Here is another vignette from my 2003 book of vignettes that I posed on Mahlou Musings today and thought might be interesting to readers of Clan of Mahlou since it provides some insights into the days when the kids were small -- and life was far more stressful than it is now. Now I know that survival is possible, but there were times back then when, sandwiched between the pleasant times, the fun, and the games, there was such inordinate stress -- especially the two times that Noelle experienced clinical death and the five times that Doah did -- when I felt pretty much like the image looks!
Raising two multiple-handicapped children certainly had its moments of stress. At times, it has been very natural to wish for a traditional family and "normal" (if one can define "normal") children. That was not to be, of course. Dealing with problem situations humorously has been the easiest way to ease the stress.
Whenever I would have trouble finding the humor in a situation, I would think of the experience of my friend, Susan (not her real name), and her consultation with a very wise psychiatrist. Remember his words always brought forth laughter -- for both of us.
Susan was in an even worse situation than I was. At one point, her daughter had been diagnosed with childhood diabetes -- a false alarm -- and her son had a very real, very rare, and very life-threatening immune system deficiency (previously colloquially referred to as "bubble baby" syndrome) that required daily doctor visits for years. Yet, she continued to work, and together with her husband, they managed all their problems.
Then, her husband developed cancer. The local Pittsburgh doctors could not help. They gave her husband six months to live. Susan decided to take him to an oncologist in Philadelphia. Taking their children with them, they locked up their home and left, not knowing when they would return. The oncologist in Philadelphia was quite talented, and after several weeks of treatment, it appeared that Susan's husband might have a shot at a somewhat longer life than previously predicted. Although months of cancer treatment would still be needed, further treatment could be carried out at home in Pittsburgh.
With some relief but also with some continuing concerns, Susan, her husband, and children returned home. There they found that someone had broken into their house, and nearly everything they owned was gone. When and how it had happened, no one seemed to know.
Considering this the final straw, Susan did some research to determine who was considered the best psychologist in the area. She made an urgent appointment with him.
The next day she found herself in the psychiatrist's office, explaining her situation. With no deliberation, he looked at her and said, "I don't know how to help you, and I'm not going to charge you. If I were in your shoes, I would go out and have myself a well earned nervous breakdown."
Whether or not his words were meant to be a joke does not matter. She took them that way and had a very long laugh. Whenever life's complications seemed overwhelming, she thought about that well earned nervous breakdown to which she had a right, would decide not to exercise her right at the moment, and the stress would sneak away.
She shared this experience with me. When the stress of raising several "special" children threatened to overwhelm, I, too, would think about the well earned nervous breakdown which I had the right to choose or not choose, and I each time I chose the laughter.