I was 14 years old. I was a Freshman in high school. I had a lot of friends and, just like 99.9% them, wanted to hurry up and graduate. Usually, things were ok during the day, but I dreaded the mornings. That’s when the migraines were the worst. I would take Advil, which used to knock it right out, but it got worse. I started taking medications that were specifically for migraines. It helped for a little while. But then it got even worse. We didn’t know what to do. We tried EVERYTHING. I went to the chiropractor numerous times, took multiple visits to the doctor’s office, and received treatment for allergies. My poor parents had to watch while I woke up every morning in debilitating pain, throw up as a result…maybe 3-4 times, pop some pills, then run out the front door to try and make it to school on time. I should add that my pain tolerance is EXTREMELY high, so every time I was asked how bad my pain was, I would answer, “on a scale from 1-10, maybe a 6.” It only got worse from there. I couldn’t get out of bed. I would miss weeks of school and have tons of make up work to get done, but the light was too much for my eyes to handle. There was no eating, no walking around, or no talking in my future. The pain was so bad, I couldn’t even move. I couldn’t even find the strength to ask my mom for more medicine. I laid in my bed, helpless. I could feel her sitting there next to me, but I was paralyzed with pain. To a parent, their child is more important than anything in the world. My parents dropped everything to take care of me. To drive me to doctor’s appointments, or to just stay home with me making sure I got what I needed. I stayed on the living room couch for days, hearing everything going on around me. My sisters would get home from school and immediately run to my side to see how I was. They would talk to me and tell me about their day. I wanted nothing more than to be living the life that they were. I can’t believe I once complained about it. My father, who lived an hour away at the time, came to check on me whenever he could. He would play me music and read me stories. One night, my mom slept beside me in case I needed her. I woke up in the middle of the night telling her that it was time to go to the hospital. She ran to get a desk chair so that she could wheel me out to the car. As soon as she could get me in the car, she drove like a madman to the hospital. My dad met us there. When the nurses saw me, they dismissed my migraines as “hormonal.” They saw how I was handling the pain and sent me home. We were at a loss for answers. I’ve never been so hopeless in my life. We returned home, my parents carried me back to the bed, and we tried to get some rest. The next day was miserable. I didn’t know what was making me so sick, and I just wanted my life back again. I wanted to go to high school like all my friends and experience what a 14 year old was supposed to be experiencing. What was God’s plan in all of this? It made no sense to me. That night was the last straw. I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore. I whispered to my mom, “this is it, mom, I’m dying.” How does a parent respond when she hears her child say those words? This is how my mom handled it. We called my grandfather, he and my mom carried me to the car, and we called my father to tell him that we were headed back to the hospital. This time, I wasn’t going to try to be tough. I wanted whatever this was to go away. For the second night in a row, the nurses stood there and shrugged, until one nurse, that is now hailed as a hero in my household, took one look at me and ordered an MRI. Within minutes, I was all set to have my scan. After the results of my MRI came back, my parents were asked to step outside to speak to the doctor. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew that it wasn’t good. I waited for what felt like an hour. Finally, my parents came back into my room, told me that we had to go, and wheeled me to the car. Not a word was spoken on the drive. I still had no idea what was going on. We arrived at Children’s and Women’s hospital in Mobile. They wheeled me to the front door, the nursing staff was ready for us, and they took me to a hospital room. We got settled in, and my dad sat on the edge of my bed. With tears in his eyes, he told me that I had a brain tumor and that I was going to have to have emergency surgery. I wasn’t freaking out. If anything, I was happy to know that we at least knew what was going on. I was ready for what was about to happen. I was told that brain tumors in children are typically benign. Not a big deal, right? By then, half of my church was there with me. My friends and family had woken up in the middle of the night to come be there for me. Right there in my hospital room, everybody laid hands on me while my pastor lead a prayer. After the simultaneous “amen” I was sent back for surgery. My parents were told that it would take a few hours. My entire family stayed the whole time, awaiting what they hoped was good news. An hour went by…two hours…three hours…four…five…six…seven. Finally, a nurse came out with her surgical mask still on. She calmly told my parents that there had been a massive bleed during surgery, and that they had to perform a second emergency surgery. At that point, almost every speck of faith was lost. All that anybody could do was to trust in God to work through the doctors. Minutes later, the surgical staff rolled my bed by. There were multiple tubes attached to me and I had a machine breathing for me. Nobody, not even the doctors, knew if I would make it through the night. Everybody dreaded the hours to come. Everybody who knew us sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for updates. If I were to wake up from my coma, there was a huge chance that I would be in a vegetative state for the rest of my life. Finally, almost 20 hours later, I awoke. There were so many questions to be answered. Could I walk? Did I remember anything? Was I able to see at all? Talk at all? Move at all? My parents were hoping that I could at least remember them. Guess what? I did. Everybody following my story dropped to their knees to praise our good Lord. Everybody needed that small piece of hope. However, I wasn’t speaking yet and I wouldn’t open my eyes. The days to come would rely solely on the doctors and a lot of faith. Fast forward a few days. I was beginning to whisper. No more breathing tube! I was beginning to open my eyes. And, with the help of my nursing staff, I took my first steps. I was able to consume solid foods now. The doctor pulled my parents into the hallway. They finally got to hear the words that they longed to hear. “Jenny is going to be ok.” THAT. That was all that they needed. I still had a long road ahead of me. I still had to relearn how to walk, talk, and feed myself. A week later, I got transferred to the Mobile Infirmary, where I would go for my rehab. There, I learned how to use a walker, and eventually, I learned how to walk with a cane. I went through so much therapy, and worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my entire life. Finally, the day came for me to be discharged. I still had weeks of outpatient therapy, and I had to finish my freshman year of high school homebound. But, I was ready to get back to my own home. Walking into my front door on my own two feet was a victory. Once I was good enough on my own, I wanted to return to school to see my friends. A week later, I met my friends and they escorted me into my school. I have never gotten so many hugs in my life. I would walk through the hallway and people that I didn’t even speak to would come up to me and tell me how happy they were that I was back. I was so excited to have my old life back. I was able to do normal 14 year old things, and the only thing different about me was my perspective on life. Now, I’m a junior in college, I work my butt off just like everybody else, and at times, I forget that I even had surgery. Be grateful, cherish your friends and family, and pray. Miracles do happen, my friends. Can I get an ‘amen’?
“Mustard Seed” artist: Kelly Muncher
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