Grounded

Nothing can ground one as a parent faster than a sick child.

I regularly spend time in a children’s outpatient procedure area in a hospital. I also regularly spend time in an outpatient area of another hospital where I am a regular patient, but it’s different to be the parent. My child is well, and is kept well by the medication he is infused with during these visits. Often, the other rooms in the area are empty. But it’s not uncommon for them to have occupants. I know that we will be leaving in just a few short hours. I don’t worry about the side effects, because, well, it’s been several years, and if he were going to have a reaction, he probably would have reacted by now.

But I don’t know the stories of the other kids. Some are in hospital gowns. Some seem to be restricted and not allowed to walk around. Some are just tiny babies. Some have been in the hospital for more than a day already, and some won’t be going home tonight.

We are all mortal in body. It’s part of being human. But we do not expect our children to face mortality before we do.

This child and I share a common diagnosis. But I was thirty when it first arrived. He was three. I cried when he was diagnosed. I blamed myself for passing this diagnosis on to the next generation. Not that there was anything I could have done to prevent it… genetics are but a small part of this particular diagnosis, and the chances of passing it on were small, but even events with very small probabilities do, in fact, occur.

In the long run, the path to wellness that I took sped up the path to his. He’s had one detour so far, and surely the future will hold more. But receiving a diagnosis of a chronic disease is much more traumatic when you are thirty than it is when you are three. I’ve been amazed at the resilience shown by my son given the medical hoops he’s been through. In the end, this is not a diagnosis that impacts lifespan, and for both of us, we seem to have found treatment that allows us to live a normal life. Most of the time — when we aren’t busy paying another visit to the outpatient area of a hospital.

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