This is a guest post by Beads of Courage member Mary Myers Huddleston, a 17-year-old in our Chronic Illness program. She wrote about her recent hospitalization for a school assignment.
The young man, clothed in blue scrubs with a surgical mask around his neck, sat on the edge of my bed. Leaning over, he cupped his hands around my ear and whispered: “I know this is so hard, but you can’t give up; this is the time that you have to fight as hard as you can — I believe in you.”
I squeezed my eyes shut. My heart palpitating deep in the depths of my chest. I feel the cold sweat beading around my hairline and the tear rolling off my cheek. My parents were out of town.
I just wanted my mom.
Linda, a middle-aged nurse with short blond hair and thick, colorful clog shoes, knocks on my door: “Good to see you again. How are you feelin’, sweet pea?” she asked.
With my eyes still closed, I raised my thumb from my tense fist to signal a thumbs down. I almost always gesture a thumbs up — that way I can save my thumbs down for when I absolutely need them. Today I needed to use one.
Linda proceeds to the ER protocol. In my case, this consists of needle stabbing, machines restricting my movement, and oxygen being forced into my nose by a clear little tube wrapped around my face.
Why am I not better? Why can’t I be well? Why can’t my parents be here? There’s no use in fighting anymore.
In the silence, the echo of a plastic container filled with the rattling of glass beads rang in my ear.
My eyes jolted open. The muscles on my face lift into a smile, in spite of how I feel. “Let’s get stringing,” Linda said.
A pink, two black, and a yellow bead rested in her cupped hand. These were my Beads of Courage: a trophy that shows my bravery. Blacks are for pokes; I hate pokes, but because I get a bead, going to the hospital is a little easier. Courage comes in different shapes and sizes. In my case, it’s little colored beads.
I roll each bead between my fingers, as I guide each hole through the string. For a moment, I forget where I am, why I am there, and that my mom isn’t.
Although my disease took from me, it gave me much more: Now, I cherish every moment; life is too short to worry. Now, I am thankful and appreciate the little in life. Now, I believe in myself.
I have the courage to conquer the world.