How The Journey Began
People have told me for years that I have a beautiful smile. I have tried as much as possible to let that be the face that people see most. However, on the inside, there wasn’t always a smile. Some days, I felt as though I couldn’t even pull off a fake smile.
For most of my adult life I have felt as though I need to strive to reach the goal of perfection. I have learned to “fake it till you make it”, leading many to believe that smile pasted on my face is always real.
At some point, my life became more about preparing and less about living. I can’t identify what led to the feeling of constantly working toward a goal I may never reach, but I clearly remember the circumstances that led me to rethink.
During the past year, my son was sick. It started as a mild pain in his legs and grew to complete, debilitating pain throughout his body. He mystified doctors, MANY doctors, at many hospitals.
My habits of working 40 hours per week at one job, then 25-30 hours per week at a second job stopped abruptly. I had been saving money for a rainy day, and suddenly we were in a hurricane. His first weeks in the first hospital, I never left his side. I slept in a pull out chair next to him. I was on a Family Medical Leave, and work was only a thought in the back of my mind.
As a single mom, I had a constant concern for finances. Suddenly my concern was for my son’s health instead. Finances would have to figure themselves out. I still had two solid jobs to go back to and I didn’t need to worry.
Many doctors misdiagnosed my son, causing his health to continue to decline. We struggled on our own in a small town in Maine, trying to find services that simply didn’t exist. By the time we went to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine, his survival was in question. At this point, I had already taken six weeks of unpaid medical leave and any savings I had was gone. Doctors were still completely unaware of what a diagnosis may be.
I was told that we may be looking at a long term stay in a rehabilitation center in Rhode Island. With only a few weeks left of medical leave (all unpaid) and a teenage daughter at home, I needed to start planning how we would make this work. But there was nothing to plan. There was nothing solid in our future. All I knew was that for today, I was by my son’s side. It slowly began to sink in that if I lost my jobs, there would be others. If I went into debt, so be it.
Long story short, my son was diagnosed with a very rare auto immune disorder that was essentially attacking his cells. Once it was identified, the amazing doctors at BBCH were able to cure him in a matter of days. He was home and healing by the end of the week.
I found myself asking “What just happened???” repeatedly. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back to the life I had before. A switch had been flipped in me. As he recovered, I found myself lost, full of anxiety and having frequent panic attacks. I felt the need to tell people to enjoy every single minute of their lives because they may not be as lucky as I was. I found myself less invested in work and more and more invested in improving my own health.
Thus began the journey to Live Positive. Not just say it, not just think it, but REALLY LIVE IT.
I decided to pay it forward by creating a website to share hope and positivity. We now work to find causes to support through volunteering. We tell our story every chance we get to help raise money for the amazing doctors and the hospital that saved my son. It’s been an adventure so far. With a 15 year old and a (now healthy) 13 year old, I am realizing how short and precious time really is. I’ve found so many amazing people who have faced tragedy and persevered. The one thing they all had in common was their positive mental outlook, their beliefs, and their ability to turn a challenge into a moment of growth.
I hope you will join me and share your journey.