When You Have A Medically Fragile Brother Or Sister
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When You Have A Medically Fragile Brother Or Sister

A sibling's point of view.

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When You Have A Medically Fragile Brother Or Sister
Jordan Reynolds

The day your parents tell you that you're going to be a big brother or a big sister is a life-changing day. For some, it means the end of your "baby of the family" reign. For others, it means a lifelong partner in crime. For me, it meant growing up rather quickly and learning all too soon that you can't take life for-granted.

I was about to turn nine when my parents sat me down at the dinner table to tell me that they were expecting. I immediately made them take me to my grandparents house, followed by my cousin's house, to tell them that I was going to have a baby sister. At the time, we had no clue what the sex of the baby was, but I was determined that I was going to have a sister to dress in cute clothes.

On March 11, 2004, Lauren was born perfectly healthy. I was ecstatic, sporting my "Big Sister" t-shirt and anxiously awaiting the minute I got to hold her. My parents and I got a few days of holding her and feeding her with an actual bottle before both would be replaced with wires, scars and feeding tubes.

A week after Lauren was born, she started turning blue and much to my concerned-parents dismay, our family doctor told them to take her to Arkansas Children's Hospital immediately. I was sick, so I wasn't sure what was going on. I just knew that my nana sat by the phone all day waiting for news on my week-old baby sister. The doctors found that she had "Hypoplast Left Heart Syndrome" which basically means that she only had half of a heart.

Her first stay at the hospital was 47 days. For me, that meant 47 days of mom being gone while dad and I made daily trips to the hospital to visit with them and just hope that we got to hold my baby sister that day before being shooed out of the room after our 10 minutes every hour was up. When she and my mom finally got to come home, it wasn't even a joyous occasion--it was because the doctors had only given Lauren six months to live.

At the time, I didn't know how odd-defying my baby sister was. I didn't know that she would turn six months into seven years, survive two heart transplants or be starting the 7th grade this year. All I knew was that I wanted to spend every minute possible with her, and thus, my mom started homeschooling me, which only lasted two years but I blame my social awkwardness on those two years.

I didn't realize how quickly I had to grow up as a result of my sister's illness until my senior year of high school. The doctor's discovered that Lauren needed a new heart at eight years old. She was able to stay at home at first, but then she got even sicker and was hospitalized right after I started school; she was placed on life support. I was driving by this time, so I was able to either go to the hospital after school or go home to make sure our house was clean and my homework was done so that my dad wouldn't have to worry about anything when he got home late from the hospital.

About six days before she received her miraculous new heart, my mom called my best friend (who was a teacher at my school) to have her get me out of class and send me to the hospital. They wanted to be sure I could tell my sister bye if anything happened. My other best friend accompanied me, and before long, the hospital waiting room was full of my friends and our family. For me, that day meant a realization of who my lifelong friends would be.

Just a few days later, I was lonely and missing my family. Lauren was on life support so even when we were all at the hospital together, we really weren't all together. I remember a conversation I had with my mom where I felt as though she wasn't going to make it much longer and I was just ready for my family to be together again.

The next morning, Lauren received her first heart. For me, that day meant a restored faith in the Lord and His plans. It was almost as if He was waiting for the day I would start to doubt, just to be able to prove me wrong the very next day which is actually really cool to me.

Of course, being the sibling of a medically-fragile sister comes with its perks. Her Make-A-Wish trip sent our family to Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World for a week where our cousins and grandparents were able to show up and surprise her midway through the week. We've also got to meet one of our favorite bands, Panic! At The Disco.

Among all the bad things that come with having a medically-fragile sibling, I think the best thing is being able to brag on how much of a rockstar they are. Lauren has conquered more surgeries in her 12 years of life than most people ever will in a lifetime, and for me, that means my sister can probably handle anything you throw at her.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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