encouragement, Journey

Silence Behind The Smile

The Tears You Don’t See

I am going write from my heart today as I listen to the pain through the tears in my daughter’s voice.

When I speak of tears in my daughter’s voice, this isn’t a misprint. She doesn’t cry easily so you aren’t going to visually see her cry, but when you take the time to listen to her you can hear the tears in her voice.

She has endured so much for so long that the average person doesn’t see her illness any more because there are no outward visible signs to it. The problem for my daughter is it’s still there. The pain is real and is constant. She has few days where she is pain-free in a month. Now you add up those days to form a year and you see less than a months worth of days where she is free of pain. This will make anyone weary, but my daughter bears the burden so well because she has too. She doesn’t have a choice. It isn’t like she can wake up in the morning and decide today she isn’t going to deal with the pain and just run away from it. She just knows it’s going to be another difficult day and tries to trudge on hoping it is a pain she can manage and prays to God it doesn’t get worse.

My daughter has experienced chronic and continuous sinus infections as well as chronic migraines for over the past 2 1/2 years. We have been to numerous doctors and specialists but it wasn’t until the past 9 months where she is finally getting help from specialists who are determined to help her, even though they are struggling to figure out her medical mystery.

Thankfully I am able to write since January of this year she has made improvements with the chronic sinusitis’ due to sinus surgery/procedure. We are praying this will improve the constant sinus infections, pain, and pressure. We are thankful this is the longest time she has gone without an infection. Unfortunately, the chronic migraines and constant headaches is still a problem for her and the doctors are still trying to get this managed.

As a result of these constant health issues, my daughter had to take an extra year to finish high school. As homeschoolers, we were able to do this easily, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy decision for her to make.

I remember that day vividly as the decision was made after a doctor appointment. We went to lunch together and as I sat across the table from her we discussed her options to graduating.

At that time, somehow I allowed people to persuade me to put the cart before the horse. There was so much focus on her college plans that they became the focus in her life despite the unresolved medical issues. We discussed all the options she had to finish high school and go to college, but the number one unresolved problem were her medical issues. How was she going to finish high school let alone go to college with all the pain she was experiencing? The college professors don’t care about health problems. Their only concern is to assign assignments and expect them to be turned in on time. How was she going to do this with all the doctor appointments and constant pain she was in?

I felt so bad because I let society dictate to me the protocol of life events despite the inability for my daughter to meet them. At that point we decided we would continue this journey together, but we were going to put our priorities in order. Society dictates you have your college plans figured out, finish high school and start life. Well, that is great if you don’t have chronic health issues, but it is even worse when the chronic health issues are invisible to everyone around you. Well, my daughter wasn’t able to meet society’s standards. We had to decide that day that her life wasn’t going to look like what society deems as “normal”.

Our plan that day was to put the health issues on the front burner and take an extra year to finish high school. Surely in this year to come, the doctors will have figured this situation out. Then she can plan for her college future. She knows what she wants to do and where she wants to go. The only question is how do the medical issues get resolved.

The emotional pain this took on her was deep. No one will ever truly understand how much this hurt her. She watched her peers graduate that year while she got left behind sitting in her life of constant pain. She watched them move on with their lives and go on to college while she got left behind. As that summer came to a close the pain reared its ugly side as she watched many leave and here she sits left behind again suffering in her world of pain.

As the months continued to move forward there were still no answers from her doctors. We got introduced to an amazing urgent care doctor who saw through her eyes and saw the pain so many other doctors missed. Her pain became so severe that we became what we call frequent flyers to this urgent care facility and got to know the staff well. They helped her manage her pain and were able to direct us to the team of doctors she is currently being seen by. Unfortunately the intense pain continued as the school year continued.

While day after day passed, the pain persisted and school day after school day slipped by. The question I, as her mom and teacher have asked is this, “How is she to get her work done with this pain?” I keep telling myself , “We have to stay the course. We have to focus on the medical side and then focus on schooling. It will all get done in time.”

This situation for her is so difficult because her condition despite it being severe is not visible and because of the invisibility most people do not understand or try to understand why she is behind in “the life of a high school senior”. They just focus on why are you not done yet? Really, why are you not done? When do you plan on finishing?

I just want to shout out to the world, “Leave her alone. Can’t you see the pain she is in? Would you want to experience day after day of relentless pain? Why instead of judging her can’t you support her? Why can’t you see the emotional pain she is in from all of this? Why can’t you hear the pain in her words? Do you think this is easy on her?”

My plea to people who are quick to pass judgement is to take a step back and try to understand where she is coming from. Just because you can’t visibly see the pain or illness doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It is present and persistent in her body.

Please take the time to truly talk to her. You can hear the pain in her words. You can see the pain in her eyes. You can see the pain through her expressions. It is real if only you take the time to love her for who she is and not what you expect of her at a society standard.

She will catch up in life once the doctors can get her pain managed and maintained. She has her entire life ahead of her to catch up. Please right now invest your time in supporting her through this difficult time. Hear her tears as she is crying out through them. She needs this more than anything. She surely needs it more than all the judgement and criticism that society has to offer.

This is written from a weary mom’s heart. I see her pain. I hear her tears through her words and unfortunately when the pain is severe enough I am the one who wipes them from her cheeks as she just holds her head in pain. So please don’t pass judgement on her because she isn’t getting her algebra or chemistry done. To society, she will finish high school and she will go to college and one day may even become a famous trial lawyer, but right now her body is screaming in pain daily and just let her work through this whether you understand or not. This is real even though it is invisible to you.

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