Tempus Fugit. Time Flies. 

That is the theme rattling through my head today, for today my youngest turns 18. Seems like only yesterday, her and I were having tea parties with the cats. Now, here we are preparing for High School graduation and the transition to college.

This a hectic time of year for my family filled with celebrations. Yesterday, my sister and one of my uncles celebrated a birthday, today is my daughter’s and at the end of the month is my son’s. The first few days of February will bring my parent’s 61st wedding anniversary on the 3rd and my mom’s birthday on the 6th. All dates which I’m grateful to be able to celebrate.

Family is very important to me.

His Holiness, St. John Paul II wrote:

“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others. “
“In the newborn child is realized the common good of the family”

I consistently fail at fully expressing in words the love and admiration I feel for my parents, my wife and my children. My children are a constant source of pride and joy for me and find myself smiling with excitement as I watch them blaze their own trails and continue to outshine me. I wouldn’t have it any other way and continue to cheer them on as they scale new summits in their lives.

As we all know, family isn’t all rainbows and unicorn dust. Its challenges, heartaches, hurt feelings and concern. Its nights spent in prayer over the obstacles that we seem powerless over.

January is also the month of “The Most Holy Name of Jesus”

Without our Lord Jesus, I wouldn’t be able to face the daily challenges that life presents. And to be rigorously honest, I haven’t always done so in a healthy or positive manner.
My parents are octogenarians and are regularly in need of assistance due to the challenges that age has brought forth. Health challenges and changes are a regular occurrence.
 And my daughter suffers from chronic, debilitating migraines. Another reason we’re celebrating her 18th birthday with joy and excitement. Now that she’s 18, she can finally see a neurologist that specializes in her ailment.

Lizzy doesn’t suffer with what most would experience with a migraine or headache. Her symptoms and experiences have been at times extreme. She experiences (we believe at this time) hemiplegic migraines.
According to various sources such as the NCBI, the Cleveland Clinic, the CDC, the WHO and Texas Children’s Hospital:

”A migraine is a common disorder occurring in 15% to 20% of the population. Hemiplegic migraine is a rare condition, with a reported prevalence of 0.01%. A study done in Denmark indicated the prevalence of sporadic hemiplegic migraine is 0.002% and familial hemiplegic migraine is 0.003%.
Women are 3 times more likely to be affected. The average age of onset is 12 to 17 years”  

Along with severe, throbbing pain, symptoms of Hemiplegic migraines can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, numbness and tingling (especially in the arms and face), loss of balance and coordination, and impairments to speech and vision.
In short, many times these episodes can present themselves as a stroke.

Situations like these not only affect the sufferer, but the entire family.

Lizzy began experiencing migraines around the time she turned 12. Sadly, as time has gone on, they’ve gotten worse and more symptoms have appeared. We’ve been to several different doctors and tried many avenues of treatment over the years.
We’ve been told a variety of diagnosis’s ranging from PMS and PMDD to its “it’s just part of puberty” .We’ve had CT scans, MRIs and other tests done. We’ve attempted many different medicines. We’ve even looked into diet and environment.

Like I said, it affects the whole family. If one member of the family hurts, the whole family hurts.

Many times I’ve found myself wondering if I would get a call from the school to come get her. Would I get to sleep through the entire night? Or, would she even make it to school the next day. Sadly, I must admit that at times I questioned her on how ill she really was.
We’ve had to change plans based upon how she was feeling and if where we were going could possibly trigger an episode. Which colleges she’s looked at seriously have had the added criteria of support for her ailment and “how quickly could a family member be there to assist her?”
Far too often, I’ve found myself sitting with her on the couch at 2am with only the fairy lights on the mantle on, holding her and trying to comfort her.
Even attending Mass has been difficult at times.

Last year at the Easter Vigil, Lizzy was confirmed. Though she got through it like a trooper, the incense and the choir was beginning to affect her. How appropriate that she chose St. Teresa of Avila as her patron saint. St. Teresa (the patron saint of headache sufferers) suffered migraines and other painful ailments.
Her writings, inspired by her sufferings can be a source of inspiration and enlightenment to us all.

“God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.” 

“Pain is never permanent”

Despite it all, Lizzy has remained upbeat, compassionate and an inspiration to me (actually, all my kids, including my daughter in law are sources of encouragement and inspirations to me). She remains an honor student near the top 10% of her class. She regularly serves in our parish and is without ceasing, supportive of me and Easter Pup Creations, even when I’m unable to be.

That’s another reason why we’re celebrating Lizzy turning 18. The hope that with the options now available, we’ll be able to find more answers, new treatments and a way of helping her live her life to it’s fullest.

Yes, family has its challenges. Challenges that I’m still learning to accept and face with the love, support and strength of my family and Our Lord Jesus.

And yes, I’m grateful for my family, warts and all.

But, what do I know … I’m just a simple rosary maker.

St. Teresa of Avila, Ora Pro Nobis

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