A Sweet Surprise from a Not-So-Traditional Life Puzzle


I live a pretty traditional life for a 32 year old. I work Monday through Friday. I have three dogs, one cat, and a baby on the way. Oh! And throw a husband in there too. We binge watch shows on Netflix, we watch football games on Saturday and Sunday, we go out to dinner when we just don’t feel like letting the mid-week cooking blues get us down. Laundry sometimes gets a little out of control and dog hair seems to collect on the corners of the stairs, but we somehow make everything work in our lives.  

The Odd Puzzle Piece

There is something pretty non-traditional that occurs every other Friday in my schedule. I have an appointment at a cancer treatment center for a hereditary disease I was diagnosed with at 29. Cancer treatment center sounds really scary, but these centers have the ability to treat many different ailments, including vitamin deficiencies. I attend this treatment to receive an enzyme my body doesn’t produce, causing my organs to work overtime compensating for the missing enzyme. It’s not something I highlight in my life because it doesn’t define my life. It’s just a piece of the puzzle, be it an odd puzzle piece, that fits into my life. It’s called Fabry Disease, not to be confused with the air freshener Febreze.  

The Typical Start of Treatment

I go to the treatment center and I sit in my designated chair by a floor-to-ceiling window with a pretty view. I am greeted by patients who are on the same schedule as me, but their puzzles are different as they receive treatments for their own medical diagnoses. I see the same nurses I’ve seen for the last three years. We all greet each other, joke about rival football teams, talk about life. It almost feels like a meet-up that we planned at a coffee shop as a group of long-time friends, but instead of holding coffee cups, we’re connected to IV poles holding the medicine that helps us get through life. I pull back the privacy curtain that the nurses pull for patients to reserve their seats and sit down in my chair. I get out my blanket, my laptop for work, and everything else I pack to make my five-hour treatment as tolerable and comfortable as possible. Then preparations start to receive my IV.  

The Change-Up 

This past treatment day blew me away. I walked in as I usually do, and I was greeted by the patients and nurses. I pulled back the privacy curtain to my station and I saw the most unexpected but sweetest gesture that threw me, a girl who absolutely loathes crying, into a full-on onions-being-chopped crying session! My nurses had schemed with the other patients to throw me a surprise baby shower.

This was not typical. This was special. The kindness touched me right away. I couldn’t control my hormones and I just let those salty drops fall from my eyes. There were cupcakes, diapers, and decorations; and all of it seemed to upstage the IV pole that usually stands out in my little corner. Something that can be so obnoxious to cart around while I visit the bathroom or just simply move around was dimmed by the happiness that flooded the treatment center that day. 

There are all kinds of sad stories in the world. I am happy to share this incredibly kind and loving one with you. The patients and staff of this center showed me how sweet life is, no matter the puzzle pieces that make up the picture.



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Raised outside of Orlando, Florida, redheaded Melissa is an avid sunscreen and shade enthusiast. She left Florida in 2007 to serve in the United States Air Force as a radio and television broadcaster. After basic and technical training she was stationed in Illinois, South Korea, Italy, and Alabama with two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan sprinkled in between. In 2013, she met her husband Gregg and in 2015, they were married. This gave Melissa the new title of Bonus Mom to Gregg's daughter, Isabella. That year also welcomed Melissa back into the civilian world as her eight years of service came to a close due to medical retirement. She has called Birmingham home for the past 3.5 years. Shortly after they were married, Melissa and Gregg found themselves wading through the confusing and emotional world of miscarriage and unexplained infertility. They excitedly welcomed a son in November of 2017 after two years of trying for a little miracle. Melissa dedicates her extra time to spoiling their three rescue dogs Ginger, Typsy, and Bruno. She also fosters dogs before they find their furever homes.