“Honey, what do you want to eat?” Mom asks as I sit blankly on the kitchen island, my mind drifting to various places. For the life of me, I cannot remember what my dream last night was all about, but I know it is something good since I can still feel the butterflies fluttering inside my chest.
“Honey? Honey, what’s wrong?” Mom asks as she strides towards me, looking at me with concern after my obvious ignorance to her inquiries.
“Oh. Nothing, mom… Just… sleepy, I guess,” I answer as she looks thoroughly for any sign on my face.
“You can go and sleep for a while, darling. I’ll wake you up when we’re about to visit Dr. Curtis, okay?”
I walk absently towards my room and somewhere between my steps, I stumble on something and then slip. I only barely heard the scream of my mom as she run towards me when I hit my head and I blacked out.
“Miss Spark? Miss Spark, can you hear me?” I hear Dr. Curtis calling me back to awareness but I can’t seem to find the right muscles to open my eyes.
“Oh, doctor. Is she alright?” I hear my mom ask as she wait anxiously for me to respond and I want so much to open my eyes right then. Where are my ocular muscles? Oh gosh. If only I could twitch a...-my index finger moved and that seem to have caught my mother’s attention when I hear her urgency telling the doctor.
“Oh, good,” Doctor Curtis said when she asked me to move a finger and I did. “She will open her eyes when she’s ready, ma’am. Let her rest for a while. The tumor must have touched some nerves when she fell. I’ll check on her after fifteen minutes to see how she have progressed,” she said and my mother thanked her.
“Honey, can you hear me?” My mom asks and I am consumed with the urge to open my eyes and see her. My poor mother… I am on the point of thrashing myself to awareness when mom touch my hand and shush me. “It’s alright, darling. You can rest for a while. Mommy will be here,” she calm me down and I so desperately want to be the one to tell her that. She's been through so much because of me. Knowing that I have to rest to heal some parts of my affected brain, I slip into oblivion as my mom sang me my lullaby.
I wake up with Doctor Curtis’s assessment of my neurologic status, her penlight slightly hurting my left eye as it shine brightly on my pupils. I blink twice, thrice, letting the pain of the light subside along with the tears that have sprung with the pain.
“Hi Sidney, can you understand me?” she asked and I answered yes.
“Okay, how many is this?” she asked, raising three fingers and I tell her the answer. She let me cover one eye as she shows me a picture of circles that form a number and then repeats it with my other eye covered.
“Please follow this light using your eyes only,” she ask me and I do as she move the light to six positions. She assessed for my senses for another ten minutes or so and then seeming satisfied, she tells my mom that I am okay and that I should be more careful and to avoid any trauma at all cost. I told her I will and I know I will, for mom.
“Mom, I’m sorry,” I whisper when my mother and I are already inside our car.
“For what, honey?” she asks kindly and I can’t seem to stop the tears that springs in my eyes.
“For making you worry about me. For having this stupid tumor. For everything,” I answer, my head bowed as I cry in shame. I should be burnt for making my own mother suffer.
“Honey, it’s okay… Just… Just hang in there, okay?” she asks me, the tears are clear in her voice but she tries to be strong for both of us, keeping her real tears from escaping in her eyes. Somehow, her effort in not crying elicits more tears from me and I break down. I cry hard enough until I can no longer keep my head from throbbing and then I fall back to sleep.
I wake up with the feeling that there are lots of people around me, only to discover that I am alone in my bedroom. I lay there for a while, until I hear the silent murmurings outside my room and I run downstairs.
“Daaaad!” I squeal like a child upon seeing my father and he scoops me up like when I was a little girl.
“Hey baby. How are you?” he asks and I smile happily at him.
“I’m fine. I’m fine,” I answer childishly, positioning my arms in front of his face in a position suggestive of a child asking for something.
“Oh, yes!” He answers animatedly, grabbing something from his back pocket and laying in my palms a silver necklace with a lone star embedded with a tiny sapphire.
“Ah!” I said admiringly at my gift and I kiss him on the cheeks. “Thanks dad!” I said happily as he positions me down, turning me back to put the necklace on me. When he answered, I can hear the thickness on his voice and that send me on the edge again. I hug my father hard, crying as I thrust my body harder into that hug. I can hear my mother sobbing, and I walk towards her, hugging her too, murmuring sorry all along. Oh God. Please let this all be a dream. My poor mom… My poor dad… Somewhere along the endless stream of tears, I felt a pulsating pain in my head and then I blacked out.
I wake up once more into a glaring light, the perfect white of the hospital ceiling momentarily blinding me when I suddenly opened my eyes.
“Mom? Dad?” I search for my parents, finally feeling my mother’s warm hands as she holds my hand. Looking at my mother’s direction, I see the top of my father’s head as he converses with Dr. Curtis at the foot of my bed, not wanting me to hear what they are discussing about, and then see my mother’s kind smile while her eyes are full of sadness. I am about to cry again then, but sensing that I have already waken, Dr. Curtis move immediately to talk to me, halting the building tears.
“Sidney, I have to tell you something,” she starts and I listen attentively, her opening quite making me nervous. Sensing my growing anxiety, she smiled to dispel the building anxiety.
“First, honey, I want you to know that you are to avoid any tears, stress, anxiety, anger, any emotion that makes your head ache or your sight blurry,” she said professionally and I nodded, trying to control my emotions then. I must avoid any strong emotion.
“Your tumor is in your brain, you know that, yes?” she asks and I nodded. She smiles as she continues her explanation. “Your tumor is called Medulloblastoma. Now, the tumor grows rapidly and produces evidence of increased intracranial pressure over a period of weeks. Have this been explained already?” she asks, and I answered they have, a little.
“Intracranial pressure is the pressure in the head that keeps the brain in position. An increase can cause your brain to shift, or if a tumor, cyst, or an increase in the fluid in your head occurs, the brain tissue and nerves will be compressed. Both the increased intracranial pressure and the compression of the tissue and nerves will produce symptoms such as headache, blurry vision, nystagmus, to name a few. There are certain factors that can increase the pressure in your head; increase in the blood pressure, sneezing, coughing, stress, and emotional stress, that’s why I ask you to keep your emotions in check, alright?” she says, and I answer yes. She let me repeat what she told me to caution for and then she bids us goodbye. I walk silently towards our car, not wanting to talk for fear of breaking down when mom takes my hand and smiles at me.
“Let’s go eat blueberry cheesecake, okay?” she tells me with a smile. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I smile the best smile I can procure on my face and then we walk towards the patisserie.