Birthday

A Star Wars fan, he wanted a Chewbacca birthday cake.

Dear Eric, you are four years old today.

You are such a happy, joyful, and most importantly, a healthy boy. You are truly a gift from heaven, and we are very grateful.

You laughed and blew out the candle as happy as any four years old boy would. There is no scarring whatsoever on your skin. You are growing stronger and healthier everyday. It was unimaginable only a few months back.

Shortly after you were born, you exhibited an extreme case of eczema. Initially, your cheeks were just a bit more red than usual. Perhaps a minor rash, but we saw you in discomfort. You scratched incessantly. We tied little tiny gloves over your hands to prevent your fingernails breaking the skin. We hoped that it was only temporary and that was the worst of it.

But it wasn’t. The red rash started to spread. You screamed and cried constantly. Must be from the itchiness. Your mother held you tightly rocking you back and forth all night. She tried to hide it, but the swallowing of her tears was all too visible.

One day, when we put you in the car seat, you were peacefully asleep. It was a short five minute drive to the grocery store. In the store parking lot, when we opened the car door, we screamed in horror. You were covered in blood. The blanket was soaked in deep crimson. Your bloody palm prints smeared all over the seat belt and other parts of the car seat. Blood was literally oozing out of your skin. It looked like a murder scene. You must have developed high tolerance of pain then, for your face was so twisted but you were silently enduring it.

When our eyes met, you even managed to squeeze out a smile, as if you were trying to soothe us. “I’m really ok. Please don’t be sad for me. See, I’m smiling.” What a courageous boy.

We wished that was the only incidence, but it wasn’t. We had to replace two more car seats because we just couldn’t get the blood stains out.

We took you to see a specialist and she needed blood tests. Your mother clinched my arm tightly watching vials of blood being drawn. She was trembling. We had doubts in your survival seeing so much blood flowing into tubes after tubes.

The test result showed that you had severe allergies to a list of things five pages long. That covered just about everything in the grocery store. “We can give you something to treat the symptoms,” the doctor said. “Nothing else we could do. Hopefully he will grow out of it.” We were outraged. We thought the doctor and the test lab were incompetent fools.

We took you to see another specialist. Then another one. Then another one. Five in total crossing three nationalities. They all gave us the identical verdict. The same five pages. The same “Nothing we could do. He will grow out of it” answer. Modern medicine wasn’t so helpful for you, our dear Eric.

While breastfeeding you, your mother would see all the needle eye marks on your tiny legs from the blood tests needed. She wept in silence. She had stacks of soft towels to clean the blood off your body, to keep your skin dry so it would heal.

We had to breastfeed you a little past three years old because you could eat little else. But you were always such as strong boy. Every now and then in your own bloody mess, you smiled back at us. Your mother’s eyes would get all moist.

The doctors were right. There was nothing they could do, but eventually you grew out of it. Systematically testing in small doses, we gradually crossed things off on the allergy list. Over time, the list shrunk from five pages to just two lines.

Just a few short months ago, you were still covered in scabs and blood. Now you smile so sweetly. Your skin is just as smooth and tender like any other boy of your age, as if nothing had ever happened.

Happy birthday, my son.

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One thought on “Birthday

  1. Declan Heyse

    October 8, 2017 at 2:50pm

    You have an amazing son. And your son has two amazing parents. Very glad that all of you came through that time and emerged in the better place where you all are now.

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