The Story Behind the Smile

The story behind the smile… the story behind the photo is one of a child with a rare disease on the first day of school who found excitement covered by fear.

In this photo, large red lesions covered the skin of an otherwise smiling face and joyful young woman.  A sweater on the 92 degree day was worn to mask the red posts along with high socks and a long dress strategically placed around the worst of them.   Her positive and calm demeanor were met with anxious feelings and fear about what the other children would say if they saw.

She told kids they were bug bites.  Then she was sick of that story so she said they were rug burns to others.  Overall, she was scared.  She told a story because she did not want to get into her disease with everyone (so she said).

The lies she had to tell others to feel confident on her first day of school were challenging to hear as a parent.

Consequently, the parents of a child with a rare disease felt anxious and were at a loss for words.  Their brave child embarked on a new year in a way they never experienced before.

Sometimes the smile a child is wearing is not reflective of the feelings they face inside.

The story behind this photo is one we will not forget, but one we are proud to share to remind us all to share a kind word to make someone’s day.  You never know what is going on behind the smile.

Uncertain normalcy

When you come home from two days of testing and consultations from the NIH with a positive outcome, you smile.  Life is good.  When your child wakes up the next day with new marks, you feel disenchanted.  You feel like this cannot be happening (again).

You hope these new marks are just bug bites.  You were just tested.   You were just given a positive report.  You send the pictures anyway and await symptoms or the onset of something else.  You are in disbelief.

You shed a tear the next morning when the marks spread.

You start to worry more once the marks look like those you saw two years ago when lethargy and pain took over your daughter’s tiny legs.

You see the spread, you see the onset, you fear everything in front of you.

The village of support that surrounds you allows you to get through this hurdle, test appropriately, and inject as necessary.

You are scared and you are unsure of where this leads you.

Daily injections return to bring a sense of normalcy to an otherwise abnormal state of affairs.

You hope, you are grateful for all the doctors you have on standby, but you cannot help but feel …  something words cannot truly describe.

Storms we hope will pass

Each Tuesday night is unique.  The worry is constant and fear, worry, and sometimes anger are typical discussion points for most of the evening.

Tuesday evening was no different this week.  The marks all over the belly and the back were.  After a nice walk around a park and calming conversation, we thought our bedtime ritual would contain the easing of fears and the notion of sweet dreams ahead.

Instead, photos were taken, prayers were issued, and we are once again reminded of the mixed emotions we know the morning will bring.

The thunder outside echoes our inner fury and angst.

We hope the rain relieves the heat and our morning medication subsides our worry for another day.

Wednesday on Saturday

Wednesday Addams… a classic television character was the recent choice of a party we were invited to with an Addams Family Theme.

Wednesday, “the dreaded day” seemed fitting in many ways for Kelsey.  The mention of the weekday sends a jolt of fear and frustration to Kelsey each week.  We were surprised that she decided to dress the part, but being Wednesday “the worst day of the week” on Saturday made her smile.

Kelsey said that this was the first and probably last Wednesday she would enjoy talking about.

Wednesday on Wednesday does not have the same sentiment, but at least she found a way to smile for Wednesday (on Saturday).

Global truth

Though the passage of time in summer months seems fleeting, this summer is one where we are trying to savor the moments we have together in sunshine or rain.

As a week of storm clouds captures our summer days and nights, we have found time to walk/ride bikes in the rain, make slime, play games, and smile despite our recent fears.

Our social media connection to other patients around the globe has recently found several cases of dada2, the genetic condition which manifests as Polyarteritis Nodosa for our Kelsey, in India.  Each story is unique and this global connection makes us feel a mix of deep sadness, empathy, and hope.

Each time a new patient reveals  his or her struggles, strokes, or current health concerns, a sense of fear strikes internally.  I read their stories with tear-filled eyes most of the time, wishing there was more I could say to ease their fears or comfort their frustrations.

The truth can be more sobering than we want it to be at times.  This week’s stories and patient truth has certainly done that for our family.

We hope and pray for all families that they will not continue to face these fears and our global partnership will lead to the cure we all desperately pray for day after day.