Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time whining about the stress in my life... okay, maybe way too much time. And, maybe I was trying to justify my weight gain and my sudden out-of-control eating habits. Some of it was my Dad's situation, some of it was work-related, but the one constant stressor that has weighed heavily on me was my daughter Kelsea's health problems.
For almost two years, my daughter has battled an illness that has consumed her life. I won't go in to the details here. But, to this day, her illness has never been truly diagnosed. The only guess anyone has had is based on a diagnosis by exclusion... which in layman's terms means they have ruled out everything they can possibly test for and this is the only thing left. That includes cancer, tuberculosis, infections, auto-immune deficiencies, and on and on and on. That diagnosis is an extremely rare illness that is common in females who have been pregnant and are 30-40 years old. My daughter does not fall in to either category.
So, after several hospital visits, 30+ doctors, countless tests and procedures, stints of prednisone, methotrexate and other drugs, the side effects of those drugs, missed time at work, a semester lost of school, and a wave of bad I.V. attempts that left her in pain, my daughter finally gave up. She stopped taking the drugs and scheduled a surgery to remove the problematic tissue and attempt to get on with her life.
As a parent, there is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain; wishing that you could trade places and take all of that pain on. Even knowing that this was a positive thing in the long run, it still hurt to know that my daughter was having this surgery... a surgery that no 20 year old girl should have to go through. I was sad, excited, anxious, hopeful, and scared. I have hardly slept over the past week. I tried to be mentally present at our quarterly meetings this week... with little luck. I spent Tuesday night at a restaurant during a business meeting fighting to stay focused on the discussion while constantly finding my mind drifting off to her surgery scheduled for Wednesday morning. I worked until 3 AM Tuesday night and finally went to bed exhausted. Despite that, I still couldn't sleep and tossed and turned until the alarm woke me three hours later. I gave a morning presentation; slightly numb and fighting back tears. I finished and then rushed to the hospital.
When I got there, I found my daughter bright-eyed and excited. Nervous still, though mostly of the impending I.V. (it's a long story), but mostly anxious to get this done and move on with her life. I was, and still am, amazed at her strength throughout this ordeal. I know she has had her moments and I have seen her break down. Yet, she remains as strong as any young lady could be given the circumstances. I remember teasing her a couple of years ago when she got a very small tattoo on the inside of her wrist that represented "strength". Well, Kelsea, I didn't get it then. But, I get it now. You are truly strong and have an incredible spirit and that tattoo is fitting. I wish your father was even half as strong as you have been. I have been in hospitals when I needed to leave the room so that I could cry alone in a hallway so that my daughter wouldn't see me that upset. My only strength has been hiding that weakness from her and trying to appear positive at all times.
Kelsea is home now. The surgery went incredibly well and she is already relatively pain-free. So incredibly brave. Her attitude is incredible. The doctor was incredibly positive and extremely optimistic that this should take care of her illness.
Last night I slept. I slept like a baby. I think I will sleep even more contently tonight. I realized this week that all of the stressors I have mentioned before paled in comparison to this particular one. I remain optimistic that this will take care of the problem and that my little girl can get on with her life.
Tomorrow, I will regrettably post another number that disgusts me. Too much food and no exercise while in Denver. Tonight I started my new exercise streak. One I hope to get to 550 days to break my record. Tomorrow, I will try to get myself back on track food-wise. I will try to find the strength that my daughter has shown me over the last two years... in her honor.
I love you Kelsea Nicole Marinucci! I will always be proud and amazed by your strength and spirit. Here's to watching your little girl grow up to be such an incredible woman...