Tennis Shoes

While I lived in Texas I made a trip home to Ohio to see family. My daughter was only 6 months old and had already had two surgeries. She was born with spina bifida and her first surgery was to close the opening in her back. The second surgery was to place a shunt in her brain to drain excessive cerebral spinal fluid to protect the brain cells from hydrocephalus. We had driven home for Christmas to spend time with family.

On our last day there, my mother and sisters decided to go shopping. My husband kept our daughter and son and I saw this as a great break from the day to day responsibilities of a young mother and relished the opportunity to be with my sisters and mother. We talked and laughed and had a relaxing time. It was so refreshing.

When we got back to the house my husband said Kristen had been really fussy. This was not like her. She was a very good, and generally contented baby. When I held her, I knew the problem. I could see the ‘bubble’ of the shunt had collapsed. We needed to take her to emergent care. Off we went to the local children’s hospital to find a neurosurgeon. We discovered she would need emergency surgery to replace the shunt. Family got word and they all met us and stayed with us while she underwent the surgery.

It is so difficult to turn over your small, helpless, baby to people you do not know. To let them take her into the cold sterile room. They don’t let you in there-you have to trust them.

Surgery went well. Everyone but Kristen and I went home. I slept beside her in a little cot. Early in the morning, when my eyes were just opening, I could see under Kristen’s crib to the other side of the room. There were little white tennis shoes silently rising and falling with the rhythm of the wooden rocking chair. I rubbed my eyes, and sure enough someone was quietly sitting with us-My Twin.

Somehow that memory is logged in my brain. It is one of the portraits in the art gallery of my mind. It comes to me often. I think it is because it made me feel watched over. Here she was, I am not sure when she got there, but she patiently waited and watched over us. Ready at any moment to be of support and assistance. I was rather new to this world of special needs. It was the third of 13 surgeries. No matter what surgery waiting room I was in, I never felt alone.

When I feel a little unsure, or a little overwhelmed, I can see those shoes. I know I am not alone.

Advertisements

Ski Lift

Life was different in the pre-cell phone days. One had to place a call from their home and pay for any minutes used. Twins had the advantage. They didn’t need a phone at all. They have their own means of communication.

My daughter was born with Spina Bifida and required many surgeries while an infant. My family is a very close and supportive family so even though we lived 1,000 miles away from home, I always felt as though they could be with me if needed. They were certainly with me in spirit. As one might expect, my twin and I were always tight with such things.

Most of my daughter’s surgeries were of an emergency nature. I might get up in the morning and by the afternoon we would be traveling to the neurosurgeon office and hospital for surgery. While my twin sister was away on a ski trip, one of these emergent surgeries was required.

I called my family to let them know but I could not reach my twin. She was out-of-town on a snow skiing trip. So, for the first time I went through this surgery without any contact or communication with my twin. Somehow that felt bad. We shared our joys and we shared our struggles. Here was a struggle and I could not reach her.

My daughter had her surgery and recovered very well. She was able to go home in just a couple of days. On Friday night of that week my twin called. There was no ‘chatty greeting’…just a very concerned, “How is Kristen?”. I said, did you talk with dad? “No” she said. ” I was going up the ski lift on Tuesday morning at 10:00 and I just knew that something was wrong with Kristen. Something was going on. I started to pray and send healing wishes and energy to her.” Kristen’s surgery was at 10:00 Tuesday morning.

It is an amazing thing to think so much like another person. I imagine that there are times when we might  frustrate other people in a group conversation because we frequently don’t have to finish a thought or a sentence for the other one to know exactly what we mean. We can barely get a joke out before we both bust out laughing!

Twin telepathy….and it is free.