I'VE had my little blue book for almost a year now. It's a square book, covered in a light denim material -- like new jeans. The book has a brightly colored ribbon with six small loops running lengthwise across the cover. Inside the loops are six colored pencils. The pencils are small, like the pencils at golf courses. And they're always falling out of the loops if you try to put the book in your backpack or purse.
When my husband brought the get-well bag containing the little blue book to the hospital for me, I had no idea what would fill the seemingly endless blank pages inside. But the fact that the little blue book had colored pencils was a start -- along with the fact that the friends who got me the book had included some fun stickers in the bag.
At the time, I was experiencing a roller coaster of emotions: sadness, frustration, anger, hope and thankfulness.
The first pages of the little blue book contain basic drawings and phrases, which, then, were things I desperately wanted to say out loud but couldn't, as some of them would have been offensive. My two favorite drawings are the one that my husband sketched of me (luckily he didn't include the ugly hospital gown) and the one that I drew of the airplane -- the airplane that was bringing my parents to Los Angeles to help care for me during my recovery.
I am not sure how it happened, but slowly, the little blue book turned into my story -- my health history over the course of the last year. It contains information on everything having to do with my illness: medications and dosages, questions that we needed to remember to ask the doctors and nurses and recordings of my vital signs. It also contains more childlike drawings, funny poetry that materialized from my dreams and interesting quotes from friends.
When you're ill, be it with an acute illness such as mine, a chronic or even terminal illness, it's important to have an outlet not only for information, but also for emotions. It's also imperative to have something that allows the person who is ill to take control. My little blue book has accomplished its mission and more. It represents my strength and courage, my hope and positive attitude, and that of my family and friends, as we waged a battle against my illness -- a battle that we won.
I encourage anyone who has a loved one or a friend with an illness to offer up "a little blue book" as a symbol of hope and a path toward wellness and peace.
Laura A. Lull is back at work and back on the tennis court after battling acute kidney failure for most of 2007.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times