Thursday, June 18, 2009

The next Very Important Person: my cousin Laura

I've gotten very behind on my tributes to the very important people in my life. There are still so many to mention, but the person of the day is my cousin Laura.

My dad and Laura's mom are siblings. She is my only in-state, female cousin. And lucky for me, she's just a year and a half older than me, and we grew up just a couple towns away from each other. As kids, we would have sleep-overs pretty often. She played with Barbie's, and I played with American Girl dolls. She liked cats, and I liked dogs. (I remember there being debates along the lines of: "Cats rule! Dogs Drool!") And she liked to sleep in, while I was crazy enough to wake up at 6:00 in the morning. (Which is funny, because now she wakes up every day for a real job, while I stay in my pajamas until 3 in the afternoon.) But we made it through those drastic differences (hyperbole). In high school, we spent more time together. She even introduced me to my high school boyfriend of 2 1/2 years, Bobby.

I believe it was the summer after my junior year of high school that Laura developed a spontaneous spinal cord leak, causing intracranial hypotension and a temporary acquired chiari malformation. She was in the hospital for weeks. The doctors tested her for everything, and they never figured out what was wrong. They did attempt a spinal tap multiple times, only to find that she had zero pressure in her spinal cord. She suffered from low-pressure symptoms for quite a while. For Laura, going to a chiropractor actually helped her symptoms to resolve, thank God.

So, when I received my diagnosis a year later, Laura was the first person I called. When I had my first spinal tap, Laura was the first person I called. Even though she suffered during an acute period of illness, I know that she truly understands what it feels like to be this miserable. This year, she will be walking in the Chiari Walk, and she has been amazing at helping to get the word out.

Laura is the closest thing to a sister that I have in this life (although I have two amazing brothers and a sister-in-law that will have to be mentioned in a later post). I know that we will be close for our whole lives. I am so grateful for her constant support and compassion. And considering that I had to steal this picture from her facebook page, we definitely haven't spent enough time together lately. I hope I don't take her for granted. And yes, this could be seen as my passive-aggressive way of apologizing for dismissing the chiropractor recommendation so quickly. I know you just want what's best for me, and I think you are amazing. Love you cuz!