December 21 is a very special day. It marks the day of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. It is also the day I stepped onto a Boeing 777 at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport and stepped off of the same plane 11 hours later at LAX. Thus, this day makes it that much more special to me.
Even after 12 years, I can still remember it perfectly and through the years, I’ve spent this day at home with peace and quiet as I commemorated the journey and adventures I’ve had since I’ve been in the United States as well as celebrating the holidays. Some of the years had been fun like flying to Texas or driving to Las Vegas while there are the one where I was ill and had to spend overnight in an emergency room. That was not a pleasant experience for me.
It all began second to the last day of school before winter break. I was in seventh grade, by the way. As I went back to class after lunch, I began feeling chilly even though it was 70 degrees. My head suddenly felt so heavy. I thought maybe I’m just tired after lunch.
I sat down at my desk and let my achy head rest on my arms while waiting for the teacher to call the roll and get on with the lesson. After a while, my head became so heavy that I couldn’t even lift it up anymore. That was when I knew I was coming down with something but I just thought it was a minor cold or something. So for the rest of the day, I did the best I could to concentrate on the lesson while my head pounded with my heart beat.
By the time school ended, my mom came to pick me up, I was pretty sure I was running on a temperature by this point. As I rode home, I told mom how awful I was feeling. She said, “It might be just a little cold. You’ll be okay tomorrow.” She didn’t even bother with feeling my head.
It wasn’t true. The next day, that “little cold” became much worse and my parents decided that I wasn’t fit to go to school even though it was the last day. After they took me to a doctor in the morning, I spent the remaining of the day in bed, feeling bored as the bones all over my body burnt and ached, preventing me to do anything including move.
My step-dad constantly came into my room, urging me to drink juice and water while periodically fed medicine to me like I was a baby. The fire in my bones was temporary put out not long after I ingested the awful tasting syrup but it came back after about 30 minutes.
For the next three days, I took my medicine and drank an undesirable amount of water at one time while spending my time in bed, drifting in and out of sleep. I had no appetite to eat anything either as I never got hungry lying in bed all day. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have to eat. Mom fed me liquid food when she could, trying to make me feel better.
By Monday evening, I was still feeling feverish. My condition had not improved at all since I began taking the medicine three days ago. My bones still ached, so I decided to take a hot shower and just head to bed hoping tomorrow would be better.
While lying here in bed, my vision suddenly became slightly blurred as I stared into the light. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but I involuntarily opened my eyes again. That’s weird, I thought, there’s nothing in front of me, it’s all white light.
I blinked and the image warped. It warped into a spinning image of my room. Why is my room spinning or is my bed spinning? I tried to grab the bed to hold on but all my muscles seemed to be locked and uncontrollable. What’s happening to me?
Suddenly, distorting voices came into my head include my mom and a voice I haven’t heard in a long time, my dad. I know that sounds scary and I don’t think I was imagining things but sometimes these situations can do things to you. Anyway, it was my dad telling me to hang on in my native tongue.
“Daddy?” I wanted to say but my mouth was working.
“Don’t give up. Keep hanging on. Relax.” He kept saying.
I tried my hardest to relax and hope my muscles would come back to me while a new voice chimed in. “Wake up, please, wake up.” It said.
My mom’s worried face suddenly filled my sight. “What happened and what’s the noise outside?” I asked.
“You had a seizure. We didn’t know what to do. So we called the ambulance.” She pulled me up and wrapped me in a hug. “You scared me to death. How did this happen?”
“I-I don’t know.” I stammered.
My step-dad came in with two firemen. Mom pulled me to the side of my bed while one of the firemen tested me to make sure I didn’t have any brain damage. I followed his finger as he moved it and stated clearly my name, address, and birthday.
After a few minutes, he concluded that there’s no damage to my brain but I do need to go to the hospital for a check-up, at least to make sure everything’s fine. One thing’s for certain though, my fever is finally going down.
So my mom and I waited in the emergency room until after midnight by which I’ve already taken a nap even though my step-dad advised against it. They put me on a bed and started me on saline and for the first time in four days, I felt better.
About three hours later, the doctor came back with the result from my blood test. He said my calcium level is way below normal and that was what caused the seizure. He prescribed some medication to help with the flu and recommended me to drink more juice and milk and I was allowed to leave.
As mom drove home, I stared out the window thinking about my dad’s voice during the seizure and then I’ve decided I would never let anyone know for the fear that they might think I was out of my mind. “Are you okay?” Mom asked as we were approaching the apartment gate. I nodded quietly. She glanced at the clock and said, “You know, you’ve just spent the first few hours of your special day in an emergency room.”
She smiled and it suddenly came to me that it’s already December 21. I’ve just spent the first 3 hours of my third anniversary in the United States in the hospital. I gave a soft chuckle. This has been the weirdest experience of my life.