A year ago, I dropped a very sick teenager off for the first day of 8th grade and crossed my fingers that she would make it through the entire day. She did. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it to the next one and the week after, she only made it to two. Her migraines were out of control and unbeknownst to us, she had POTS, making it almost impossible for her to get out of bed. Five weeks later, I pulled her out of school completely.
Today, I dropped off a very confident, smiling girl to the first day of high school. I’m not worried a bit that she’ll make it through the half day. I’m also not nervous that she’ll wake up tomorrow with a migraine or that the nurse will call me to pick her up. While I know that her migraines aren’t gone and that Rosie still has a stomach ache and headache every single day, she’s learned the past year to not let illness define her. Yesterday, we were in the emergency room all day with extremely high blood pressure and she didn’t let the stress affect her. She’s amazing.
When I pulled Rosie out of school last year, my goal was to initially eliminate some stress so we could get her migraines under control. I had no idea at the time that we’d get diagnosed with a few other health conditions throughout the year or that she’d start spitting up blood in December. All of those things should’ve made the task of getting my child physically and emotionally healthy enough to return to school a daunting task. They didn’t.
Two months after pulling her, even with the added stress of spitting up blood and the fear of the unknown, she walked back into middle school for a half day. She never made it to a full week of school yet she still got straight A’s. I’ve never been more proud of her in my life. Until today.
Today would’ve been incredibly scary if I still had the same teenage daughter as a year ago. The stress of attending a school where she only knows a handful of people, probably would have triggered a migraine. The migraine would trigger the POTS. She may not have been physically able to even walk through the door. I would be sitting by the phone waiting for a call. But that’s not what happened.
Today, my child woke up laughing and singing. She talked about how she wasn’t really nervous because it was all freshman and then giggled when she said she’d probably get lost. She got dressed, ate breakfast and gossiped with a friend while I drove the carpool. She was like every other normal high school kid out there and know what? She deserved to feel that way.
She’s worked really hard this year to learn how to manage a handful of illnesses that aren’t going to go away. She’s been patient through hundreds of doctor’s appointments, countless tests and the reality that medicine isn’t an exact science. She’s taken thousands of pills to come up with the right combination to control her symptoms. She’s also put up with a year of me pushing her to get out of bed, drink water and do all the things she needs to do to be healthy. Now she knows how to do them for herself.
A year ago, I lived in fear a lot of the time. I worried non-stop. I spent a great deal of time fighting with school so my child could get the education she deserves. Today, I feel calm and accomplished. I’m not worried about what will happen in the classroom because we’ve taken the steps to put plans in place and our high school team is responsive. If Rosie can’t make it to school all the time, she’ll still succeed.
Rosie will succeed because she’s strong, smart and she’s a fighter. She’ll be successful in high school because she works hard and doesn’t take anything for granted. This is her year to expand her horizons and start her journey of growth into adulthood. She’s going to love high school. What a difference a year makes!