My cup of gratitude overflowed on the couch of the psychiatrist’s office. One smile and one question from the doctor brought forth an onslaught of tears that not only surprised my daughter, but me as well.
“Well, how are things going?” Cue tears.
Two months ago we sat before this young doctor pleading for help. Unsure of my daughter’s future, she prescribed hope. It was our last resort, yet her confidence readied us for this next step. Over the following weeks, we went from no signs of change to side effects of full blown nausea and increased depression.
Finally as we neared our sixth week on the new medicine, we began to see signs consistent sleep, less pain, and more energy. More of her days were spent out of her room than within its walls. She welcomed her siblings into her space, for play and fun. As if a butterfly was breaking from its chrysalis, our girl was emerging, not the same as she was before her diagnosis, but one who had been shaped by her painful battle.
The diagnosis came almost one year ago. I have spent every day of this past year reading, researching, and treating my daughter like a lab rat. Fibromyalgia has proven frustrating and misunderstood, while offering random symptoms, different for everyone who experiences it. For my daughter, her body has been at war with itself. Her physical pain cycles with exhaustion and anxiety, neither side victorious.
Once we acknowledged the war within, we made the difficult decision to conquer one facet of the illness. While her pain was slightly lowering on a protocol we started this summer, her anxiety drives the pain upward again and again. She needed professional, medicinal help. This illness, over the course of a year, had driven her to her bed, taken her from a social life, school, and beloved hobbies. We didn’t recognize our daughter anymore. Her siblings only knew their big sister as temperamental and constantly complaining.
My tears in the psychiatrist’s office that day signified a new hope. Finally we were seeing life after this diagnosis. My husband and I were rediscovering our firstborn. Her siblings were learning what it was like to enjoy their big sister.
Our last resort, the final option I feared, was what she needed all along. God has a way of using our biggest fear to perform His greatest miracle. I feared putting my daughter on medicine that could alter her personality in ways we didn’t desire. I was afraid of a doctor who would take an easier route instead of what was best for her patient. God took my fears, reminded me of His all-knowing control, and gave us the outcome we had been longing for.
Today is Christmas. Today we are enjoying giving and receiving gifts to and from loved ones. In reality, our Christmas came early. Watching my girl emerge into this stronger, braver version of herself, despite all that could hold her back, is a Christmas gift better than any other.
In one week, we will see 2019 arrive. After one of the hardest parenting years I’ve experienced, I have no animosity toward 2018. I feel privileged to have walked this path with my girl. Each appointment and therapy session has brought us closer. I understand her hurts, fears, worries, and exhaustion. She trusts my guidance and suggestions. I am thankful as I watch her progress this coming year, I will be able to remember when her milestones didn’t even seem possible. I will remember this Christmas, when we received an unexpected gift that came early.