Things I would tell that little girl. (A letter to me) #MentalHealth

To that little girl who felt confused about life. You did your best to be the best as a kid growing up in what I consider a dysfunctional family. It’s not your fault that you were shown bad representations of what “loving a child” is supposedly like. When you grow up, your going to become a teen mom, and you will begin parenting the way you were parented, but only for a short time. You will eventually see that somethings have to change. You will love yourself and love your children in every way that wasn’t exemplified to you growing up.

Me, small and confused about life

You will be the parent you wish you had as a child. You’ll attend every school event, sporting event, assembly, open house, counseling session, doctors appointment. You’re going to actually be there both physically and emotionally for your children.

My orphan photo from Holt Agency

The ways that you were raised and the things that you were exposed to such as alcoholism, extreme verbal abuse, acts of violence, and feelings of being unwanted, these ALL will not be carried over into the next generation. You’ll break that generational curse at the root!

Me again

You’re stronger than you look. You’re strength is bigger than your small size. You’re worth something to someone who you will meet later in life. You may have had everything material wise, but you lacked the significance of having parents. They were never there in ways of support that you needed. You just had two people who chose to adopt you for reasons that you won’t be able to understand at such a young age, only because your constantly being told that, “we should have never adopted you”, “you’re a mistake”, “you should have never been born!”

Me faking my smile

Oh and as you get older, it gets even worse, you’ll begin to be see the racist side of your dad, because you’ll suddenly become a “N-gger lover”, “whore”, “slut” simply because you choose to date someone who is black and the majority of your friends will be of that same race. You’ll be confused for a bit, because it was always okay to play with your black friends as a smaller child, but it wasn’t until your middle school years and beyond that it will become a huge problem. Your dad will present himself as if he’s not racist, yet he’ll talk about his “one black friend” to reference that he has one. That says it all right there.

The happy times of me and my childhood friend, Viola breakdancing on cardboard

You will overcome. You will stand up for your own beliefs. You’ll grow strength from the pain they’ve inflicted upon you. You’re smarter and wiser than your age. You see no difference in your selection of relationships merely because of the racial background. You only see exactly what each individual proves themselves to be. You will eventually despise your parents. You will become empowered by your own ambitions and you will begin advocating for yourself at a young age. You will speak against stigma, labels and fight for what you believe in! You will gain so much knowledge on your own. You will move out at a young age to escape the dysfunctional surroundings that these two people considered a “loving home”. If a “loving home” contains calling your adoptive child a “B—-ch” and so many other hurtful words, demeaning their worth, making them feel confused about their existence, never receiving any apology, not being hugged or told that their loved, yet being showered with gifts and money, this is what a “loving home” is NOT!

High school. This was one lost teenager filled with rage, pain, hidden behind a smile. (me)

Oh and let me NOT dare to forget that famous phrase your mom is going to always say, “what goes on in this house, stays in this house!” Let me elaborate for you, this means, when that social worker comes to ask you questions, you better not say anything about your dad’s alcholism, and all those fights, verbal abuse, violence, or any other truthful thing that actually occurs while under our roof. It means when friends and family come over to visit, you don’t say anything about anything. It means you pretend to be someone your not. It’s gonna feel like the freaking “Brady Bunch show” where everyone is “honkey dorry” and free spirited to do anything with light punishment for mistakes.

The Brady bunch and what we were NOT!

When in reality, it’s more like the “Mommie Dearest movie” with lots of the “wire hangers” moments!

The wire hanger scene from mommie dearest

Scene from mommie dearest (faking the happiness) and what my upbringing really felt like.

Pictures don’t show the truth, they just show the mask you wear. They just show a smile that isn’t genuine or real. They just show what your parents wanted everyone to believe, that you were a happy and loved child. You’ll begin to realize that your parents need therapy, and to face their own past. You’ll take into account their past, and reasons for why your dad turns to alcohol to numb his pain from the loss of his mom to suicide when he was 12. You’ll realize that your mom just might have some sort of mental health issue that she has gone untreated for years and she too needs therapy for the loss of her natural born son. Yet these reasons are impactful and significant but they don’t excuse the years of abuse and unfair treatment you was subjected to. You’ll continue to roll with the punches, and fight against their grooming attempts. You stand out, because your stronger than they think, and it’s because you don’t go with their plan that you become their enemy.

That little girl who didn’t have a voice (Me)

But you know what kid! You’re actually one in a million, your gonna come through all this better than most others you’ll find around you with very similar situations, minus them being adopted.

You’ll actually find the Lord and salvation as you get into your early 20s, and you’ll overcome the trauma of your upbringing. You’ll discover new meaning for living. You’ll discover your purpose around 43. You’ll become a voice for others. You’ll let others know that being broken is exactly what God is an expert in, fixing broken people. Now it’s gonna take a lot of work, self care, self examination, talk-therapy, prayer, meditation, commitment, dedication and finally true love that you will find in your faith and from your future spouse but YOU will discover that YOU DO MATTER AND YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE VALUED AND YOU ARE IMPORTANT. You will learn along the ways of being a young teen mom, your journey with motherhood will be a learning experience and you will make some mistakes along the way. You will begin off by parenting the ways you were parented and it is in this time that you’ll realize you have become just like that parent you grew to despise and said you’d never be like. Then the light will come on for you, and you will eventually go from bitter to better. You will go through stages of guilt and depression for being a horrible mom in the beginning, but don’t give up on yourself because you won’t stay that way. You’ll wind up being a much better person, mom, friend, caregiver, advocate and counselor to many. You’ll be able to share your story with others one day!

You’ll overcome so much adversity from being in a interracial relationship. Negative remarks will stem from both sides of the fence. Black females will hate you, while Korean males will hate him. Racial slurs will come to try and tear the love apart, but you two will withstand the test of time during that era. You two will grow stronger together and with Jesus added to the mix, it only keeps getting better!

Me and my husband in 1998 after having our 2nd child.

Little girl, You may not be able to find anything positive from the outcome of all the hurt, anger and pain your in, but please be patient with the process and continue to write in your diaries and keep doing what it takes for yourself to overcome. When you get to about age 30 is when you’ll truly look back at all your life has dealt you and you will begin to appreciate everything, even the bad stuff, because God’s gonna turn it around for your good. And for every negative put down your dad will ever say to you, your gonna prove him wrong, but most importantly your gonna prove yourself right! That you can achieve those things you were told you would never do. Why? Because you chose to believe in yourself and not in the words that were thrown at you. You WILL graduate on time. You WILL hold down a job. You WILL get an even better job. Your “N-gger” boyfriend that knocks you up WILL become your husband and he WILL stay with you. While years later your dad will cheat on your mom and ruin their own marriage. You WILL raise four beautiful children. You WILL own homes at a young age. You WILL be a better parent than your parents were and are. You will distance yourself from family members like this, because you will have to make a tough choice, that you no longer want part of a dysfunctional past. You will choose to move forward without taking that part of your past with you. You WILL survive. You WILL make it! You WILL achieve great things. You WILL love and be loved. You will not become the alcoholic parent your father was and is. You will not become a chain smoker like both parents were. You will not raise your children to stigmatise others. You will teach them to be kind to EVERY person. You will exemplify love and discipline in different ways as you learn to parent them.

You believed in yourself. You survived because you knew there was a better way with better days ahead and you never let hope die. ME TODAY!

Interestingly enough your parents lives will wind up not going so good as you all grow older. Call it, reap what they sow? Maybe. Or you can consider it many other things. You will be able to forgive them, but the most challenging and difficult part of your life will be the bad memories and not being able to forget. But let’s go back to that saying, “What goes on in this house, stays in this house!” So in other words, what went on in that house as a kid, growing up on 20th Ave SW, will remain there. You’ll no longer bring that into your home or allow it to interfere with your life.

My parents and me in 1975

You’re going to be proud of the much older you. You will become a wife to your high school sweetheart that your dad despised and stigmatized. And you will bear four children with him and you will raise them with Christian values, biblical principles as well as street knowledge and equip them for this somewhat cruel world. Teaching them to be humble and honest in everything they do. If they fall, get back up! Telling them, “NEVER ever let anyone tell you, what you can’t do”, including yourself. And as your husband will tell them, “your best is good enough!”. You will also tell them, “never measure your growth or skills to that of someone else, but measure yourself to where you began”. And “its not always about how you start but it’s about how you finish”.

Nothing but genuine smiles here. My youngest son and the love of my life.

Anyways, to the readers:

This is what I would’ve wanted that little girl to know! I wished someone would have told that little Korean girl that she is going to pull through. And in spite of her own mistakes, she will overcome many obstacles. And this chapter of her life was merely strength training for what was to lie ahead. And her journey will continue with many tests, trials and she will have to endure more hardship as a mom herself, but God will be her consistency.

Thanks for being here and listening to a different chapter of my journey. If you happen to be that same little girl or little boy that I speak of here, stand strong, speak out, break the silence, seek help early and take care of yourself! No one deserves to be unloved or made to feel worthless. Allow yourself time to heal, and be patient with the process. Discover the new you that is soon to become.

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“What goes on in this house, stays in this house!”

So many of us we’re raised to keep quiet, I remember my mom always telling me, “What goes on in this house, stays in this house!”

Young boys were raised to “man up” “stop that crying”!

Others were raised and basically threatened, “if you dont stop crying, I’m gonna give you something to really cry about”!

While that style of parenting was passed down from generation to generation, and intentions were with good motive, what wasn’t comprehended here, was that we were training our kids to be quiet about real issues that were important to them. We made them believe if they spoke their truths that something bad would happen, and therefore they were forced to stuff their real emotions inside until that one day that it overflows because you can stuff anymore inside there.

Parents did not realize with that type of chastisement, was creating a stigma within itself. Making their own children feel as though they can’t speak out about what’s truly going on inside their home. Having young people develop a sense of shame to even consider discussing what went on. All the while some of us at this young age felt obligated to protect the very people who had caused us the most pain. Being groomed to think that a dysfunctional upbringing of alcoholism, and physical fighting, verbal abuse was normal for every home. Only to lead back to the golden rule, “what goes on in this house stays in this house”.

Young boys that are told to ” man up” and not allowed to feel, or shed a tear simply because of their gender. They’ve been groomed to believe if they do breakdown or truly express hurt or pain, that they are “weak” or a “wuss”. So when some of these very same young men sail through life up until that moment when their brain decides its on system overload and their ability to “stuff” emotions no longer exists, they resort back to their upbringing of being told to “man up”. They shut out everyone, refuse help or treatment options because they’ve always been taught to “man up” or that they are not allowed to feel pain or cry. Yet all that grooming that was embedded deeply into them, now becomes the very things you wished they didn’t know, because their whole world has become flipped upside down and you as their parent, want them so desperately to get help and accurate treatment. Ain’t that something!!

Young men need to know they have a voice. They are allowed to express their emotions. They are valued just as much if they decide to cry. Showing “signs of weakness” doesn’t define who they are as a person, it just means they have feelings too. Their not a “wuss” or a “pussy” or “crybaby”. Don’t continue to devalue their character by demeaning their true feelings. It’s ridiculous at times when I hear these young men mention how cruel they are often treated by others and yet consider these others their friends??? Or hearing them complain about so much, and yet its often followed by that saying, “but its coo though”. There is nothing coo about being mistreated by another person. You know why its coo to them, because they’ve been trained to accept that kind of unfair treatment and “just deal with it”.

Adolescent children who were raised in a dysfunctional home, often came from that era of keeping family secrets. Being forced to put on that fake smile or get into character when company comes over. Someone knows what I mean, out there. Some of us to this day are still walking in silence, carrying the scars and burdens from our past because we have been groomed to believe its betrayal to talk with someone else about what really went on. And its tearing us apart inside, yet we are still wearing the mask that was told by our parents we must keep it on. Dealing with so much pressure, feeling like no one else will understand, unable to put our trust in another individual because we are afraid of what others may think. We walk in torment at times, because our memories cannot be erased. So what I say is this, don’t be ashamed of your story, instead use it to help others break free from their mental bondage. Your not the stigmas that others placed upon you to believe.

I’m not here to make parents feel bad, to those who may fall into this exact scenario, however I am here to open the eyes to this new generation of parents. I don’t want them making the same mistakes that the last generation made.

We often times parent how we were parented. And if that included any form of verbal abuse or made yourself feel negatively about how you were raised, than consider making a change and start with how YOU can break that generational curse. One other word of advice, children often learn by what you do, and not what you say. So in otherwords, lead by actions of example, not lipservice. And in all honesty there really isn’t any parenting book/guide because everyone’s journey is different and every family has their own situations to face. The one book that has helped me in my latter years, was the word of God, the Holy Bible. Along with talk therapy and surrounding myself with good people. Letting go of those toxic relationships even if it fell within my own family members. You get to a point in life, where you realize your not afraid anymore.

I’m talking about what I know, and not what I heard. I know this because this was how my childhood was and my friends too. I’m speaking from my own journey. We are ALL humans with very real feelings, we are not robots who are designed NOT to feel and be controlled by others.

Thank you for reading. I hope I shed light on some real issues and possibly brought about change to mind. May God bless every person who took the time to read this article.

Trust is fragile,
Love is challenging,
Forgiveness is easy,
Forgetting is difficult,
Change is rare,
Acceptance is everything!

-Erika Brooks

Stigmas & When your pain becomes God’s purpose.

I can attest that there have been seasons of pain in my life that have been self-inflicted, meaning that it was caused as a result of poor choices I have made.

Other chapters of my life, there was pain that was inflicted upon me by others, their choice of words or actions.

In other unique situations there was nothing I did, or anyone else could have done to make the pain happen to me but God’s good and perfect will. And even though the pain didn’t feel good at the time, I was still able to trust in my faith that if God put me in that painful situation, I trusted that HE would bring me through. Now I’ll be honest it wasn’t easy in the heat of the moment. It wasn’t a walk in the park, and the words I write here are way easier to type in an effort to encourage someone reading this, more than it would be to actually lift their spirits up if their in a painful situation. However, I am using my pain to fulfill HIS purpose which is to hopefully inspire someone.

What am I referring to? My pained moments, memories of trauma, hardship, loss and battles of victory. I’ll elaborate on those situations that only God could have ordained. In hindsight, I see the purpose, His glory. HIS glory became a part of my story.

These are just some of the pains I have faced, endured, and overcame. The abandonment by my birth mother only to be adopted into a dysfunctional home. And growing up with stigmas and negative comments from a world of cruel people.

My middle-to-high school years were pretty bad. People of other racial backgrounds in high school assuming I was smart just because I’m Asian. They would always try to copy my answers for tests. I didn’t do well academically but they assumed otherwise. People thinking my family was wealthy because I’m Asian, and I always had the latest kicks or fits, yet not knowing I was adopted. They were always cracking jokes, asking if I eat dog or cat? Murmuring stupid phrases like, “ching-chong, hing-how” as if that meant something to me. Making fun of my eyes, pulling theirs back with the tips of their fingers to imply my eyes were slanted. Calling me “flat-face.” When some of them learned I was adopted they would ask if I got here by boat and refer to me as a “boater”. (I was flown here with a stewardist.)

I remember a time I was in a grocery store in the meat section with my boyfriend at that time (now my husband) and some girl, pointing at what was a cow’s tongue and laughing at me, saying, “you eat that?!” Little did she know I hadn’t the foggiest idea what it was until I read the label due to curiousity. Other times people would shout out to me while standing at a bus stop, “hey you gook, go back to your own country!” And if I was with my boyfriend, it was, “you need to stick with your own race!” Or shouting out to him, “You need to get rid of that Chinese girl and get with someone your own kind!” Yet again, I was adopted and didn’t know anything about my heritage or culture and I’m not Chinese.

I just knew I was in love with a boy and I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. And I just happen to be “Asian, and he just happen to be “Black”. That’s how others saw us, we just saw us as two young people in love. This was in the early 90s before it was established to see interracial couples like you do now.

At 19, I became a teen mom. That was before it was commonly seen or heard of, like now. Now we have teen moms being paid on reality shows to share their lives publicly. I was stigmatized for that and only because my baby’s daddy/boyfriend/now husband of 21+years is black. People said we wouldn’t make it. They talked so negatively of our relationship. Their telling me, he’s gonna leave me and he’s no good just because of who he is in his own skin. Their telling me I should kill my unborn baby and abort it, because it’s gonna be devalued as a mixed race. I nearly died when giving birth to my first born, hemorrhaging severely and in need of a blood transfusion.

At 26, after giving birth to my 4th child, our son. He died twice at nearly 3-months of age. Made medical history as being one of the youngest to receive a heart defibrillator. Suffering from ventricular tachycardia, seizures and later developmental delays.

Age 39, one of my son’s experienced a mental break which lead to him being hospitalized for treatment on his exact 15th birthday. This was actually harder to endure and caused my heart more pain than anything prior. To watch your own child battle and suffer through trauma that they have no control over leaves you feeling completely helpless and heartbroken.

At 43, one of my daughters suffered from a mental break as well. She also required mental health treatment and was hospitalized. Then later suffered her first seizure and became diagnosed with a form of epilepsy. This too was another hard painful chapter of my life and with very little in between to breathe or come up for air.

In spite of all these traumatic and horrible memories, God is what has kept me. Even before I came to acknowledge HIM for who HE is. And the wonderful parts of these tragic beginnings are that they have each had purpose that I could not see “during” my tribulations.

My youthful self couldn’t see my adult self. I didn’t know that everything that caused me pain would push me into the purpose I have here to write articles for others to read. And even if its only one person that I can inspire, so be it.

What I learned as I matured, you have to ignore ignorant people. Hurt people, hurt other people. You cannot allow others words, stigmas, name-calling, put-downs, or their static/noise to interrupt your quality of life or take you off your course.

Sadly, the racist stigmas still exist and although its not as intense as it used to be toward myself personally, I still feel it at times and I don’t like it. But I thank God for strengthening me.

My younger son may have some delays but he is definitely not denied by God. He is a remarkable young man. Intelligent, humorous, inquisitive, strong-minded and self-confident. He is God’s gift to others because he truly is a witness for the Kingdom. He has a unique worship and prayer life. But sadly, what some others see are often his “differences” rather than who he is. He is healed from seizures and no need for a device which was removed in 2008. He is not on any medications. He was once wheelchair bound and now he walks on his own. He used to sign for communication and today he talks. He made medical history for being one of the youngest to receive a heart defibrillator in that year and his story was aired on several news stations and papers.

My other son, has persevered, overcame so many struggles, won so many battles, beat so many odds, dumbfounded people who thought of him otherwise. He may have been diagnosed as having bipolar, and needed mental health treatment as a result of the symptoms taking precedence over his own abilities at those moments in time, but he never gave up on God or prayer. He dealt with his battles silently, meaning, that he used to be ashamed to speak of it. So I became his voice, his advocate, his protector in those moments he could not speak. He accomplished so much in spite of the trauma. He graduated with honors. He achieved state champ for his sport. He was awarded a unique financial package for his academics to a 4 year college where he attends. He dreams of becoming an Olympian. He is inspired by the mysteries of God, having been on the “battlefield” himself. Yet he is victorious because of God.

My daughter graduated when she didn’t think she would. She overcame her struggles with depression and battles of anxiety. She is an aspiring visual artist and has already sold some of her artwork. She is a very positive person considering she has been unfairly mistreated by others in her younger years. She is a motivational speaker to some. And she is the most kind-hearted giving, compassionate person I’ve witnessed being around.

My boyfriend became my husband some twenty plus years ago. He is the natural father to all four of our children. We are happily married and dedicated to our moral beliefs. He has stuck with me through all the early years of our being ridiculed from both sides of the fence. He is a wonderful supportive father and provider for our family. He is well established at his employer for over twenty years. Beating all the stigmas of a young black man that was spoken against him so negatively.

I shared all that, to drive home my experience that having faith in God can work in your favor, but patience with the process is key. Because God works in time and purpose.

I hope you will choose to see the person standing in front of you for who they are, NOT the stigmas you’ve heard about on tv, media, or misrepresentations of those living with special health care challenges, mental health challenges or just because people are exactly WHO THEY ARE!

I don’t know much about my culture or heritage to speak on it, but I do know, I personally do NOT eat animals that I see as pets ONLY, nor do I eat cows tongue. I did not come from a wealthy family, just one that had a lot of debts and liked to spoil their adopted child. Not that it matters, but for the record I am Korean, not Chinese. I consider myself a 100% human female.

My children are each their own individual selves. They don’t view themselves as “disabled” or “handicapped” or “special needs” or “mental”. They are productive, respectable, intelligent, energetic, knowledgeable, successful, unique, different, capable, God-fearing, victorious, warriors and so many more great attributes.

I like to say, “we have been battle-tested yet we are God-approved”.

Thank you for reading my short story and for being here once again. I hope I opened some eyes and could inspire just one person to hang in there. Life is full of choices. It’s up to the individual to decide what’s right.

If I can speak for my son, Erik, I would say on his behalf, “Love me for who I am and not for who I’m not”. #Advocate #Mom

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Trusting God, when odds aren’t in your favor.

Let me take you back to a chapter from my life when trusting God wasn’t as easy as it is written. It was one month after the 9-11 attacks. My husband and I had relocated to Tacoma from Seattle. We had a lot of changes taking place in our family. We had just moved to a new city, brought our first home and I had just given birth to our fourth child, another son. And I had just began pursuing a higher education to become a legal secretary. Life as we knew it was going better than we could imagine. Until that very morning of October 26, 2001. I will never forget that Friday morning. That was when life changed significantly for my entire family, specifically my youngest son. The events, challenges, and trauma were about to take me on the most horrifying, faith-building experience of my life. Here goes……

So I gave birth to our fourth child in August on my birthday. Yes, I was in labor on my birthday. My son was born normal and healthy and on time with no complications. But none of that seemed to matter now. Because at his precious young age of 2 months, he suffered cardiac arrest. I had just finished breast feeding him and laid him down for his nap. A few moments later I heard him crying so I went to pick him up, and the very instant I lifted him, his cry began to change in sound. He began to sound like one of those monsters in a horror film, as if he sounded “possessed” that’s truly the only way I can describe the way I heard his cry. Initially I thought he was really gassy and just needed to pass gas. But when his cry began to sound “different” it became a major concern. As a mom, you know when something isn’t right. So I called my husband at work and he came to the phone, and I told him our son wasn’t breathing right, and he was crying weird. Then I proceeded to put my sons face up to the phone to try and let my husband hear what he sounded like. My husband explained it was probably nothing, and that our son was still stuffed up from a cold he had been getting over. However, while on that phone call, my son stopped breathing while in my arms. And I yelled into the phone, “He’s not breathing, He’s not breathing anymore!” My husband had to literally tell me to dial 911. It’s easy for others to say, that is common sense, but at that very moment, it was like I was frozen in time for those split seconds and I panicked because this was so unexpected. The 911 operator had to walk me through doing a finger sweep as well as infant CPR, but it wasn’t working. My sons tongue was stiff, his face was bluish/purple. His body was straight, stiff and hard. It was as if his spirit had left his body. He was dead in my arms. The aid car and medics seemed like they took forever but that was only because I was in urgent need of help. I began praying and calling on the Lord. My other 2 toddlers were home with me, while my oldest was at school. Meanwhile, my husband had to commute from Bellevue to Tacoma as he left work immediately to race home. By the time he got home, the medics had already taken my son to the closest hospital and one medic stayed behind so we could follow them, because we had just moved to Tacoma and didn’t know where anything was. I remember my husband running inside and heading upstairs, asking me, “where’s my son?” I said, “they took him”. I was still in the middle of getting my 2 children together so we could head to the hospital. He then asked me, “Was he breathing?” I said, “no”. He began to weep. I didn’t have time to weep. My mind was focused on Jesus, prayer and putting my faith into action. It was difficult to explain to a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old that their baby brother was not doing good. I just remember them standing there watching these people work on their tiny baby brother. There he laid, lifeless, stiff and cold. I stood there pacing back and forth, praying out loud in Jesus name, carelessly that others were around.

We finally arrived to the emergency department of the children’s hospital. Upon entering his room, there was a doctor and a nurse who said they were able to revive him with some Epinephrine. And then they began to grill me as if I did something wrong. The nurse asked me in a very rude mannerism why his potassium levels were so low? I told her I didn’t know. And then went onto ask her what does potassium levels have to do with his state? She didn’t answer me. Anyways, without going into all the fine details of every single thing. I will share with you the meaningful moments and explain just what it meant to me, personally, to trust in the Lord while ALL odds were against my faith, yet again, but in a very different way and at a more intense level and category of belief.

After being questioned over and over again by doctors, nurses, and case workers, about what happened at home with my son. They finally backed off, after my son’s heart rate shot up to 233 beats per min while in the PICU. (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). I stayed by his bedside 24/7 except to use the toilet. I wanted to make sure he was getting the best care from the doctors and staff and that he was not being ignored. I asked every question, inquired about every medication that was pumped into his little veins, along with side effects, and became so familiar with the ventilator and the machine that kept his oxygen levels, heart rate and blood pressures that I knew how to turn the volumes down and when to call for the nurse. At this point I still hadn’t allowed myself to process the trauma. I still hadn’t allowed myself to cry a tear. My husband wasn’t in the room often, because he couldn’t handle seeing our son like this. And although he wasn’t physically present as much as I hoped he would be, I just knew God was strengthening me during what was supposed to be a horrible time. In hindsight, now looking back I can truly accredit my strength to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

While my son was in the PICU, I hadn’t slept in days, probably weeks. I got comfortable after a few weeks being able to leave his room for a short amount of time. I would go sit with my husband down the hall in another room and console him. Then I would walk the halls of the hospital like I owned the place. At that time, I knew all the staff on that floor and they all knew me. I would walk around with my hair undone and my pajamas still on from the night before and my eyes barely able to stay opened, burning from days of not sleeping. I didn’t care, I just wanted to know that I was here with my son. I just wanted to see God move on my act of faith. I just wanted my baby to be okay. I wanted him to be able to breathe on his own again and I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone in that room. I wanted him to hear my voice and not forget me as he laid there on life support. They offered to let me use an electric double breast pump so I could continue to pump. Even though he wasn’t able to be fed at that time. After about a week or two, I just remember asking the doctors if they could wean him down from all the IV drugs because I wanted to see my baby again. Not some lifeless baby who was being kept alive by a machine. I had faith and hope that he would be okay. I begged them to let me take him back home as we approached the holidays. Because he went into the hospital on October 26, 2001 and he came home on November 19th. I’ll get to that in a moment. So after much education of the pros and cons of taking him home and signing a waiver from the hospital because I was going against doctors recommendations of wanting him discharged. They agreed to let me take him home and gave me a refresher in infant CPR before being discharged. I was completely aware of the risks involved. They explained he could have another cardiac arrest and he could die next time for sure. However, for some people reading this, you might feel I made the wrong choice, but that’s not how the story ends. So keep reading through to the end. These doctors and staff knew I was leaning on my faith in God and not medicine alone. And that I didn’t care what they said. I just wanted to take my baby home and be a family again with my other 3 children and husband. I wanted to celebrate our holiday at home even if they tried convincing me it could be the last one with him being here. That was even more the reason why I wanted to take him home. I told that pediatric cardiologist, that I was fully aware he could die at home, but I also said, to him, “he could also die here in the hospital! You cannot guarantee me that your medicine is going to work, or that by him staying on all these anesthesia medications isn’t going to effect him?!” So I told him, “I would much rather take my chances with GOD and at home.” So we were discharged on Monday, November 19th. I was relieved, scared, worried, hopeful, and exhausted all at the same time. Unfortunately, just days later on November 22nd, Thanksgiving morning, my son was laying in the bed with me and my husband and he went back into another cardiac arrest, only this time I knew CPR and wasn’t panicked. My husband called 911 as I performed chest compressions on my son until the medics arrived. I was in my bra and panties, but in situations like these you don’t care, because your sole focus is what’s in front of you. And that was my son’s life. This time around my son, our son, hadn’t completely stopped breathing, but his breaths were fading and weak. Once again they took him back to that same hospital. And I all I could think about was that doctor is going to shun me for going against his recommendations and the “enemy” was saying to me, “where is your God now?” Oh yes, my faith was being tested, tried, questioned, doubted, ridiculed, everything but good.

He was admitted back into the hospital once again. I remained steadfast in my faith. I believed in spite of what was in front of me, that my son would be healed and God would get the glory through my son’s story. I can’t explain it and I couldn’t explain it then either, but it is just this overwhelming feeling that came over me, this odd sense of peace and comfort that God had my back and that according to my faith, God was not going to let me down. Meanwhile, the doctors kept looking at me as if I was stupid and that my faith was a bunch of nonsense. They didn’t have to say anything, because their demeanor said it all, their body language, exemplified that I was just some idiot mom who shouldn’t have gone against their “expertise of medical practice”. I just remained quiet this time around and continued praying around the clock. During this very trying time, my son was yet again fighting for his life. Back on life support once again. Having to be shocked by an external defibrillator because he had several episodes of ventricular tachycardia and what they called “V-Tech runs”. And to top it off, all the other infant babies inside the PICU were dying all around us. Literally everyday another baby wasn’t going home to be with their family and instead I could hear the screams, weeping and cries of the mothers as they would pull that blue curtain and slide the glass door closed. I could see the pain and the hurt within the eyes of these other moms. Sad to think some of them came in around the same time as my family. I had only wondered if they had something to hold them, a hope to look to, a faith to stand upon? So I took it upon myself one day to reach out to this other mom, who’s son was on life support in the room next to my sons. I began to ask her how old her son was and what was the reason he was here? Ironically, her story was nearly identical to mine, of the first time around. She explained how she had been breast feeding her son and he began to cry and eventually stopped breathing. Chills went up my spine. It was a little creepy to be honest. Anyways, she too was pumping her breast milk as was I again. We both stored our containers filled with breast milk inside the tiny hospital fridge with our babies name labeled upon them. I met up with her later that day and we spent a short time in the cafeteria just enough for me to ask her if she believed in God and if it was okay for me to pray with her and for her son? She replied that she believed in God but that she wasn’t a religious person and she doesn’t go to church. She accepted the prayer from me and I was so hopeful for her son as I was my own. Sadly later that night, her son’s room had that same blue curtain pulled closed, glass door shut and she began to weep and I could hear her baby’s monitor flatline. She had decided to pull the plug on her son’s life support. My heart went out to her. I felt confused in that moment, wondering why she had given up hope? Was it because she allowed the bad news of the doctors to influence her decisions for his potential future? It wasn’t up to me to judge for her decision nor was it my position to decide what she thought was best for him. Later that evening, she left with her family. I was too speechless to say anything to her before she left. She was a stranger to me so I didn’t feel it was my place to say anything further to her. All I could do is pray for God to give her some form of comfort in her time of loss.

The following day, my son’s heart continued to have these rapid fast life threatening heart rhythms. And yet another pediatric cardiologist came in to meet with me and my husband after making her rounds. She sat us down and attempted to explain to us that our son has a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which in laments terms is a abnormally thick heart and has very serious life threatening complications associated with it. And his heart is failing to pump correctly and will continue to fail. She looked at me and said, “your son has less than a 30% chance of surviving this, and if he were to live, he will be in a vegetative state, he will likely never walk or talk.” My husband dropped his head and began to weep. I looked over to my husband, grabbed his hand and he looked at me and I said to him, “I’M NOT RECEIVING THAT”. See what you don’t know is that just because someone delivers horrible news, doesn’t mean you have to receive it. And I said this right in front of the doctor. She then asked if we wanted to talk with the hospital chaplain? I declined the offer and told her that we have our own pastor if we need support. I wasn’t about to let this lady doctor come up in here and tell me my son is going to die, or that he will be a vegetable and basically write him off as dead and ask me to have a hospital chaplain come in and pray as if it was his last few hours with us. Just because every other single baby around us had passed away or that their parent’s had decided to pull the plug, didn’t have influence on my faith. The doctor left out and my husband continued to weep, as I consoled him and spoke life and quoted every faith scripture and healing scripture I had been standing on.

Some time passed and the hospital determined that they were no longer fit to provide the care or level of expertise that my son’s life required at this point in time. So with much thought, prayer and patience, they said he needed to see an electrophysiologist but there were only two that they could refer to, one in Seattle and one in Portland. I asked which one had more experience and success rates? They said they can’t answer that, but what they could tell me was that the Seattle doctor was fairly new from internship and the Portland doctor was well established. I told them I want my son to go to Portland then because I didn’t him with an unexperienced doctor and being a guinea pig project. Yea I said that! They said there is one problem with that, and it was that I didn’t get to choose. There were factors to be considered. Our health insurance would only cover in state care and the only way that my son would be able to go to Portland was if the Seattle doctor for some reason was unavailable. So we prayed and prayed and asked God to make a way, and let his will be done. Long story short, the Seattle doctor became unavailable so my son was eligible to be transported to Portland. But now we had other obstacles to face, because he was needing to be airlifted, we had to wait for his blood pressure to become stable enough for transport and for his heart rhythm to be somewhat better controlled. He was eventually airlifted to Portland and I flew with him in this tiny Learjet like plane. They could only accommodate me to come along so my husband drove from Tacoma to Portland. Back then we had no navigation on our phones like today. Just paper mapquest print outs. And he left right away, while leaving my other 3 kids with a friend. As we arrived at the hospital roof top and got down to the floor of the hospital PICU in Portland, I thought to myself I wonder how long it will be before my husband arrives? I guess the Lord must have known to be his navigation that night because as they were wheeling my sons bed into the room and I was following behind, passing by the nurses station, in walks my husband through the doors! Seriously!

So let me back up, because I left out some other minor but important details. In between the first time of coming home and the second time of going back he was sent home on Amiodarone and propranolol which I was told at that time the amiodarone was the most potent medication for him and only available in an IV drip or I could get it filled at a compound pharmacy. So I did. In a nutshell, they weren’t effective. And because these medications only sedated him to be a zombie baby, I didn’t like the effects. So when we returned back the second time I told the doctors I did not want him on these medications any longer. I saw more harm to his organs that good for his heart. Call me stupid for this decision but the way I saw it was like this, if you couldn’t guarantee me that my son’s heart condition would improve on a medication that would likely cause his other organs to fail at some point than it wasn’t worth the risk for his quality of life. I was better off with my chances of faith in Jesus.

Back to the Portland hospital transport. The doctors in Tacoma told us my son was being transported to see an electrophysiologist because something was wrong with his electrical conduction of his heart and the way its pumping, more like fluttering. However, upon meeting with the EP doc, he says the original plan was to perform an EP study, but now this Portland doctor was suggesting a whole different surgical procedure. One that had rarely been done in infants and was considered extremely risky. He wanted to implant an internal defibrillator inside my sons abdomen. Typically they are implanted in the upper shoulder area of adults. It was explained that it would be the size of a pager and wires would be placed and the battery would need to be replaced every 6 – 10 years depending on how often it has to fire an electrical shock. Of course, this was not what we wanted to hear. But I wanted to do what was best for my son. I needed to know all the risks, all the pros and cons. Had he ever performed this surgery before? How great of a risk of infection is there? What if the device doesn’t work after it’s implanted? How long was the surgery going to take? What would recovery time look like? Would they be able to keep my son comfortable afterwards? I had a ton of questions.

Scriptures and words of faith I taped around his hospital bed.

Let me fast-forward just a little bit. So as you know I mentioned I had not allowed myself the time to “breakdown” or to process all the trauma. Well now, here we were in Portland at this children’s hospital and I was faced with decisions to make that were crucial to his survival and his future. This was the most difficult position any mom would have to be in. It was that following night after the doctor came and followed up with us and I said I needed more time. That very next night, I went straight to the nurses station after reading my bible and taping up holy scriptures print outs around my son’s hospital bed. I asked the lady at the desk if there was a room available that I could be alone? I was told there wasn’t and the only one that was vacant needed to stay available in case of emergency traumas during the night. So I walked out to the parking lot and went into my van. It was that very moment, that I finally allowed myself to feel every emotion, process all of what had happened to this point. I broke down and cried and yelled out to God. I asked him for guidance on what I was suppose to do? I kept saying, “I need a sign, I need a sign from you Lord!” I didn’t want to make any mistakes. Fear gripped me, I didn’t want to say yes to the surgery where he could potentially die on the operating table, and I didn’t want to deny the procedure that could potentially save his life. I was torn. Because the way I viewed it then, was that his life was already at risk either way. So after crying my eyes out, yelling and crying and snotting some more. I finally went back into his hospital room and began to think some more. I just watched the monitors as usual and watched him laying there asleep. Visitors came and went from local area churches that fellowshipped with us in Seattle. One pastor came inside the room and told us, he had never felt so much peace as he entered the room and felt as though everything was going to be alright. Another elder encouraged us that my son shall live and not die. It was encouraging to hear and we had our good moments. By this time in Portland, my husband had no choice but to be in the room with us and the Lord strengthened us in our weakest moment. We had gotten to a point where we were blasting our gospel music so loudly, and praising the Lord in his room that the nurses had to come tell us to keep it down. They were very supportive though, they even brought us a kid’s video gaming unit and we played Mario Kart to pass time and take our minds to another place for a brief moment. Anyways, it was that following afternoon, the day after I prayed outside in my van, that I got my sign from God. My son’s heart rate had been stable since the time we arrived in Portland and that was why I kept delaying, hoping he was recovering on his own. But that day, his heart rate shot up again and began fluttering and the doctor, nurses and staff came flooding in the room. Grabbing the “crash cart” defibrillator to shock his heart once again. It was after he stabilized again, that I gave the doctor the green light to proceed with the procedure to operate on his tiny body and insert the defibrillator. So the surgery took place on December 4th and it was a success. We were able to take him back home on December 10th, just in time for Christmas. His story was aired allover the news down in Portland, on television and in their local newspapers. I had no idea that my son was about to become a part of medical history. Only because his age, the type of surgery and it was rare. Now these days in 2019, its a lot more common for babies. It was an overwhelming moment, the news wanted to interview us, and we just wanted to go home! We drove home with our baby boy. It was such a great feeling to know if he were to have another cardiac arrest or runs of “v tech” that this device would shock him out of the life threatening arrhythmia. As we arrived home, our other 3 children were excited, but the local Tacoma news reporters were at our house. So one last interview and then we could focus on our family and celebrating life.

My son after the surgery implant. We made it home in time for Christmas.

That’s not where this story ends. The miracle of this chapter in our lives, my son’s life, was and still is that doctors didn’t give him much chance of survival. I leaned on the Lord for healing and resurrection power. Even after the device was implanted successfully, they needed to monitor his activity every month to measure his heart activity. Amazingly, each month, they would put the probe over the device and do a read out and nothing was ever found. Then his follow ups were every 3 months, and still nothing. Then every 6 months, and still nothing. And the local cardiologist that followed his treatment, didn’t believe in God. I know this because every time I would talk about the Lord or my faith, he would say things to disregard my faith and he was the very same doctor who shunned me when my son returned that second time to the hospital. However, look at how God worked this out. After about a year of doctor appointments, follow ups, his own wife was pregnant and they were expecting their first child. He opened up and shared with me that they had lost a baby before, so he literally, asked me in a quiet but very serious voice, “I know you believe in God and a higher power, so I just wanted to ask you if you could pray to your God for my wife and unborn child?” And I told him of course. So later that evening, before I went to sleep, I made mention of him, his wife and unborn child in my prayers. Months passed and he never spoke of it again, until the month that she delivered their baby. He came into the room at my son’s follow up and he said, “I just want to thank you for your prayers, I need to let you know that I believe that because of your God my wife was able to carry and deliver our child.” I was overwhelmed. I was speechless. This was a man who was so adamant on his old beliefs. And now his faith had changed through the witness of my son’s traumatic experience and him being able to see that in spite of how many odds were against my child’s survival, I stood firm on my faith. In hindsight, I was able to see there was a greater purpose for my pain. A much greater purpose, ridiculous sacrifice for the glory of God.

Today, I am happy to share with you that my son is a very happy, healthy teenage boy. He is “developmentally delayed” as they call it. I just call him my son, I call him Erik or his nickname (Zamboon). He might talk louder than the average person but he makes sure he is heard. Yes we often get the “stares”. He is often overlooked by strangers when he just wants to receive a simple “hello” in return. Strangers might act like he has a disease and they don’t want him to touch them but that’s okay, it’s their loss. Most people who do know him, fall in love with him. What others may see as “abnormal” we see as his normal. His device was permanently removed on February 26, 2008 as the doctors no longer seen a need for it. We were told at his follow up echocardiogram that “his heart was no longer a sick heart, but that you would never even be able to tell it was ever sick. He is a miracle child.”

He is the MOST loving, kind-hearted, compassionate individual you could ever meet. After years of extensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, he transitioned from not being able to sit by himself, to walking. He now walks, talks, and loves to dance. He is a praiser and a worshipper at heart. He knows who God is and he has no shame in letting others know that he loves the Lord who saved him, literally.

So I shared all this, to hopefully encourage another family, person, or mom. Someone who might be in a hopeless situation. Someone who might have their back up against the wall with things seeming like there is no where to turn. God always has a way out. But there are times, you have to just stand still and see the salvation of the Lord work on your behalf. And this is what I did. I shared this to enlighten those who are “untouched” by people who have special health care challenges. My hope is to bring more understanding of one’s journey and more awareness of what people like my own son have had to endure/survive/overcome, so those who lack compassion or lack understanding, just might possibly become more kind, more considerate, more patient with others. Bottom line is this, we all have a story. We all have been through something in life. We ALL ARE DIFFERENT! My son’s different just like the next person. He doesn’t see anything that sets himself apart from the next person. He is just Erik. You see, it’s not him that needs to change the way he sees this world, its the world that needs to change the ways they see.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your candid comments. Be encouraged. Be blessed. Be inspired. Be their voice when they can’t speak for themselves.