No, my mom didn’t actually die and resurrect three days later. She’s not Jesus. She didn’t see a bright light or have an out of body experience, at least not that I am aware of. She went shopping on Black Friday with my dad. Something she hasn’t done in over twenty years. You might be thinking, “what’s the big deal? I don’t go shopping on Black Friday either.”
I was only twelve years old when our family’s lives were dramatically changed from a life of relative comfort and ease to one of heartache and sorrow. It started when my mom had trouble seeing. At first she thought it was her contacts because she was seeing double, but after multiple visits to her eye doctor, the results came back inconclusive as to what was wrong. Her double vision soon became the least of her worries when she started having fatigue in her arms and legs. Bathing and feeding herself became more and more difficult and my dad would have to help bathe and carry her in and out of the bathtub on harder days. It finally became apparent that something was definitely wrong when she woke up in the middle of the night because she couldn’t breathe. She thought she was going to die.
Then came the news no one wants to hear. A rare and incurable autoimmune disease- Myasthenia Gravis.
Years of doctors visits, different combinations of drugs, alternative medicines, homeopathic remedies, wheatgrass (yuck), essential oils, plasma transfusions, trips to clinics with the best doctors and newest treatments. All with the same result…little to no change.
I grew up with a mom who spent most of her time resting in bed when she wasn’t struggling with her double vision or with some sort of pain or fatigue as either a result of her disease or a side effect from the medication she was on.
I learned to do a lot of things without my mom. I either did it with my dad, which was a blessing in disguise, or I did it alone. I remember missing out on simple things that daughters do with their mothers. Going shopping or out to lunch together. Seeing a movie or taking a trip somewhere. I wasn’t upset about not being able to do these things with my mom, I just accepted that that was the way life was.
My mom once told me that because I grew up “without a mom,” it made me tough. But, I don’t view it like I didn’t have a mom. She may not have been as physically available as other moms, but I have gained so much more in her absence. I have learned about how to have compassion for those who are hurting, persevere when all you want to do is throw up your hands in surrender, fight when the odds are stacked against you and remain faithful in the face of great opposition. Her illness has been a great source of strength and growth to me.
When I was a junior in college we actually almost lost my mom to what was supposed to be a “simple procedure” to remove gall stones. There were complications from the in and out surgery and she ended up in the ICU with pancreatitis. They say you can tell how bad a patient is by the number of doctors who are on your case. My mom didn’t have one or two, she had twelve. She was placed in an induced coma, hands strapped to the bed railings to prevent her from pulling out the tubes running in and out of her mouth and arms. A horrible sight. When she regained consciousness she communicated to us by writing in a composition notebook. That year, we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s at the hospital.
I remember those days vividly. Not with the same fear or anxiety, but with gratitude because she made it through that difficult time. Yet, her health would still struggle. She suffered from the side effects of being on powerful medication for two decades. More surgeries, more drugs, more fatigue, more aches and pains. It seemed like things just weren’t going to get better for her…ever. Can you imagine that after suffering for over twenty years with your debilitating disease there was still nothing doctors could do that would alleviate your symptoms? How hopeless you would feel? How bleak the future would look? Yet, you get out of bed every day and just keep on living life. One day at a time. One painful step after another.
This was my mom’s existence, until she got her life back on Black Friday. What amazing news to hear that she was slowly regaining some normalcy back into her life. Even though she didn’t beat the crowds at the mall, she could actually be in the crowds for the first time in over twenty years. It brought tears to my eyes when she told me that the doctors think her Myasthenia Gravis may even be going into remission. Oh the joy!
This year I got the greatest deal on Black Friday…my mom getting her life back!