A couple of weeks ago my son, Trey, came home with what he thought was a bad case of food poisoning. He had all the usual symptoms and nothing that alarmed us to the fact that something bigger was taking place.

Two days go by and his condition did not improve and seemed to be more than a case of bad pizza, so we went took him into see the doctor. They reassured us it was a severe case of food poisoning and that Trey would be back to normal in a couple days.

Another two days pass and we notice Trey is losing a substantial amount of weight so we take him back to the doctors office. When they put him on the scale we are shocked to see he has lost 23 pounds over the four day ordeal. This time they tell us he has a severe intestinal virus that just has to run its course. We found this odd since we had not been out of the country since Christmas and Trey’s diet is consistent with that of any other American teenager, but what do we know. So we take him home and try to make him as comfortable as possible while we watched him suffer through this bug.

Day six arrives and we recognize Trey is not improving and is actually getting worse. By this time he has lost 27 pounds in just over a week and went from being a physically strong teenager who was lifting weights with his dad just a few days ago, to a kid who cannot get out of bed. As parents it was heartbreaking to watch him suffering so much. We would walk in his room to check on him and he’d be curled up in a fetal position in obvious pain.

So we take him back to the doctor for the third time in a week which is more than we usually go in an entire year! This time the doctors are concerned and send him to a lab to get a CT scan. The results show that somehow they had missed it earlier, his appendix had ruptured and his abdomen was full of infection. Trey needed to be rushed to have an emergency surgery to remove his appendix and see what damage had been done.

As a parent this was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Giving him a hug, a kiss on the forehead, a fist bump and telling him I would see him in an hour. It was a hopeless feeling knowing I had no control over the outcome and was unable to help my only son. Before they took him from us, I reminded him of the quote he has heard many times over his young life “wrestling prepares you for life”. I told him it was at this moment that he need to draw on all the toughness, determination, and grit that he had learned from being on the mats since he was four years old. Then they wheeled him away and I could only pray.

As the surgeon prepared to go in he said something that really hit home with me. He looked at me and told me Trey was a strong, physically fit young man and that his body was perfect to recover from such an ordeal. As the 90 minute surgery turned into three hours due to the size of the infection, I pondered the surgeon’s words.

I wondered if the tables had been turned and I was being taken into surgery would the doctor tell my family the same thing? Would I have prepared my body enough to fight through an infection, assist in recovery and be ready to resume my life? This incident has caused a great deal of reflection for our entire family and has definitely been another reminder of the importance of taking care of your body because it’s the only one you get!