It’s December 27th. I made it. I survived Christmas. To be honest, it’s a miracle I have survived as a week ago I would’ve told you I wasn’t celebrating Christmas this year.
About two months ago my mum started getting a strange numbness in her legs. She put it down to straining herself in the garden and got muscle relaxants from the doctor with the view that she would be fine in a few days. Fast forward to Christmas Eve and my dad, my brother and I are sitting around her bed in the hospital trying not to cry as we discuss how we’re spending Christmas day.
It turns out it wasn’t just a strain induced numbness but in fact a mysterious no-doctor-knows-how-to-fix-this numbness. She can’t walk. She’s not in any pain, just can’t walk.
She’s explained it to me as being a sort of numbness where she can move her legs and feel it if you’ve pinched her but can’t feel if she’s touching the ground or not. She could tell you her feet were touching something but has lost the ability to tell you if she was walking on concrete or marshmallows. It makes no sense.
After countless blood tests, MRI scans, brain scans, lumber punctures, nerve ending shock things and whatever else they did to my poor mother, the doctor’s have no clue what the hell is wrong with her. Well, we know that she doesn’t have a tumour or MS or some serious shit like that so it’s all good(ish).
Now that they are pretty certain that she won’t seriously damage her legs, my mum can begin physiotherapy and start learning how to walk again, in the hope that this all figures itself out and isn’t permanent.
I have realised that I quite literally can’t think about it being permanent. I have been forcing myself to think positively and not dwell on it or I’ll wind up in a bed next to her.
To be selfish, this came at an awful time for me, as on the very same day that I had my anxiety medication increased and then failed a big assessment at Uni, my mum was admitted to hospital.
The councillor that I see at Uni said that I fear the unknown and things that are out of my control and I think she’s right. I am terrified. I can’t fix this. There is nothing I can do for my mum except just be there. And, that’s exactly what we did on Christmas. Just be there.
The nurses told us that visiting hours were flexible on Christmas and we could be there for 10-11am instead of the usual 2pm arrival. So, on Christmas Eve me and my dad wrapped all of the presents and put them in a big Santa Sack to bring up to the hospital.
It was definitely weird as my dad wheeled my mum into a corner in the hospital cafe where me and my brother were sitting with all of our presents to each other. As is tradition in our family, Christmas morning is filmed so we can look back on it later. The cafe was deserted so my dad got out his phone and we improvised our unwrapping of presents for our 19th Christmas as a family.
It was still December 25th even if it didn’t feel anything like Christmas to us. We were all still upbeat about it and just had an unconventional Christmas. I joked that we had simply decided to mix it up a bit this year and changed venues for our annual Christmas morning. We made light of a pretty shitty situation.
On my last day of Uni, before we broke for the holidays, the councillor told me that Christmas for my family wouldn’t be bad, just different.
She was right. It absolutely was.