Unbelievable Real Life, Believable Fiction

When I hear a reader say: “That’s not realistic; all of that couldn’t happen to one character.” I think, “That reader has skirted through life with little trial.”Spring 2009, a cop barreled into our car, injuring my oldest daughter, my son and myself. My husband and our youngest daughter escaped uninjured. The two kids healed; I suffered a shoulder and cervical injury. Actually, those injuries initially occurred when I was in a bicycle accident (a driver ran a stop sign); the car accident worsened those injuries.
A few months following the car accident, my husband’s biopsy on an enlarged lymph node was negative, but a few months later he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer (the biopsy results were wrong). In 2009 and 2010 he endured two surgeries and cancer treatments.
During this same time, our son battled a mysterious illness I suspected was Lyme disease since he had fourteen Lyme’s symptoms, but Curtis didn’t test positive so no physician would listen—see Brandilyn Collins’ posts May 2011 titled: The Lyme Wars. Most Lyme’s patients don’t test positive.
For the love of hockey, Curtis fought the pain and continued to play; unfortunately, he suffered a shoulder separation during a game. In a sling for that injury, he had a MRI on a large cyst behind his knee; it tested benign. Hoping I was wrong about Lyme, I agreed to allergy injections to treat Curtis’ allergy-like symptoms. Days after the injections started, he developed a systemic rash. The allergist responded, “There’s an underlining cause.” So, I told an infectious disease MD, “Don’t think of me as a mom; as an EMT I’m telling you this patient has Lyme disease. Please help him.”
After several months of Lyme’s antibiotics, Curtis improved but still battled bilateral knee and ankle arthritis. My orthopedic surgeon (explanation later in this paragraph) diagnosed Curtis with Lyme arthritis saying, “Bring on the CDC; this kid has Lyme disease and I’m treating him as so.”
During the several months of Curtis enduring tons of doctor appointments (pediatrician, allergist, dermatologist, infectious disease, rheumatologist and orthopedist) plus countless tests, my shoulder worsened to the point I needed surgery to repair a labral tear. To date, Curtis still suffers with Lyme arthritis and may for years. Unbelievably, fall 2011 he suffered a severe concussion from head trauma in a hockey game and was out of school for three weeks.
As for my daughters: In 2010 my oldest was being recruited by countless college swim coaches. They were in and out of our home and Sabrina traveled on college recruiting trips; exciting yet stressful. My youngest, Fiona, dealt with anxiety from watching her family endure this mess.
How can one family battle all that in two years? For starters, God carried the five of us. Plus, Leo and I are well practiced in dealing with life’s mountains. Leo’s brother committed suicide when I was pregnant with Sabrina; I went into labor at the funeral. When Leo was sixteen, his dad suffered a heart attack; Leo drove him to the hospital in time. At age seventeen, I lost my family when my dad was killed in a bicycle accident. Also, Leo and I lost three babies, one of them in my second trimester due to a disease that prevented the development of limbs and caused a miscarriage.
My attitude during 2009-2010 was calling the five of us: “As the Bensons Turn.” Laughter, a positive attitude and our faith, plus the love and support of our family and friends, carried us through.
All that said (whew), next time you think something is unrealistic, really ask yourself – “Is it?”

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