We often conceptualize healing as an arduous journey full of obstacles and challenges that we must face and conquer to get to a destination of wholeness and health. It’s a journey full of heroes and foes, triumphs and setbacks, and only the truly brave will successfully attain the prize. The implication tends to be that the ability to heal somehow lies within the control and character of the afflicted, and maybe it does. What I do agree with is that it is a very personal journey that each of us experiences quite differently.
When my son was 7 years old, he had a mysterious medical condition that caused complete liver failure. He spent a month in intensive care as doctors and specialists streamed in and out trying to figure what was going on in his little body. By some miracle, his liver fully recovered, he got well, and we went back to our lives. Two years later it happened again, and again he recovered. When he was fourteen years old, it happened again. Only this time things were different. In addition to his liver acting up, my son had a seizure that lasted 30 hours as a result of a stroke and suffered a brain injury. He spent 3 months in intensive care and then eventually in a rehabilitation facility. Our lives changed forever.
My son is now a young man who still faces challenges with his health. He was finally diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease and epilepsy. He has significant short term memory issues, and learning challenges, and he has a great sense of humor and he plays guitar and writes songs and has successfully completed courses in community college.
As I reflect on the experience of my son and the experience of our family, I don’t see it as our journey of healing. My son is much better and functioning and we are all living our lives, so there is a normalcy that’s been restored, but I do not look at is as our final destination. What I do see is that we created a mechanism of survival. The trauma of my son’s illness forced the family to experience a restructuring and a change in our dynamic. This was done by each individual person in the family and then the family as unit. We co-created a model of perseverance; a mechanism through which we would process this crisis and continue our lives.
This multi media project will explore the concept of affliction and healing and where these concepts intersect and overlap. The articles on this site will explore varied aspects of illness and healing, and ways to help others, and ourselves tap into resilience, as we did, to weather the storm.