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One More Wish
I watched the coin gleam in the warm spring sun and made a frantic wish before it turned once and began its sharp descent into the cool water below. It had become routine for me, something that would happen once or multiple times every day. My dad would wrap his large, warm, rough hand around my small cold one and we would glide down the cold hospital hallways in a tomb-like silence. As we entered the stone courtyard, I would make a dash to the large fountain in the center; it was nothing special, just an intricate design of carved marble. Then I would thrust a coin into the air with all of my strength, watch it tumble into the water, and make my wish. Always the same wish.
I was four years old when I was admitted to Primary Children’s Hospital to be tested, and when it was learned that I did have it, treated for Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease that occurs when the body ceases to create insulin, a hormone created in the pancreas that controls blood sugar levels in the body. Because my body no longer makes this vital hormone, it must be injected into my bloodstream. However, this is not always exact so I must prick my finger to test my blood sugar levels before I eat or administer insulin. For the next five days, I was stuck in a hospital bed hooked to several IVs, some to carry insulin to my veins and others to deliver fluids and medicine to my weak and dehydrated body. I was tired, lost, and confused. I could not wrap my mind around what was happening and I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to go home.
My only company through this time, other than the doctors and nurses, was my parents. My mother taught me how to make little dolls out of yarn and helped me do other simple crafts to pass the time. My dad would take me for walks and play games with me. I found a lot of comfort when I was with my parents, especially my dad. He had a warmth and a calmness in the way he casually joked around with me, a calmness that seeped through him and into me and when I looked up into his big blue eyes, I saw confidence and a love that had never been so clear shining in them. My mom’s hazel eyes, identical to my own, held the same love, but when she thought I wasn’t looking, I could see the fear and pain burn through them. My parents both seemed to have an endless amount of patience and love during this time but they could not always be there for me. They were usually at meetings with my doctors to learn more about diabetes and how to take care of me. My doctors tried to teach me as well but most of what they said went right over my head. I was too young to understand what they were trying to explain.
Since my parents were often gone, they encouraged me to go to the hospital activity room. The activity room was a large room filled with toys and various games where the children could interact and play with each other, but I was always too shy to go. Finally, on my fifth and final day at the hospital, I gathered up my courage, marched down the familiar hallways, and timidly stepped into the brightly painted room. After watching the other kids for a few minutes, I retreated to a small round table with paper and crayons scattered across it in a corner and began to color idly. A few moments later, a dull hush filled the room. I looked up in time to see two nurses wheeling in four children in wheelchairs. Each child was hooked up to two or three IVs and looked like they were could die at any given moment. They were pale, sickly, paper thin, and bald. One of them, a small boy, wheeled his chair to my table and began to color as well. I remained silent and kept my head down, focusing intently on finishing my artwork and trying not to stare at this odd stranger. That changed when I reached for a blue crayon at precisely the same moment he did and our hands brushed. His was cold, clammy, and seemed impossibly fragile. I quickly recoiled and jerk my hand away from his, failing to stifle a high pitched gasp. I immediately regretted this when I saw the hurt in his pale gray eyes. He recovered quickly though and gave me a smile that lightened his whole countenance. He introduced himself and I gave a shaky reply. I do not remember this boy’s name, but I do remember his story.
“Why are you here?” he asked with no preamble.
“I have diabetes.” I replied matter-of-factly.
He looked at the ground for a moment and then said quite simply, “Oh. I’m sorry. My daddy has that too.”
I immediately became interested and exclaimed, “Is that why you’re here too?!”
He looked at my excited face with an interesting expression, something between shocked and confused, and whispered so quietly that I had to lean in to hear, “No that’s not why I’m here. I’m here cause I have bone cancer.”
I remained silent for several minutes while I contemplated his response. I didn’t know what bone cancer was but I did know that cancer of all kinds was extremely dangerous and could be fatal. “I. . . What’s that?” I blurted out before I could stop myself.
He looked at me for a moment, studying my face with his deep opaque eyes, and then launched into his story. He explained that he had had a cancerous cell deep inside his leg that needed to be removed and he had spent weeks in the hospital for various tests, including having the marrow removed from his bone. Then he spent a few months in chemo therapy. However, these methods failed to yield results and now he was waiting to have surgery to remove the cancerous part of his bone.
My mouth hung wide open as I struggled to come up with something to say. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry” was all I could come up with. My mom grabbed my hand and led me out of the room. It was time for me to go home.
He smiled again and called, “No big deal. Good luck with your diabetes!”
I was completely astounded. Suddenly diabetes was no longer a challenge for me. It was nothing compared to what this boy had lived through and would have to live through still. In a single instant, he changed my entire perspective on life. I have never been the same after that conversation. Now, when I am faced with a challenge, I try to use it as a stepping stone instead of a stumbling block because I know that somewhere out there, there is somebody that is in a worse situation than I. Someone with an even bigger trial, a harder life.
I made my dad take me to the fountain one last time before we left the hospital. I had one more wish to make-only this time, it wasn’t for me.