Life

In the meantime Benedetta's mother, alarmed at her daughter's condition, which no doctor was ever able to diagnose, decided to take her to a psycho-analyst. He was greatly impressed by her; but he too had to admit that he was unable to diagnose her case because all the tests taken were negative.

Christmas 1956: it is the beginning of a serious disease, of which deafness is only one of the signs. After numerous consultations, it is Benedetta herself who will diagnose her deadly disease: diffused neurofibromatosis, Recklinghausen Disease­Neuro-Fibromatosis, a paralysis of the nervous system which gradually invades all the nerve centres; a mysterious sickness which even today is not completely understood (20 years old Benedetta; in Sirmione)

27th June 1957: she has surgery on her head for the first time. They shave her head. Maybe, Benedetta in that moment is experiencing again one event of her infancy: the farmer Natale, who, on a rainy day in September, was shaving the wool from a sheep while the fog is covering the village of Bertinoro: " While they were cutting my hair, I felt like a lamb having its wool cut and I prayed to the Lord to make me strong and small. The Lord, mom, wants great things of us. I've suffered a lot and I've asked Him to make me a little sheep in His hands."

She talks about this surgery in one letter to her good friend Maria Grazia: "On the occasion of the surgery they shaved my hair and now my head looks very much like a brush for clothes... At times I am so terribly depressed... Besides, following the surgery, my left facial nerve is paralyzed, my face is half paralyzed; unfortunately I need to have a plastic surgery. In the meantime I am awaiting better times (but will they ever come?) and I am obliged to stop my study: heaven only knows what this costs me! Well, the important thing is to keep serene."

Her will is so strong that the following year, in the fall, she succeds in positively passing the exams of medical pathology and surgical pathology. And yet she well knew, because one day, coming home victoriously but exhausted after an exam, she says to her mother: "Yes, mom, this too went well, but what use is all this?... In a while...". Indeed, shortly, neurofibromatosis will manifest her tragic signs. (21 years old Benedetta)

29th June 1959: Benedetta doesn't pass her last exam (hygiene). She doesn't overreact on this: "...the professor is all fuss, fuss, fuss and flies off the handle at nothing...well, I'll do it again!"

7th August: the climax of her life of suffering and endurance came when her parents consented, on the advice of several of the best specialists in Milan, to a spinal marrow operation. Benedetta to please her loved ones willingly underwent this new ordeal. The result: paralysis of both legs.
Benedetta was never to walk again, she was to be henceforth confined to her bed or her armchair for over four years. This came as a terrible blow to her parents, but for her, amazingly enough, nothing changed. Just as her trials increased, so did she advance in grace; she completely forgot herself and began to live in others.

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