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To the Public Health Nurse Who Gave Me Courage as a Medical Mama

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Dear Public Health Nurse,

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

You saved me. You probably aren’t aware of the impact you have had on my family, but I want to tell you that you saved me.

You first started coming to our house two years ago to do weekly weight checks on my son Davy, who had recently gotten his G-tube.

You rejoiced with me over each ounce that Davy gained and mourned with me over each ounce that he lost. You noticed how my daughter Anna was also very tiny for her age and started weighing her, too, taking a load of my mind as I could finally see tangible evidence of her slow, but steady growth.

But, you didn’t just weigh Davy on your portable scale and then leave each week.

You stayed for a while, and you let me talk. You showed me how to deal with the stress of being a medical mama. You let me cry and sometimes, you gave me a hug before you left.  You gave me ways to balance Davy’s care with the needs of my three older kids. You helped me figure out how to handle sweet little toddler Anna when she acted out to get attention and made me pull my hair out in frustration. You researched and printed off articles for whatever parenting issue I was currently dealing with, and you gave me valuable information on feeding a failure-to-thrive child. You encouraged me to lean on my friends and my family when I didn’t have the courage to ask for help.

“You can do this. You are a great mom,” you said to me so many times, and I knew that they weren’t just empty words.

When you hear something enough, you start to believe it.

You told my kids over and over again how amazing they are, and how they were such big helpers to me. I watched the pride fill their eyes as they took your words to heart, especially during those times when I couldn’t find the words myself.

When my depression started to take control over me, you assured me that there was no shame in asking for help. You are the reason that I had the courage to go to my doctor and get my life back.

And when I finally confided to you how my own health seemed to be going downhill, and I suspected Ehlers-Danlos syndrome was the monster wreaking havoc in my family, you immediately took on the extra responsibility of starting the processes and paperwork to get my family the help we need.

I’ve heard that having a child with medical needs can make or break a marriage. Mine survived and came out stronger, and I credit you partly for that. If I hadn’t had your support, I would’ve crumbled and my relationship with my husband would have followed.

I wouldn’t have survived the last two years intact if it hadn’t been for you. I never expected to forge a friendship with you, but I did and I will forever be thankful for that.

Originally published: June 29, 2016
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