I walked into the hospital. The long corridor to the set of elevators seemed never ending. It was the same routine. Ground floor elevator to the 3rd floor. It was always an unbelievably long wait and it would make me anxious. I was exhausted. My legs could barely carry me. I ran home to shower after the many nights I had spent in the hospital with her. I totally did not understand how I was still awake. Everything from getting out the shower to getting to the hospital was a complete blur. I don’t even recall getting in the car.
I wait for the doors to open when I reach my floor. The next shift of nurses had just started their rounds. When I arrived at her room, I saw her father standing outside. He had papers in his hand. He was looking down at them and did not see me walk up. I place my hand on his shoulder and ask him what the papers were for.
He waited a moment. He sighed then inhaled, “They want me to sign papers saying to not resuscitate.”
I froze. “What!”
“They gave me the papers today. It isn’t looking good. They’re saying she will not wake up from this.” He composed himself well, but he was never good at showing his emotions.
“She is not even 22 years old; she has a lot of fight left in her!” I yelled.
He sighed again.
I saw red. I went to choke him, and I remember my hands being around his neck, but I do not recall after that. The hairs stood up on my arms, my blood was boiling, every breath I took felt heavy. I was fuming. Angry. I could not believe what I was hearing. You are supposed to be her protector and you were going to give up, give in, and let her die? I remember feeling his heartbeat pulsating through the veins as my hands squeezed tighter around his neck. I had been here night after night trying to bring her out of this and he was just going to let our daughter be taken away into the unknown.
I remember when we were kids with the crazy hair and the dirty knees from playing outside. We would talk about the world and what we wanted. Me with my long braids and you with your crazy curly hair which was hard to control. Grandma always had a tough time with taming it. We would play with our dolls and watch cartoons and get sugar highs on candy. We were innocent. We didn’t know much other than the four walls of Grandma’s apartment. We would do our homework together and stay up until 5am watching George Lopez. Grandma would come into the living room and ask if we had slept and we would look at each other sleepily and laugh. All the laughter because we were so tired. I would talk about my dream of being a writer and you loved it. You were always my biggest supporter. You would tell me about your dream to go to college and start a life you would be proud of. We would talk about our princess weddings and how many babies we wanted. We would get lost in conversation and forget the world. How easy life was then.
I prayed. Every day. Every night. I would go to the chapel inside the church and light candles. I was mostly alone when I went. It was quiet. Silent. Calm. Even when my mind was not. My granddaughter, she’s always been a fighter. I refused to believe that this was it. This would be the last time I would hear; I love you grandma. The last time she would hug me or give me kisses on the cheek or talk about everything you could possibly think of over a cup of coffee. This could not be it. I did not want to believe it was. I spoke to God and pleaded with him not to take you from me. I begged.
I signed the paperwork that would basically let my daughter die. The weight of that decision ate at my soul, my entire being. My hand held the pen and I almost forgot how to write my name. My hand was shaking, and my head was spinning. I was seeing a blurred room.
When you are not breathing on your own, it is hard to say if you will ever come out of that state. I often wondered where she was. If she was drifting off somewhere and was seeing a white light. I sat there for hours that I lost track of counting and I would watch movies. I would hold her hand. I would talk to her and sit in silence.
The day I signed the papers was the same day I saw a rage in my ex-wife like I had never seen before. She leaped forward and grabbed me by the neck. I felt her nails digging into my skin. I felt my heartbeat in my ears. Her face was red and the vein on the right side of her forehead looked like it was about to pop. I tried to de-escalate the situation, but I knew she was disappointed and angry.
As a parent this is the worst nightmare. To see your child clinging to life right before your eyes and you are useless. You cannot do anything but wait and I’m no good at that. I get anxiety. I was depressed.
I thought back to a conversation my daughter and I had in the living room one rainy afternoon.
“Dad,” she started off. “If I ever get sick and all I have are machines keeping me alive, please do not resuscitate. I do not want to live that way. That is not truly living, and I do not want to be a burden on this family.”
What does a dad say to that? I did not have the answer. I sat on the couch as my body stiffened listening to the dripping sound of rain against the window.
Kenzie: Year 2016
I was experiencing the worst type of headaches. I was tired, itchy, irritated, and had red blotches on my pale skin. I went to the doctor. The first one prescribed me a cream which only made my skin irritation worse. I went to the second doctor. He cut into me with a sharp blade without putting me on anesthesia. I yelled at the top of my lungs to release the pain I was feeling. It felt like he was tearing the first layer of skin off my body. I could feel the every movement of the blade as he moved it from the top down. I wanted him to stop. The pain. The screams. I did not want no more. My mom stood there terrified of what she was observing. The man was crazy. He did all of this to see where my skin irritation was coming from. I have never used the word hate in my life, but I hated him. For what he did to me and the domino effect that he had started. I had a bad infection and the wound he caused never healed properly.
Time went on with an undiagnosed issue. No one could tell me what was wrong with me. I felt like everyone was failing me. All these well-paid doctors and they couldn’t tell me what my body was experiencing? My skin would itch so bad, I wanted to claw it off. I was sick all the time and I did not want to be around people.
Kenzie: Flashback to 2003
We sat in my room and we did crossword puzzles. You would write stories and I would do homework. Grandma would always be cooking in the kitchen and the aroma of food was always present. It would travel down the hallway and seep through the bottom half of my bedroom door. It was my favorite part of the day. My nose greeted by those sweet scents. We would eat our Now and Later candies and we would talk about what it would be like to be a grown up.
“I want to have a big wedding and have lots of dogs!” My cousin said with the biggest grin on her face.
“I want to have kids in the future. I think that’s what being a grown-up means.”
Kenzie: Present Day 2020
I look back on the convo with my cousin that day as we sat in my room with the tv blaring loudly in the background. Grandma was cooking again. We were so sweet and innocent when we talked about dreams. And how I wanted kids. How quickly that dream was stripped away from me the year of 2016. I had lost all hope.
When my illness was finally diagnosed, along with it came the cold-hearted truth that knocked the wind out of me when I heard it. I remember the doctor refused to speak to me. He would always go through my mother like I couldn’t speak for myself.
“She will not be able to conceive children.” He told my mom.
I wondered what I did to deserve this.
Kenzie: Year 2016
My illness got worse as time progressed. After everything had happened, I still had not seen the worst of the pain. My skin was eating itself and I could not stop it. The one of many doctors had removed parts of my skin. I was now raw flesh and bones. My skin had turned black and it needed to be removed. The infection was taking over my entire body. I was being eaten alive. At this point, I was unable to move. Everything had to be done for me. I was being moved to and from and given baths.
This one day I never thought I would experience more pain than I already had. They carried me into this depressing room where a hose hung from the ceiling and swooped down with the flick of a switch. The nurses took the hose and sprayed me down. My body was on fire. Burning from the inside out. I screamed until I couldn’t anymore. My flesh was tender and open and this stuff they washed me with was making a sizzling sound that I could hear every bit of.
The next wave of chaos came when I was diagnosed with depression. I did not have the will to live anymore. I could not see the point in it when I was living in hospitals. And I would not be able to have kids. Everything was being stripped away from me one piece at a time.
When I was asked if I was afraid to die, I shook my head no. This was not my fear. I was afraid to live a life monitored by nurses and constantly hooked up to machines and constantly having people determine my next move which consisted of medication after medication. I did not wish to be a burden on this family anymore.
My body was falling apart. I could not eat, drink, walk, hold down any food or water, and I had people transporting me since I did not have the use of my legs. I could not control when I needed to use the bathroom and would often find myself saturated in my own urine.
It got worse. No shocker there. The doctors had overdosed me on antibiotics which caused my case to worsen. There was inflammation in my intestines, which in turn traveled to my heart and I went into a coma.
You know that white light that they tell you about? I did not see it. I was in this dream state. I could hear people speaking to me and I wanted so badly to open my eyes. I wanted to move. Do something. I was talking to my body. Telling it to move, telling it to breathe, telling it to do something.
My body was failing me. My liver was shutting down and my kidneys refused to work properly. I was placed on dialysis. I was not breathing on my own and I was connected to machines. I was monitored regularly by nurses and doctors, fed, bathed, and transported like I was some form of luggage.
It was the longest week for my family. They did not know if I would wake up. Everything I had been through and everything I had endured did not put out the fire in me. I managed to start breathing on my own. They removed the tubes.
When I finally woke up, the doctors told me I would have to re-learn how to do everything. I was in a wheelchair until I learned how to walk again. I went to therapy. I was trying to get my old life back. The one before all of this happened. I was homeschooled. Even though things were still shitty, they were looking up. I was making recovery.
I guess my mom was right all along. I did have that fight in me.
Kenzie: Year 2019
The headaches came back a few years later. I could not hold down food, I was vomiting constantly, and I could not go into work without feeling ill.
What do you know? We were back in a hospital. I prayed for the best but knew there could be a chance that my illness came back. They ran tests and did bloodwork. We were there for hours and the anxiety was piling on. I just wanted to know if my illness made an appearance again. Two hours later, the doctor came back into the room and asked my mom to leave. I asked if she could stay. The next thing he said hit me like a pile of bricks.
“Do you know you’re two months pregnant?”
I started crying almost immediately. I could not believe what I was hearing. My heart was so full. They said the next step would be to get a sonogram. I was scared, excited, and nervous.
When I saw his little face on that screen, I could not help but smile. I had a convo with the technician about my fear of this not being able to happen.
When the sonogram appointment was done with, I remember looking at my mom when we left the room.
I said to her, “I am going to be a good mom. I can’t wait.”
Time went on and my belly was growing. Sadly, my condition had came back to visit during my pregnancy. I was on bed rest for a bit.
But the day came. I was going to give birth. My baby boy would come 8 days early. I was in excruciating pain as I was in labor for over 24 hours. They gave me 2 epidurals and I would have a natural birth. My baby did not want to come out. The doctor had to use a vacuum to suction him out.
When he finally made his arrival, there was a tear in his lung, and he needed to be rushed to the NICU. He stood in the NICU for 4 days. He recovered quickly and began breathing on his own. We were able to bring him home.
He is now 1 years old and he’s such a happy baby. He’s spoiled rotten and he loves to laugh. He enjoys watching ninja turtles and he loves to eat but doesn’t like pumpkin baby food. I buy him lots of toys and shower him in hugs and kisses. Everyone who meets him is so delighted to be greeted by such a warm and loving baby. I was able to bring him into the world and that has been my greatest blessing.
My recovery was a miracle. And my baby was a miracle. I could not have asked for a greater blessing in my life.
My illness pays me a visit here and there, but I have my baby by my side now to remind me of my strength and to remind me I’m here for a reason; to be your mama.