How An Emergency Hospital Visit Improved My Relationship With Mom

It’s 1:04 a.m. and I just got home from a near-by hospital about 10 minutes ago. Mom woke up feeling dizzy, which happens occasionally, but today, however, proved to be an exceptional case. She continued to lie down on her bed throughout the day, hoping the feeling would go away.

She called off work, canceled a prior engagement and debated whether or not she should head straight to the hospital. It took about eight hours later before we actually did.

By then, mom’s hands began to stiffen and shrivel up. Her breathing became labored and her eyes were sinking in. So I left the apartment around 9 p.m. and started driving toward the hospital as fast as I could, thinking of the worst that could happen.

I arrive at the Emergency Care parking lot and rush over to the entrance, leaving mom in the car. I meet a security guard to inform him that my mom is having a hard time breathing and that she needs a wheelchair because she can’t walk.

He tells me to drive up into the drop-off zone, where he meets us along with a nurse before wheeling mom off into the facility. I re-park my car and rush again to the entrance, where same the security guard hands out a few documents attached to a clipboard.

I enter the waiting room to inform the receptionist about everything that had just happened up until now. He points me to the where the other visitors are sitting. I settle into an empty seat, where I begin to fill out the papers to the best of my abilities. I turn them in promptly. In less than 10 minutes later, my mom’s sitting on the other side of the waiting room looking much worse than earlier.

“I’m having a stroke!,” she says. Her lips were beginning to appear distorted and were stiffening up like her hands. As someone without any medical experience, that idea seemed rather convincing.

I began massaging the stiffer parts of her face around the lips, which were slanting to the right. I rubbed both of her hands as if I was making a fire to keep them warm. Like all mothers, however, she kept worrying about everything that was going on around her and of course, she was always thinking about me.

Despite the current circumstances regarding her health, mom still had enough energy to nag. I tried blocking out some of the stuff I heard while telling her “Mom, please calm down! Stop thinking so much!” My voice quivered as I tried to hold back the tears.

We wait a little longer before mom’s name is called. The nurses do a brief check-up before she meets the doctor, who diagnoses her with an anxiety attack.

She then goes through four different tests to determine the state of her health, which turned out great! While waiting for the nurses to assist us, I kept trying to talk her into calming down.

“Our relationship is pretty difficult, but it’s always times like this that we work better together,” I say.

“Why do you have to wait until the situation becomes like this?,” she asks.

“If I were too close to you, I would be too emotional. I actually prefer it this way. That’s where you and I are different.” I say.

She pauses before looking to the opposite direction because clearly, white-painted walls are interesting to look at. 

Our conversation takes a turn toward more positive topic like how well I do at my current job. We share a moment smiling together, which rarely ever happens.

As we leave the hospital, we make an exit while holding hands. We are grateful for the news that mom is healthy. She is definitely less stressed. I think I’ll sleep well tonight.

UPDATE: 9/29/18 9:38 a.m.

Mom’s still asleep. Her breathing is normal. She threw up a lot before going to bed at 2 a.m.


Chicken noodle soup for the tired soul

The first time I ever felt depressed was when I was 11 years old back in 2004. I was staring down at my bathtub surrounded by dark and cool white walls that resembled what I’d imagine to be like an asylum. Not much air flowed through the room in addition to it being lifeless and dull that one’s voice could echo across the room.

As I faced to look outside past the barred windows, everyday seemed pretty grey. Regardless of whether or not the weather was nice, I wasn’t really allowed to enjoy much of it. Hence why everyday was easily a very dismal day. But this day was different. For once, I felt a sense of melancholy which then turned into a void.

My soul felt exhausted as if I’d lived much longer than someone my age. No feelings, just emptiness like a barren wasteland. Yet, I couldn’t understand why for many years after that. These thoughts and feelings never really stopped. Like poison, they sunk back right in to rot my mind, body and soul.

I knew that I couldn’t afford medical attention. Even if I could, I was too shy to talk about my problems with anyone let alone a professional. Five years pass until I hit my final straw- or so I thought.

I was tired of peer pressure and other not-so-pleasing circumstances that come with being impoverished. So I stood yet again, hovering over my bathtub, but this time, I wasn’t alone. I came with a small kitchen knife, debating whether or not I should just plunge it into my gut.

At that moment in my life, I saw the faces of everyone I cared for flash before my eyes. I walked to the kitchen to return the knife. As each year passed, I slowly started to understand myself more. I was still depressed, but never diagnosed as such.

While I did face similar issues as I got older, I survived every one of those episodes with more experience. In a sense, it was all a work-in-progress to build resolve in fighting through the trials and tribulations that have yet to come my way.

Beer Glass Half Full

I’m nervous, no, anxious walking into this brewery 40 minutes south of Downtown LA. Like a lost puppy, I follow my friend who is equally as lost as I am. It makes no sense but it comforts me because for the first time, I’m living a social life that’s not work-related.

So here I sit, eating mini Macheen Birria tacos and downing my very first glass of beer since attending university. It’s only after eating that I down one-third of a small glass, reliving times when I was suffering through depression.

Back when I wanted to feel numb just to escape from all of the stress on top of the pressures of being in college. Today, I stare at a glass half full, feeling relieved that I’ve come such a long way since then. I’m in a much happier place in my life now.

I’m not as nervous as I once was about being an impoverished blue-collar worker and breadwinner of my household. I just show up to work everyday, challenging myself to learn more about my surroundings.

I can say I’m much more experienced in facing the real world all while preparing myself for future endeavors. At least the glass is no longer half-empty, but refillable.

The Journalism Graduate: One Year Later

On May 24, 2017, I entered the real world educated, debt-free and unemployed, but I never imagined myself working in retail. I graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from the California State University of Long Beach expecting a job in media. And I was wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. I did think carefully about what I wanted to do with my life, but nothing really popped out to me. I didn’t like the idea of waking up at 3 a.m. just to report at some crime scene, especially if I were to have a family. I couldn’t bear to leave my kids. These were the kind of thoughts I had as I approached my mid-20s.

I didn’t want to stretch myself thin for a job that wouldn’t financially support me, especially if I had to capture videos, photos, audio, edit and publish all of the above. For what? For who? Would I get to live my life or die in an “accident” somewhere?

I needed more time to think about my future. For 9 months, I jotted down all of my interests as well as the investments I would’ve liked to make on the side. But none of that was going to sustain me financially, either.

I applied left and right to about 30 different places in my field of study, only to land a few interviews before dipping my toes into retail. 10 applications. That’s all it took. And I scored.

Now I earn slightly less than I would as a reporter. But I’m not as stressed. I’m happier knowing that I’ll have a job anywhere I go. That I’ll get to keep my head on my shoulders and my feet firmly planted on the ground. Literally.

“So… your degree has gone out of the window,” is what I’ve been told. And as painful as it is to hear that, I still disagree with that statement. Yes, my transition from being a college student to your average working-class adult has been a very strange journey. However, it has led me to believe that I was right to get into retail all along.

A Transition Into Living Color

It was as dark as night, hidden within mom’s beige, built-in apartment closet. Black and grey clothes hung here and there, peppering our entire wardrobe collection. Back when I wanted to wear clothes that were as dark as my mood. And it all began in the early 2000s. I was just a teenager when, to mom’s dismay, I began to rebel via wardrobe malfunction and a complete change in color scheme.

Way back when rhinestones, glitter, leopard prints and rainbow tie-dyed everything competed with metal spikes, long, black midi skirts and fishnet tank-tops. I shudder to think about it now.

But that was my way of expressing myself. My way of hinting at those dark, deep thoughts that lead to symptoms of depression and eventually, lead to suicidal tendencies. The types of struggles that can hardly be put into words. Black and grey fit me as comfortably as skin-tight jeans. They just felt good. Up until this point, my life wasn’t so colorful.

But that changed the very moment I began my last semester at university in the spring of 2017. I’ve found no reason to brood over the past and have learned to let go of old grudges. I’ve graduated from college, found a job and have managed to maintain fulfilling relationships with friends and family.

And did I mention family? Yeah, I’ve found that I want to have one of my own. Right now, I’m happy and optimistic. I’m only just starting to find many reasons to live. Words a teenage Diane would’ve have never associated herself with. Or the colorful wardrobe sprinkled with dresses and pastels in pink and blue. With me, what you see is what you get. I’m wearing my heart out.

Love, Unexpected

Underneath your blank stare and stoic expression lies a code that’s much easier to crack. You may have everyone else fooled, but you’ve got emotions that crave the warmth that’s found in a well-deserved hug or a quick kiss on the cheek. You’re well on your way in your pursuit of love and you may not even realize it.

Love has a funny way of entering life when you least expect it. It’s a natural, practical, unconditional and understanding kind of thing—but that’s just the pretty part. Just when you need it the most, love delivers hard truths, sacrifices and painful experiences to learn from.

Times like these may hurt the most, but they provide a glimpse of life from a perspective beyond yourself. It’s no fun to endure these chapters in life, but it’s better than being deprived of them. Without them, there is no stimulation for personal growth or the acceptance of others for who they truly are as a person.

No one’s really an expert at love, but it’s easy to recognize the symptoms of what it isn’t. It’s not something that forces you to act against your own will or turns you into some bitter, obsessive, possessive type of person. True love is not built over social or personal standards. It’s not something you can plan in your 20s, 30s —at any point in your life, really— and you can’t customize people as if you’re at Build-A-Bear.

You could try to choose the people in your life, but you’ve gotta be something real special to reject love from anyone. It’s not always meant to be found in romantic relationships or left taken for granted when friends and family are involved. Love goes beyond expectations and begins with accepting the good along with the bad parts of yourself.