Friday, November 03, 2006

THE LONG AND WINDY ROAD
Nine years ago the renowned pediatrician and author of many books on children with special needs, Stanley Greenspan, was coming to Portland. He wanted to see Portland's "finest", the most puzzling, hard to diagnose kids. He was working with another renowned behavioral and developmental pediatrician here in Portland to coordinate his efforts. This doctor would bring him kids, the kids would be videotaped, then Greenspan and this doctor would work with a team to determine what in the hell was going on with these kids. They'd videotape these kids over months and years to mark their improvements. A study would be underway. They would use the most cutting edge therapies and the think tank of some of the finest minds, to see what they could do about these kids, that were beyond anyone else's capacity to "heal".
Ring... ring...ring...ring...
"Hello?"
"Hello, Carrie, you don't know me, but your son has been recommended for a study..."
I nearly hung up on this man. I had no time for a "study". I had no time, nor energy, for a shower, much less anything as big-sounding as a "study". Plus, I had never heard of either of these two men, and wasn't planning on buying whatever it was they were selling.
Fast forward nine years...
Yesterday my husband and I were in this loveable doctor's office, a man we've grown to think of as a friend, a savior really. My husband and I each greyer, heavier, more wrinkled than when we all first met, but with smiles on our faces, instead of perpetual frowns and frequent use of profanity.
This doctor had a visiting pediatrician sitting in his office. He asked if we were OK having our appointment with this woman in the room. Hell, we'd been videotaped at our worst for years, we could certainly handle a gentle listener off in the corner.
As our savior filled in this young doctor, my husband and I looked at each other with an "Oh, shit!" look. For five full minutes he rattled off all the issues our son had dealt with/is dealing with. THEN he moved on to our daugher. Another five minutes and lots of fancy/scary words were thrown out.
Dyspraxia
"Presented on the 'spectrum'"
Sensory Intergration Disorder
Anorexia
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Debilitating anxiety
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Auditory Processing Disorder
Pectus Excavatum
Global Motor Planning issues
Poor muscle tone
Ambliopia
Severe regulatory disturbances
Brain is disorganized
Mood disturbance
Communication disorders
etc...
etc...
etc...
The doctor turned to us when he was done and said, "Was that pretty accurate?"
"Yes," we both nodded, before piping in that he had articulated our "story" better than we ever could, and man, oh man, was it ever a hard one to articulate.
Last night, trying to recap the conversation at the doctor's office, my husband and I both were simply struck with how much we've been through, and how far we've come. We aren't far enough out of the woods to have the perspective this doctor has, but still far enough to see that we're sitting in a much rosier place today than we have been, ever, with our children.
Wednesday my husband and I are sneaking off for a three-day mini-vacation, early fifteenth wedding anniversary celebration. Working out the childcare for our now 10 and 12-year-old is now possible. We are finally at a point where we can both be gone, together, and feel good about "what" we are leaving behind.
What lies ahead is not as frightening, not as anxiety-ridden as it has been for so long. We are older, wiser, more skilled, and much more realistic than we were when we began this parenting odessey.
Tomorrow is promised to nobody, but next week three days are promised to "us". It's a miracle in and of itself that there's still an "us" after the constant assaults these special needs have hurled at our union.

14 comments:

Suzy said...

What a fantastic post! Happy Anniversary to you and your husband for being the absolute special parents for these special and wonderful kids.

kario said...

Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy Anniversary! Pamper yourselves and each other and revel in your aloneness. And, while you're at it, plan next year's trip, too, just for giggles. Make it four days long. You deserve it!

Terry Whitaker said...

TAKE AN A!!

Jerri said...

Happy, happy. Joy, joy.

Savor every second and then tell us all about your adventures. The PG parts, anyway.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Take a big breath and an "A" and have a wonderful, wonderful trip!

LOVE.

Jenny Rough said...

Aw, Carrie! Happy wedding anniversary!

Go Mama said...

Wow. What a journey. Congrats on 15 years together and finaly being able to take some time off alone! Enjoy it. You deserve it.

Anonymous said...

They are great kids! And I couldn't do what I do without you. I don't say that nearly enough!! Thanks for helping me navigate the path we find ourselves on together,

pk

Anonymous said...

Carrie
Happy Anniversary to you and Stan!!! I hope you have a great Time without Gilt.I love you and your sense of understanding.Your Children are very lucky to have such a great and loving Mom.M

Anonymous said...

I hope you two have a wonderful time. You're blog is so great, you inspire me in so many ways.
from cousin Kalei

jennifer said...

It's amazing you are so funny and so together and that you two are still together. Nothing is perfect but you are damn close!!!

Anonymous said...

I guess Stan Packs is for reals............wish i go with you....oh yea i wasn't invited.....who is taking care of the kids and am i a middle of the night backup cause you know i'd be there..........this is long overdue so make the most of it

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

OH my goodness! You are an amazing woman...all your have been through...the ability to talk about it ...deal with it...WOW. Thank you for sharing. YOU need to be singing the song "I'm a survivor" not me!
You have my admiration!
Lee

Kim M. (NYC) said...

Wow, you and your husband sound like an absolutely incredible team--and so does your whole family. Happy anniversary!!