I used to be able to sleep in peace - before the thirty-first of last July, that is. That day started the first health problem; of many that would follow, that would send me back to the doctor many times. Back in July, I was still living in the tiny condo on the beautiful island of Coronado. Coronado is a jewel, across the bay from downtown San Diego, CA. It was shortly before I was going to move back up to Oregon, when all my troubles began. I was watching SportsCenter during a boring day of summer, when suddenly, I heard a soft, continuous noise. It didn’t come from the TV or from outside. The sound was annoying and I wanted it to go away. After a minute or so I figured out that the sound was coming from my head. I drove my brother crazy by mentioning the sound so many times so my dad took me to Kaiser, the hospital my family always go to. The doctor looked in my ear and said that I had tinnitus due to an infection. He gave me some medicine to spray up my nose. The medicine did not help make the sound in my ear go away though; I could not sleep well, but I have since learned to live with the sound. I was also completely deaf in my right ear, but thankfully, my hearing came back soon after.
After I moved back to Oregon, I started my sophomore year of high school at Southridge. I had hearing tests done and got to miss some classes. I went into a soundproof booth which was as quiet as a mouse. After the tests the doctor found out that I had a significant hearing loss in my right ear with higher pitches. To look inside my head, another doctor gave me an MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging.) As the machine slowly swallowed me whole, I became scared as I wondered what was happening. I could hear some extremely loud sounds; it was like someone was drilling inside my head. The results of the MRI were good. There were no tumors or anything causing the tinnitus and my family and I were thankful.
Last winter I was very excited about the basketball season coming up. I practiced a lot with my dad and I thought I was ready for try-outs. My dad is 64 but can still play fine. He is the type of dad who always has time for his kids. I was tall and athletic enough and thought I could make the JV-II team. Before I could try out for the team I had to go get a physical done so I went to the one at school which only cost five dollars. The physical went well for most of it but near the end, the doctor had me take off my shirt and bend over. He felt my back and said, “I’m sorry, but it looks like you have moderate scoliosis in your back. Scoliosis is when your spine curves.” My back wasn’t Lombard Street but it was still pretty crooked.
“Oh no,” I said suddenly feeling sad, “does this mean I can’t try out?”
“Unless you can get your doctor to say its fine,” he replied, “I’m afraid it does.”
“This stinks…I was really looking forward to playing basketball,” I stated.
“I’m very sorry…I know how it feels,” was his kind, sincere response.
I felt very somber during the car ride home from school. I had been looking forward to the upcoming basketball season but now my hopes evaporated. I begged my mom to take me to our doctor but we didn’t have time before try-outs.
“Anyway,” she said, “you will be taking harder classes next trimester and it is better for you to focus on school instead of basketball.” My mom is a former teacher and encourages us to do our best in school, but I’d rather be playing “some ball” than doing English. After learning about having scoliosis I went back to Kaiser many times. My doctor thought that I might have Marfan’s Syndrome which some tall people get. People with this syndrome usually have heart problems so I also had to have an EKG (Electrocardiogram.) Thankfully, my doctor found out that I did not have it. Even so, I still had a lot of x-rays and other tests, and I got tired of constantly going back to Kaiser. I almost felt like Kaiser was stalking me. Not even missing school was worth it, and now I wish that I didn’t have to miss school. I had just started Algebra II and I missed a couple important classes. Math is as hard as finding a needle in a haystack to some people, but not to me. Even so, I got behind and didn’t know how to do the “recursive formulas.” It took me a while to finally understand them and to get caught back up with the class.
One thing that I especially don’t like to get is shots. Once when I was very young, a whole team of nurses had to force me to take a simple shot in the arm. Now I can take them but I definitely don’t like them. During a more recent trip to Kaiser I got shots in my left arm and started feeling dizzy. I laid down and drank some water but it didn’t help much and unexpectedly, I threw up on the ground. I was in the lobby at that time but thankfully it wasn’t crowded. The janitor had to come to clean it up as I started feeling embarrassed.
“Why didn’t you hurry to the bathroom?” Mom asked.
“I dunno,” I replied giving my best answer.
One day, my mom took my sister and me to get flu shots. My sister dislikes them even more then me. We were so happy and relieved when the nurse asked us if we wanted to do the spray or the shot. I had no idea that there was another option. Of course we chose the spray and were able to get vaccinated painlessly. Getting your blood drawn is different because you have to get a shot. They poke a needle through the inside of your elbow to get blood out. The geneticist wanted me to have a blood test to rule out any genetic disorders. I did not want to get my blood drawn at all. I was so nervous that I started feeling very dizzy before the shot even got into my arm. I couldn’t see anything; there was flashing and I felt horrible.
“Nathan, Nathan, are you ok?” my mom asked as the nurses lay me down.
“I...I can’t see, I feel dizzy,” I replied. My blood pressure was very low and I had to wait a long time for it to go up before I could leave. Two pretty, young nurses waited patiently with me for over an hour. Even after that, the nurses had to take me to my car in a wheelchair because I couldn’t stand up ok by myself. The whole thing was an interesting experience, but a pointless one. It turned out that I didn’t have any genetic disorders so I went through all that for nothing.
I haven’t been going to Kaiser as much any more. All the tests are over, at least for now. Now only shots and check-ups will hopefully send me back. Still, I might have to go back one or two more times for testing. These tests would be to see if I have ADD (attention deficit disorder.) I get good enough grades in school so I’m not going to worry about it.
Throughout all the doctor visits I was worried. I was worried that all the tests would end up bad and that I would need surgery. God was looking after me, though, and I didn’t need to worry because my life is in His hands. God is my strong tower and my fortress when I’m weak. I do have scoliosis. I do have tinnitus and some hearing loss. They are there but they are not as bad as they could’ve been. I can still play basketball and other sports and my tinnitus doesn’t bug me during the day as much anymore. Going through these challenges taught me to lay my troubles on God and to not worry about these things. If something bad happens I know that it is part of His plan for me and it is for a reason. The challenges I went through also helped me as a person. Because of them, I feel that I’m more caring for people. My speech problem has taught me to be more understanding of other people. I know how is feels to be made fun of for the way you sound or for being different.