By Julie Getchell (‘23)
The doctor kept her hand on my neck at my checkup appointment. My ten-year-old self wondered if she was trying to strangle me or just really happened to like my neck. Once she pried her cold hands from my neck, she turned to my Mom and told her that she wants me to get an ultrasound. I thought that this was weird, but I was excited because I was going to get an ultrasound. Most people got ultrasounds when they were pregnant, but I was in fourth grade and I got to get one, for my neck! When I got to my ultrasound appointment, they put warm gooey stuff on my neck at first. Then, they started rubbing this controller type thing on me, they were a little rough, but I wasn’t going to say anything. It was over before I knew it and I was going home. They told my mom and I that we would hear from the doctor in the next week.
Within a week, I was situated in a doctor’s office at Children’s Hospital. She told my mom and I that I had a growth in my thyroid, which was the specific medical term for my neck. Once the doctor had informed us of the growth, the room had gotten all serious. The doctor sent my mom and I to a different hospital so that way I could get a “biopsy”. I had no idea what that was, but my mom seemed nervous, so I got nervous. Was this something like getting my blood drawn? I prayed that this was not the case, as I have a lot of experiences with needles, but none of them could be considered “good”.
Three years prior, when I was seven years old, my mom picked me up from school early. I could barely contain my excitement, I was able to leave my first grade classroom early AND I got to hang out with my mom. Much to my surprise, I was not just hanging out with my mom, I was going to the doctors. My teachers had expressed concerns about me leaving class frequently to go to the bathroom and it was
not because I just did not want to be in class but because I legitimately needed to go to the bathroom due to the fact that I was frequently thirsty.
The doctors told me that they would have to “prick” my finger. I immediately began to panic; needles terrified me. The last time I remembered going to the doctors, I had four nurses pinning me down on the bed while they gave me my shots. Fear pumped through my veins, the very ones that they were going to take blood from. Eventually, the nurse had pricked my finger and tested my blood.
I do not remember what the doctor had said when he first came back in. However, I do remember being escorted out of the room while my mom broke down. I got to pick a bunch of stickers and when I was finished, my mom was waiting for me with my coat. I made a big deal about how sore by finger was, little did I know that was the least of my worries.
While I sat in the backseat of the car, I gazed out the window at the city. My mom was on the phone with my Dad. I overheard her telling him that we had to head home, pack a bag, pick up my sister, and then we would head in. Maybe this was a vacation!
Well, it could be considered a vacation if you believe that Mass General is the new Disney World. I got this cool bracelet that had my name and birthday on it. Then, a few nice ladies laid me on a table and opened up the I Spy book and we began to play. They had distracted me so they could stab me in my hand with a needle. They told me it would put medicine in my system to make me feel better. I felt betrayed by the nurses, they let other people put a needle in me while I was not paying attention. My dad, in attempts of making up for it, went and got my sister and I, a happy meal from McDonalds. Finally, something good was coming out of this trip, until a nurse came in demanding that they had to prick my finger and give me a shot before I could eat.
That was how my life was going to work for the foreseeable future. I had been diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. I would now have to prick my tiny delicate fingers ten to twelve times a day. On top of that, I would have to do injections around the clock to make sure that I would stay healthy. All aspects of my life were no longer the same. I did not look forward to eating because I would have to do an injection. If I wanted to go enjoy a movie, I would either have to do an injection for movie snacks or not eat there at all. I was no longer invited for playdates because other parents at the time were too nervous to have me on their watch. I was ostracized from other kids because of a disease that I had no control over. Why me? God, what is your plan?
I followed my parents lead and trusted in God’s plan. He would not have given me this disease if he did not think that I could handle it.
Then, three years later, I was ordered to get a biopsy on my thyroid. This biopsy, was nothing like getting my blood drawn. In fact, it was much worse.
The room was dim when the young lady led my mom and I in. I had asked her to turn the light on but apparently the lights needed to be this way for the procedure. She had me lie down on my back and did another ultrasound until the doctor came in.
Everything took a turn for the worst as soon as the doctor walked in. She was no longer the friendly doctor I had met at Children’s; she was all business.
“Don’t move, don’t talk, don’t swallow, and don’t cry.” She told me as she leaned over me. Don’t swallow? That seemed weird, up until she jammed a needle into my neck. I couldn’t possibly swallow. It hurt but I was tough, and it was over. Or so I thought. As I cried, the doctor proceeded to tell me that, the shot was only for numbing- they hadn’t even done the biopsy yet. ‘God help me’ I thought as she got ready to start up again. I felt the needle pierce through my neck again. This time, I couldn’t hold it in. I
cried. I cried because it hurt. I cried because I was petrified. I cried because my Mom couldn’t stop the doctor. I cried because I felt betrayed by God, why me? What plan is this? I was hysterical, they could not even take another sample for the biopsy even though they were supposed to get five. The doctor told me that kids younger than me did it easily, with no problem. I was convinced that she was the devil, for not only torturing me physically but mentally as well.
When my parents took me back to Children’s the next week, I did not want to be in there any longer than I had to be. It was relatively quick; she said the growth was benign. They told me this meant that my growth was not bad and that was a good thing. Tears sprung from my parents’ eyes and they were thanking God. Why were they thanking God? HE did nothing deserving to be thanked. HE was the one who put me through this. HE was the one with the supposed plan for me. Is he even real? How does a person with so much power allow suffering in the world? If there was a God, there would not be any pain or suffering.
I was so confused by the aspect of God, well, more like the absence of God. I began to rely on myself for my well being, after all. I prick MY fingers multiple times a day so that I could make sure MY blood sugars were in range. I administer MY injections for any food that I ate. A few months ago, I underwent surgery to remove part of MY thyroid, so I would not have to worry about if that growth would ever become cancerous. I do not know what God’s plan is, or where he is, but I know that I am here and MY plan is to live for as long as I can and be as healthy as I can be.