One of my favorite books as a child was about a little train engine that had to conquer a mountain. As he slowly chugged up the treacherous peak being propelled by sheer determination, my soul chugged along with him “ I think I can.” I think I can.” I think I can..” ,all the way to the top until he made it victoriously down the other side with his precious cargo in tow.
Fast forward thirteen years later. Now, I was that little engine, and I too had a mountain to conquer. Would ” I think I can” be enough to successfully take me to the top and over the other side.
Over the past year I had witnessed my beautiful, stately mother take on the resemblance of a prison camp refugee, complete with sunken cheeks and bones that looked as if they would protrude from her skin. Her five foot nine inch frame reduced to a mere eighty-nine pounds lay draped in organic cotton sheets. Her only room adornments being a super-sized air purifier that hummed twenty-four hours a day, its neighboring oxygen tank which added a splash of color, and a mid-size television perched on a single dresser a few feet from her bed.
After returning home from being diagnosed with having a severe immune system disorder by one of the top clinics in the US, Mom had been confined to the back bedroom of the house, where she survived on organic food flown in from out of state; a container of shots that had to be administered daily; all organic cotton linins and clothes; and her constant companion …her air purifier. “Not much of a life.” I thought as I peeked around the door for a few minutes to catch a glimpse of her one day during Spring Break. “And it definitely won’t be mine.”
At eighteen I had already been suffering with symptoms that were similar to those at the onset of my mother’s condition. So that day, while I took in her emaciated frame, I judged her and convinced myself that I would be protected from such a fate through sheer determination.
From that day on, just like my beloved little engine, I began to chug along toward my mountain, and no one or nothing was going to stand in my way. I chugged when my knees gave out, and I found myself crawling down the dorm hall to my room; I chugged when my limbs began to twitch uncontrollably; I chugged when I would suddenly forget where I was; I chugged when I lost my ability to speak at times ( Probably as the doctor later concluded, the result of tiny strokes). I chugged through debilitating headaches. I chugged while being carried out of gatherings after collapsing. I chugged and I chugged and I chugged; all the while repeating to myself my rendition of “I think I can.” which was “I’m not giving up, and I’m not going to the hospital!”
With the assistance of dedicated friends I continued to chug up the side of my mountain, propelled by my never say die attitude, until the day I found myself staring up at a sea of faces while unable to get up of the floor. Contrary to my protests, my roommates then made an executive decision and drove me to the Environmental Health Center a few hours away, where I spent the first of fourteen nights in the hospital stuck in a nightmare from which I couldn’t awake: a nightmare filled with pain and torment, needles and X-rays, and unfamiliar faces.
My nightmare culminated one afternoon when some Swedish specialists were interviewing me and filming my central nervous system reactions. My primary physician then explained that it was a possibility that my MS symptoms could confine me to a wheelchair. I was also informed that, not only would I never be able to return to my hometown because of the petrochemicals in the area, I also could not return to college. My only alternative was to live in a cabin high in the mountains in a somewhat pure environment. For a nineteen-year old college sophomore this was not my idea of a future.
So as I lay in my bed later that night, I angrily voiced my “I won’ts!” before God. “I won’t be confined to a wheelchair!” I won’t live in some stupid cabin away from civilization!” I won’t live like this…period!” I then began to complain about how unfair everything in my life was.
That is when the little engine finally ran out of steam and slid down to the bottom of the mountain. That is when I prayed to die…..
This is so long now….I will continue it tomor
Have a blessed Day!