“You are healed!”
Is he kidding me?
Were we both looking at the same X-ray?
Yes, we were, I realized as I saw my name on the bottom of the screen indicating that it was indeed my ankle those plates and screws were permanently affixed to.
And the doctor calls this healed??
My ankle was definitely fixed, as the pictured indicated, and the bones were back in their intended places, but I didn’t feel healed. It hurt when I walked, and I walked a lot slower with a limp now. I was also still trying to get my life back together after this injury forced me out of it for 6 weeks, and this was no easy feat (pun intended). I was far from “healed,” so what did he mean?
I was reminded by another doctor’s similar declaration when my oldest son, Joe, was being discharged from the hospital. Joe, who was 14 years old at the time, had suffered a life-threatening seizure that lasted 30 hours and caused injury to his brain. We didn’t know what caused it at the time, but later found out Joe has an extremely rare mitochondrial disease that continues to perplex the medical field. Joe spent three months in various parts of the hospital and was eventually placed in the rehabilitation center. The injury to his brain not only significantly damaged his memory (think 50 First Dates) but had altered his ability to walk, and overall function. He spent 6 weeks in a medical rehab receiving speech, physical and occupational therapy. On the day the doctor determined Joe was fit to be discharged, he exclaimed to my husband and me that Joe had made a “Remarkable Recovery!!”
Really? He did?
Yes, he was walking and talking, but he was nothing like the son we knew 3 months earlier. He had no short term memory and could not remember what he was doing, while he was doing it. Although we were incredibly grateful that Joe was alive and functioning as well as he was, we didn’t considered him recovered. He wasn’t restored to the normal state of health he was in before. He was different, and we had to accept this new version of our son we lovingly refer to as Joey 2.0.
These events in my personal life and my role as a mental health professional and healer have led me to wonder…
How did we cope with our son’s illness and subsequent disability?
How did we sustain the trauma and persevere?
Did we actually heal?