This month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge. I will be writing about memories from my life and all my different homes.
When I was in fifth grade, I got very sick. I came home from a bike ride one day to find red spots all over my body. The local doctor thought it was Scarlet Fever and told us to go to the hospital immediately. My younger sister was left with the neighbors while my parents drove me to Harcourt Street Children's Hospital in Dublin.
I don't remember much from that night. Apparently I puked. I remember my dad carrying me through the. Emergency Room doors. I remember the first night in the hospital ward. The only other child in my ward was a small boy with a cast on one arm and a drip hanging from the other. He tossed and turned in his sleep, and I kept imagining the drip ripping from his arm during one of his violent turns.
The next day the doctors began the huge task of figuring out what was wrong with me. I had so many blood tests that I lost count. One morning I was rolled away to a surgery room for a blood marrow test. That was a painful one. My joints were swollen and stiff. I woke up every morning in pain and fear. Lyme Disease. Leukemia. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. They were all scary possibilities.
A month of visitor's hours brought homework and awkward moments spent crouched on tiny chairs talking with friends and family. I learned to play Solitaire and Gin Rummy. My mom brought food for me because I hated the hospital food. Painkillers, anti-inflammatories, even Steroids, were prescribed and taken. No test ever came back positive. No one ever solved the mystery. My condition was labeled Arthritis.
I have long since outgrown the painful swollen joints. My crooked fingers and warped knuckles remain as a constant reminder of those years, but nothing else is the same. My life has changed completely, and for the better. Maybe one of these days, I'll write about it.