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Saying Thank You to My Mom, Who Sacrificed Her Time for My Health

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When I was just under 2 years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. While this disease is all I’ve ever known, for my family and especially my mother, this was not the case.

Everything in the first two years of my life seemed “normal,” until it wasn’t. When I started to walk, I walked on the sides of my feet. It was obvious something was going on with my body, but even my pediatrician didn’t know what. This prompted months and months of tests, blood work and time. A lot of time.

Time is a funny thing. When you’re a child you take it for granted. You dread going to the doctor, the tests, the X-rays, the MRIs, the blood work, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, the shots (so many shots) and the new medicine. However, you dread these things because it means you are going to miss school, your friends or a sporting event or two, not because of the literal time these tasks are going to take.

My mom was a single parent who had to take countless, and I mean countless, hours of unpaid time from work in order to raise and take care of her disabled child. She had to drive 45 miles to work, just to drive 20 miles halfway back home to meet my grandmother, only to drive back to downtown Cincinnati so that I would get the best care possible at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

As a child, I had no idea the sacrifices my mom made for me and my health. We were lucky because my grandma helped out in any way she could. But as far as doctor’s appointments, my mom was the go-to and she never missed an appointment. My mom was the one who took me to the doctor twice a week for methotrexate shots, which would make me throw up the moment I walked out of the office lobby to the overwhelming smell of rubbing alcohol. Yes, this is a real side effect with methotrexate.

My mom was also the one who learned how to give me shots herself when the rheumatologist prescribed me Enbrel for the first time.

My mom was also the one who talked me through giving myself shots at the age of 13. She did it all, and she did it all for me.

This disability isn’t something that goes away. Some years are worse than others, but the appointments never let up. My mom was there every single time. Even just as recently as one year ago, I ended up in the ICU because of a severe allergic reaction to an infusion. Once again, she was there. I didn’t ask. She wasn’t even my emergency contact — my husband was. But she heard I was in ICU and came running. I may have said thank you to her then, but I don’t think I really meant it until now.

I am sure I’ve told you thank you a million times, Mom, but now I really do mean it. Now that you aren’t here for me to tell you. Thank you for everything you ever did for me and for my health. I’ve got it from here on out, but I really am going to miss you.

Rest In Peace, Madre Sheila Kaye Sizemore-Bingham
January 4, 1962 – January 5, 2019

Originally published: January 23, 2019
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