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The Unexpected Words My 3-Year-Old Niece Said After My Brain Surgery

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As long as I could remember, I had pain. I had pain in my ears, numbness in my hands, and dizzy spells. I would black out on a normal day, shake it off and continue down my path. I never paid attention to my pain.

I used to be a daredevil. I’ve ridden every roller coaster in the Central Florida area. I jumped off a 75-foot cliff in Missouri because it looked fun. I lived life of the edge of my seat. I’ve never backed down. I’ve always stood tall among adversity and heartbreak. I’m 5-foot-3, but I have the confidence of a giant.

Over time, the pain became worse, and the risk became greater. I had nightmares of me waking up in full of tubes a hospital bed. I’d wake up screaming in the middle of the night. The flashes of what soon would become my reality was haunting me. I just didn’t know it.

I came to in the hospital. I wasn’t sure why I was there or what had happened. All I knew was I fell. I was being admitted. What happened over the next 24 hours changed me.

I would learn I had syringomyelia, caused by Chiari malformation. I’m not a person who will cry, but man… that hit deep. Once I realized what I had, I lost myself. My ability to walk freely was gone. I needed a cane. I needed help getting out of bed. I lived off medications, while they squeezed me in for brain surgery for a condition I didn’t believe I had.

I am a proud aunt of two little girls and a handsome young boy. (He was born a year and a half post-decompressuon). They call me Boo. The oldest came up with it, as I I’m not just her aunt. I am her friend. She says, “I’ve always got a friend because I have my Boo.”

I will never forget their faces when I came home from the hospital.

I was admitted for five days post-op. I struggled badly during that time. I was in a ridiculous amount of pain. I couldn’t eat without being sick. I slept constantly. I struggled to move my arms and legs to get out of bed. I was drowning in pain and sorrow. I went from an adventurous, driven woman who could conquer the world with the wave of a hand, to a weak person.

That’s when my sister brought my niece, Addisyn, to see me. She was 3 at the time.

Addisyn made me Boo. We played games together. We watched movies, and I would sneak her candy. She always had so much fun with me.

I was laying on the couch, in pain, when she walked through the door. I was six days post-op. My sister had her hands on her shoulders as she stood in front of me in shock.

“Let me see your head, Boo. Mommy said you have a boo boo.”

I was speechless. I didn’t know how she would react. That’s a lot for a little girl to process, as I’d been giving her piggy back rides and on my shoulders, walking around a couple months prior. I motioned my hand towards her, and she climbed up to inspect.

I leaned forward, and immediately I heard a little gasp. Before I could react, she put her hand on the side of my head gently. She then kissed the crown of my head. She said, in a soft voice, words I’d never expect a child that young to say

“You’re a superhero, Boo. I’m so happy to see you.”

My eyes field with tears. I hugged her, we watched TV, and she went home with her mom a few hours later.

I’ve never wanted to inspire others. I’ve never wanted to give someone hope. But in that one second, that one day… I became a superhero to the one who matters the most.

I’ll never have children, and I don’t need to. I see passion and fire in their eyes. It’s helped me regain my spark, my abilities.

In 2016, I took Addisyn paddle boarding to show her I was getting better. Am I cured? No. But she doesn’t need to know that yet. She will learn that soon enough.

All she needs to know is I’m a superhero. I will continue to save her from the pain of the world, while she continues to save me from myself.

It goes to show that anyone can be saved from the love of a family.

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Thinkstock photo by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

Originally published: January 27, 2017
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