was able to get all my medical records. 90% of them anyway, from the two main hospitals at which I was seen. No, a truck didn’t show up with pallets and pallets full of records, dumping them on my front lawn! Almost. But not quite. It’s a good 300+ pages of written reports. Also, CD’s filled with x-rays and ct’s and mri’s. Interesting stuff. I see everything I went through, all the surgeries I ever had, all the complications from those surgeries, all the ER visits, all the SB clinic visits. Knee injuries, broken wrists, stomach aches. It’s all there.
And a lot crosses my mind reading those things. Mainly two things. A. How the hell am I still alive??? I’ve almost died like 4 times from complications of SB…..how the hell am I still here??? And B. My mom. My mom was a constant through it all. She’s everywhere in those records. “We talked to his mom who came with him today about” so and so procedure. “His mom feels strongly” this or that about whatever decision. “Mom thinks he is ready for” whatever surgery. She’s just everywhere. My mom. Mami.
As I read my records, almost 35+ years worth, it didn’t take very long to see what an important role my mom played. I didn’t have to get too far, didn’t have to read too much, to see just how much my mom loved her middle son and how much she fought for me in life. I saw pretty quickly that I would be nowhere and nobody if it weren’t for some of the things my mom did and said back in the day. Here’s just one example taken from those reports:
“His mother is aware that in September 1981 he will be ready for kindergarten. Mom visited Valverde Elementary, a pubic school, where it was recommended to her that he instead attend Boettcher School for the Disabled. After visiting Boettcher, his mother feels it was not an appropriate school for him and that he needs to go to school with his peers and be treated as a non-disabled child. She feels he would not be able to fulfill his potential if forced to attend Boettcher. We agree that it would be unfortunate if he were to develop a self-image that would not be consistent with what appears to be his intellectual ability. Mom asked if there were tests he can take to prove his capabilities to DPS. Therefore we will be administering intellectual and language testing this January which will hopefully help in mainstreaming him.”
That made this author tear up. Mom fighting the system, so that DPS didn’t just stick me where they thought I needed to be, where I wouldn’t be able to thrive and where nothing would be expected of me. And she did that in 1980. Back when there were no IEP’s, no diagnosis of learning disabilities I may or may not have had, no accommodations of any sort, no nothing. Mom kicking ass and taking names, advocating for her son in a way that was all too rare in 1980. Dad was around, doing the equally important job of making the money that paid for medical procedures and PT and hospital visits. But it was mom yelling at whoever she needed to yell at, talking to whatever doctor she needed to talk to, just doing whatever she had to do so that I could live as normal a life as possible, all while teaching me to ask for what I needed and to advocate for myself. “You talk to the doctor, you’re the patient, not me. Y dile que te duele mucho. Nomas asi hacen algo. Tell him it hurts a lot. That’s the only way they’ll do something about it.”
That was my mom. Still is. Kickin’ ass and taking names.
So……..how do I thank a person for doing all that? For being there for me literally from the second I was born with that thing she couldn’t even pronounce, let alone begin to understand. Myelo what??? Spina who?? Hydro, say it again??…..With a huge bubble on my back filled with fluid and spinal nerves, doctors telling my mom and dad that I won’t live more than a year (and here I go, pushin’ 40.) She never wavered. From the second I was born, advocating for my best interest, while teaching me to advocate for myself.
How do you thank someone for the times she stayed with you in the hospital, sometimes weeks or months at a time day and night, in high school when it seemed like every other month was another shunt surgery? AND for two shunt surgeries in summer 2013 for which she was also there?! Along with my loving wife, who had never experienced anything like emergency shunt surgeries, my mom was there for these shunt revisions; surgeries I hadn’t needed in 17 years. Always being strong for me, when I was done being strong after my right lung collapsed from the 3rd or 4th complication from a surgery I just had. (“Strong” in that she never cried in front of me, but years later she admitted that she’d leave the room, completely lose it, only to come back in with more strength to give. ❤ ) How do you thank someone who is always there to cheer you on, support you, love you no matter what…through SB and non SB related things like marriage….and a divorce, which by the way, is still the most difficult and painful thing I’ve ever gone through; harder than any surgery, hospital stay, or complication from SB. And she continued to be there, to see me relearn myself, rebuild myself, restart my life, even have a new marriage. How do you thank her for that, and the countless other things I have no space to write about. How do you do that? You don’t. There aren’t any words to convey how grateful I am for my mom. All I can say is……happy Mother’s Day mom. Thank you for being my mom.
A Child’s Angel
Once upon a time there was a child ready to be born. So one day he asked God:
“They tell me you are sending me to Earth tomorrow but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?”
“Among the many angels, I chose one for you. She will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”
“But tell me, here in Heaven, I don’t do anything else but sing and smile, that’s enough for me to be happy.”
“Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you every day. And you will feel your angel’s love and be happy.”
“And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me, if I don’t know the language that men talk?”
“Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”
“And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?”
“Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray.”
“I’ve heard that on earth there are bad men. Who will protect me?”
“Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life.”
“But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.”
“Your angel will always talk to you about me and will teach you the way for you to come back to me, even though I will always be next to you.”
At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from earth could already be heard, and the child in a hurry asked softly
“Oh God, if I am about to leave now, please tell me my angel’s name.”
“Your angel’s name is of no importance, you will call your angel, ‘Mommy’ “
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Dear Mom.”