• Cristina Waldner

A Thrill of Hope



For some reason, this holiday season has felt busier than ever! Now that the presents are bought, wrapped, and gifted, the baking is out of the oven, and the family gatherings are (mostly) over, I have time to slow down and write.

Christmastime is a magical time of year, one of fun and laughter but also of reflection and quiet moments around the Christmas tree. I don't know why exactly Christmas has that feeling in the air. Between the soft, almost holy lights of our Christmas tree and the soundtrack of the Sugar Plum Fairies (the only time of year when instrumental music is awesome!), I find myself reflecting on the events of the past year that have led up to the present.

Exactly a year ago, I was in a vulnerable place after just experiencing one of the most physically and emotionally draining health scares of my adult life.

It all started on December 14th when I went to see my oral surgeon about an infected tooth. I was already feeling stressed out because my completely complicated dental situation.

At this point you're probably wondering what the big deal is since people have extractions all the time.

In order to understand this problem, you should know that I can only open my mouth 15 millimeters. To put this in perspective, it is considered critical at 20 millimeters. This means that dentists have an extremely difficult time accessing my teeth, which does not bode well when I need work done.

To my shock, it was determined that it was impossible for the dentist to access my tooth and the only option would be to be given anesthetic and have a full-out surgery. To add even more stress, it was determined that my lungs were not strong enough for that surgery and that I would most likely need a tracheotomy to even be eligible for surgery!

I had gone in to the appointment wanting to have a tooth pulled and got the news that my whole world was crumbling down along with my crumbled molar. I told the surgeon that this scenario was out of the question and I was not going to go through with the surgery.

I left the office dazed and confused, with visions of tracheotomies dancing in my head. Only equipped with a small piece of paper with the words "Clindamycin 300 mg" scribbled unscrupulously across the front, I went to fill the prescription.

We had decided that I would forgo the surgery and hope that an antibiotic would clear up the infection. Later that evening I took my first dose and by the next day, I was in gut-wrenching, unbearable spasmodic pain.

Not knowing how else to describe it, I told my parents that it felt like I was being poisoned from the inside. I couldn't eat or drink for three days, nor could I take any pain medication because it was too excruciating to swallow. Anybody else would have gone to the emergency room to be treated with IV but I didn't go because of my past experiences with hospital staff being unaccommodating to my SMA.

When I went to see my family doctor a few days later (of course this all took place over a weekend), it was determined that I had esophagitis, which is inflammation of the esophagus tube. The antibiotics had scarred my esophagus so severely that every time I swallowed, razor-sharp pain was sent down the muscular tube into my stomach.

For the cherry on top of the dental cake, it was determined that my dosage (300 mg four times daily) was the dosage appropriate for a 200 lb. man, which anyone who knows me would tell you that is the polar opposite of my 4'10" 75 lb. frame.

I came to my Church's candlelight Christmas eve service Scarred. Empty. Vulnerable. With a sadness that matched the darkness but with a dim light that held a flicker of strength.

Of survival.


As December came upon me this year, I couldn't help but reflect on what happened a year ago. One's health can be so easily taken for granted until something happens that sends you into a tailspin of danger, with you feeling physically damaged and emotionally fried.

As I am sitting quietly by the Christmas tree, I am struck by the beauty of my favorite ornament on our Christmas tree: the word Hope in gold, sparkling letters.

After all, isn't that what Christmas is about? A thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoicing. The Hope of Jesus the Savior coming to a broken world, offering grace and peace and love to all.

This is my Hope, this year and every year.

What is your Hope?

- Crissi xo


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