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The Story of a True Hero: My Father
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by Serina C
"Good night, Serina." Mom leaned down and kissed me on the forehead. "Love you," I mumbled.
"Love you too," she said, closing the door. I pulled my covers closer around me. It's so cold, I thought, and it's not even autumn yet. As I shivered, the door in my room opened again. "Dad?" I looked at the figure at the doorframe.
"Why aren't you asleep yet?" he asked. Dad looked at the clock above my head. "It's late," he pointed out. I looked up at the clock.
"It is not. Please, I'm already eight." I could see him smile.
"Not quite. A week to go."
"Close enough," I retorted. Dad chuckled.
"I suppose you'd like to hear a story." I nodded.
"You were actually supposed to tell me one yesterday. The last time you said one was Wednesday, two days ago." I tried to sound unhappy. Dad must have believed me because he said, "I'm sorry. What about an extra long one tonight?"
I thought about it. "Okay!" I agreed. Dad sat down on the bed
"So what kind of story do you want to hear?"
I had thought about it already, earlier. "What about the time you played marbles with your friends and you won?" I asked.
"Well, Daddy's old. He doesn't remember so long ago. Sorry," Dad apologetically said. I wasn't too disappointed.
"What about the time I got hemangioma and almost died?" I asked and then added, "And you found Dr. Ward?" Dad nodded.
"All right, that's a good one." And he began.
~ ~ ~
I watched Alison play with her little three and four year old friends. Baby Serina was sleeping in my wife's arms. Her breathing, smooth and even, made her tiny chest go up and down. A mother of one of the kids at the party came over and she and my wife began chatting. Serina woke up just then and waved her arms around. The mother my wife was talking to said something about how cute Serina was. I smiled. As I walked over to the juice stand, I thought about how lucky I was to have such a healthy child. What I did not know was that such an enjoyment would not last long.
A few days after Alison's birthday party (she was turning three) and Serina's one month birthday, Serina started having trouble breathing. Her baby face would turn as red as a tomato and look very stressed. I felt so bad. The day came when she was so troubled that we had to rush her to the hospital. We went to the emergency room. Doctors crowded her and gave her a smelly liquid to help clear her trachea. I looked at her, pathetic and small, just lying there. She looked so fragile. And it made me scared.
Days followed and were like the first visit to the hospital. Every once and a while, Serina would need to go to the emergency room to revive her. Poor Alison, young and frightened, was so worried for her little sister. The people at the hospital figured out what was wrong with her breathing. A tumor was growing, in her body, blocking her from breathing. I was horrified. A tumor, growing in my daughter's throat? No wonder she couldn't breathe.
A man, named Dr. Keller, was helping with saving little Serina. He said the smartest way to save her would be to make a hole in her neck, allowing her to breathe through there.
My first thought was, that's like having a nose in your neck. My second thought was, that's inconvenient. As I thought more about it, the more horrible it seemed. Normal noses protect the lungs by filtering and cleaning the air going through it. Serina's "nose to be" would not be able to clean the air going through it and bacteria would go into her body. Normal noses would not affect a baby's voice at all. Serina's "nose" would prevent Serina from learning how to speak at early age because she wouldn't be able to. When she could, she'd be two or three, not the best age to learn anymore. She wouldn't be fluent. In addition, having a nose on her neck would not make her be able to sneeze. When you sneeze, I thought, your nose is kind of like, cleaned. When you cough, the mucous come out. However, if Serina coughed, her mucous would not come out. She'd need people to suck it out with a tube. Disgusting. I was determined to find a better way. So I searched.
~ ~ ~
"Dad?" I mumbled. "How long did it take to find that doctor? Dr. Ward?" Dad looked down at me.
"Finding him took a while. I went to the library, called people, and studied."
I was impressed. "I didn't know that. It took long, right?"
"Not really. Only a few days."
He looked surprised. "Sure. I mean, you're my daughter." I grinned.
"But still, thanks." Dad looked flustered. I added, "I wouldn't be talking right now if you didn't research."
"Mommy helped also," he said modestly.
"I know," I said. "Keep going."
"All right." Dad continued.
~ ~ ~
After I searched a little, I discovered a man named Dr. Ward. He was said to be fantastic and he had dealt with the very same case several times before. When Serina became his new patient, he started working. First, he used a laser to burn the tumor. I was nervous but I knew I shouldn't have been. He had done the same thing several times before and was very experienced.
It grew again, which disappointed me. He burned it again and then started using interferon, a medicine that stopped the tumor on its tracks. When it started taking effect, I was overjoyed. I didn't care how puffy Serina's cheeks became (it was a temporary reaction it caused). My baby was soon to be healthy again.
~ ~ ~
"And here you are now," Dad concluded. I smiled.
"Thanks, dad, great story." As he left and closed the door behind him, I thought about how lucky I was to healthy and be able to talk so well. I took a breath. In and out. No stress. The tumor did not scar me as it almost did. I had everything, including a good voice. If Dad didn't help, I wouldn't talk well. And I was grateful. Very grateful.