So, change of plans. I’m writing this from the Rome airport, where I will soon board two flights that will land me home in Los Angeles in approximately 21 hours.
I had hoped that I didn’t need to write about this because I honestly hoped that things will get well enough that there would be no need to. But that is not the case. So now I’m not sure how to write about it, so I’m just going to cut to the chase.
My sister is in critical condition in the hospital, fighting for her life. Here’s the short version: She had a fever for a few days and then one morning, noticed that she couldn’t see too well. She was taken to the emergency room where her condition quickly deteriorated to seizures. Since then, she’s been in an induced coma while the doctors work on getting the seizures under control. There may be a diagnosis now. They think it’s NORSE (having ruled out West Nile), a very rare autoimmune disease. I believe it’s hard to 100% confirm this diagnosis and the cause is unknown.
While all this was happening, I was in Lyon, and then Paris, and then Bologna. Of course, I didn’t know these details then, only that my sister was very sick in the hospital but seemed to be better.
But the morning after my first night in Bologna (was that just yesterday?), I woke up with the message flashing across my screen: “she is getting worse”. And I knew I no longer belonged in Italy.
Later that day, by the time I received more details from my mom, her condition had gotten more critical and the seizures had gotten more frequent. None of the treatments so far have worked and the doctors are getting ready to shut down her immune system – a last ditch effort.
I’m not sure how/what to think. I’m scared and I want to cry whenever I think about it, but it still feels so unreal. Like I’m talking about someone else. This is the kind of thing that only happens to other people, to faceless strangers on the news. Certainly not to your family or even someone you know. I have so so many questions, starting with: how does this just happen to a healthy young adult?!
But we have to have hope. We have to believe that everything will turn out just fine.
So I’m going home. I’m going to be there when my sister wakes up. I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone for but I know that my family (however broken it may be) needs to support each other through this.
When life presents us with the unthinkable, when there is nothing we understand, we all need something to believe in, even if it’s just blind faith. And so today, my last day in Bologna, I went inside the church and lit a candle for my sister.
And I prayed:
Please take care of my sister and make her okay. Please put my family whole again. Please allow us to put aside any past differences and instead focus on providing strength to each other. Please get us through this and come together as a complete family again. Please make us okay.
Have you dealt with serious illness in your family? How do you cope?
P.S. Please send lots of positive thoughts and/or prayers our way. We need every single bit of sunshine!
P.P.S. I will try to provide regular updates. D will remain in Italy the next few weeks and then fly to Japan as per our original plan. I really hope he has a lot of fun still. Twice as much fun for the both of us. I hope he’ll send me a lot of pictures so I can share them too.