Saturday, May 29, 2010
olivia is my middle child; my only daughter. she turned 18 yesterday.
something i haven't written about here are the struggles we've had over the last few years with chronic illness. olivia was diagnosed with something called indolent systemic mastocytosis. mastocytosis is a mast cell disorder. mast cells produce histamine. her mast cells go crazy and her body produces a lot of histamine. this can be acute and life threatening but it can also cause chronic pain.
i was up multiple times a night with her the first year she was so sick. she was sick in bed for days on end. i can't really even describe that time to you here. in fact, when i got my coffee and sat down to write you something i had no idea i would launch into this. sometime i will try and do it justice and really tell this story.
but olivia. i have never met someone so strong and lacking self-pity. she put one foot infront of the other. she never said "why me?" and believe me, i said those words over and over again in my head at that time. why her. anyone but her. there was just one time she broke down emotionally and this is what she said to me: "i'm sorry you have to go through this." she said this to me.
but today she is doing somewhat better. the past few months she has been going to school most days and living a relatively normal teenage life. when she was first diagnosed we were told there was no cure. we were told that maybe within her lifetime there would be one. now they are testing different iterations of a drug which seems just a few years away from a cure.
one thing we realized a couple years into her sickness is that she also suffers from chronic debilitating migraines. meaning she has migraines a few times a week which last sometimes days. which translates into having migraines, um, all the time. i've never had one but i can tell you that this has been just as painful for her as the mastocytosis. the thing which really helped her to start to function and have a life is taking migraine medications.
i never liked the saying "you don't get what you can't handle in life." it seems fairly sadistic. i consider the fact that she has to live with this an outcome of bad luck and bad genetics. but at the same time, i know many people would not have been able to handle this with her monumental strength and grace. i am in awe of her as a mother and as a woman.
there really are so many pieces to this story. how this changed how she experienced being a teenanger. how it affected her socially. how it feels to be just starting out in life but already know pain inside and out. she is a gifted writer and i hope someday she can tell this story in her own words because i know there is so much more to this i can't imagine.
so now you have a small piece of this story and our family life. will you join me in wishing olivia a happy 18th birthday? i wish her every possible happiness a mother can wish. she has taught me so much. she is truly amazing.